Left: A quick sketch of Gert (my rubber chicken puppet) using Noodler's Polar Brown Ink (notice that I wrote "Polar Bear Brown" on this page because my label was already obscured and I wasn't sure of the title; read more about this below). This is on the last page of my current, until this page early this morning, journal, which I made with Nideggen paper. I filled a Niji waterbrush with the ink and sketched with that. Click on the image to view an enlargement. Read on for more details
I'm still on the fence about Noodler's. Dick has used it for years in his fountain pens. He carries several pens with different colors to take notes and draw diagrams in his work journals which detail all the "science" stuff he's doing. He's been happy with it.
When I try it I have been less happy. It doesn't flow the way I want it to flow, or it isn't waterproof on the paper I'm using it on (a problem of the paper's sizing I'm guessing because the inks I've tried are advertised as waterproof on cellulose).
But I'm always looking at inks and yesterday I noticed that Wet Paint now had a whole shelf of Noodler's inks in a range of yummy colors. The inks don't all have the same characteristics (as to lightfastness and water resistance) so you have to choose carefully for your intended purpose.
If you go to the Noodler's website you'll find a write up about this ink. They say "once dried upon cellulose paper it exhibits that sought after resistance to bleaches and the chemical tools of the forger as well as UV light resistance and pH neutrality."
That seems positive, but isn't a promise of waterproof results. My own tests on Nideggen showed that on one side of the sheet it was never waterproof (even this morning a light swipe of water will bleed it everywhere) and on the other side if you scrub really hard you can get some bleeding—see the above image bottom center where there is a note.
This is obviously an issue with how the paper is sized, but it makes the ink unsuitable for me to use in my journals when a waterproof ink is desired. I can't count on being at an appropriate page spread (the "right" side of the paper) when I need to sketch with it.
I have some good things to say about the ink: it flows phenomenally well in a fountain pen. I mean WOW, it glides. Also it has an interesting "color." While it looks the color of what might be found in baby diapers in the bottle, it actually has a nice orange brown aspect to it when you write/draw with it.
While I was using it in the Niji it sort of separated into its component parts and some strokes are mostly black and others very pale brown. This can be something interesting to play with but I found that the darker areas, took longer to dry (10 minutes or more) and when finally dry they are prone to a powdery smudging if rubbed.
If you don't care about waterproof consistency and use this in your journal anyway then there is the issue of one page smudging onto the opposite page, something I'm never keen on. This is a definite negative for me.
There are a couple other negatives for me. This company provides the worst product labels in the history of product labeling. (I'm sure there are cuniform labels that better suit their task.) Will someone please start a fund for Noodler's so they can hire a graphic designer to unclutter, clarify, and brand this labeling with something other than "crazy"? You should not have to stand in a store and stare at a label for 5 minutes to seek out information about the product's qualities, go to another bottle in the same line and start over from scratch in your search. That's the way you frustrate consumers and loose sales. And it's just a sign of sloppiness, which ultimately reflects on your product no matter what the actual quality of that product.
Once the company invests in proper design for their labels could the company please invest in some printed labels which do NOT RUN WHEN MOISTURE SIMPLY KISSES THEM?????
Dick's ink shelf is full of Noodler's ink bottles that have unreadable labels. He washes his hands between filling one pen and reaching for another bottle and any moisture on his fingers eats away at the labels until they are gone. Also I appreciate a generous company filling a bottle fully, but when you fill the bottle to the absolute brim there is no way someone can open it and not get ink spilling out and down the side, and yes onto that fragile label. What's the point of this sloppiness???
In the course of a short experimental session last night (OK, early this morning, I'd eaten cake while out with friends and couldn't sleep, I'm paying for it today) I had my hands covered with Polar Brown ink several times. What a mess. And that leads me to my other two problems with the ink. I find it has a bit of a chemical smell that while not bothersome or truly annoying is not something I would like to work with for say an hour of sketching. Worse, judging from the way my hands feel this morning I fear I might be allergic to the ink.
Left: Since I had some problems with the paper I was working on earlier and I was ready to start a new journal I did exactly that, sketching another quick sketch of Gert in the 6 x 6 inch or so journal I made for my next book with Fabriano Artistico 90 lb. cold press watercolor paper. This time the Noodler's came out in a more even color range (perhaps all the dark elements contained in the Niji had already been discharged in the pervious drawing? Or perhaps I was just shaking it a little more before sketching?) and the paper took the ink like a charm with immediate waterproofness or nearly so—I had to really scrub with a wet brush to get the small amount of bleeding you see on the neck area. Click on the image to view an enlargement.
Finally, I'm confused by the company's write up which says the ink is UV-resistant. I always wonder how resistant is resistant? I have a chart that I'll be putting up in the window to test and I'll post it at a later date.
In the meantime I don't think this will be an ink that I'll use much because of the issues mentioned above. I'm putting it away for a few days and will take it out and smell it again and see if I still am bothered by it, but it just doesn't have the qualities I want. It's sad, because I could do with a lightfast, waterproof, fountain pen friendly ink.
If you don't care about the issues I mention above, or if you are a writer who wants an ink that just glides along, I think you'll enjoy this ink. It has possibilities.