Next up in my Ink of the Week series is an ink that you probably haven’t seen very often, PenBBS #178 Rose Quartz. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s even made any more. Still, it’s a bottle that’s in my collection and its number came up, so while you may not be able to get a bottle of your own, here are my thoughts on PenBBS Rose Quartz.
Note: Pelikan has just announced that their ink of the year color is also going to be Rose Quartz, but I have not yet seen it and can’t say if it will be at all similar to the color of this ink.
PenBBS #178 Rose Quartz
To start, let’s take a look at the ink itself. It is a very light pink that I’m sure many people would not see fit for daily use. It isn’t nearly as easy to read as some pink inks, such as Iroshizuku Tsutsuji or Diamine Hope Pink. It has a very pale color with a lot of shading, which can make reading it difficult. In addition to the light color, it is also a fairly dry ink, so when not used in a pen with a wet nib, it can appear even lighter in color.
Despite being a hard-to-read ink, I really like it. Most pens that I prefer to use have more broad, wet nibs on them, which help this ink to look its best. I enjoy writing with it and I really like the way a paragraph of written text looks when using this ink (with the right pen, as you’ll see). My favorite use for this ink has to be doodling. The way it shades truly lends itself to some creative uses. Unfortunately, it doesn’t really have much chromatography with water, but that’s not a huge deal.
The Pens I Used
Each week I choose five different pens to fill with the ink I’m testing. My goal is to get a variety of nib sizes and styles, as well as a mix of modern and vintage pens. Here are the pens I chose this week and some writing samples from each:
Parker 41 (vintage) – F nib
I figured I would not enjoy using this pen with this ink, but I was pleasantly surprised. The fine nib on this pen is fairly wet, which means it put down enough ink to be both visible and to make the writing experience feel nice. While I definitely prefer a broader nib with this ink, a nib that is both fine and wet would work if your preference is a fine nib.
Namiki Vanishing Point – M nib
This was easily my least-favorite pen to use with this ink. The medium nib on this VP writes fairly dry, which is not a good combination with a light-colored dry ink like this. I felt like I was fighting the ink while I was writing. Lines looked faint and boring and reading what I had written was exhausting.
Pelikan M200 – M nib
Now we’re starting to get somewhere. Pelikan nibs are known for laying down a wetter, broader line than their Japanese counterparts and this ink really wants a nib like the medium nib in this Pelikan. The ink looks darker and has more shading than with the medium nib on the Vanishing Point. I’d consider this my baseline pen for judging this ink.
Desiderata BAMF – M nib
This pen is fitted with a medium Franklin Christoph #6 nib. It typically feels like a wet writer and I didn’t have any issues with this ink/nib combination. I will say, though, that looking at my writing samples with this pen, they’re not as dark as with the Pelikan. This may actually appeal to some people more, as there is less shading and the color is more consistent.
Montblanc 149 (1980s?) – B nib
This is my favorite combination of the bunch. This Montblanc has a very wet broad nib that is a true pleasure to write with. It put down enough ink to make writing more readable and there wasn’t as much shading as I had expected. I do think that this nib is too big for me to write on a 5mm dot grid (as you can see from the writing sample below), but that doesn’t have anything to do with the ink.
This is the pen/ink combination that, as soon as I started writing with it, I knew would be great for doodling. After spending an afternoon doodling with it, I can confirm it was everything I had hoped it would be. Lines went down wet and without issue. The shading of the ink really helps add interest to the doodle and the color is dark enough to see without issue (especially when reading isn’t involved).
Writing with this ink on a variety of fountain-pen-friendly papers went as expected. With a low-saturation ink like this, I didn’t expect to have any issues with bleed or feathering. It turns out I didn’t. I was surprised to see a bit of bleed through on cheap copy paper, as I didn’t even see that with Rikyu-cha. Maybe it was just the different pens I used? I kind of doubt it, as I used some pretty wet and flexy pens with Rikyu-cha.
Cleaning The Ink Out Of Pens
As you might expect for such a light-colored ink, cleaning it out of pens is no problem. I wouldn’t hesitate to use this in any pen that I own. One thing to be careful of is making sure the pens that you use it in are very clean before you fill them. I filled the Parker 41 and there must have been a bit of residual ink from a previous filling left in the feed, because when I started writing it came out more purple than pink. After some scribbling to get the ink flowing through it, the color started to look the way it should.
I first tried PenBBS Rose Quartz many years ago at a local pen meetup and instantly fell in love with it. I bought a bottle as soon as I found one and have enjoyed occasionally using it ever since. It wasn’t until I started writing this article and couldn’t find it for sale that I realized that PenBBS does not make it any more. It’s a shame, but I understand that it is not an ink that will appeal to everyone. Its light color does not lend itself well to reading, but I personally enjoy writing with it. More than writing, I enjoy doodling with it. I find the shading to be very interesting and dramatic. It is a dry ink, so your pen/nib selection will make a big difference in your writing experience. I prefer it with a wet nib, the larger the better. It seems to play well with fountain-pen-friendly paper. If you can find some for yourself, grab a pen with a wet nib and give it a try!
edit: for anyone interested in finding a similar ink, Mountain of Ink may be able to help