Ink Review: Local Walnut Ink   1 comment

Rock Paper Scissors describes itself as an “art supply and local music retail store” in the “Gateway District,” the southern section of Over the Rhine in Cincinnati. They are the primary Cincinnati area retailer of Field Notes notebooks, and a variety of other things, including many locally produced supplies. They also carry a selection of music from local artists. They are about a half-mile walk from my office, so I have been known to hike there at lunch, if only to get a break from Information Technology.

On their Facebook page, they announced they were carrying some locally produced ink. This ink was made using an old recipe from the outer husks of walnuts. This produced a brown ink. Local, made in a small batch, and kinda green (in the environmental sense)–it ticks off all the marks on the hipster* checklist. Still, as a fountain pen geek, seeing something unique like this merited a walk up to check it out.

I was a bit nervous about putting it in my pens. Basically, with home brewed inks, you don’t know what you get. I’ve only tried it, so far, in pens that are less expensive and rare, and ones I’m pretty confident I could clean out well or repair myself. I’ve generally made a point of dumping and flushing the pen after using it, just to make extra sure.

walnut ink

The ink came in what appears to be a repurposed jar of jelly, and has a slight smell of alcohol. The ink is very thin, creating very wet lines from a dip pen, my first test. In all, I tried four different fountain pens with it: a Parker 45 that is missing a few cosmetic parts, a rotring 600, a Retro 1951 Tornado, and a Parker 51. The results were inconsistent.

Walnut Ink Sample

The rotring had the widest line, with a nib on the broad end of medium. This varied from not-bad to a look which made me think I filled my pen with dirty water. I flushed the ink before capturing a sample. The Parker 51 and Frontier had a similar look–a flat brown. It went down making me think it would be near-invisible, but dried to a decent brown. No feathering, bleed-through, or show-through with most paper. To get the best results, I wanted to flush the pen until it was totally clean, and let the pen dry out before attempting to fill. This may well be best practice, but know I’m guilty of filling right after flushing. With this ink, like a few others, the pen needs to be clean.

The Parker 45 is the most frustrating. It seems to get a rick, dark brown that I really like. I can’t seem to replicate this with any other pen I’ve tried it with. As it is a quasi-parts pen, it’s not one I can readily take out with me.

As I said, it’s a generally well-behaved ink, though it appears to be inconsistent coming out of the pen. Since the ink is locally produced, I am concerned about what pens I put it in, as it may not be as pure as commercial inks. I’m going to continue to play with it in other pens and other paper, and provide an update.

*I don’t regard myself as a hipster–I’d probably cringe at being described as such. Just what the ink makes me think of.

Walnut image from Wikimedia Commons. This is by Böhringer Friedrich, released under the Creative Commons license.

Posted 2013-12-08 by Mr. Guilt in Cincinnati, Fountain Pens

One response to “Ink Review: Local Walnut Ink

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  1. Most interesting. I remember when you first shared this online! How interesting to see the results. I wonder if it would be more consistent with some thickening agents in it… it seems so interesting. I love the idea that it’s so renewable and resource-saving. (I try not to think about what it takes to produce a bottle of “regular” ink in terms of resources…).

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