review: lennon tool bar cangqiong / sky - ink between the teeth

Sep 10, 2018

review: lennon tool bar cangqiong / sky

We're taking a look at the second of the two Lennon Tool Bar inks I own!

Lennon Tool Bar is a shop specializing in indigo dying, a traditional art that's been disappearing in Taiwan. They've also spread out to fountain pen ink manufacturing. I purchased my bottle of Cangqiong from Ty Lee in Taipei, which carries their entire line.

When I bought this ink, the store clerk warned me that it was very waterproof and that I shouldn't leave it in a pen for a long period of time. A majority of folks in Taiwan use extra-fine and fine fountain pens (Taiwan uses Traditional Chinese, so you can image you might have to fit a lot of strokes into one character!), so I think the worry is that you might not finish a fill in a month.

I can't remember if my bottle of ink came with a box or not, but it doesn't really matter to me anyway. The bottle is glass with a plastic cap. There's a sticker on the front with a printed blot and the name of the ink in Chinese. Translated, it means something like "vast blue-green," but Google Translate helpfully gives you a simple "sky."
Under the cap is a second, rubbery cap. You're gonna need to have a decent amount of fingernail or maybe a letter opener to get it out of there, but it keeps a very nice seal. You get 30ml of ink.

The color is a dusty blue-green, like if someone took an overcast sky and turned it into an ink.
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This is another color-changing ink, going down a deeper green color. You might expect a little bit of shading because of the deep green, but it dries down to this relatively flat tone. It's quite a drastic change! It doesn't have any sheen, not even in big swatches.

This ink is super waterproof, just like the clerk said. I gave it time to dry to the touch and dripped some water onto it, and was amazed to see that not the tiniest amount of ink lifted from my writing. Very impressive!
The ink is quite wet, but it was getting pretty close to dry by the 60 second mark. In regular use, I've found that it takes about 45 to 60 seconds to be dry to the touch.
I compare the ink here to J. Herbin Vert Empire, which is the closest that I get. Vert Empire is a bit greener and much deeper, but I think I can see Congqiang being a less saturated Vert Empire. My other blues and greens don't even come close, but I gave you a couple to compare it against.

I have this ink in my Nemosine Singularity. I swear this pen plays well with every ink I've put in it, but to be fair a super wet feed and nib will do that for you. I filled my converter about a quarter of the way so that I could start working through my inks fairly quickly, and I finished this ink off in about a week. Yup, I'm a fan.

I'm careful with the kinds of pens I put it into, so this won't be going into my pricier or vintage pens, but I love the color. The waterproof quality is a plus, but I don't really get into the business of spilling water all over my writing anyway, so it's just a fun bonus. I paid about $8 for this ink.

Unfortunately, Lennon Tool Bar doesn't have much relevance outside of Taiwan, but a couple of stores there carry it very regularly. If you can snatch a bottle, I would recommend it!

Where to buy

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