I’m a terrible ink reviewer. There, I’ve said it. Because ink reviewing is all about two things: consistent methodology and fabulous photography. I can’t be bothered with the first, and I lack the skill for the second.
What I have plenty of is opinions (not so good) and experience (more useful). I’ve used about 100 inks, so it takes a lot for me to feel like I’ve seen something genuinely new or at least better than a bottle I already have.
Which brings me to this lovely ink, Sydney Harbour Blue, from the predictably Australian brand Blackstone. I bought my first bottle of Blackstone, Barrier Reef Blue, with my own funds some times ago, and I really enjoyed the super-bright, super-saturated blue with bags of sheen.
This bottle came to me free of charge from Mishka and the lovely folks at Bureau Direct. You might want to check out my ethics page at this point.
Sydney is a much darker colour than Barrier Reef, and I found it particularly difficult both to categorise and to photograph.
It’s a blue, that’s for sure, but it’s got some green in it. Not enough green to put it in Edelstein Aquamarine territory, for instance, but it’s noticeably more teal than a “straight” blue. And it can be quite dark, but it sits uncomfortably next to real blue-blacks, too, due to its strong saturation and that green undertone. Most blue-blacks — and blues for that matter — look faded by comparison.
It’s pretty close to Yama-Dori and Tsuki-Yo, but not as green, and noticeably more saturated:
It’s super-saturated like the Organics Studios inks, but not a true blue-black like Emerson, and not as green as Walden (from what I can see behind the layer of sheen):
Of course, like most saturated blues it has a pink sheen, but here what is most problematic (in a good way) is the shading. In the wet, fine line of my glass nib, Sydney is a very dark ink. In a broader nib (like the Graf I used here), writing in cursive, the shading is very expressive and you get everything from sea-green to near-black where the ink pools. That makes comparison difficult. Paper, of course, makes a massive difference too.
So, this ink is a tease.
But, it’s a practical tease. For all its shading and sheen, dry time is fine (unscientific observation!). No feathering or bleeding, no obnoxious smells, and if Barrier is anything to go by, it cleans out fine. The label is ugly and the bottle is not exactly a work of art, but it’s robust and seals well, and at £6.95 for 30ml it’s reasonably priced.
Perhaps most importantly, with only a handful of colours in the range it’s easy to choose which one you might like (I’m looking at you, Robert Oster — utter analysis paralysis ensues every time I try to pick one of those to buy).
In short, I can really recommend trying Sydney Harbour, or indeed Barrier Reef next time you’re in the market for a new blue. Or whatever the hell colour this is.