12 inks for 2019: progress report and substitutions

If you remember way back to the start of the year, I set myself a challenge of using only 12 inks for my daily use in 2019. My only exceptions were to be for reviews and other ‘one off’ uses.

So, three months in, how am I getting on?

In short: much better than I expected to.

I have missed my other inks, particularly when I see a favourite shade pop up on Instagram, or when I’ve bought a new bottle and really wanted to give it a try. And I have cheated a few times – for instance, just today I put Diamine Blood Orange in my new Vanishing Point, which arrived this morning. And I’ve refilled my Visconti Medici with KWZ’s Walk Over Vistula after it’s first trial fill, because I liked it so much and didn’t fancy the pain of flushing a KWZ ink from a power-filler.

But on the whole, despite these little dalliances, I have turned to my little pile of 12 inks whenever I’ve needed a refill. And most of the time I’ve actually stuck with the same inks in the same pens. It’s saved me a lot of time cleaning, and I am noticing the levels dropping in a few bottles. This has been incredibly satisfying!


Some inks have seen more use than others. Edelstein Topaz, Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo and Birmingham Celestial Blue probably top the charts; Swan Illusion and Graf Burned Orange for some reason haven’t made it into many pens (in fact, with my Scribo away, Swan Illusion isn’t in any pen right now).

And I have made a few substitutions, as per the rules I set myself back at the start of the challenge.

I found myself getting irritated by Herbin Vert de Gris within days, so I swapped in Edelstein Aquamarine – a favourite of mine from years back, that for some reason I hadn’t touched in at least a year.


Herbin Rouge Grenat didn’t end up appealing to me, so I thought I’d take a risk with a brown ink, and put Akkerman’s SBRE Brown into the mix. It’s lived in my 146 and a couple of other pens since, and although I prefer its bright colour when wet to the darker dry shade, it’s still pleasing me.


Lastly, I found that the 20ml Iroshizuku Yama-Budo bottle wasn’t fitting most of my pens. I simply couldn’t get a fill now that it’s half empty. So I’ve swapped in – rashly, perhaps – the brand new Edelstein Star Ruby. It’s a bright, vibrant pink with gold sheen, that adds some zing to quite a dull set of inks.


Still missing? A true grey, a true green, a true black, a bright purple, a red, a yellow… if I had another substitution, I’d probably put Tsuki-Yo out to pasture and bring in a purple. But there are only so many colours you can fit into 12 slots.


How will I fare over the next nine months? Who knows. I’m not going to beat myself up – this is an experiment, a bit of a challenge, and at its heart just a way to get me to finish a bottle this year.

For reference, here’s the full lineup:

  1. Iroshizuku Tsuki-Yo
  2. KWZ Azure #5
  3. Edelstein Topaz
  4. Bungubox Ink of Witch
  5. Montblanc Homer Greek Blue
  6. Birmingham Allegheny Observatory Celestial Blue
  7. Herbin Poussiere de Lune
  8. Graf von Faber-Castell Burned Orange
  9. Montblanc Swan Illusion
  10. Edelstein Star Ruby
  11. Akkerman SBRE Brown
  12. Edelstein Aquamarine

Let me know how you’re getting on if you’ve tried something similar this year!

One thought on “12 inks for 2019: progress report and substitutions

  1. A good discipline, if you can manage to do it. 12 inks sounds quite a lot but I see you have already used up your three permitted substitutes for 2019 and we are not yet at the end of the third month! I am afraid I haven’t even started such a scheme but really should.


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