Friday, October 16, 2009

Inks on Review: J. Herbin Rouge Opera and Bleu Pervenche

When I started using a fountain pen, I only had one ink color in mind: black. After I found a bottle of old washable black Parker Quink at a brick and mortar shop here in Los Banos, it worked fine for me. The fine-nibbed maroon Parker Vector and bottle of Quink worked okay for a long time. Until I found a bottle of Quink Blue-Black in a box of sale items at an NBS branch. It was an important discovery for me, one that opened up to a huge Pandora’s box of endless possibilities in the world of fountain pens.

These endless possibilities include inks, ink colors, and ink brands. I wanted to learn more about them and so I read. And read. And read more. As I read more, I learned more. As I learned more, I began to want to own more pens, and inks, and more ink colors…

While blog hopping last July, I read somewhere that Exaclair, the exclusive distributor of Clairefontaine, Rhodia, Quo Vadis, G. Lalo, Exacompta and J. Herbin products in North America is giving away inks for review in celebration of Bastille Day on July 14. That is how I got these two bottles of wonderful J. Herbin inks. Though it took me longer than Odysseus to get these inks, the wait is worth every second of it. (The story about the Exaclair packages is here.)

When I sent the email to Exaclair, I did as they said. I chose one red ink and one blue ink. I was hoping to get the most coveted J. Herbin orange ink, Orange Indien, but I kept by the rules. I was torn between Rouille D’Ancre and Rouge Opera for my bottle of red; and between Bleu Azure and Bleu Pervenche for my blue ink. I finally settled on Rouge Opera as my red, because it looked so blooming and alive; and Bleu Pervenche for my blue because it’s a turquoise, and yet looked solid and strong.

And now, the reviews.

J. Herbin Rouge Opera

Did I say this ink looked blooming and alive? Well, it is. When I got the first package that Exaclair's VP for Marketing Karen Doherty sent me, Rouge Opera was the first bottle I opened. I'm not one to smell inks, but the scent of Rouge Opera caught me by surprise. It's like taking in the scent of wild flowers and that makes it even better to use. I filled one of my Schneider Base pens with this ink and tried it on my Moleskine. Uh-oh. In my excitement to try the ink, I forgot that Molie paper is the big time ink sucker. I then tried it on my Scribe using my Lamy Joy’s 1.5mm italic nib on my white Safari. It was amazing. It was beautiful. Rouge Opera clearly shows off the beauty of its shading and color when used on pens with broad nibs.

Rouge Opera is my first pink fountain pen ink. It is a lovely pink that leans towards dark fuchsia and burnt red. Though it shows more traces of red, I know that I can use it for everyday writing because it is not as bright and glaring as other red or pink inks. While wet, it has a certain sheen which gives it a glossy, slick appearance. When it has dried, it loses the gloss, but retains the same color intensity. The shading is very evident, especially when used with broader nibs, and I like that with my inks. While I’m more of a blue and black ink user, this pink ink is a keeper on my stash.

J. Herbin Bleu Pervenche

My all-time ink favorite is Waterman South Sea Blue. It’s an attractive turquoise ink that is wet and friendly to all of my pens. Then Bleu Pervenche comes along. I filled another Schneider Base with this ink as soon as I opened the bottle and tried it on the Scribe. Wonderful. The next pen I tried was my new Lamy Vista with my Lamy Joy’s 1.1mm italic nib. It was magnificent. It was beautiful.

Bleu Pervenche is my not my first blue or turquoise ink, but its clarity lends it a unique softness. I like it better on ivory-colored than bright white paper, because it looks softer in the former. While wet, it appears lighter than SS Blue, but looks very soft and readable as soon as it dries. Shading is very evident, as it is with Rouge Opera, and again, that is something I very much like with my inks. I like Bleu Pervenche a lot and right now, I got four pens already filled with it.

And for writing samples, I present my attempts to learn Chancery Italic Script. I wanted to present something worthwhile with my ink tests, and inspired by my Speedball textbook and Ann Finley's instructions at FPN, here are a few samples of my new addiction.

Below is one of my better attempts to Chancery italic script using my Schneider Calligraphy pen with a 1.5mm italic nib.

And finally... a small token of my gratitude to Karen and to Exaclair for being so generous in giving away so many of their products not only for review but also for long-term use. I will forever be grateful to Karen for sending stuff all the way from New York to the Philippines so I can review, use and enjoy these wonderful products I so dearly love!


  1. Nice ink! I have the blue myself and like it. Your chancery looks like it's going great. I wish I had the patience to do such.

  2. Thanks, TAO! I'm surprised at how easy it is to learn something I really, really like. :) J. Herbin inks are great! :)

  3. Wow ate you've got real talent! I wish I could learn Calligraphy too!

  4. J. Herbin inks have to be some of my favorite fountain pen inks available, I like the color it is not black or brown or gray, It is like a dark grey with some brownish to it. So far I like it.