When it comes to fountain pens, the only thing you need to know is don't use India inks in them because they will likely clog the pen, and if you're unable to clean the ink out, make the pen unusable.
Some India ink use a binding agent such as gelatin or shellac to make the ink permanent when dry. This is the type of ink you would use with dip pens. And you will notice the ink will stain the ink, becomes hard, and is difficult to remove unless you scrap it off with metal. That's the type of ink you don't want to use in a fountain pen.
So when I was offered to test a fountain pen that claims to be designed for use with India Ink, I was like, "What?!? Is that even possible?"
This fountain pen that I received is called IndiGraph. It is designed by Inigo Echeverria, an urban sketcher and product designer from Spain.
Inigo Echeverria was frustrated that there aren't any modern fountain pens that could use India ink, so he designed one himself. At the time of this review, he also has a Kickstarter campaign running and hope to make the pen available to more people.
I received the two weeks ago and was able to test it before the launch of the Kickstarter campaign. Let me give you my thoughts.
That's the cardboard packaging box that the pen came with. The pen and the ink bottle were nicely cushion in foam.
The paper included has instructions on cleaning and dismantling the pen. There is also a list of recommended inks for the pen.
That's a cute 4ml ink bottle with India ink in it. I don't know the brand of the ink so for my review, I used Dr Ph Martin's Bombay Black instead. It's an India ink that's not listed in the recommended list on the paper. This is not an ink you want to use in a fountain pen. So I guess if the pen can use this ink, it should be able to use most India inks.
The build quality of the pen is excellent. It's made of aeronautical grade 6061 aluminium throughout and has a nice hefty weight to it. The surface is matte black and has a nice texture that feels nice to hold.
The design looks very industrial that's for sure. This pen definitely does not compete with luxury fountain pens.
The highlight of the pen is it includes a humidifier in the pen cap. There is a water reservoir right at the top of the pen cap with a see through glass/plastic that allows you to see how much water is in it. See the bubble in the photo above? It has capacity to hold a few drops of water.
You can unscrew the top of the pen cap slightly to reveal two tiny holes that you can put under a running tap to refill the water reservoir.
Or if it's easier, you can unscrew the whole top.
Inside the pen cap, at the opposite end from the see through glass/plastic. There is a membrane that lets the water escape into the pen cap. That's suppose to keep the insides of the pen cap humid and prevent the ink in the nib from drying. For that to work, the pen cap has to be airtight of course.
I've tested this for two weeks and it seems to work. The ink on the surface of the pen nib did dry up. In fact, the Dr Ph Martin's Bombay Black not only dry, it adhered to the surface of the nib. Merely running tap water over the nib does not dissolve that run or wash it away. Cleaning the ink on the nib's surface with tissue paper was also very difficult. I had to use the metal point of my mechanical pencil to scrap off the ink on the nib's surface.
So, how about the ink inside the nib?
It dried at the slit. The first stroke was dry, but after that, the ink started flowing again.
So I guess the humidifier does prevent the ink (in the feed) from drying.
Now, if I have that Bombay Black ink in other fountain pens, I would already have the heart dropping feeling with the first dry stroke. Thankfully the pen still works, the ink still flows. So that's impressive.
That's how the nib looks like. This is the Fine arrow nib with no design on it. The pen is also available with calligraphy, classic and gold nibs.
That's the feed section. By the way, the nib and feed section is removable by unscrewing from the grip section. You can swap with other nibs if you have them. I'm not sure if this is compatible with other brands of nib and feed. I tried nib and feed from the Faber Castell Ambition and that did not fit here.
That's the little IndiGraph logo between the cap and body screw threads.
One of the downsides to this pen design is that small extruded part of the section that is being pointed with a pencil in the photo above. That extruded part will be flushed with the pen cap and body when everything is screwed on. That extruded part is too small.
If you were to unscrew the pen cap as above, if the pen cap is screw tighter than the body, you will unscrew the body instead.
So to make sure you unscrew the pen cap instead of the body, you have to unscrew by holding the section and body together. Another alternative is to make sure you screw the body much tighter.
The overall performance of the pen is good. The pen nib writes well and is smooth enough.
Occasionally, the ink would dry out on the pen nib, and when that happens, the first stroke will be blank. Once you get the ink flowing, the pen works again. This tells me that you should definitely cap the pen as soon as possible when you're not using it.
I will be cautious about using this pen outdoors especially on a hot day. Hot weather could dry the pen nib fast and you definitely do not want that to happen.
Nowadays, we have different types of black inks in the market. Some are waterproof black inks made specially for use with fountain pens. Some examples include De Atramentis Archive Ink, Platinum Carbon and Sailor KiwaGuro So do you really need to use India ink in a fountain pen? Those inks I've mentioned are waterproof as well and can be used with watercolour. I've been using them in fountain pens without any incidents. So do you need to buy a fountain pen that is specifically designed to take India ink? Only you can answer that question.
Overall, the IndiGraph is a good fountain pen. I've never seen a fountain pen with a humidifier or water reservoir in it before and it seems to work as advertised.
My time with it is only two weeks. I'll test it for another 30 days and update this review.
Meanwhile, if you're interested to get the IndiGraph fountain pen, go visit the Kickstarter page. The campaign ends on 25 May 2019, Saturday, 6pm, AWST.