I am rather periodic when it comes to things. Sometimes I can’t get enough of true blue inks or ice cream with cookies or italic nibs. Then comes a period of purplish blues, berry yoghurt ice cream and practical boots. Only a few things remains in constant use: A real good EF pen (often my spring snork as in the pic above), a real good bag for my belongings, black clothes and a love for pens, ink and paper.Right now I have a thing for blue-greens or greenish blues. It started seriously when I was in the US a while ago and got to try both the Iroshizuku Syo-Ro and the Noodler’s Pinstripe Homage (an Art Brown exclusive). They are quite alike, but still different enough to justify purchasing both. Both are medium darks and are a bit muted. Not muted enough to venture into blue-blacks – nor into the dull zone. One could say that they are non-boring alternatives for all kinds of uses – including office use.
They look very similar when put to paper, but the Syo-Ro gets greener as it dries and I believe that the Pinstripe is just a tiny tad darker and bluer. As always these things are hard to estimate, but that is my verdict after looking at these two inks side by side a lot the past months.
The Pinstripe is thus a more blueish blue-green and the Syo-Ro is a more greenish blue-green, but I’d say that both are more blue greens than green blues (if that makes any sense).
The Syo-Ro shades a tiny bit more and is the more lively of the two. I think both have excellent writing properties. Both dry relatively fast, but not super fast. The Syo-Ro is a classical, very smooth Iroshizuku ink that enhances even a butter smooth nib as the nib on my snork. It is a joy to use and the colour is something special, but the price tag makes it a bit less attractive. The Pinstripe gives very good value for the money. It’s a beautiful, quite original blue green for all round use. It flows well, shades a bit and have overall very nice writing properties. It’s not heavenly, but it is a very good, very attractive ink for a very low price.
I paid $12.50 for around 90 ml of the Pinstripe and $35 for 50 ml of the Syo-Ro. That makes a huge price difference: 100 ml of Syo-Ro would cost you $70 while you still only pay roughly $14 for 100 ml of the Syo-Ro. The Iroshizuku is thus 5 times more expensive than the Noodler’s. Is it five times better than the Noodler’s? No. I couldn’t say that. Is it worth the money? Hard to say. Both yes and no. Yes, because I bought it after trying it. No, because I’m very unsure if I would buy it again. I’ll probably be content just pouring the Pinstripe into the beautiful bottle. I’m inclined to say that all Iroshizuku inks are worth the first buy – just to get a lovely set of inkwells – but that very few of them feel worth a second buy. Even if the colours often are very special and enchanting. So, what I’d like is that Pilot let go of their prestige and manufactured refills similar to the bottles Diamine use for their 30 ml inks – to refill these lovely bottles with.
To compare with something I chose to compare them to two other inks that I think belong to the family of blue greens. The first is Noodler’s Bad Blue Heron, which I have seen as a blue ink with a tad of green in it. In this company the greenish tinge almost vanished and it can almost be seen as a true blue. The other is Diamine’s Steel Blue, which in this company almost stand out as a dark turquoise with a tad of grey and much green in it. I was surprised to see how they looked compared to the other two – very bright and both on each side of the spectrum: the steel blue is (despite its name) a rather light, greenish turquoise-teal and the Heron is a pretty bright blue with a tiny, tiny tad of green in it.
If you want to read in depth reviews of the Syo-Ro you find Bill Scherer’s at the Pen Addict here, Inkophile’s here and Inky Journal’s here. A good review of the Pinstripe can be found at FPN here.
The selling price has very little to do with the production cost, but, frankly, these things can be a bit hard to explain to consumers unfamiliar with R&D, marketing, and production. I cannot speak from direct experience, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the bottles cost more than the production cost of the inks that go in them. Remember that inks are virtually all water, a very cheap material. The aniline dyes used in industry can be very cheap when purchased in volume.
From 2009 to 2011, the Iroshizuku inks’ price increased 33%. Such changes come about because of dollar to yen conversions or marketing deciding they want to raise the price.
Isn’t this a lovely color? I’m glad to see you back to EF/F nibs rather than the broad and IC you have been using. Your writing is so pretty.
Thank you! I usually use EFs for notes and scribbling, but think my handwriting is prettier w italics. Happy to hear that you think otherwise. :)
Excellent post–I love inks of this family, and you gave me a lot of great ideas for inks to try out. Thanks!
Thank you! :)
I go through phases with things too. I feel the same about the Iroshizuku inks. I like them but after the price increase I am less inclined to buy them. I’ve really been enjoying Sailor’s limited edition inks and they are a lot more affordable as well.
I haven’t checked the new Sailor colours, but am very curious. It would be interesting to know more about production costs for different ink brands since the price span is huge.