A while back, I published a post describing my experiences with iron gall ink and how one specific ink ate a pen and a spare nib. If you haven’t read it, I’d recommend doing so before reading this post. This is going to be a long, photo-heavy article, so I’m not going to rehash the initial story, which has proven to be really popular. It’s sparked quite a debate across reddit, including one in which a lovely redditor repeatedly called me… Read More
This is Part 6 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.
Scout Books Pocket Notebook
This series is all about the collision between the Fountain Pen and EDC worlds, and finding the notebooks that are most appropriate for fountain pen users who want to write on the go. The perfect pocket notebook handles ink well, never feathers or spreads, showcases shading and sheen, dries immediately, and is durable. That notebook is hanging out in Imaginary Land with Sasquatch and Nessie… Read More
Something a little different…a little special…a little “oh yeah!”
Newton Pens Eastman Fountain Pen
Nib: Extra Fine (Bock)
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter (Standard International)
A Different Approach:
This will be a slightly different type of review for me. Up to now, the pens I’ve reviewed have been mass produced in factories, rolling off well-oiled production lines. But this pen is different. It’s as much a piece of art as it is a tool for writing. So you may notice that I’m using different terminology for some sections and not assigning scores.
About Shawn Newton:
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Pendom lies a cozy little hamlet where wildly talented (and sometimes eccentric) artisans sit in their basements, garages, or workshops, transforming various slabs of raw materials into fine writing instruments with their bare hands…and typically with machinery that consists of sharp things that rotate at high speeds. One of these wizards is Shawn Newton, and the pen I’m reviewing is his Eastman model. If you’re unfamiliar with Shawn’s work, you need to drop by his website or his Instagram feed and check some of his amazing work.
Shawn is a former art teacher turned full-time pen maker (see what I did there?) who’s made quite the name for himself in the pen world. He has developed a number of different designs and you can work with him to build a customized pen out of any material you want. His work is highly regarded for its beauty, uniqueness, and functionality. And as if creating beautiful writing instruments wasn’t enough, Shawn has also devoted himself to… Read More
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.
Straight outta Taiwan, check out the chillin’, killin’, piston-fillin’…
TWSBI Eco Fountain Pen
Nib: Extra Fine
Filling System: Piston
About the Company
TWSBI is a brand of writing instruments produced by the Ta Shin Precision manufacturing company, headquartered in Taipei City, Taiwan. Ta Shin has been around for several decades, although historically, they served as more of a white-label manufacturer, producing products for other companies to slap their names on and sell (The Korean company LG emerged the same way). Also similar to LG, Ta Shin decided it was in their best interest to develop their own brand, and in 2009, TWSBI was born.
TWSBI is a bit of a different animal in the fountain pen world. Their aim is to create attractive, high-quality, workhorse-level fountain pens that are also
If you give a nerd a fountain pen, chances are, he’s going to want some ink to go with it. If you give him a sample of ink, he’s going to ask for more. Once you clean out Vanness, Goulet, and Anderson of samples, he’ll start asking for full bottles. After you buy him 1,000 bottles of ink, he’s going to need some way to catalog and organize all the colors he’s amassed at the expense of your bank account (five points if you get the book reference). If only someone made books of small, loosely bound cards out of ink-friendly paper that he could use for this purpose!
Enter… Read More
From the “No, it’s not the 3776 Century” file, I present the…
Platinum 3776 Balance Maestro Fountain Pen (PTB-5000B)
Nib: Extra Fine
Filling System: Cartridge/Converter (proprietary)
About the Pen:
Before I start telling you what this pen IS, let me begin with what it ISN’T. This is not the 3776 Century, Platinum’s highly lauded, entry-level gold-nibbed pen that’s at the top of many a “Recommended Fountain Pens” list. This review is for the Balance Maestro, the Century’s little cousin. It’s still part of the 3776 lineup and still an excellent writer. But unlike the Century, it’s more of a general entry-level fountain pen. It has a simpler design, sports a steel nib instead of the 14k gold nib found on the Century (although it is gold plated), and is does not have the… Read More
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
More Eye-Popping Colors from Australia!
But first…a song!
There’s red in my head, but I don’t want it
The blues were swarming there in my soul
Shadows over me and
The only colour I can paint my soul
I want black and don’t fade away
I want it black forever
Inside of me, all I wanna see’s the colours in my head
I’m in black the only way
And make it black forever
Go inside and…go inside and…never come back out again
—Black Forever by WASP (One of the best bands, EVER!)
Sorry…I’ve expended the interesting bits of inside information I have on Robert Oster and his inky endeavors, so I don’t have much to lead off this post with. So instead, you get heavy metal lyrics about colors. Yes…it’s your lucky day.
Honestly, by this point, the man and his company probably don’t need much… Read More
Busy Beaver…Or would that be Busy Platypus in Australia?
Robert Oster might be the hardest working man in the fountain pen ink industry these days. Yeah, yeah, I know…I can hear the chorus of “What about Nathan Tardif?” and I haven’t even pushed the Publish button yet. True Story: Nathan is a machine. But this post isn’t about him, it’s about Rob Oster, who exploded onto the fountain pen scene not even a year ago, but has managed to win the hearts and minds (and money) of fountain pen users across the globe in that very short timespan.
It seems like we can’t go more than a couple weeks without… Read More