Bold and Rich…These Inks Don’t Fool Around!
Here’s a look at six more KWZ Standard inks. This set isn’t quite as bright and colorful as the first, but it’s no less impressive. These colors are a little more low-key and serious, but they’re still very rich and deep.
A Little Deeper Look into KWZ’s History
KWZ Ink had a pretty humble start. Back in 2012, Konrad began making inks for himself, trying to produce a permanent/waterproof ink he could use in the lab. Unable to find the kinds of inks he desired locally, he researched how to make inks and started experimenting. After about 100 attempts, he found a recipe that was stable and usable. He shared some of his inks with some local folks, one of whom sent some samples to an unnamed person in Canada (I’m guessing Claudia Astorquiza of Bauer Inks, but I don’t know for sure). She talked them up on Fountain Pen Network (FPN) and arranged some group buys. The feedback they received was very positive, so they officially established KWZ Ink as a brand in 2014.
After their announcement, the folks at Vanness quickly reached out to partner with them. In fact, Vanness was their only retailer for their first year in business. 2016 brought them some growth and expansion. They improved their manufacturing process, and although they still make ink in relatively small batches, their newfound efficiency has allowed them to grow the number of retailers they work with. They’re now working with 10 retailers, including stores in Europe, Asia, and North America.
They admittedly don’t market their ink. “We have no skills for that” says Agnieszka. However, people from all over the world continue to find out about their inks, and the simple power of word-of-mouth “advertising” from happy customers keeps their inks in high demand.
KWZ Standard Green #3
Green #3 is a pretty straightforward green, somewhere between emerald green and forest green…a little more yellow than typical emerald greens, and lighter & brighter than typical forest green.
It’s a very rich color that gives a wide range of tones depending on the paper and pen you’re using. For me, the most dramatic differences were on the Bristol Board (click that little thumbnail to the left). It ranges from a dark forest to a lighter yellowish green that I’d put somewhere between grass and Christmas.
Shading is moderate. It shows up a bit more on Bristol Board than it does on Rhodia. There really isn’t any sheen to the ink, although it does have a bit of subtle purple edging around where the ink pools.
KWZ Standard Grey Plum
Dark. Dusty. Purple. Wow!
I think this might be the most appropriately named ink ever. It’s a deep, dark midnight-violet color, and I can see this becoming my go-to purple ink. It’s dark enough to pass for black, but definitely colorful enough to avoid being mistaken for black.
I got a little shading out of it on the Rhodia paper when I used the glass dip pen and C4 calligraphy nib, but didn’t get any on the Bristol Board. My guess is that the combination of pen and paper will dictate whether or not you get any shading.
There’s no sheen at all, but it does have a tiny bit of black edging…although it’s hard to see against the dark base purple color.
KWZ Standard Honey
Honey might be KWZ’s most beloved ink. It has a reputation for awesome shading and for actually being the color of honey. Does it shade? Yep. Although it’s not a crazy amount of shading, it’s still quite noticeable. And as for being the color of honey, I can vouch for that, too. At first I didn’t think it did. It gave me a very wide range of tones from a very light golden color to a dark leather color, and I didn’t think it looked much like honey. So I broke out my jar of honey to compare it. I’ll be damned…it’s the same exact color. It might be a little lighter or darker in areas, but honestly, the color is spot-on.
I’d put Honey in the sepia family. It has a medium tone which allows it to be happy and light while still being dark enough to read.
Like I said, it has some really pretty shading, which is noticeable with all three nibs I used. It doesn’t have any sheen, but has dark brown edging that is pretty luscious.
A lot of people love this ink, and for good reason. I find that it has a great “antique” quality about it, and just looking at it on the page makes me want to use it on some parchment paper.
KWZ Standard Midnight Green
Midnight Green is a mighty interesting color. I find it’s almost identical to Noodler’s Zhivago: rich and murky…kind of like dirty motor oil, but without the brown component. It’s probably equal parts dark gray and dark olive green.
I found that this ink came out a LOT darker on Rhodia paper than it did on Bristol Board.
Midnight Green gives a tiny bit of shading, but it’s really subtle in most instances and you really have to look for it to see it.
As with the others so far, there’s no sheen, but it does have some edging that could be black or a darker version of the base color. The base color is so dark, it’s hard to tell which. If you like interesting, near-black inks, this is one you want to try out.
KWZ Standard Rotten Green
Fantastic name! I thought maybe there would be a cool story behind the naming of this ink, but Agnieszka says it’s just a direct translation of the Polish name, and that “rotten” is commonly used for muted dark grayish green colors.
Rotten Green has is a very noticeable blue component to it, so much so that I’d probably classify this ink as a turquoise-black. The cool thing is that I really don’t have anything else quite like it…it’s very unique. I do have a few inks that come close (Franklin-Christoph Loden and Bung Box Dandyism), but those are more yellow than Rotten Green.
The color range of this ink is phenomenal. The spectrum ranges from a teal so dark it almost looks black to a lighter, dustier blue-green that reminds me of a forest on a summer morning, when the sun starts to come up and the mist is rising from the foliage. You know that color the trees take on as you look at them through the rising mists? Yeah, it’s kind of like that…although, admittedly, you’re not likely to get that lighter color from most fountain pen nibs (you can see it in the smear on the card (just click the thumbnail).
Rotten Green is pretty consistent in appearance across the two different papers I used. It’s a touch lighter on the Bristol Board, which is a lot more absorbent than the Rhodia, but overall, they’re pretty close.
There’s not a whole lot of shading going on here. The only real place it shows up is in the figure-8s I did with the C4 calligraphy nib. Otherwise, it’s a pretty flat ink.
KWZ Standard Turquoise
The only really bright color in this batch, Turquoise is a stunner. It’s very vibrant, very saturated, and really jumps off the page. As with most of the other inks in this post, Turquoise is brighter/lighter on the bristol board than it is on Rhodia paper, but it shows a beautiful range of blues on both. Even the darker areas are nice and bright.
Is there shading? Yes and no. It’s really going to depend on pen and paper you use. On Rhodia paper, I got some shading from my C4 calligraphy nib, but not the glass dip pen. On the Bristol Board, I do see shading from the glass pen. This is certainly a case of “your mileage my vary.”
Of all the KWZ inks I’ve played with, Turquoise might be the only one I’d say has some sheen, but it’s not something that jumps out. The smears I did on both papers show a lovely plum-colored edging. This color shows up periodically in writing, mostly around the outside of letters. In the card image to the left, you can see the sheen in the letter n in the middle of Standard at the top of the card. Strangely enough, I get more sheen on the absorbent Bristol Board than I do on the coated Rhodia paper.
I continue to be impressed with KWZ inks. Of the 12 standard inks I’ve looked at so far, there’s a spectacular range of color options. Some are bright and happy, others are dark and serious, and a few are even murky and mysterious. But they’re all vibrant, all saturated, and all suitable for everyday use. Except for Honey, shading is pretty understated across these inks, and there’s only random traces of sheen to be found (although most have gorgeous & complementary edging).
KWZ is a company to keep your eye on. They’re chemists driven by a passion for producing beautiful inks that are are both safe and fun to use. And despite my ongoing fear of iron gall inks, Agnieszka convinced me to try some of theirs. I ordered some samples, got them in, and swabbed them…and they’re absolutely beautiful. So keep a watchful eye on my blog for that post. It should be a fun one.
Other Posts in this Series
KWZ Inks, Part 1 (Standard)
KWZ Inks, Part 3 (Iron Gall – Coming Soon!)