Making A Unified Swatch Collection

Image Credit: Cite du Temps Credit: Cite du Temps

No, not that Swatch. I had the requisite funky patterned Swatch back in junior high. I remember it fondly, although those plastic straps were not comfortable in hot weather of if you were sweaty from playing street hockey with your friends. Two words — skin irritation. Anyway, we’re talking about a different kind of swatch collection.

After cataloging all the fountain pens I have back in November, I knew the next piece would be to catalog all the inks I own. I have swatched any ink I’ve ever used in various fashions somewhere among half a dozen notebooks or small card collections. They’re mostly organized, but it’s not always convenient to find a given color if I don’t know right off where it’s located. For this project, I wanted one place to collect all the swatches using a single consistent format.

I have plenty of suitable paper and some templates that could be used with it for swatching. The easiest paper to use with the templates would be loose leaf pages or ones torn out of a top glue bound notepad, but those options need more work after the fact for keeping the pages together to access them. Using other notebooks is not as easy for me with templates because I find I’m often working around the binding method and not getting consistent results.

There are several notebooks preformatted for swatching inks but, for one reason or another, they missed the mark. I was looking for one with a simple layout, in a convenient size, paper on the heavier side, with binding that was easy to work with but would hold up over time. Picky, I know.

I happened upon the Wearingeul Ink Color Swatch Notebook at Goulet Pens. This looked interesting. Let’s go down the checklist.

  • Size — I love A5. Big enough not to feel cramped but travels easily.

  • Layout — Bottle graphic with two blank lines. Clean & uncluttered.

  • Paper — 200gsm should minimize bleed, ghosting, and distortion.

  • Binding — Ring bound is durable and easy to work with.

It only costs $9? I’ll take one, thank you very much.

Simple presentation.Simple presentation.

40 pages with 9 spaces each equals 360 swatches. That'll keep me in business quite a while. 40 pages with 9 spaces each equals 360 swatches. That'll keep me in business quite a while.

I like the simplicity of this book. The cover pages are the same paper as the interior. I might have liked them to be something sturdier but then the cost would probably have been higher. I will look for a thin plastic or cloth cover that might fit. There should be some decent choices out there for A5.

Now, the paper. Wearingeul has come on strong in the US the last few years but I had no previous experience with their products. 200gsm sounded right for a swatch book but the feel of the paper and how it would show ink were unknown to me. Still, given Wearingeul’s prolific ink catalog and many positive reviews I had confidence they were providing competent paper. Happily, that is the case and this paper is well suited to swatching. I started off with my Pilot bottled inks.

Even with heavy paper there is still likely to be some distortion where the ink concentration is heaviest. Wearingeul’s paper exhibits a little of this but has no bleed or ghosting.

Sheen came through nicely on Tsutsuji.Sheen came through nicely on Tsutsuji.

This was the first Iroshizuku ink I tried years ago, still one of my favorites. This was the first Iroshizuku ink I tried years ago, still one of my favorites.

The tools used were a Kakimori brass nib and an old Esterbrook Jackson stub. The Kakimori does well to lay down a good patch of ink while keeping it relatively controlled.

Kakimori brass nib and Esterbrook Jackson stub.Kakimori brass nib and Esterbrook Jackson stub.

All told, I think the Wearingeul swatch book is a very good product. It may not meet as many preferences for others as it does for me, but I’d say it’s well worth trying for the money. I only wish it existed 8 years ago so I could have used it from my start in the hobby.

27 January 2024