Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Time for Orange - again! Montblanc Ink of Joy

(also starring a Mabie Todd Swan 3161)

My passion for orange ink doesn't end with Iroshizuku yu-yake! There are so many great orange inks out there and I only know a fraction of them. One of those is Montblanc's "Ink of Joy", one of last year's limited edition inks. It was part of a trio of inks, the other two being "ink of friendship" - I believe it was blue - and "ink of love" (red, of course).

Montblanc "Ink of Joy" in a Mabie Todd Swan with semi-flex nib.

Compared to yu-yake, this is more of a pure, textmarker-y orange. It lacks the burnt aspect of yu-yake and also doesn't shade as much, but the colour is very nice and full of sunlight - which can't go wrong now that the days grow shorter and darker.

Like yu-yake this ink needs some flow and/or a broad tip to show its full beauty and remain legible, the "ink of joy" even more so because the flow seems to be a little hesitant. It's also a really nice match with the semi-flex nib, at least in my opinion - if it weren't for the penmanship, which of course could be better. I feel I still haven't had the famous light bulb moment when it comes to using a flex nib, it's still a bit of a struggle.

Montblanc "Ink of Joy" in a Mabie Todd Swan with semi-flex nib.

The text is from a beautiful and sad poem by Erich Fried, called "Das Schwere" ("heaviness", literally translated) which is all about endings, losses and autumn as the time "between harvest and death". It sounds more depressing than it is, really, but I guess it could use some orange ink to lighten it up and keep in mind that, one more time, spring will come again.

Montblanc Ink of Joy (top) and Iroshizuku yu-yake (bottom)

Here's a quick comparison between "Ink of Joy" and "yu-yake". It's not awfully valid since nib width and flow properties of the used pens are so different but you can see the "burnt" aspect and more red pigments in "yu-yake" whereas the "Ink of Joy" is brighter and more vibrant.

For paper I've used a Rhodia dot pad which is one of the nicest paper for writing with a fountain pen because it is very smooth and tolerates almost any degree of ink flow without feathering or bleed-through. The only paper I've tried that's even better in this respect is Amalfi paper - a review is coming soon.
Rhodia is a french company who buy their paper from Clairefontaine and their properties are pretty similar, however Clairefontaine doesn't do the dot grid yet. I adore the dots, they are unobtrusive but still offer some guidance. After I've revamped my handwriting I've been unable to write in straight lines on blank paper for a long time and it's still not perfect, though much better now, so the dot grid grew on me.

For the sake of completeness I'd like to add that not every fountain pen user is a fan of Rhodia/Clairfontaine paper because some pens won't write well on it. This is mostly due to its smoothness: ink will only flow from the nib onto the paper if capillary action is permitted. If the nib tip isn't shaped 100% right and the paper - like CF/Rhodia - doesn't provide a lot of upright micro fibers to meet the nib half way skipping and hard starting can be the consequence. If your pen is one of those candidates, a little tweaking by an experienced nibmeister can probably help. (My limited experience: If a nib is really well ground and set it will write on nearly anything, but it wouldn't be realistic to expect this of any pen. There are divas among them, as are among us. :-D)


  1. I'm a huge fan of dot grids myself. Especially the Rhodia dotPad which somehow seems a tad bit less smooth/coated than the regular Rhodia/CF paper... but I could just be crazy. Love your orange ink writing too, very lovely :)

  2. You're too modest. I would be quite happy if I could write with a flex pen like you do. I especially like your capital Z in "Zeit". German is a wonderful language for Z's. We have only so few of them in Dutch... which is why I always get into trouble when writing a Z :=)

  3. Thank you both! *blushes*

    Azizah, you're right, I too find the Rhodia paper (equally the dot pad as the 5x5 grid since those are the only ones I've tried) a little less sleek than the average CF. Consequentially baby-bottomed pens will behave a little better on Rhodia than on CF.

    Peter, indeed - yay for Zs in German! Probably this is the reason why we use a keyboard layout with the Z on a rather prominent position. I assume you would use the English keyboard layout in NL, or do you have one for Dutch specifically?


    1. Yes, I remember having been perplexed when seated behind a German keyboard on occasion. Not only the Z is in a different spot, IIRC. And I believe you have some additional characters too (all those vowels with Umlauts).
      Indeed we mainly use the US/International keyboard although, at least on my Mac, we get some special characters by means of the regional settings. I would not know what those would be though.