Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ink Review: J. Herbin Ambre de Birmanie


I miss writing ink reviews, really. I was supposed to write one for Valentine's, but the occasion felt too frivolous so I skipped it and chose a different ink color. I saved the red ink for the dark rainy days. One Saturday morning, when the sun was out and shining, I dragged myself out of bed and arranged a photo shoot for this lovely J. Herbin ink called Ambre de Birmanie (Amber of Burma).


J. Herbin's Ambre de Birmanie is a bright yellow-orange to light golden brown ink that looks like Burmite amber, the gemstone that it was named after. Like Diabolo Menthe, it appears light while wet, but turns a beautiful gem-like amber once it dries. This ink is not highly saturated, has excellent flow and beautiful shading especially when used with a wider nib.


Ambre de Birmanie reminds me of the sweet caramel syrup on top of the tall vanilla ice cream that my niece Raiyah and I love to share at McDonald's on our Sunday afternoon dates. I also remember that it looks a lot like the raw honey on thick honeycombs that my brothers and I used to get from a hive in our backyard when we were kids. 


I almost gave up on this ink the first time I used it. The pen I filled with it has a fine nib and the writing sample  did not look any good. I tried it next on my yellow Lamy Safari with a medium nib, and it wrote so good!

Though Ambre de Birmanie is a lovely ink, very few reviews were written about it, and I think I understand why -- not everyone likes a bright yellow-orange ink on their notebooks' pages. And I feel the same way too, but I love using this ink to write  notes on almost everything -- my modules, things to do, important dates, reminders, anything! Bright colors can quickly catch my eye and I like to use them in my planner and journal notebooks to complement the dark inks on their pages. It's also an excellent ink for calligraphy because it produces so much shading.


Clearly, Ambre de Birmanie works well with wide nibs. I wrote the Murakami quote with the 1.5mm italic nib on my Lamy Joy, and the shading I saw when the ink dried is just amazing! I didn't expect a light-colored ink to produce this type of shading. 


And for my usual ink concerns regarding feathering and bleed, I am happy that Ambre de Birmanie did not feather at all on Muji paper. Here, the ink's yellow-orange color is simply outstanding!


But what's even more amazing is that even on a wide nib such as an italic 1.5mm, Ambre de Birmanie did not bleed! There is some show-through, but that's fine with me.


Ambre de Birmanie's drying time does not differ that much from most J. Herbin inks. It dries fast, taking no more than 15 seconds to dry on Muji paper, with the ink coming from a medium Lamy Safari nib.


I mentioned earlier that Ambre de Birmanie is an excellent ink for calligraphy so I tried it on a quote from Sir Winston Churchill. The color is very beautiful. When I look at the page, I pretend that I wrote it using my Herbin glass pen dipped in sweet caramel syrup.


Below are some macro shots of Ambre de Birmanie on Muji paper. These were written using a Lamy Joy with 1.5mm italic nib. This ink is beautiful on white paper. Its cheery color stands out of the bright white page. It doesn't look as good on cream or beige paper, though.


Amber is fossilized tree resin which has been appreciated for its color and natural beauty since Neolithic times. It is primarily found in the Baltic regions, but also appears in the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Burma (now Myanmar), Italy, Romania, Borneo, New Zealand, the Middle East, Alaska, Canada and the United States. Hilltribe women from the Kachin State are known to wear long, crayon-shaped pieces of the unique orange-red Burmite amber found there.

Could it be possible that J. Herbin passed through Burma during his travels? If so, it may be in Burma where he saw the beautiful yellow-orange color and named it Ambre de Birmanie -- Amber of Burma, after the land's beautiful amber.


J. Herbin inks are available in 30 beautiful colors. These water-based inks are non-toxic, have neutral pH and manufactured using natural dyes. Download a printable PDF of the J. Herbin fountain pen ink swatches here.

A 30ml bottle of J. Herbin ink sells for P475 at Scribe Writing Essentials here in the Philippines, and US$9.75at The Goulet Pen Company. (I am not affiliated with either companies.)

The bottle of Ambre de Birmanie reviewed here is courtesy of Exaclair, Inc. through Karen Doherty, while the Muji notebook and Lamy pens (Safari, Joy) all belong to my personal collection.

16 comments:

  1. Lovely color! I see one needs a wet M nib at the very least to enjoy Ambre de Birmanie. Thanks for the very excellent review :)

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    1. Or a very wet F nib. Thank you for reading my review!

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  2. Wow, I would never have tried this ink myself, but after reading your review I just might. The shading is amazing!

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    1. Yes, the shading is quite amazing! Just remember to use a pen with a wet F or M nib. Thank you!

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  3. Nice ink. Very nice lettering.

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    1. A beautiful ink is inspiring, Bill M. :) Thank you.

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  4. This is one of the few J. Herbin inks I use. I love the stuff. Very antique-ish looking in a journal. All soft and warm and yummy. Fabulous review of a great ink! Thank you :D

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    1. Thank you Rori! It looks great on white paper, I hope you try it on one.

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  5. Very nice ink, not that I would buy it but it pairs great with your calligraphy.

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  6. A great review and lovely pictures. I have this ink but not used it much. I may dig it out and give it another shot.

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  7. Thanks for reviewing this! I love J. Herbin inks in general, but I haven't tried this one. You've made me want to at least order a sample. Nice lettering, too!

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  8. I miss your posts! They're so entertaining!

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  9. Great colour - and even better handwriting!

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  10. Thanks for the great review. It's your review that prompted me to buy this ink. And it really it wonderful, I use it in my TWSBI 540.

    Keep up the great reviews!!

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  11. Anonymous12:42 AM

    Hi Clem,
    İ like your handwriting and calligraphy. How long have you been practising calligraphy?

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  12. Lovely review. Thanks very much. I had just purchased this ink (and about six other J. Herbin inks from a local market town, Nay, that has a fine Papeterie here in the Southwest of France)and think you are correct that the wider nib makes it work. My favourite so far of the Herbin inks is a gorgeous vibrant blue called Bleu Myosotis. I like the way you write your reviews. Most helpful.

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