Friday, January 2, 2015

Super 5 Ink Idle-Time Test Results

1/2/15 Super 5 Atlantic and Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun inks, Zig markers,
Caran d'Ache Museum water-soluble colored pencil, Canson XL 140 lb. paper
A few weeks ago I reviewed samples of Super 5 waterproof ink, which I’ve been sketching with since. I’ve really come to like the Frankfurt color, a warm dark gray, which has filled a gap in my waterproof ink collection (I haven’t been able to find gray waterproof inks from many manufacturers). The review included a test of waterproofness, which is very reliable. The only remaining factor to test was the all-important idle time.

It’s been exactly 21 days since I left a Sailor pen inked up with Super 5 ink (Atlantic color) in a cup, nib pointing skyward. I tried the pen today, and its first strokes were dry. It took a few strokes to get the ink flowing, and while I wrote a few more words, the pen was skippy and scratchy. But after a few long squiggles, I got the ink flowing at a normal pace, and now the pen is fine. This idle-time performance isn’t quite as good as DeAtramentis Document ink’s idle-time test (or my all-time favorite Platinum Carbon), but that could be partly attributed to the different pens – the Sailor might not seal quite as well as the Pilot Metropolitan (if I were a true scientist, I would be using the same pen for all of these tests, but what the heck), which is a proven idle-time winner. But three weeks is also an extreme length of time that I would leave any pen inked up and idle, so I’d say that Super 5 passed the test acceptably.

This test was particularly important because the last time I used Super 5 ink at any length, it was during the Urban Sketchers Symposium in Paraty, when it was given to me in a Super 5 fountain pen. After only a few days of idle time, it was dry and skippy, which I deemed unacceptable. Now I realize it wasn’t the ink that was at fault – it was the pen (which I’ve already rejected and given away for other reasons; if a product doesn’t pass Tina’s initial idiosyncratic impressions, it doesn’t get tested any further).

It’s too bad Super 5 isn’t available in brown – it would be a great substitute for DeAtramentis Document Brown, which is still out of stock at But I might spring for a bottle of Super 5 Frankfurt (at $27.95 a bottle, though, the price makes me squirm).

(Super 5 Atlantic ink was used in this rather hasty sketch of the Pike Place Market through the window of Pike Place Bar & Grill, where Greg and I were having lunch today. [I was going to put in a bit more detail, but my food came, and I’m not one of those sketchers who can put off food to sketch.] We had intended to get to the Market during the holidays to see the lights and other decorations, such as the row of “pigdeer” atop the Main Arcade building, but we didn’t get around to it until today. Sadly, although the decorations were still up, most of the lights were off, and things looked dreary in the cold drizzle. I guess the holidays are over.)

Updated 2/10/15: See my further thoughts on Super 5s idle time as well as its flow in general.


  1. Love the "pig deer." Too bad the lights weren't on...looks like it should be a festive place.

  2. I just got my samples today from Goulet: De Atramentis Document Green, Super5 Frankfurt, and Super5 Australia. Plus some Clairefontaine stationery and the new Platinum Preppy EF. Tomorrow I play! Thanks for your reviews which are very helpful for an advanced beginner like me.

    Arlene Abel Lennox

    1. You're welcome, Arlene -- I'm glad that my reviews are useful! Let me know what you think of those inks!

      - Tina

    2. So far I only have experience with Noodler's Lexington Grey and Brown #41, but I like these 3 new ones. The Frankfurt is a bit warmer than Lex Grey and also waterproof. The Document Green is a nice cool dark green. I really like the Australia which is a brownish, purplish dusty red. I can see sketching the red rock country of the Southwest with it. All 3 are waterproof. I was using a glass dip pen to try them out.

  3. Don't you find that the calligraphy nibs tend to go dry regardless of ink? That's certainly the case for Hero pens. I chuckled over your comments of "Tina’s initial idiosyncratic impressions." Like you, I have very low tolerance for pens that don't perform.

    I might have done the ultimate idle-time test of the Platinum Carbon pen and ink. I "lost" mine sometime during late summer. This morning I was cleaning up and found that the darn thing was hiding in a pocket of a jacket I rarely wear. After at least four months it wrote without fail.

    Cheers --- Larry

    1. My Sailor calligraphy pen doesn't dry out for a long, long time, but I recall that my Hero dried out fairly quickly (I rejected it almost immediately for that and other reasons). Wow, that Platinum certainly did pass the ultimate idle-time test! Impressive!


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