I used KWZ Iron Gall Green #4 for more than a month, in two pens, a Pelikan M600 with extra-fine nib, and a Lamy Al-Star with broad and fine nibs. The ink has nice lubrication and flow, but it runs on the dry side — it’s not a gusher.
That means, first, that you can experiment and get different looks with different pens. In the wet-writing Pelikan, even with an extra-fine nib, Iron Gall Green #4 was a strong, legible, spiky dark green. In the dry-writing Lamy Al-Star, Iron Gall Green#4 was noticeably lighter in color, almost a spring-like green, and shading came to the fore.
Here is a writing sample on Rhodia.
And here on Tomoe River paper in cream.
Lubrication was good — there was a nice, cushiony writing experience in both the Pelikan and the Lamy with broad nib. Yes, if you left the pen unused for a week, you had to dip the nib in water, or prime the feed, to get ink flow started again. But that’s true with many pen and ink combinations.
A nice thing about a dry ink is that your line doesn’t spread and widen. That’s true of Iron Gall #4, too. It wrote a nice tight line with both pens, which I always like.
But … there is a but. A dry ink isn’t usually a great match for a dry-writing pen with a finer nib. And that is true of Iron Gall Green #4. I tested it with the Al-Star with a fine nib, and that’s not a combination I recommend. I found the ink too dry-feeling, the line patchy and the lighter Al-Star color too thin with a very narrow nib. Here’s a writing sample, first with the Al-Star broad nib, then the fine nib, on Staple Sustainable Earth paper.
So, in my opinion, Iron Gall Green #4 is not an ink for a Safari-type pen with a fine nib. Use Iron Gall Green with a wet pen, or use it with a dry pen with a broad nib, to bring out its best qualities.
Among its best qualities is excellent performance on paper that’s not fountain-pen friendly. Iron gall inks usually perform well on poor paper, and Iron Gall Green #4 is no exception. It resists feathering like a champ. The line doesn’t spread; there is no bleedthrough; and there is acceptable showthrough, or none, depending on the pen.
Here is a closeup on Staples Sustainable Earth, from the Lamy Al-Star with broad nib. (A few words from the Lamy fine are below.)
Iron Gall Green #4 has good water resistance on absorbent regular paper, like most inks, but on smooth fountain-pen friendly paper, like the Rhodia on the right, water resistance is less than I’d expect from an iron gall ink.
On the other hand, cleanup of Iron Gall Green #4 could not have been easier. A few cycles flushing with water, and both pens were completely clear of ink.
Checking my notebook, I inked up both pens on January 6, and cleaned them out February 10. On purpose, when I’m testing an ink, I leave the pens unused for days at a time, to see what happens. In the case of the Pelikan, I let it sit for more than a week. Yet Iron Gall Green #4 flushed out of both pens, using only water, in about a minute. “Iron Gall” does not mean “high maintenance.”
I have ink swab comparisons, with the warning that they may be a little misleading. Here are the closest inks in my collection.
Iron Gall Green #4 at first glance looks close to both these inks, especially to Diamine Green/Black. In the Pelikan, Iron Gall Green #4 approached the hue and darkness of Diamine Green/Black, one of my favorite dark greens. However, that overlooks the dryness factor, because in a dry-writing Al-Star, Iron Gall Green #4 lightens significantly, in a way that Diamine Green/Black does not.
Nor is Iron Gall Green #4 really that close to De Atramentis Jane Austen. The Jane Austen ink happens also to be a dry ink, probably even drier than Iron Gall Green #4, but Jane Austen is grayer and much closer to Diamine Umber in hue.
Here is also a swab comparison of Iron Gall Green #4 against all the other KWZ Iron Gall green inks I’ve used and reviewed so far.
Here is paper towel chromatography of Iron Gall Green #4.
It’s interesting to me to see that extra blue dye in Iron Gall Green #4, when it doesn’t seem a particularly blue green on the page. More typical blue greens are Iron Gall Green #1 and #2. I like how KWZ uses the blue dye to balance the yellow of the olive green dye. It’s another creative mix from Konrad.
Iron Gall Green #4 is an interesting ink that I enjoyed using. It’s dry but it’s lubricated feeling. It cleans up easily. It is outstanding on poor paper. Its color is malleable, but for me, in its strongest guise, as in the Pelikan, it’s both business-like and attractive.