I have never tried before any pens from Karas Pen Co, so when they contacted me to check my interest to review one of their pens, I definitely jumped at the opportunity! The pen they sent me is from their Signature range – a spring Decograph 1801 Special Edition no less, elegantly named Sleeping Beauty. While this pen was provided to me for free in exchange for a review on my blog, all opinions where applicable are my own.
In Karas, all their items are designed and manufactured in Arizona, USA. So it is not a surprise that their Decograph 1801 was going to feature one of their landmarks. That landmark would be the the Sleeping Beauty Turquoise Mine of Globe, Arizona. Initially, the name “Sleeping Beauty” calls to mind the Disney animation based on a classic fairytale, but upon reading the product sheet that came along with the pen, I realised it’s about the mine! That makes much more sense as I could not really think of how else the pen would be associated with Disney (laughing at myself now).
Appearance and packaging
When it comes to acrylic pens, I really love marbled or swirly designs, so when I first saw this pen, I really liked how the black lines are swirled around the turquoise pen body. It mimics the patterns often seen on real turquoise stones, so you immediately get the impression of it being related to turquoise gems. The pen comes in a baton-like, aluminium casing, in which there is protective foam to fit your pen into. There is also a slip of paper with usage instructions, coiled up and stuffed into one end of the casing.
I’ve never quite seen any tube-like pen packaging such as this one before. All other tube-like packaging that I’ve seen with other pens have been plastic instead of metal. This tube protects the pen really well, as the pen fits very snugly in the foam and is very unlikely to fall out (unless you’re careless). It is also very compact for a fountain pen packaging and uses minimal materials. I like it this way, as it guarantees my pen will not be squashed or bumped around during shipping. However, it is round, so it could roll off your table and create a ruckus if your floor is not carpeted. I store this tube upright (yes it stands up) at a corner of my desk, and it’s happy there.
Nib and parts
The nib is arguably the most important part of a fountain pen, so how does this nib stack up against those of other pens? When I check the performance of a nib, I look at a few aspects: material and size of nib, price point, and writing experience.
This Decograph 1801 uses a steel Bock nib, and from the engraving it appears that Karas uses the stock nib as it is, with no custom engraving. The engraving shows the Bock logo and the name “Bock”. It does not specify what nib size it is, but feels like a fine. Like most of the Bock nibs I’ve tried before, this one writes smoothly but with some feedback. Even writing on super smooth Life Notebook paper, I feel a slight feedback and a bit of papery rustling sounds. The ink flow is well-controlled – not too wet but not too dry either, and I like it that way. That allows me to write at a moderate speed on paper like those in the Life Notebook, which take a long time to absorb ink.
This pen’s cap is a screw cap, and takes exactly 2 revolutions to come off. It is overall a light pen and does not require posting for balance, although if you’re a pen-poster, you can comfortably do so without upsetting the balance too much.
The filling system is a converter, and uses an international one. The converter was provided together with the pen. I’m glad it does not have any proprietary filling system, as it would be troublesome if I lose its converter! Being an international one, it means you can also use international ink cartridges (they’ve also provided me a few which I did not use for this review).
I’ve inked this pen up with Pilot Iroshizuku Ku-jaku, which I felt was a decent match to the pen’s colour. Ku-jaku is almost turquoise, but probably closer to blue-green than the Decograph 1801 sleeping beauty. Speaking of colours, the Sleeping Beauty interestingly looks very turquoise in person (leaning towards green), but more blue shows through when I take photos or videos of it. Fault of the camera, perhaps? But I suppose that is the beauty of being turquoise in colour – you never know if it’s really considered blue or green!
As this pen is a special edition, it is limited to only 100 pieces worldwide, so grab one while you can. You’ll be able to find the serial number of your piece on the barrel just before the screw threads leading into the section of the pen. The numbers get covered up by the cap when fully capped. The serial number typically shows 1801-xxx where xxx is the number of the pen from 001 to 100. Mine is probably a final prototype of sorts that is not for sale, hence you see the 000.
Overall I’d say I like this pen, as it is light and pretty. It is comfortable to write with, being not too heavy, and I can imagine this to be an everyday workhorse pen. It’s probably a little unfortunate that it is a limited edition, as I think many of you fountain pen users would find this a nice pen to use. Hopefully Karas Pen Co will come up with more of such pens and make them more available to the public!