Policy - ink between the teeth



I am incredibly honored to say that, as of fall 2017, I am sponsored in part by the writing community of Massdrop! If you don't know what it is, it's basically a group buy website with dedicated categories and a bustling community of other folks who like specific categories of products. The writing community has "drops" (products or bundles that you can commit to purchasing) that vary from budget fountain pens to leather-bound notebooks.

As part of my sponsorship, I can request samples of products, or I am sent them free of charge, and write reviews. These will be posted in the writing community, and linked to on this site. You can get involved in the community by going to Massdrop and signing up, or by visiting my referral link.

If you are a distributor looking for someone to review a product, or would also like to be a sponsor of Winter Sharks, you can send me an e-mail at gpharaonis (at) gmail.com or by using the contact form. I would prefer not receiving full-size products, and ask that all items are provided on one of two terms if possible: as a loaner item, or as a sample.

I will not take compensation for a review, whether to give a positive one or to expedite the process. However, I will work to ensure that a product is reviewed in a timely manner (within two weeks of my receiving it). I think that's only fair!

I want to be as open as I possibly can about how I get the products that are featured on the site. Most of the time, I purchase it with my own money. I will disclose immediately and clearly if the item was provided to me at no charge. I want to be clear: I don't think it's possible for a person to be completely unbiased if they receive an item for free; however, I want to try to give you a review that is as aligned with my personal opinion as possible.

Review Standards

As of fall 2017, I've decided to establish a blog-specific standard for my reviews. My hope is that, because the way that I do my reviews is very limited, and that certain aspects of it are not particularly controllable, you as a prospective consumer will take this information and add it to a variety of other reviews from other people. Please do not take my reviews to be the end-all-be-all!

As of winter 2018, I have made some slight changes to the way I do my reviews.

Ink: I will use a Jinhao X750 outfitted with a stock feed and medium-fine nib for the purpose of the review. I will fill one of my "regular carry" pens with the ink for a better test drive, and I'll share the experience of using this ink.

(Previously, I used the Jinhao X750 with a Nemosine broad nib—unfortunately, I destroyed the nib entirely. Oops!)

 I have chosen to use Midori MD paper, which is very fountain pen friendly; the only con is that it has a cream tone rather than white or soft white. If you use Rhodia Webnotebooks, Tomoe River cream paper, or any other off-white/beige paper, these reviews will likely show the most similar tone for you.

I generally use the scanner provided by my university. Because color calibration can already be hit-or-miss, I will make edits to cut down on the brightness, but I cannot guarantee that the ink that you see on the screen matches the ink that you try. My reviews can only be approximations. I will do my best to describe differences between actual use and the monitor.

This is the information that I’m going to include in every review:
  • Swab: I will swab a sample of the ink using a Q-tip.
  • Dry time: Using the medium nib, I will test dry time on Midori MD paper at several different dry times. I will draw a plus sign, count, then rub a dry finger across the sign.
  • Waterproofness: I use the medium nib to write out sample text, then drip water onto the text. This water is then immediately soaked off with a paper towel. I will rate from waterproof, somewhat waterproof, or not waterproof. Waterproof ink will still have a majority of pigment on the page. Somewhat waterproof can lose a large amount of pigment, but still be readable. Not waterproof has little to no pigment left.
  • Shading and sheen: I will write five lines of text using a medium nib, then a filled fountain pen. This is, to me, the best way to show off any shading and sheen that may be present in the ink.
  • Comparison: Using swatch cards, which are index cards that have had ink swabbed on them, I will compare the reviewed ink to other inks in my collection.
Fountain pens: I will test fountain pens on Midori MD paper using an ink that is both "safe" and that I have experience with, usually Pilot Iroshizuku. Midori MD paper is smooth but does have a light tooth. I think this texture will bring out the particular bumps and bruises of a nib that isn't tuned well.

I try to use fountain pens for at least two weeks before I write a review. This way I can have a firmer handle on what the pen feels like in hand for long and short writing sessions.

Paper: I will test all pens I have inked and available on paper. I own and use about twelve fountain pens, which vary in nib sizes (but skew to the broader side). I also have a variety of inks (J. Herbin, Noodler's, Diamine, Sailor Jentle, Pilot Iroshizuku, Rohrer & Klingner, De Atramentis), all of which have their own properties with regards to dry time, wetness, sheen... I hope that by running paper through a veritable obstacle course of inks and nib sizes, you can get the best idea of how that paper works for you.