Review by Laura Cameron (and Ana Reinert)
Since both Laura and I have ended up purchasing or acquiring several of the same products, we have decided to do some “tag team” reviews where we provide two points of view. Since our pen experience levels differ and our tastes differ, sometimes our opinions will be similar and sometimes they will differ. We hope you’ll enjoy these posts.
Ana: I was lucky enough to pick up the Karas Pen Co. Decograph at the “unveiling” at the San Francisco Pen Show in August. The fabulous crushed green glass-look material used for my pen body is limited edition and not yet available in wider circulation. It’s ever-so-slightly translucent. In the right light, I can see the converter but its absolutely luminescent. The cap is the standard black thermoplastic with the aluminum finials and stainless clip.
The lighter weight of the thermoplastic material makes the Decograph easy to hold and the material warms in the hand like vintage pens.
The absence of a cap band gives the Decograph a sleek, streamlined look. This was made possible thanks to some clever engineering details inside. There’s a steep step-down inside the cap that keeps the grooves of the twisting far enough away from the edge of the cap that it will prevent cracking, thus avoiding the need for a cap band. So… the pen gets the streamlined look of a vintage pen without the fatal flaws of a cracking cap that plagues those old gems.
I paid to upgrade the nib on my Decograph to a Bock 14K gold EF. I’ve not used the Bock gold nibs before I felt this was a good opportunity to indulge.
I don’t have a lot of experience with the Bock gold nibs but there is a nice bit of spring (not flex per se) and since the Decograph is lighter than a Fountain K or INK, the light, springy nib in a light springy pen creates a bouyant writing experience.
As a lefty, I had no issues writing with the stock gold EF nib. It had good line variation and will work well on the variety of paper stocks I have to use at work.
A lot of comments have been made about the Decograph packaging, both good and bad. The pen is definitely the most upscale creation from the Karas Pen Co. and it seems fitting that the packaging reflect this. The aluminum tube harkens to the roots of the company’s original products and creates a lovely protective keepsake for the Decograph that is reminiscent of the tins that Fossil watches come in and shaped a lot like Retro 51s come in which were based on the tubes from lots of vintage pens.
That said, the packaging idea came to the Karas team after the pen was designed. It is an add-on to make the Decograph that much better and was not added to increase the cost of the pen as might have been suggested on chat forums.
I’ve used the Decograph on and off since August and enjoyed it a lot. It’s aesthetically very appealing. For me, the weight and balance is spot-on and I love the gold EF nib. I think its priced competitively with other turned, custom pens of this caliber. The details and finishing are excellent. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with the Decograph.
As I’ve said before, I love a good, weighty fountain pen, so it’s no surprise that I really love my Karas Kustoms Fountain K. I was interested, however, to learn that Karas was coming out with a pen that looked quite a bit like their other metal pens, but was instead a machined thermoplastic body, called the Decograph. Then I saw a photo posted of the limited edition, colored ones and I was hooked. Karas held a lottery among Karas Pen Club members to purchase one of the limited editions and I was lucky enough to get the exact one I wanted – turquoise with black swirls.
When the pen arrived I was pleased how solid it felt in my hands, despite weighing far less than the Fountain K. The pen body is smooth with clean lines. The cap screws on and off, and is postable and the Bock #6 nib (I ordered fine) is a pleasure to write with. I immediately filled it with Pilot Iroshizuku Yama Budo and I was off to the races! I really enjoy this one and pull it out at least once almost every day. If you’re looking for a lighter weight pen with clean lines and excellent quality, I’d pick up one of these.
Laura is a tech editor, podcaster, knitter, spinner and recent pen addict. You can learn more about her knitting and tea adventures on her website, The Corner of Knit & Tea and can find her on Instagram as Fluffykira.