A small but spiffy slate of pen mail this week. Hot on the heels of the latest Field Notes edition, the Fall 2017 Write Notepads “Fingerprints” edition quietly arrived. And all the way from Japan, my Platinum #3776 Century Nyhavn came in like a yellow ray of… Read More
This is Part 3 of my Mega Monster Review series on pocket notebooks. You can visit the main Mega Monster Review page for a listing of all the notebooks reviewed in this series. You can also open the massive Master Spreadsheet to see all the aggregated data on these notebooks. Note: This is a work in progress and will take several weeks to complete.
Nock DotDash Pocket Notebooks
Nock Co. is a small company in Atlanta, Georgia: a collaboration between bag/everyday carry (EDC) designer Jeff Bruckwicki and pen blogger/podcaster Brad Dowdy. Although Nock is mostly known for their (rather awesome) pen cases, they also produce a small range of paper products intended to be both great for EDC and friendly for fountain pen users.
In this review, I’ll be taking a look at their Nikko Blue DotDash pocket notebook. One thing to note… Read More
This is Part 2 of my Mega Monster Review series on pocket notebooks. You can visit the main Mega Monster Review page for a listing of all the notebooks reviewed in this series. You can also open the massive Master Spreadsheet to see all the aggregated data on these notebooks. Note: This is a work in progress and will take several weeks to complete.
Field Notes Original Kraft Pocket Notebooks
When it comes to pocket notebooks, Field Notes doesn’t really need much of an introduction. They’re basically the gold standard against which other 3.5″ by 5.5″ notebooks are measured. Field Notes began as a partnership between graphic designer Aaron Draplin and advertising designer Jim Coudal back in 2007. They were inspired by the hundreds, if not thousands, of small, promotional memo books distributed to farmers by agricultural and farm equipment companies throughout American history.
Although Field Notes has their permanent production editions of pocket notebooks, they really made a name for themselves with their
Rugged. ‘Murican. Sexy. Okay, maybe not sexy. Nah, I was right the first time…it’s pretty sexy.
Karas Kustoms Ink Fountain Pen
Price: $85.00 to $240.00 (depending on configuration and where you buy it)
Nib: EF, Titanium (Bock)
Filling System: Standard International Cartridge/Converter
About the Company:
Karas Kustoms is a small machine shop located in Mesa, Arizona, USA. Company founder, Bill Karas, started working as a machinist in high school, and after a number of years grinding metal for “the man,” he opened his own custom machine shop. Although he started as a one-man band, he soon hired industrial designer Dan Bishop as an assistant. Bill gave Dan a broom and told him to clean up the joint.
They produced a number of different types of products, most notably iPhone cases. They sold relatively well, and the company saw steady growth, but were still missing that one big idea that would slingshot them to prominence.
During this time, the crowdfunding site Kickstarter was experiencing a trend of successfully funded pen design/manufacturing projects. This phenomenon caught Dan’s eye. He reportedly threw down his broom, ran to Bill and said, “Dude! We need to make pens.” Bill laughed and told him to pick up the broom and get back to work. Dan argued. They grappled a bit. In the end, Bill let Dan run with the idea to see how it would go. Dan fired up his industrial design engine, and their first pen, the Render K, was born. After the 30-day Kickstarter campaign ended, they had just under $70,000 in funding to produce the pen. All were shocked. Bill stopped laughing.
Disclaimer: I took a whole lot of liberties with the facts on that bit of company history. I think the general premise of my tale is correct, but I made up the laughing and grappling parts. For a more complete and accurate journalistic account of their history, check out this August 2016 article on AZCentral.
Revisionist history aside, the Render K was a huge success, and it vaulted Karas Kustoms into the pen manufacturing world, to the shear delight of both the fountain pen and everyday carry (EDC) communities. Over the next few years, Karas Kustoms continued to use Kickstarter to fund new pen designs. Today, they have six major designs (and a new one about to launch any day now) in a number of configurations and material combinations.
About the Pen:
One of their newer designs is a meaty, full-sized fountain pen called the Ink.
I’ll just get it out there now: the name “Ink” is a ridiculous name for a pen. Especially a fountain pen.
“I just got a Karas Kustoms Ink!”
“Karas Kustoms makes INK??? Where’d’ya get that?!”
“No, no. It’s not ink for a pen…it’s a pen named ‘Ink.'”
“That’s the name of the pen: Ink.”
“So, Karas Kustoms doesn’t make ink?”
“NO! they only makes pens. The pen is called the Ink.”
“Why would they call a pen Ink?”
Unlike its name, the pen is not at all ridiculous.
The Ink is machined from rods of metal (aluminum, brass, or copper). All three materials come “naked,” and the aluminum version is also available anodized in a number of gorgeous colors. In addition to the wide array of metals, colors, and finishes, there are five different options for the grip section: polished aluminum, tumbled aluminum, black anodized aluminum, brass, and copper. And if that wasn’t enough, you also have a vast selection of wonderful #6 Bock nibs to choose from. The nibs come in all the standard sizes in regular steel, black steel, two-tone steel, and titanium. So overall, you have a pretty dizzying array of options to choose from.
I bought my Ink back in March 2017 at the Arkansas Pen Show…or more specifically at the Vanness open house during that weekend. I looked over the different colors they had in stock and settled on the red. I paired it up with a tumbled aluminum section and an EF titanium nib. It turned out to be a pretty sweet-looking configuration. So with my customized EDC pen in hand, I happily tottered off into the sunset.
And to be honest, it’s been inked up and part of my EDC ever since.
Is iron gall ink Public Enemy #1, or just a poor, misunderstood schmuck caught up in an unfair war of opinions?
Some people avoid it like the plague, flat-out stating that it will eat your pens, paper, pets, and children. Others use it exclusively, saying it’s perfectly safe and they bathe in it and pour it over their cereal with no ill effects… Read More
Now you see ’em. Now you don’t. Now you see ’em again.
Organics Studio (OS) is a company I (regretfully) avoided early on. When I started working with fountain pens a few years ago, there was a pretty big kerfuffle going on about certain “boutique” ink brands. People were complaining about SITB (Slime/Stuff in the Bottle) issues with Private Reserve. Others were swearing up and down that Noodler’s Baystate Blue was eating their pens. There was a lot of FUD going on. Some things I chose to ignore (I did buy a pile of Noodler’s ink), but others stuck with me. For some reason, I lumped Organics Studio in with all the scary issues. I think there was one or two reports of SITB in their inks, so I relegated them to the “Do Not Bother” list.
Fortunately, I kept hearing a lot of good things about these inks, and decided to give them a try anyway (plus, even giant brands like Montblanc and J Herbin had issues with SITB, so the one or two reported occurrences with OS inks seemed more like anomalies than an ongoing issue). Unfortunately
A Comparison of Blues Similar to Noodler’s Navy
Google+ has a really nice fountain pen community going. It’s not super busy there, but a group of dedicated regulars keep the conversation going. There’s a lot of information sharing, show-and-tell, and (of course) questions & calls for recommendations. Regular contributor Nathan stopped in to ask for recommendation: He was looking for a blue similar to Noodler’s Navy, but that was even more water-resistant.
I knew that Noodler’s published a
… Read More
I’m not sure whether to include these pens in my “Took a Flyer” file or my “Impulse Buy” file. I guess I’ll copy this review and place it in both files. Like I really have files.
Think Pens Couture Fountain Pens: Vacation & Violino
Price: $45.00 each
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter (Standard International)
About the Company & Pens:
Okay, so I’m going to do something a little different with this review and look at two pens instead of just one. Although the two pens have different designs, they employ the same “guts” internally, and they are part of the much larger “Couture” line of pen designs. The problem with Think Pens is that… Read More
“Back to School” Means Dirt-Cheap Notebooks! Are They Any Good with Fountain Pens?
Fountain pens are wonderful. That’s a given. But because they use water-based ink, they’re really not suitable for most run-of-the-mill paper (see what I did, there?). Fountain pens aren’t very popular in the US, so most of the everyday paper found here is a poor match for pens that use water-based inks. Ballpoints and gel pens effectively make up the entirety of American daily writing instruments, so manufacturers only need to supply paper that works well with those inks…which, really, any crappy paper can do.
So that leaves us poor fountain pen users stuck buying higher quality paper, mostly imported from France or Japan. These papers are great, but they’re pretty expensive compared to… Read More
This pen represents the first time I backed something on Kickstarter. It’s also my first hand-machined fountain pen. It also has my first titanium nib. Lotta firsts with this one.
Tactile Turn Gist Fountain Pen
Price: $118.00 ($79 for the pen + $39 for the nib)
Nib: EF (Titanium)
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter (Standard International)
About the Company & Pen:
Tactile Turn is a tiny machine shop down in Richardson, Texas that designs and creates a modest line of consumer products, catering mostly to the everyday carry (EDC) crowd. The company’s current products include the Pruner and Parer razor handles and the Mover and Shaker rollerball pens. The new (and exciting) addition to their lineup is the Gist fountain pen.
Tactile Turn’s products are all made from rugged, durable, and attractive materials, including stainless steel, titanium, copper, brass, and polycarbonate. They’re made to take a beating, keep functioning as intended, and look snazzy doing it…. Read More