I recently published a video and review of the full line of current Monarca inks, but I only made a full review of Manglar, which was the bottle that I purchased. After getting quite a few questions about it, I decided to start my reviews of the samples with Monarca Arena Blanca (white sands). Monarca ink is only for sale on Etsy, in the USA.
This was an ink that really fascinated me when I swatched it. The color is very unusual for a fountain pen ink, and I don’t own anything like it, though pale inks and pastel colors have grown dramatically in popularity over the past year or two.
I began by swatching the ink on a variety of papers and discovered something interesting (though not unusual). Arena Blanca appears to be significantly warmer or cooler depending on the surface of the paper; non-absorbent papers like Tomoe River and Cosmo Air Light both produce a cooler tone in the dried ink, while more typical paper surfaces result in warmer tones.
As mentioned, I don’t own any inks that are similar for comparison, but I can show you a couple to show you how different they are.
But of course, what everyone wants to know is: Is this ink dark enough to be legible for everyday writing or journaling? The answer depends heavily on the pen and paper that you use.
Regardless of the pen that I used, Arena Blanca felt like it was a dry writer; flow seemed a bit low. However, I’ll admit that I’m not used to writing with such a pale ink, and that may be influencing my judgement. In any case, the ink is certainly legible, but it’s not what I’d call easily legible. Wet nibs make a big difference, and a very wet nib will make this ink an easily legible medium brown. I had more shading on Tomoe River, and shading was a hindrance to legibility for me. The ink displayed modest shading on both papers.
Otherwise, there was nothing unexpected: no sheen, no shimmer, no feathering (except with the B-3 nib on Rhodia, but that was the result of soapy water on the nib), and no bleed through.
Overall, I love the ink, and it could be fun to use in certain situations, but it’s not especially practical for every day use. I guess that goes without saying. Outside of Mexico you can buy this ink from the Monarca Stationery storefront on Etsy, and that’s it.
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