Combo of the week: Lamy AL-star and Sailor Kiwa-guro

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I have begun to appreciate that a good ink is just as important as a good pen, in finding  an optimum writing experience. It is great when you do find a combination of pen and ink that not only works, but enables both pen and ink to bring out the best in themselves and each other.

After reading great things about Sailor Kiwa-guro black pigment ink from other bloggers, I was excited to try it for myself and ordered a bottle from The Writing Desk.

This is said to be safe to use in fountain pens and has several useful attributes. First, it is largely waterproof. Secondly, it resists feathering, where other inks fail. Thirdly, it also resists bleeding and show-through.

As well as all this, it seems to be a clean and well-behaved ink, that does not leave a residue on the insides of the converter.

The bottle contains a plastic conical insert, which is filled by turning the bottle upside down and then righting it again, for ease of filling your pen when the ink level is low.

When you look at the ink in the open bottle and swill it around a little bit, it does not leave any trace on the plastic insert but keeps to itself, rather like mercury back in my school science class days.

I decided to try the ink first in my black Lamy AL-star. The matte-black barrel and cap, the black nib and black clip all pointed to this pen being a good choice.

The ink flow of the Lamy is known for being on the dry side and my medium nib is smooth and firm. Paired with the Sailor Kiwa-guro, the lubrication of the nib is wonderful, rather like the feel of a plastic spatula in a non-stick saucepan and with no skipping.

Naturally I was eager to try the ink for water resistance. I wrote a few lines and then immersed the paper in a basin of water. There was a very slight lift-off of ink but when removing the paper and allowing it to dry, the writing looked as good as new. This would be a great ink to use for addressing envelopes or any use where there is a risk of the paper getting wet.

My next test was to try the pen on an unused notebook, (a Paperchase Agenzio soft black, ruled notebook) that I had previously given up on, as being unusable with fountain pens.To my great delight, there was no bleeding with this ink. I recommend this ink if you have notebooks that you cannot use (for writing on both sides of the paper) with other inks.

As for feathering, I had tried a new black Sheaffer Sagaris recently with the supplied black Sheaffer Skrip cartridge and was surprised at how much this feathered on a reporter’s inexpensive spiral bound note book. This same paper had been good to use with a Lamy blue ink cartridge.

Sure enough, when trying the Kiwa-guro on this paper, there was no feathering. The lines remain very crisp, whereas the Skrip black ink has gone very woolly. Admittedly the Sheaffer Sagaris is a wetter writer than the AL-star so this is not a level playing field.

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I have used the black AL-star with Sailor Kiwa-guro at work for over a week now, for writing notes, forms and documents and signing letters and enjoy the silky feel of the nib gliding over the paper.

On the downside, I had hoped that it might be possible to go over the writing with a yellow highlighter pen without smudging but this was not entirely successful. There is an element of the ink that is not waterproof and which will smudge if you go over it with a highlighter pen even though the writing remains very dark. Some black ink will transfer to the felt tip of the highlighter. For this reason it is probably not suited to  being used for drawing in conjunction with water colour paints, but then this is not its intended use.

The other downside is the price, at £21.60 for the 50ml bottle, making this a premium ink, but given its useful properties I have no regrets about the expense.

I have not yet tried it in any other pen. As a pigment ink, I still thought it best to keep it to one pen at a time which I then use regularly. However, it may well be that my concerns over ink drying out in the pen and being difficult to clean up, are unjustified. From my brief experience of  this ink so far I am certainly tempted to try it in a different pen next time, particularly one of those which might benefit from a more lubricating ink.

 

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