Now you see ’em. Now you don’t. Now you see ’em again.
Organics Studio (OS) is a company I (regretfully) avoided early on. When I started working with fountain pens a few years ago, there was a pretty big kerfuffle going on about certain “boutique” ink brands. People were complaining about SITB (Slime/Stuff in the Bottle) issues with Private Reserve. Others were swearing up and down that Noodler’s Baystate Blue was eating their pens. There was a lot of FUD going on. Some things I chose to ignore (I did buy a pile of Noodler’s ink), but others stuck with me. For some reason, I lumped Organics Studio in with all the scary issues. I think there was one or two reports of SITB in their inks, so I relegated them to the “Do Not Bother” list.
Fortunately, I kept hearing a lot of good things about these inks, and decided to give them a try anyway (plus, even giant brands like Montblanc and J Herbin had issues with SITB, so the one or two reported occurrences with OS inks seemed more like anomalies than an ongoing issue). Unfortunately
, at about the same time, they stopped producing ink so the dude behind the company (Tyler Thompson) could focus on grad school. So in light of that, I decided to continue not bothering with them. But through the hiatus, I kept hearing great things about their inks, and I kept running into people crying in the streets because their favorite OS inks were no longer available.
Fast-forward to late 2016. Tyler graduates, moves back to his home state of Maryland, and resurrects his beloved brand of ink. People rejoiced. Angles sang. Pens were cleaned in preparation.
I would go into more detail about the origins of the company, but Tyler does a great job of that on the Organics Studio site. In the interest of keeping this short, I’ll just point you there if you’re interested.
Biting the Bullet
So with Organics Studio back in action and my fear of gross things in their inks dissipated, I finally went ahead and ordered a handful of samples to check them out. Of the six samples I got, none of them are overly saturated. Some inks out there leap off the page and slap you in the face. But not these. They’re actually a little understated. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all strong and fairly vibrant inks. But they’re more subdued, dark, and professional looking.
Organics Studio Aristotle Iron Gall
Iron Gall ink is, by nature, an acidic solution. There are many reports of IG inks causing the corrosion of metal pen parts (except gold). Richard Binder gives an excellent description/definition of what IG inks are and the effects they can have. I asked the manufacturer for guidance on usage for Aristotle IG ink, and his reply was “I personally fill a pen with it and don’t leave it for more than a day. Its sort of a pain in the neck, but I tend to be very cautious with my pens. I also only use it in a few safaris out of caution.”
I can personally attest that two weeks is too long. 🙁 If you use this or any other IG ink, proceed with caution and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use.
I’ll say it up front: Iron gall inks scare the crap out of me. But this was also the one I was most excited about getting. I love teal and turquoise inks, and Aristotle looked to be a really beautiful, rich teal. Turns out that I love the color. Shocking, no? The color is nearly black coming out of my dip nibs on the Rhodia paper, but you can still tell it’s teal. The ink appears quite a bit lighter from the glass pen on bristol board.
Aristotle does yield a nice range of tones from a light, dusty water color to a super-dark, blackish teal. It is dark enough to read in all instances, though, so it’s equally suitable for both work and play.
There’s no sheen on this ink to speak of (yay!). There is, however, some pretty awesome shading. It’s really apparent in the large figure-eight patterns from the C4 calligraphy nib and the writing from the glass pen. And, of course, being an iron gall ink, it’s permanent on paper.
Organics Studio Blue Merle Blue Black
So the full name of this ink is Blue Merle Blue Black. Strange that “blue” is in there twice because there’s nary a hint of blue to be in this ink. It’s a nice dark gray, but that’s it. The name “Blue Merle” refers to a color pattern found on a number of dog breeds. Similar to cat breeds like the Russian Blue, the term “blue” refers to a dark gray that sometimes has a blue tint to it. So in this respect, the name does match the color. However, this is in no way a blue-black ink.
Odd naming aside, it’s a pretty decent ink. The swabs and smears from my samples remind me of watching storm clouds drift by during an afternoon thunderstorm. I never use black ink in my fountain pens, and generally don’t use grays, either. But Blue Merle does a good job of being dark enough to read easily while still producing some nice shading (see the larger figure 8s in the image above). I think this would probably be a good ink if you’re doing calligraphy on parchment paper.
Like I said, the shading is nice, if somewhat subtle. There really isn’t any sheen to the ink, but it does produce very dark edging around the places where ink pools heavily. At the right angle, this edging has a purply black look, but it’s very subtle and you have to be looking for it to see it.
Organics Studio Cobalt Blue
Cobalt is a really unique color…I don’t have anything else quite like it in my collection. It’s a dark, dusty blue that’s pretty rich in tone. It reminds me of a clear summer sky after the sun goes down but before the sky turns black.
Looking through my collection, I only have two inks that are somewhat close in color: Noodler’s Midnight blue and Robert Oster Blue Night. Cobalt is bluer than both of them, making it a real one-of-a-kind ink (at least within my collection).
Along with Manganese, I think Cobalt might make the best everyday writing ink of this batch. It’s a dark ink, but the blue really stands out on the page. It does produce a little bit of shading, but it’s very slight. And there’s no sheen at all.
Organics Studio Manganese Blue Black
Now this is my idea of a blue-black ink! Manganese is a dark, cold, steel-blue color. It also reminds me of a clear summer night sky, but immediately before the sky goes black. It just screams “night time!” This is more like what I expected from Blue Merle, so I’m glad I got this one to compensate.
There’s no shading with this ink (well, maybe a tiny bit with the calligraphy nib), as it lays down a pretty consistent and dark line.
I’m not sure whether or not to say this ink has sheen. It does have the black edging thing going on in thicker areas. Actually, the edging shows up around my letters done with the Blue Pumpkin dip nib, too. This edging looks black under daylight bulbs or sunlight, but it takes on a purply black color under soft white bulbs. This effect doesn’t just happen around edges, but also appears in the middle of some dark areas. So I guess I’d say this ink does have a slight bit of sheen, but the color of the sheen matches the ink well, so it’s not stark.
Organics Studio Nickel Teal
Nickel was another ink I was excited to try, but it’s a lot lighter than I expected, and therefore somewhat of a disappointment. When lightly applied to the page, the ink is more of a light (dare I say “boring”) turquoise than it is a teal. But the heavier you lay down ink, the more green it becomes. In the smears I did in the samples, the heaviest areas appear as a nice sea green color with dark blue edging. I actually really love this edging effect, as it’s far more interesting than the largely unremarkable base turquoise color.
Nickel does have some beautiful shading, especially when used with the Blue Pumpkin and Calligraphy nibs, giving a range of colors from the light turquoise to a mid-range teal. Although I probably wouldn’t load this in a regular fountain pen because it’s so light, I think it might give beautiful results with a stub or italic nib.
There’s no real sheen with Nickel, but it does have that dark blue edging I mentioned…which might be my favorite edging of any ink. If you could find a way to capture that edging from a fountain pen nib, it could be spectacular.
Organics Studio Oscar’s Copper
Another ink that’s not really named well. Oscar’s Copper isn’t copper at all, but a dusty red that falls somewhere between raspberry and brick red. I expected a slightly more orange ink, but this one is still nice. It’s almost identical to Noodler’s Black Swan in English Roses (English Roses…not Australian Roses), but it’s a little more saturated and produces darker dark areas than the Noodler’s. It’s also pretty close to Franklin Christoph Terra Firma, but without the brown component that Terra Firma has.
Oscar’s Copper produces beautiful shading that gives it a somewhat vintage look (at least on the Rhodia paper…the vintage effect is lost on the bristol board).
This ink produces the most sheen out of the six inks in this batch, but it’s confined to the edges of the darker areas. This sheen appears black when looking at it straight on, but takes on a greenish hue at an angle under both natural and soft white light. It also occurs more in the bristol board sample than it does on the Rhodia paper, so you may not experience any sheen under normal use.
I’ve been playing with several inks from Robert Oster and KWZ lately, both of which produce some extremely bright and saturated colors. These six inks from Organics Studio provide a nice contrast in that they’re more subdued, although still quite vibrant. I’m not sold on the Nickel Teal as I think it’s a bit too light, but the rest would all make great everyday colors. I really, really dig both the Aristotle and Manganese colors, although I can’t recommend Aristotle for use in steel-nib fountain pens.
The real star of this set, though, has to be Cobalt Blue. It’s gorgeous. Of the (currently) 170 inks in my collection, I don’t have any others quite like this. It’s dark enough to count as a blue-black, but still very much blue. It’s classy and serious with enough shading to give it a fun and interesting richness.
I’m glad I gave Organics Studio a try. A lot of people were genuinely happy when the OS phoenix rose from the ashes, and I felt compelled to check them out.