Friday, October 19, 2012

Diamine Chocolate Brown and Diamine Grey

10/18/12 Lamy fountain pen, Diamine Grey ink, Albrecht Durer colored pencil
For a long time, I felt awkward and messy sketching with a fountain pen. Although I’ve always loved the elegant esthetic of fountain pens, as a lefty, I couldn’t seem to manage writing with one without making a smudgy mess, let alone sketch with one. But because I knew that many sketchers use fountain pens to beautiful effects, I persisted in practicing and experimenting with various pens and inks that dry quickly, and now I’ve grown very fond of sketching with my Lamys (yes, plural – I have five so far – four Safaris and one Al-Star).
10/18/12 Lamy, Diamine Chocolate Brown ink
Up until a few weeks ago I’d been using black ink exclusively – basic water-soluble Lamy cartridges and bottled waterproof Platinum Carbon Black. Then I started thinking that sometimes it would be nice to have a warmer shade – perhaps a sepia brown. I knew from all the blogs and forums I read that the Goulet Pen Company offers a wealth of information about fountain pens and inks, so I went there to shop for brown ink. HA! Goulet stocks no less than 78 brown inks! As a firm J on the Myers-Briggs, I get uncomfortable with too many options, and I like to decide quickly, so I was having mild anxiety. But Goulet sells small samples of almost all of the bottled inks they offer. So I picked out a dozen samples of brown inks that looked good online.
Using a dip pen to try out all the samples as soon as they arrived (very quickly, I might add), I immediately eliminated several that weren’t what I was looking for. I narrowed down my choices to a comfortable five. Although the “J” in me wants to decide on that favorite soon, I’m also enjoying getting to know each sample. (There’s enough ink in a sample to fill a Lamy converter at least twice.)
Right now my Al-Star is filled with Diamine Chocolate Brown – a lovely, rich brown that washes to a warm sepia.
And speaking of Diamine, one of my Safaris is filled with Diamine Grey – which I bought a whole bottle of without even trying it first. Why the impulsive buy? Mainly because of Stefano, writer of the delightful blog Everything is worth to be sketched, and his recent reviews of gray inks. He describes Diamine Grey as a “pearl grey,” and that’s as good a description as any for this elegant ink.
10/18/12 Diamine Grey and Chocolate Brown inks
So I now carry four fountain pens in my bag – one with Platinum Carbon Black, one with Lamy Black, one with Diamine Grey, and one with Diamine Chocolate Brown (until the converter runs out, and I move on to the next brown sample).
I wasn’t planning to stop at the zoo yesterday, but I knew it was going to rain tonight and continue for possibly days, so I ran in for a few quick sketches between errands. Since it was a spontaneous stop, I had only my Greeting Card Sketchbook and my Sketchbook Project sketchbook with me – both of which are too flimsy to support my attachable watercolor kit. So I decided it was a good opportunity to forego paint and use only fountain pens and, in the case of one sketch, a red water-soluble colored pencil. It turns out that you can go pretty far sketching at the zoo with only gray and brown inks. In fact, unlike the black Lamy ink, which tends to wash into an unnatural shade of purplish-gray, the Diamine Grey washes to a soft, neutral gray that many birds and mammals seem to have on their underbellies.



  1. Interesting post with lots of information. Thanks!

  2. I've found Lamy a good choice for a relatively inexpensive fountain pen. I have two safaris, one for sketching and one for writing. I also got a Noodler's Ahab Flex but couldn't get the darn thing to work. I'll have to go to Goulet and learn the difference between the Safari and the All Star. What difference have you found?

    I really do like Goulet Pen for their wide variety and customer support. Being able to get small, inexpensive, samples is a great service. The Diamine Chocolate Brown looks nice but the reviews say it smears. But maybe you want to be able to create a wash with it?

    I like to use brown for writing. I'm using up my samples of Noodler's Lexington Gray in my writing pen. It dries alright on my journal paper but was awful on watercolor paper!

    Oh, and I'm a "J" also! Married to a "P". It was only after learning more about Myers Briggs (and I was actually a certified tester) that I understood why we can't shop together! :) We developed a different stategy than going together.

  3. Thanks, Peggy! Kate, the only difference I have found between the Safari and the Al-Star is that the former is made of plastic and the latter is aluminum. All the parts are the same (nibs, converter). I do enjoy making washes with fountain pen inks. It's such a fast and easy way to do shading. I'm married to a strong P, too! You should have seen us trying to make a thousand decisions for a major house remodel! :-0

  4. Wonderful post Tina, and thanks in giving me a shootout.
    Yes the Diamine grey is probably "the Grey" for writing, altough is not waterproof. But you managed this ink really lovely and so this is a real satisfaction.
    So I'm happy that my suggestions are okay and you enjoyed.



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