Glenn’s Pens—Bloody Good Inks
By Glenn McAleer
Since our last edition of Glenn’s Pens, our titular character (me) has grown bored of the inks in his collection. I took a trip to Reid’s Stationers for a breath of fresh novelty in my writing. In order to justify my purchase, I would need an excuse. After all, I had perfectly good ink at home. Finally, it hit me—I have no red ink! While red ink is traditionally used for revisions, titles, or underlines, I always found the red ink in disposable roller-ball pens to be nauseating to look at (I’m looking at you, BIC). Today, I’ll be looking at blood-red inks to attempt to find an ink that fills the traditional purposes mentioned above without being ghastly to look at, and another red ink for daily writing that doesn’t pop off the page so dramatically as to dominate both it and my eyes.
Each outing to Reid’s comes with a chance to feast your eyes on some of the top brands in the fountain pen world, including their devout display to Montblanc. I even had the opportunity to see some dip pens around the store—much too messy for my hand, I’m afraid. The staff at Reid’s are always helpful and kind, and I cannot recommend the store enough for artists of any written medium. The inks I decided to look at were from Diamine, a company with several “staple” colours in blood red that are favourites in the fountain pen community: Oxblood, Writer’s Blood, and Red Dragon.
In my eyes, each colour has its own benefits and drawbacks. It would be hard for me to pick a favourite, but two of the inks stuck out as those that will likely find a home in my collection. Oxblood will likely be the ink I use most going forward. Oxblood is a deeper red with a brown undertone. The depth of the colour not only looks magnificent on the page but also works quite well as a daily writer. The ink is less vibrant than the others on the list, but still stays far from being dull. While I’m not one for writing essays in red, it can make for some fun notetaking without being as hard on the eyes as writing in a higher-contrast or brighter red. The Oxblood also behaved spectacularly, feeling wet out of the pen but drying quickly on the page with minimal feathering, even from a medium-nibbed pen. The ink performed beautifully on printer paper and even wrote with minimal feathering on the bible-like paper of my Canadian Income Tax Act (though the bleed-through was quite noticeable). I plan on inking this one of my daily writers with this ink, perhaps one of my reliable Twsbi’s I so often take to school with me.
For different reasons, Red Dragon also stuck out to me. To be clear, Red Dragon ink is not a “bright red,” but it is the truest red of the bunch, especially side-by-side. I don’t see myself writing as much every time I take it out of the bag, but I may use it most often to underline dates, highlight salient points, or take important notes. I wish I could use it to ink one of my pocket pens, but unfortunately Red Dragon ink just does not dry fast enough to be used on standard printer paper on the go. That said, Red Dragon is a beautiful ink that imparts memories of cranberry sauce at Christmastime—just in time for the mid-October snowfall we can expect in Calgary. I plan to ink my knock-off vanishing point (the Moonman A1) so that I can easily top my pages with a bold title without fussing with a twist-off cap.
Writer’s Blood was a very interesting ink. It is likely the darkest of the three colours and certainly had the most “shimmer” of any of the inks. It also has deep fuchsia undertones that threaten to overshadow the red. It is certainly the most visually striking of any of the inks, but when compared alongside either the Oxblood or the Red Dragon ink, the purple washes out much of the red. While I would not go as far as to say that the ink was temperamental, it was the trickiest ink of the bunch, taking even longer to dry than the Red Dragon. I would say that I was mildly disappointed with the performance of the ink, as Writer’s Blood was my most anticipated of the inks I had selected. The ink’s name and vibrancy would still be a great conversation starter, but finding a purpose for the ink and using it in daily writing seems more of a challenge than it’s worth. While I don’t intend on inking any of my fountain pens with this ink at the time being, it has proven fun for ink-swabs, and I may be able to find a purpose for it outside of writing.
I hope you have enjoyed this edition of Glenn’s Pens. There are dozens of fantastic ink companies out there, each with hundreds of fantastic ink varieties to try. While the opinions I have shared above are genuine, every writer has a different eye as to what they fancy and different purposes to put their ink toward. There is only one way for you to find your own favourites: ink your pens, let your hands get messy, and enjoy the process!
“That in Black ink my love may still shine bright.” - William Shakespeare, Sonnet 65