last of the summer blues: inkebara petrol dark & sea green
A mug of coffee sits on the arm rest of the couch, its steam curling and rising in the cool living room. A soft rain splatters on the windows, but the clouds are still letting in the warm glow of the newly dawning sun. Then, a wind picks up. The sky darkens. In a moment, the storm arrives, raging. The rain falls so hard that the noise on the roof is audible from two floors down. The wind pushes against the windows, the frames creak and moan. Then, in the next moment, it stops. The rain fades to nothing, the wind mellows. The world calming once more, before the next momentary storm hits.
As the summer slowly fades into autumn, I find myself gravitating towards warmer colours than my regular blues. The leaves outside aren’t turning golden yet, but the leaves in my heart are, so let me tell you about the last of the playful blues that I’ve been using: Inkebara Petrol Dark & Sea Green.
I got to talk with Dušan -who is the maker of the inks, along with his wife Eva- as I was curious about their process and their aim to use locally produced ingredients. In a world where sustainability is becoming more and more important, I truly admire their commitment to making sure that 90% of their ingredients has Czech origin and to make their inks as non-toxic as possible. They assured me that it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be, as the country’s chemical industry supplies their needs.
As they’re a small business from Číměř, in the Highlands, their biggest problem was to get dyes in kilograms from manufacturers that usually prepare orders in tonnes. I can’t imagine a tonne of dye -literally- would’ve done to their small workshop, where they measure out their ingredients on one end of the table and mix them on the other.
Finally the Czech Republic has a great local ink maker. They’re not too local to me, as they have to travel about a thousand kilometres to arrive on my doorstep, and perhaps that does put a small dent to their sustainability and local production goals. Nevertheless, I want to support businesses like theirs to make sure more local producers pop up, where there are people with their families pouring their hearts into these inks, pens, accessories…
It is obvious that I am fascinated with small production and the courage necessary to operate a small business, but what also matters is how the inks hold up. Let me start with Petrol Dark, a rather captivating ink. It is quite dark, slightly greenish, but does not lack the depth of much lighter inks. The shading and the sheen elevates the dark, saturated colour that might sometimes stay somewhat flat. The shading is cut sharp on the Midori paper I like using. It reminds me of the times when you’re on a ferry and the light blues of waves swirl around you but the actual sunlight refracts and reflects off the darkness of the depth and makes tentacles out of rays of light. Then as the ink dries, the bright red sheen starts to shine through around the darker shaded areas. I can’t stop watching this ink dry, which is becoming a bit of a problem as it’s in my “studying” pen…
The Sea Green is complex as well, a colour right in the middle of green and blue. I tend to gravitate away from these “mint green” or “aqua” type of colours because they feel very flat, undecided and unnecessarily bright. This ink might be the only one that I have in this colour family. And it nails it. This is the perfect colour of the tropical, foamy sea. I’ve been playing around with a few Inkebara inks for a while and it feels like this is what they do great. They nail the perfect shade of the colour they’re trying to make.
At a first glance, the colours are pretty “regular” offerings. Then, you see them, use them, swatch them and the specific shades of those colours distilled into these bottles is just mind blowing. It reminds me of brands that deem themselves luxury, like Pilot Iroshizuku and Graf von Faber. They have pretty usable and “regular” offerings as well, nothing with crazy shading or shimmer, but the shades of the colours are amazing. You expect a boring blue, a boring green; instead it hits you in the face with a vibrant, surprising twist. The Sea Green is the same, you expect a eye-searingly bright green-blue, instead you get this beautiful, muted sea green. I can’t even describe the colour without using the name.
The last thing I have to mention is a bit of a pet peeve of mine: the bottles. I like the apothecary-esque bottles of these. They’re plastic with a wide base and a long neck. My favourite thing about them is how good they fit in the hand, especially while opening. We think about object-to-human fit often with pens, though they’re just as important with bottles in my opinion. It decreases the risk of dropping the bottle, struggling to open or tipping it over. This one’s wide base fits the curve of your palm nicely while the large, ribbed cap makes it easy to hold. The opening of the bottle is quite large too, you don’t have to struggle or be super careful to fit pens inside. I don’t have monster oversized pens, but even they would fit nicely I think. One last thing is how the ink looks in the bottle. With the curved shoulders, the light reflects wonderfully to show off the actual colour of the ink and many shades of it.
The blue inks will always be summery for me because they always reming me of the sea. I do use them year-round, as a reminder of the sea for me to carry them around when I’m living inland. I couldn’t be happier with these blue inks, they’re extremely well-flowing and the colours have just blown me away. One with its playful, cheerful waves and the other with its complex depth. It is a wonderful moment in time to use these inks, where the sunlight fades into the clouds instead of fading into the sea.
Thank you for reading! Hopefully your week has passed better than mine did, as I dropped a pen nib first for the first time to my leg and gave myself a tattoo in the meantime. Now I have a slightly splayed nib and a green reminder of it…
I'll start posting only once a week from now on, as the only time I can realistically work on a post is Saturday mornings.
I want to put a little disclaimer here for the first time as Inkebara is the first maker to kindly send me some stuff to test out. I got these inks in exchange of an honest blog post.