Monday, 7 February 2011

Brown as in Brown Pens

Brown is peculiar in that it conjures contradictory images. From chocolate cake to human waste products. From autumn leaves to dowdy 1960s carpets. From earth and clay to Nazi Brownshirts. From terracotta pots to mummies. Brown is conflicting like that. It is appropriate that brown follows Palimpsest’s pink posts for (like pink) brown has no place in the colour spectrum. But no need to convince the men to pick up a brown pen. Brown is the colour of beer after all. And it was a man – Joseph Lovibond of Greenwich, London – who invented the world’s first colorimeter to measure the quality of his (brown) beer.

Brown is intriguing in that it contains blue and yellow and green and red and varying hues in between and so I wonder how is it that all these vibrant colours combine to give something as drab as brown. Because brown, let’s face it, has got a bad reputation. Its association with decay has been well documented and indeed there is something earthy and primeval about brown. I do not know why Palimpsest finds itself attracted to brown. It is not even autumn.

The bunch of pens I bought from Cult Pens are all brown (of course) but also have delectable names. The ZIG Art and Graphic Twin for instance has got a flexible brush on one side and a bullet tip on the other and dispenses a wonderful blendable colour: it comes also in gold ochre, mahogany, dark beige, warm sepia, bistre, vandyke brown and dark sand.

Stabilo Pen 68 comes in umber, brown, sienna, light and dark ochre and the Tombow ABT Dual Brush Pen in saddle brown, sand, chocolate, redwood, light and dark ochre, light sand and brown. The brown Uni Ball Signo Scents emits a Coconut scent, while the brown Zebra Sniff Itz smells of Vanilla. PILOT G-2, the G-TEC-C4 and the Fineliner deliver brown results in dependable lines as usual, while the Faber-Castell PITT Artist pen is a wonderful sepia. The PITT comes in a pack of four (S, F, M, Brush nibs) - I got mine from Paperchase.

For everyday use I shall go with the ZEBRA antique Hyper Gel 0.7. I like the sepia/brown/almost black line and the aged appearance of the clear plastic barrel. Brown rules.


  1. I used to think that I hated brown pens because brown remind me of... feces... but I realized how wrong I was when I picked up a brown pen (Zebra Sarasa). It's such a warm color and it's close enough to black that you can take notes with it, but still be unique. =)

  2. Yep. Zebra Sarasa is another great! Good choice.

  3. what a interesting blog on an unusual subject - i have always been fascinated by the ink colours that are available in the modern world, but i must admit that I've taken a liking to typing and have done away with most of my hand-writing; your posts make me feel like picking up a few pen colours

  4. I love browns and it looks like you have an impressive collection of brown pens there. It's hard though to find a shade that really works for you. I'm currently using Noodler's Polar Brown ink in a TWSBI fountain pen and I love the combination.

  5. I haven't tried Noodler's yet (it's on my wish list...) but I'm currently into Diamine Burnt Sienna and Rohrer and Klingner Sepia.

  6. I wish you had not mentioned the waste products HAHAHAHAHA