Nick Stewart’s Randall – A Blue Black Chameleon

So after nearly 3 years of swatch testing and experimenting, I have decided to take the Blue Black challenge and design my own ink. For some, taking an off-the-shelf colour and badging it with their own label is an obvious and easy thing to do. Having swatch tested hundreds of inks I can now spot these quite easily as each ink manufacturer has their own house style. But re-badging can be frustrating for enthusiasts who inadvertently can end up with two, three or more bottles of the same ink but with a different label. To that end, I can assure you that my Randall is absolutely unique.

So what’s it like?

Well, it’s a creative ink as you’d expect, with a great tonal range, and chromatography from darkest black blue to royal blue, turquoise and pink plus there’s a cheeky crimson sheen too, which I wanted to include as it’s something a little fashionable and of our time. It’s also intended as a stylish everyday writing ink.

It’s been described by some reviewers as a ‘chameleon’ ink – as it changes tone and colour depending on the nib used and the paper surface chosen, and it really can change before your eyes. The wetter the nib, the deeper the colour. (Links to reviews can be found at the end of this post). This isn’t everyone’s cup of tea I appreciate, but in the spirit of the project, I’m more than happy with it.

As I couldn’t manufacture this myself, I sent my vials and recipe notes to Diamine, who matched my samples exactly and, in my opinion, they’ve done a great job.

Using a Noodlers Nib Creeper – top left to right – on Rhodia dot matrix, Cartridge paper and Tamoe River
Bottom – Tamoe River (sheen)

Using an automatic pen on cartridge paper the ink is very dark (left) with a pronounced sheen (middle). When dipped in water the tonal and colour range is evident (right).

The combination of the tonal range and sheen allows for exciting art journalling possibilities.

The sails and other highlights were achieved using bleach

So what about the name?

I wanted this ink to be associated with something truly inspiring. Something a little off the wall, a little dangerous but totally engrossing. It was tempting to take the easy road and buddy up with another stationery related opportunity, but I wanted a great story to tell. Something packed full of passion, suffering and courage. As an offshore sailor myself, much of my inspiration comes from those experiences at sea, but Randall Reeves, who is married to my late Uncle’s goddaughter, Joanna, is doing something totally mind-blowing.

In the fall of 2017, Randall set sail for a first-ever solo circumnavigation of both the American and Antarctic continents in one season. The route passes through all of the world’s oceans, approach both poles, and around Cape Horn twice. No one has done this before – no one has even tried. His voyage combines two historic and dangerous routes, one in the deep Southern Ocean and one through the Arctic. Ferdinand Magellan, the first ever to circle the globe, departed in 1519 with six ships and 270 men. His voyage via Cape Horn took 16 months to complete. Only one ship returned.

When the expeditions of Captain James Cook departed 300 years later, the globe had only been encircled a handful of times. Risks were extreme; loss of life, common. Though Cook pushed further toward the poles than any other sailor in history, even he failed to find the mythic Northwest Passage. After Cook, countless vessels searched for a route through the Arctic. All failed. Many ships and men were forever frozen in ice before Roald Amundsen’s successful transit in 1904. But even Amundsen had the company of 12 crewmen on his two-year voyage.

The first solo sailors to head south of the continents for a non-stop circumnavigation, now considered the Everest of the sport, didn’t do so until 1968, and today fewer than 150 have completed this stormy passage. In the north, only three sailors have even attempted the frozen Arctic alone, all since 2011. Randall is the first to put these two dangerous and historic routes, a Southern Ocean circumnavigation and a transit of the Arctic, into one epic passage, the Figure 8 Voyage.

His first attempt was quashed following a massive storm and knockdown in the Southern Ocean almost costing him his life. He is currently sailing back to San Francisco for repairs and modifications and will then have another shot at it starting August – September 2018.

In a world where humans are increasingly living their lives through avatars, Randall stands tall amongst real people. Like this project, he’s prepared to ask questions, to experiment and accept the consequences when things go wrong.

Humans are naturally curious and creative, we are NOT robots. We must be careful that technology, and those in charge of it, do not destroy the spirit within. Randall is the real deal and you can follow his eloquent journals on his blog at I am humbled to be associated with him and I hope the qualities of this new ink, named in his honour, are a befitting testament to his courage and tenacity. I will be celebrating key milestones of Randall’s next attempt with Randall Blue Black ink related competitions and giveaways, so stay tuned!

Go check him out and get inspired!

I have 50 x 50ml bottles available and each bottle comes with a unique and signed piece of art (not framed). The cost per package is £15.00 (GBP) – shipping to be added at cost. I was going to set up an online shop but the costs keep creeping up and creating your own ink is more expensive than one would think. To that end, if you would like both, please email me direct at and we can proceed from there. I have a PayPal account for payment transactions. First come first served.

Each bottle comes with one of my 50 unique signed landscape swatch cards shown above. (Card dimensions: 70mm x 95mm)

They may be small but they are unique and frame well! I will do my best to increase their value over time.


Reviewer Links

Far Too Many Pens –

UK Fountain Pens –

Noah Maasarani and others –

More to come…


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I also have a portfolio of test art pieces at: