ink review – L’Artisan Pastellier Callifolio Noir

the obligatory black from the Callifolio line …

L’Artisan Pastellier is a small company in southern France that specialises in natural pigments, and offers customers authentic and reliable products in beautiful colours based on mineral or vegetable pigments. In a collaboration with Loic Rainouard from Styloplume.net, the chemist Didier Boinnard from L’Artisan Pastellier created the line of Callifolio fountain pen inks. These pastel-coloured inks are traditionally crafted, and can be freely mixed and matched. Overall these inks are only moderately saturated, and have low water-resistance. The inks were specifically designed to work well with all types of paper, and all types of fountain pens.

Being pastel-tinted, these inks have a watercolour-like appearance, and are not only fine inks for journaling, but are also really excellent inks for doodling & drawing. I only recently discovered them, and they are already the inks I gravitate towards for personal journaling.

In this review I take a closer look at Noir – the black ink of the Callifolio line. It seems every ink maker feels obliged to have a black ink in its collection, and L’Artisan Pastellier is no exception. In my opinion they shouldn’t have bothered… there are already enough black inks on the market. On the other hand Callifolio inks were designed to be freely mixed, so this black could probably be used in your own mixes to darken up some other colours (that’s one rabbit hole I haven’t dived into yet 😉

Noir is not a deep black but more of a very dark grey, which is especially noticeable in swabs. I found the ink to be undersaturated in the finer nibs, with an unpleasing aesthetics as a result. Below this review you’ll find writing samples in different nib widths. It’s only with broader nibs that the ink starts to look nice with some subdued shading. With fine nibs, the text looks really bland and uninspiring.

On the smudge test – rubbing text with a moist Q-tip cotton swab – Noir exhibits quite some smearing, but the text itself remains readable. This ink smudges easily. Combined with a rather long drying time, this means you have to be extra careful while writing. Definitely not an ink for lefties. The ink has almost no water resistance. With a 15-minute soak in still water, the text is completely obliterated, leaving an undecipherable mess. Running tap water provides a better result. The ink detaches almost completely from the paper, but a faint greyish ghost image of your writing remains that can still be read quite easily.

I have tested the ink on a wide variety of paper – from crappy Moleskine to high-end Tomoe River. For the Callifolio reviews, I’m using a new format to show you the ink’s appearance and behaviour on the different paper types. On every small band of paper I show you:

  • An ink swab, made with a cotton Q-tip
  • 1-2-3 pass swab, to show increasing saturation
  • An ink scribble made with an F-nib fountain pen (Pelikan M200)
  • The name of the paper used, written with a B-nib
  • A small text sample, written with an F-nib (Pelikan M200)
  • Drying times of the ink on the paper (with the F-nib)

Callifolio Noir behaved perfectly on all the paper types I used, with only some very minor feathering on the lower quality papers in my test set (Moleskine and HP 80 gsm printing paper). Drying times are fairly long in the 20-25 second range on most papers, with up to 30 seconds on the smoother papers like Tomoe River. In my opinion, this makes the ink useless as an everyday writing ink because you have to be too careful with regard to smudging.

At the end of the review, I also show the back-side of the different paper types, in the same order. The ink behaved superbly on all paper types. Only with Moleskine did I notice a tiny bit of bleed-through.

Conclusion

Callifolio Noir from L’Artisan Pastellier is a not so great black (or should I say dark grey) that has too many shortcomings to be considered a good ink. Drying times are way too long which results in easy smudging of your writing. The ink also looks bland and uninteresting in the finer nibs, only showing some character with broad and stub nibs. If you’re looking for a black ink, you should look elsewhere. There are lots of better blacks on the market.

Technical test results on Rhodia N° 16 notepad paper, written with Pelikan M200, F-nib

Backside of writing samples on different paper types

[Originally published on the Fountain Pen Network, on 28 June 2017]