How to Keep an InkJournal

An InkJournal isn't simply another notebook with blobs of ink thrown into it. There's a system involved that, while structured, allows the ink enthusiast to explore their creativity in reviewing their ink collection.

The InkJournal is tailored to fountain pen enthusiasts. Similarly to fine wines, cigars and craft beers, pen ink has taken on a life of its own. Dozens of manufacturers world-wide brew all the colors of the rainbow. When they produced every hue imaginable, they enhanced other ink characteristics, like dry time, shading, sheen and water resistance. No two inks are exactly alike and fountain pens, with their array of nib sizes, can alter the experience of using the ink as well.

An InkJournal serves as a point of reference for all your pen & ink combinations. Any handy reference needs to have an index or format to abide by to make it easier for the person to utilize the book later on.


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In the InkJournal Black, the "inkdex" is printed on the first few pages. Similar to the ever-popular bullet-journal system, having an index is integral in being able to sort through the contents inside the book. 


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On each individual log page, include details about the ink that are important to you. The basics are already formatted on the InkJournal card / page : Flow, Saturation, Shading, Water Resistance & Sheen. Scribble or dab a swab of the ink to get a broader swatch of the color on the page. Do figure 8's, cross hatch, flex (if applicable) or draw a cat on on the page to show how the ink covers.


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Dry times are also important to note, especially for anyone that requires a fast-drying ink (like lefties, usually). Mark the page and quickly wipe it with your finger. Most inks will smear within the first 1-5 seconds of being laid on the paper. Mark up the time line at each interval and count the seconds before attempting to wipe at each interval. When you're able to wipe the ink and it will not smear, then that is the number of seconds the ink takes to dry.

Since other papers vary in their dry times (cheaper, more absorbent papers tend to dry quicker while smoother, coated papers take longer), take the dry time measurement with a grain of salt. Compare it with other inks in your journal. If most tend to dry at the 25 second mark, then you should consider the one that dries in 10 seconds to be a relatively quick-drying ink. 


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Other significant ink characteristics to note : Where did you get the ink from? Did you buy it online? Get a sample in a swap? Sampled a fill-up of ink from a pen show? This would be helpful to note in the "comments" section so you can back-track to find more of the ink when you run dry.

Certain ink brands can be quite expensive. Others are great values that give plenty of bang for your pen buck. Record the cost per mL in your InkJournal records to compare the "fuel economy" for your pen.

The comments section of the InkJournal page can be used for all this information and more. You could talk about how the ink reminds you of your favorite flower, or that trip to the Bahamas, or a sweater that you wear frequently. If you really enjoy the color, it may have an emotional connection to some deep-seated memory. Let loose and write more scribbles, loops and other doodles to fill up the page with the ink color. Write your favorite quote from a well known author. I'll give you one from one of my favorite authors, Kurt Vonnegut,


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"When I write, I feel like an armless, legless man with a crayon in his mouth."

So, fill up that pen, grab your InkJournal, and explore different combinations between your pens and inks. Like it, love it or hate it, write up your thoughts to guide you on your journey of pen & ink.

If you need some more ink to kickstart your collection, I would suggest purchasing samples of ink, which usually come in 2mL test tubes, of a few different colors that pique your interest. Don't be too hesitant about what colors to pick. The samples are inexpensive enough that you can afford to land a few duds that just aren't your cup of tea. Plus, you can always hop on a fountain pen discussion forum and swap them for new inks that you may like!

If you have suggestions about how you like to keep your InkJournal, we'd love to hear it.