Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Ink Review: J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage

It rained for four years,
eleven months,
and two days.

The sky crumbled into storms and hurricanes
that scattered roofs 
and knocked down walls
and uprooted every last plant of the banana groves.

- Gabriel García Márquez, 'One Hundred Years of Solitude'

In this part of the world where I live, the dry spell is over, having been banished by the typhoons of the now-officially declared wet season. I like this season of the year - not for the rain and wetness - but because I see green everywhere! What used to be dry, brown spots are now thriving with growth and greens. Now I can walk and run again! Isn't it refreshing to brisk walk after a heavy downpour? It feels so refreshing to be outside when everything has just been washed by the rain.

This may be a surprise because I am known to hate the rain. Well, I do. So I will stop rattling about it and just write about this wonderful J. Herbin green ink from Karen Doherty though Quo Vadis Blog's St. Patrick Day giveaway. And let's hope it doesn't rain for four days, eleven months and two days on this part of the planet. :)  

I received this bottle of J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage in early April, and that gave me enough time to use it before writing this review. I was reluctant to use it at first because green is not an ink color I am usually fond of, but I was so attracted to Lierre Sauvage's hue that I filled my (green) Chelpark Moti pen with it, pronto. And LS did not disappoint. I wrote an entry in my diary with it and I'm happy that it is indeed, a readable green.

I know much has been written about the J. Herbin ink box. I have written as much (read here, here, and here) so I will not do a repeat. But the Herbin bottle, though, is a beauty. Each Herbin bottle has an elegantly designed label and an integrated pen rest as shown in the photo below. I've always complained that the pen rest is too shallow/narrow to fit any regular-sized pen, although my white Unic fits in the groove perfectly, and this slim 1957 Sheaffer cartridge pen fits comfortably; I learned through Brian Goulet (of Goulet Pens Company and Ink Nouveau) that the pen rest is really meant for the Herbin glass dip pens. Now that makes sense. :)

I love playing around with the bottle, so here is another photo with the bottle turned upside down. Doing that shows the embossed print that says "J HERBIN PARIS".

Here's how the ink looks inside the bottle, which is very dark and almost black. But note that the ink on the bottle's neck (below) and walls (see photo above) somehow show the true green color of Lierre Sauvage.

And now the written review. Lierre Sauvage is a moderately saturated ink, that has excellent, consistent, wet flow. Writing is smooth for both round and italic nibs, and shading is seen in both. I enjoyed writing with this ink on my Sheaffer CP and 1.5mm cursive italic Rotring ArtPen. I had no feathering or bleed problems with the Rhodia Reverse notebook paper.

Below are macro shots of several portions of the page above, to further show how Lierre Sauvage behaved on Rhodia paper from two different nibs.

This doodle is written using the Sheaffer CP, which has a medium nib.

Text below was written using the same Sheaffer CP. Notice the evident shading.

Now SKY, taken from the quote was written using the 1.5mm Rotring ArtPen.
I love the clear shading seen here..


...and here. In the slanted line of the letter N (and on the lower line of K from the SKY photo), look closely to see that it is subtly divided, made by the separation of the nib tines.

Lierre Sauvage is a green ink with traces of yellow, or orange, which contributes to its brightness. In the photo below, it is clear that this bright (but not neon-bright) readable green ink shows more yellow than blue (like Diamine Woodland Green - that's for the next ink review), black (like Private Reserve Avacado, my first green ink which I use sparingly due to its saturation), or gray (like the vintage, made in the Philippines Parker Super Quink Permanent Green).

Lierre Sauvage dries fast enough. After the 15th second, it has completely dried on paper, including the dots and end points of strokes. I did not do a comparison with the other green inks, though. 

Lierre Sauvage borrows its green hue and icon from the wild ivy, which is its direct translation. I am loving it, and currently has three pens on my pen wrap inked with it.

J. Herbin inks are available in 30 beautiful colors. These water-based inks are non-toxic, have neutral pH and manufactured using natural dyes. Dowload 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, and US$9.50 at The Goulet Pen Company. (I have no affiliation with either companies, though.)

J. Herbin Lierre Sauvage ink used in this review courtesy of Exaclair, Inc. through Karen Doherty and Rhodia Reverse Notebook from fellow fountain pen collector and budding business entrpreneur John Raymond Lim. The two pens used, the Rotring ArtPen and Sheaffer CP both belong to my collection.


  1. Anonymous6:51 PM

    Lovely, luscious photos! Great that you used it for so long before writing the review. Also love that Garcia Marquez quote. Thank you for a great post. It is a pleasure to read - you are such a good writer. :)

  2. Fantastic review and pics, just filled up w/ J. Herbin myself! ;-)

  3. Thank you for the mentions of my in your post! This is a wonderful green, one I recommend very often for a bright, healthy green. This is one of J. Herbin's nicer inks, I think, especially if you're a fan of vibrant colors. Thanks for a fantastic review, and AWESOME handwriting!

  4. You make me want to write the word "PHILADELPHIA" over and over again. That is one of the most fun words to write in script. Try it in your next posting. So much you can do with it. So many extended letters (L, P, H, etc)

    Love LOVE this blog


  5. I'm always so happy to see someone else who loves Rotring Art Pens.

  6. Phauton9:47 PM

    Love Lierre sauvage, although I've found some colour variation between the cartridge and the bottle versions. Despite Herbin's vegetable dye formulation, this ink is surprisingly water and light-resistant, at least enough to avoid obliteration.

    P.S. your captcha system may be wonky. I couldn't see the image, and the audible one didn't work.