The fact that Karas Kustoms was there at the L. A. Pen show came as a very pleasant surprise. I entered the hall, looked around, and there, tucked into a quiet corner, was the Karas Kustoms table. There sat Bill Karas and Dan Bishop, the brilliant minds behind the Karas Kustoms pen line. I walked up and Dan greeted with a warm, welcoming smile which disarmed me completely. I stopped being so nervous, and we started chatting about their solid, well-designed pens, that I salivate over.
I had been looking at the INK in black body/brass grip combo for the longest time, but it was constantly sold out by the time I had earned enough to get it. Incidentally, I was looking forward to getting a Spencerian grind on my Falcon, but was informed that John Mottishaw doesn’t work on pens not bought from Nibs.com. This came as a huge disappointment to me, but it also cleared about $110 of my budget, allowing me to re-purpose it towards getting an INK in my dream combo. Best of all, Dan kindly knocked $10 off the original price, which helped me save enough to buy another dream pen (a story for another review).
Doesn’t it look absolutely stunning? The first time I saw this particular combo in a photo, I was bewitched by its understated, svelte figure. The size is decent even for people with big hands (me). Be warned that this pen DOES NOT POST. I was initially skeptical as to how well it would fit my hand, but after trying it, any doubts were assuaged. I tried the Aluminum version first just to get an accurate gauge of the weight the brass would provide. It was too light for my taste, and I decided maybe posting would help put more weight on the nib, but couldn’t secure the cap on AT ALL. After several attempts, I gave up, and decided that brass was the best way to go. The difference between brass and copper was explained by Dan as “Both brass and copper develop a nice patina with use, but the brass will maintain its original state longer than the copper. Weight-wise, they’re almost identical, copper being maybe a couple of grams heavier”.
The clip is a solid piece of
titanium spring stainless steel that is polished till it shines. The first case I decided to put the pen into was my Nock Co. Hightower, but the clip was a little too rigid. I initially had a bit of trouble bending the clip upwards to slide over the fabric. It was a little frustrating at first, and I considered loosening the clip via the bolts on the other side (picture below), but decided against it because I didn’t want to accidentally mar the finish. After about 30 times going in and out of the case, the clip finally started developing a little “give” to accommodate the constant sliding in and out. This did not at all affect how well the clip functions, and even now it has a solid grip that assures me it won’t ever slip out (and even if it, what’s the worst that can happen?)
Despite being a well designed, solid, and functional pen, the INK has one minor flaw. This pen has a tendency to roll all over the place.Since it isn’t postable (is that even a word?), the pen doesn’t have something to secure it in one place. What I do is just keep the cap handy in a horizontal (or vertical) position , and whenever I need to leave, I just insert the body into the cap without screwing it in. The cap is nice and heavy, which secures the pen easily.
The nib I opted for was a Schmidt Medium. I knew I wasn’t interested in the fine from day one, so it came down to the medium and broad. After testing both I chose the medium because it had a more balanced ink flow, as the fine was too dry, and the broad too wet for my preferences. It was a pretty much a Goldilocks situation with this, as the medium happened to be “just right”. I first washed the converter out with Goulet Pen Flush, and then inked it up with my favorite black, J. Herbin Perle Noir. The highly lubricated ink, mixed with the lustrous color was a match made in heaven. The Schmidt nib performed at its absolute best, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. I’m so glad that what was a disappointment on one end, opened a door of opportunity to a whole new experience.
EDIT – Dan read the review! XD, and corrected me on the clip material. It is spring stainless steel NOT titanium. Sorry guys.
To Dan and Bill,
If you’re reading this, know that you guys have outdone yourselves with this pen. I find myself recommending it to everyone I know. You guys have made a beautiful work of art, at a price point that makes it accessible to all. I was thrilled and honored to meet you, and will definitely take a trip down to the factory to hang out. Keep up the great work!
Anchit, The Passionate Penman