Cult Pens can hardly be described as being shy and restrained when it comes to their exclusive editions across pens, inks, and accessories. In addition they have a long standing relationship with Diamine Inks, so it can have been of no surprise to anyone when a new appropriately titled collaboration was launched around the time of the Chelsea Flower Show, just as our gardens started to come in to bloom.
The previous Diamine Flower Collection originally came as a box set of ten bottles of saturated inks matching the flowers they were named after. I was given samples of a number of these and even bought a 30ml ‘refill’ bottle of Cornflower (now these inks are also available individually in 50ml glass bottles). When the offer was given by Cult Pens to the members of the United Inkdom group to try the new exclusive colours my attention was grabbed, wondering how they would differ from the previous flower inks. I am not a horticultural person, I have little knowledge of flowers, but I do realise they offer lots of colours and let me take interesting photographs.
There is considerable difference between the original Diamine Flower Collection inks and the new Cult Pens exclusives, and I suspect by design. While the original ones were all strong, highly saturated colours, here we have pastels, almost akin to water colours. Sure a couple are darker and at first appear to be strong colours, however this is just when compared to the rest of the inks in the set. As you will be able to tell from my scans here, all the inks are lighter than the example shots on the Cult Pens website would infer.
As I just have a set of sample vials (I can hardly complain) I can only show you the online pictures of the bottles and how the inks are presented. While this is the ‘normal’ box used by Diamine, here it is turquoise in colour as well as having Cult Pens in big letters on the front, so you can not mistake it for another set.
I started swabbing the inks before actually looking online, so did not know what to expect. Initially I thought they were dry until I realised these inks are pale pastels, which actually darken on drying. As I proceeded through the set I came to the impression these produce colours closer to water colours than fountain pen inks. As with many inks, the third and fourth passes of the cotton bud showed very little difference, though there is concentration of colour around the edge of each final swab.
The scan of the comparison page really shows how light these inks can be. The lower half of each one has a second pass of the cotton bud, allowing you to see the difference between wet and dry nibs.
I think Cult Pens and Diamine should be congratulated for not producing a set of generic inks. Diamine produce an awful lot for themselves in addition to their many collaborations and arguably produce too many similar inks (P. W. Akkerman for example), especially with those producing sheen. Here instead we have a set of clean pastel inks. I would say I think many will struggle with these in all bar the wettest of fountain pens, not because of ink flow, but just because the resultant lines and lettering may be just too light for real world usage. Not all is lost though as there are many artists out there who use fountain pen ink and for these people I suspect this set of inks will be of appeal. In addition you have the collectors who will just appreciate something slightly different.
At £60 for ten 30ml bottles in a presentation case, the Cult Pens Flower Inks are the same cost as the other Diamine ink bottle sets. This does make the ink more expensive than anything in individual Diamine bottles though you are getting glass containers, not plastic ones. Certainly for the Music and Flower sets you can get ‘refills’ in the standard plastic 30ml bottles for £4 a pop and I wonder if in time the same will happen with the Cult Pens Flower inks, especially once people start wanting individual replacements and being unwilling to buy a complete new set. Having said that, £6 for a 30ml bottles of an unusual ink is still good value when you look at the few alternatives out there.
What Cult Pens have done with Diamine is release a set of inks that are different and give us a new set of options. These inks will not be for everybody and almost certainly Cult Pens knew that in advance.
The Well Appointed Desk Col-O-Ring Ink Test cards.
HP Papers Premium A4 90gsm printer paper.
Generic cotton buds for swabbing.
J. Herbin glass dip pen for writing on the test cards.
Individual Swab Test Cards
These were scanned using VueScan software on a Canon LiDE 200 scanner with a resolution of 1200 dpi.