Ink Review: J. Herbin Gris Nuage

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I purchased this bottle of J. Herbin Gris Nuage (Gray Clouds) ink from Silberman Brown Stationers in Seattle.  It was one of those, "I've never used a gray ink before. Let's buy it and see what it's like."  Big Mistake.

J. Herbin ink is known for being a little on the dry side, and far less saturated than many other inks on the market.  With Gris Nuage, they seem to have hit the pinnacle of dry-running inks and low saturation.  This ink is, frankly, unusable.  At least for the things I use ink for (e.g., writing.)  I suspect that it could be used for color washes in art, but for actually inking up a pen and writing?  Not a chance.  It does, however, live up to its name.  As I state in my written review above, it reminds me a lot of months of October-May here in Seattle, when the clouds roll in, and there's an omnipresent mist or drizzle.  Suicide Gray, I call that color.  I have no clue why on Earth I would want to remind myself of that on purpose.

Even the J. Herbin bottles are questionable.  They are wide and shallow, with exceptionally narrow openings.  There is, in essence, no way to fill most pens in these bottles, as you can't submerge the nib and feed enough to actually suck up any ink.  So if you have a pen that you can't fill with an eyedropper or syringe, you will need to decant the ink into another container before attempting to fill the pen.  The bottle does have a little "pen rest" on the front, but it's too narrow to use with most of my pens.  Overall, this ink is a veritble orgy of bad planning, design, and execution.

I could spend more time on the ink, but frankly…why bother?  Short answer, inks like J. Herbin Gris Nuage is why I should ALWAYS try ink samples before buying an entire bottle. Because now I've got a bottle of this stuff that I will never use, and all it is doing is collecting dust.  Blech.

  • Yeah, that ink looks pretty useless.

  • Somewhere is Jeannie

    I’ve been doing my own research for a good grey ink and I think I may have found it with Faber-Castell Stone Grey. Another contender is Pilot Iroshizuku Fuyu-syogun.

  • Sam

    I really like this ink. Yeah, it’s incredibly light, but the shading is fantastic. But to each their own, right?

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