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Showing my lack of horticultural knowledge, when you mention sweet pea I think of country gardens of days gone by. Little did I know that the plant actually comes from Sicily. Perhaps my imagination is correct and the plant was brought over by young English gentlemen returning from their grand tours round Europe in the 1920s to take root over here in the UK.

Care of the Royal Horticultural Society Shop.

Initial Impressions

A light pastel lilac colour which even with the glass dip pen produces shading with some pink undertones. Initial indications were that this could be a rather wet ink.

Swabbing Impressions

The first pass of the swab produced a very watery layer with little substance. The second pass brought in the lighter colour we see in the writing samples, however here we also see some pink speckles, possibly caused by the surface of the card. The third swipe of the bud and we see a darker colour but still with a deeper outer area, almost as if this is a wet ink and light on saturation. The fourth pass actually adds more pink to the hue.

Writing Impressions

On the Midori MD paper there is a crispness to the writing from the Franklin Christoph needlepoint. The nib actually felt slightly scratchy on this paper, but it wrote without any issues and there is even some shading, which is unusual for this pen. The OMAS worked from the start with no need to prime, however it felt slightly dry when writing, which is odd because looking at the results and there is some shading but more dark areas of ink pooling. The Franklin Christoph SIG struggled with Sweet pea. Having managed to get the ink flow through leaving the pen alone, I found within just a few scribbles that I had to prime it. After that the ink flowed, but barely. It really struggled on this paper. The Pelikan Pelikano was the worst when it came to getting the ink to flow. In the end I had to empty the converter and refill it through the pen. After that it was fine and while the writing is light it is still legible and has shading.

On the Oxford Optik paper all four pens behaved better with darker, more visible writing. The needlepoint arguably produced the nicest writing with an interesting balance of shades. With the OMAS nib we see feathering around many of the pooled areas. The SIG nib was less pleasant to use than the results would infer and if you look you will notice the darker shading makes up less than half of the writing but is enough to trick the eye in to thinking all is fine. The Pelikano was not that difference on this paper compared to the Midori MD, maybe a little darker and a little more variation.

All the pens worked with the Tomoe River paper, though once more the SIG flattered to deceive and was not that pleasant to use. The needlepoint possibly produced its best writing in this test.

With the swiping of the ink at the bottom of the page, ignoring the yellow splodges from a few drips from the previous ink test, there is some nice dusty shading present, varying in tinting from grey to pink. It is interesting to see that where the ink pooled most we actually see dark blue or indigo.

Shading and Sheen

There is a pleasant amount of shading with this ink, more so as it is pastel in nature. In the writing samples the darkest areas are enough to bring out light text and make this ink surprisingly readable.

This is not a sheening ink.

Flow and Consistency

In the swatch test and when agitating the converter this ink comes across as wet with a low level of viscosity, yet I found it did struggle with a number of pens, most noticeably the SIG nib. All I can think of is that nib is dry by design and also large, so perhaps the ink flow was not quite good enough to provide a smooth experience. There was also a level of dryness with the OMAS nib, though only really on the Midori MD paper. Certainly there were no flow problems with the other pens.

Drying Times

The ink dries quickly, with the smudging on the 5 second test being a bit of a surprise when you look at the results of the test on the right of the page, where I build up a pool of ink before swiping my finger across.


From the Cult Pens website.

While I only have a sample vial of this ink you can see from the above picture that it normally comes in a square bottle that contains 30ml of ink. Having handled one before, they work very well from a presentation point of view, but are not great for filling a fountain pen.

Swab Comparisons

While I have a lot of swatches of purple inks, very few were even close to being pastel in nature and the few that were (from Sailor) were not close in hue. I would not be surprised, however, if Sailor produces a similar ink in their Studio range.


At present these 30ml bottles cannot be bought individually, but only as part of the Cult Pens set of ten. This comes in at £60 or £6 per bottle, which for most inks is cheap, however compared to other Diamine inks this is a little more expensive. Having said that, I suspect that in 6-12 months time you will be able to buy 30ml plastic bottle ‘refills’ at the regular Diamine price of £4.50. I think they have done this on all their non-Inkvent released ink sets so far.


I will admit it. I was surprised by this ink. In case you are reading these reviews out of order, this is the ninth detailed review of the ten inks in the set. Previously where the inks have been pastel in nature the inks have not worked well with fountain pens. Such is not the case here.

Ok, let’s be honest, this ink does not work with all pens, but when it does it is a nice one to use and produces surprisingly legible results for such a light ink, though let’s not kid ourselves, you will still not get strong colours and next to more traditional inks any writing will fade in to the background. Still Sweet Pea could be a fun ink to use in the right circumstances.

Tools Used

  • The Well Appointed Desk Col-o-ring ink testing cards.
  • Midori MD A5 paper (cream page writing sample).
  • Oxford Optik A5 paper (white page writing sample).
  • Rhodia Dotpad No. 16 (drying tests).
  • GoodINKPressions A5 Tomoe River 68 gsm paper (white paper, this ink blot test at bottom).

Pens Used

  • J. Herbin glass dip pen with the tip slightly smoothed (used the writing on the ink test cards).
  • Franklin-Christoph 451 CDLI with a Mike Masuyama Needlepoint steel nib.
  • OMAS 360 GM with a broad 18k gold nib.
  • Franklin-Christoph 19 ‘1911’ with a broad SIG steel nib.
  • Pelikan Pelikano with a starter/A steel nib (also used for the drying test and writing in the pocket book).
  • Letter opener for the ink smear on the Tomoe River paper.