Kobe is not only the city in which the Nagasawa-Kobe stationery shop is situated, it also the brand name for eighty delightful fountain pen inks that Nagasawa-Kobe sell. But these inks aren’t made in-house. Oh no! These fountain pen inks are made by one of the world’s most revered fountain pen ink creators… Sailor.
When Anja from Papier und Stift asked me if I’d like to swatch test the entire Kobe ink range, I just couldn’t believe my luck. And in spite of the courier delays due to Covid and Brexit, all eighty sample vials eventually arrived and the wait was definitely worth it. So here is the first of nine posts which I hope you’ll enjoy as much as I enjoyed reviewing them:
Rokko Green – A dark army green that bleeds out green, grey and olive when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A clean gold reaction to bleach.
Wharf Blue – An airforce blue that bleeds out a very feint blue when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. No chromatography. A clean gold reaction to bleach.
The Old City Sepia – A kind of deep grey with a deep crimson hue that bleeds out cool greys, warm greys and crimson when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A gold reaction to bleach.
Kitano Town Villa Red – A deep red that bleeds out strawberry and feint greys and a hint of yellow when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A gold reaction to bleach.
Tor Black – A deep cool black that bleeds out greys and purple greys when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A gold reaction to bleach.
Kobe Bordeaux – A crimson red that bleeds out pink, purple and grey when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A clean and definite reaction to bleach. A gold reaction to bleach. On the swatch landscape, when used with water there is a delicious red wine colour.
Strait Blue – A dark blue grey that bleeds out blues and greys when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A gold reaction to bleach.
Arima Amber – An rich rust that bleeds out chestnut, salmon pink and lime green when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A gold reaction to bleach.
Puma Purple – A deep dark purple that bleeds out purples, blues and greys when dropped onto a wetted paper surface. A gold reaction to bleach.
Landscape swatch paintings – the inks are just so delicate!
They’re a water colour painting in a bottle. Just look at those atmospheric landscapes!
There’s just something about the fountain pen inks from the far east – a sophistication and a delicacy. Looking at the handwriting examples one wouldn’t have a clue about the chromatic wonders these inks have to offer. And as this project develops I am trying my best to seamlessly integrate writing and illustration together just using this one fountain pen ink medium. The more calligraphic based alphabets of the middle and far eastern cultures do tend to integrate with illustration a little more easily than our Roman based western alphabets, but with more fluid handwriting styles, abstracted calligraphic shapes and inks like these I think there’s plenty of visually impactive opportunities ahead.
Many thanks to Anja at Papier und Stift for sending me the samples. All art created on Bockingford watercolour paper and Tomoe River paper. Keep a look out for the next post – Kobe inks 10-18.
AND HEY! If you’re interested to know more about how to use fountain pen inks in more creative ways – whether it’s simply to observe their chromatic behaviours, or, to recreate one of my swatch cards, or, to learn how to use them in watercolour painting, illustration and calligraphy, why not check out my online course ?