Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Ink Review: J. Herbin Orange Indien

"Her nakedness was not absolute, behind her ear she had a poisonous flower with orange petals."
– Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Memories of My Melancholy Whores

Yes, it's an orange ink this time. There are no naked people or poisonous flowers in this review though.

Orange Indien. An ink color I wanted to have for so long. An ink color that has been the topic of a lot of discussions about non-black and non-blue inks. This ink, together with the bottle of Larmes de Cassis was sent to me by Exaclair's VP Karen Doherty last year as another addition to the orange stuff in my Happy Halloween post. The box did not make it for the Halloween, and came much, much later. But it's here and so I'm writing a review.

This ink reminds me of yummy sapin-sapin*, fragrant Clementines (Mandarin orange), The Body Shop's Satsuma soap bars and warm summer sunsets...

I love the fact that the makers of J. Herbin inks truly pay attention to details in their product packaging and presentation. J. Herbin ink boxes are elegantly designed, with a separate icon for each ink color. Orange Indien has an elephant icon and I love it! :)

The Herbin ink bottles are also very unique - each bottle has an integrated pen rest, but it's too small to hold even medium-sized pens. Here, my copper Esterbrook SJ barely fits into the pen rest. Despite that, the boxes and bottles are always easy to store in a box or cabinet because they are compact.

Orange Indien is another excellent ink from J. Herbin. I am very eager to try it when I received it, and I wasn't disappointed. I wrote a full page journal entry using it and the color did not hurt my eyes. Yes, the color jumps off the page at first, because of its bright color, but it's not so intensely bright that it will be difficult to read. It has excellent flow, as all Herbin inks are, and significant shading is seen when used to write with broad or italic nibs. There is even minor shading in the lines I wrote using the Parker Jotter. It may not be very visible in the photos, though.

The ink looks darker in white (Rhodia) paper than in the off-white, ivory (Scribe) paper. It is even darker in the lines I wrote using the Parker Jotter pen than the Manuscript Calligraphy pen. Shading can be seen in the lines of text written with the Manuscript pen.

On the ivory-colored paper, Orange Indien looked a bit pale, and it showed traces of yellow in the orange. The lines written with the Parker Jotter are thicker, but not darker than the Manuscipt-written text. There is more uniformity in color here, between the Manuscript (broad and italic nib) and Parker (round, medium nib)written text, but I'm not sure if that can be attributed to the paper color, or the fact that Scribe paper absorbed more ink, which explains the feathering and extensive bleed in the Scribe paper.

Orange Indien on Scribe notebook...

...and on Rhodia pad.

Here is the back page of Scribe paper with significant bleed when I used the medium-nibbed Parker Jotter. There is no feathering and bleed on the Rhodia paper, though.

Since I got another orange ink on my stash I thought of doing a comparison. Orange Indien and Caran d'Ache Saffron are two brightly-colored inks that will never fail to lift the mood of any note, letter, or card written with them. The two inks differ in their brightness and tones, as Orange Indien has more yellow to show, compared to the CdA Saffron which has more red.

Lastly, to complete this review, I tested the Orange Indien's drying time, against two slow-drying inks on medium-nibbed Parkers. I have not done this test before but I felt like doing it, so here it is. In case the text tags I added is not legible, the orange lines belong to Orange Indien, which on Rhodia paper took more than 30 seconds to dry. Next to Orange Indien, the lines belong to Diamine Burnt Sienna, written using a Parker Rialto. This ink dried in less than 25 seconds. The third set of lines belong to Private Reserve Copper Burst on a Parker 25 pen. It took almost a minute for Copper Burst to dry.

The other test I should have done but didn't is the water soak test. Perhaps I'll do one in my future reviews, but I held on for now. I don't think I need to do that yet, as my notebooks, journals and such are not that vulnerable to water and anything wet. :) I think the premise here is that if it's my Journal, or my "Notes" notebook, or my Starbucks daily planner, I am sure to take very good care of them, especially what's written inside. In a country like the Philippines where it rains for more than half of the year, I have learned how to think of ways to protect my stuff (read: laptop, notebooks, pens) from water. :) But I'll do watersoak tests in my future ink reviews.

A 30ml bottle of J. Herbin Orange Indien sells for US$10 at The Goulet Pen Company and PhP475 at Scribe Writing Essentials. (I have no affiliation with both companies, though.)

* From Wikipedia: Sapin-sapin is a layered glutinous rice and coconut dessert in Filipino cuisine. It is made from rice flour, coconut milk, sugar, water, and coloring with coconut flakes sprinkled on top. Sapin-sapin means "layers" and the dessert is recognizable for its layers, each colored separately. It has been referred to as "a blancmange of several colored layers, sweetened and flavored with coconut milk".


  1. Nice review! I always call this ink Orange Elephant by accident and I had no idea why. I'm so thick that it was only reading this that I realized it was because of the label!!! LOL!

  2. Thank you for this informed and well written review.
    I just bought a bottle of "Orange Indien". I will give you an appreciation in the next few weeks.
    Since I have only one fountain pen, I have to go through my "Lie de Thé" Herbin ink.
    Have a nice and pleasant day.
    Pierre B.

  3. great review. what fountain pen nib did you use on this sample?

  4. Anonymous10:24 AM

    Nice review. Your handwriting is beautiful, by the way. What fountain pen nib did you use on your writing samples?

  5. The pen/nib I used for the calligraphic strokes is a Manuscript calligraphy pen with 1.5mm crisp italic nib. The other pen I used for regular, non-italic writing is a medium Parker Jotter.

  6. Still loving how this color ink brightens up my day with its cheerful hue :) I'm using it in an orange Schneider Zippi turned into an ED.

  7. This was really fantastic color, this color really looks stunning, and I also like all these information given by you, and really appreciate your post.

  8. Hi Clem! This is Prinz. Just bought this ink today because of your review. It's a really nice ink. Looks beautiful on cream paper.

  9. Very beautiful handwriting and ink colour.....