- Review Ink: Iroshizuku Syo-Ro
- Review Paper: Rhodia Ice Webnotebook
- Description: A classically designed fountain pen made from resin from one of the most respected names in machined metal pens
- Nib: Steel Bock #6 – medium reviewed
- Filling Mechanism: International Standard cartridge/converter, eyedropper compatible
- Weight: 20.4g overall
- Measurements: 5.390″ capped, 5.0″ uncapped
- Color Options: Black thermoplastic / aluminum, special edition acrylics
Oh my goodness, reviewing limited editions can be hard. Why? Well, sometimes they sell out before getting the review up. That’s exactly what happened here. Good news though! Everything I’m saying about this super cool, limited edition Karas Kustoms Decograph can also be said about the regular version that’s available in black. The pen that’s up for consideration today is called the Decograph 1702 Elektron – an amber acrylic fountain pen from Karas Pen Company. You can read the full story behind the inspiration of the name and color here. I was super excited to get my hands on a Decograph, as it represents a pretty far departure from what Karas is known for – their hefty, bomb-proof metal pens. Let’s take a closer look at this very new, yet classic feeling fountain pen.
Appearance & Packaging:
The Decograph looks quite different from Karas’ other offerings. It’s slim, sleek, and ultra light weight. The proportions are reminiscent of a vintage fountain pen. The body is relatively slim, tapering from where the barrel screws into the grip gently to the tail. On the bottom of the tail is an aluminum cap with the Karas logo engraved in the back. The grip has a gentle taper in the middle that results in a comfortable place to grip that’s on the thinner side of most pens out there. The Decograph is fitted with a large #6 Bock nib that is well suited to the overall size and aesthetic of the pen. Overall, the pen is really nice looking. If you told me it was a vintage pen, you could probably have me fooled from a distance.
The pen isn’t just a vintage copy of an old pen though. There are a few modern accents that stand out. The clip, cap finial, and logo on the tail are made from machined aluminum. The milled clip is large, but not overpowering. The multiple different surfaces play with light nicely. It’s clearly vintage inspired, but still feels distinctly modern. The conical finial on top of the cap breaks up the acrylic nicely. On the tail, the logo engraved into the aluminum piece is the only branding on the pen and it looks great.
There’s really only one thing I’m not crazy about on the pen. The clip is made in two pieces. The large aluminum slab, and a steel (I think?) piece that it’s bolted down to. I understand that a 100% aluminum clip might not be functional, but on an otherwise elegant pen, I would have liked to see a more seamless solution for securing the clip to the pen.
The material that the pen is made of is definitely worth commenting on. This amber acrylic has some nice translucency, shine, and depth. The material is really cool to look at and catches the light differently depending on the angle. The dark-to-light brown with black swirl is fitting of the pen. While most manufacturers would complement this pen with gold hardware, they used silver. I quite like the choice, as it provides nice contrast.
Box test: Would I feel like a cheap jerk if I was giving this as a gift to someone if this is the box it came in? NOnonononononoooooo way. The packaging for this pen is just as cool as the pen. The Decograph comes in a machined aluminum tube with the Karas “K” shield engraved into the curved surface. Inside, there’s some foam that keeps the pen securely in place during shipping. Is the packaging over the top? Maybe a little. I’m totally okay with it though. I’m sure I could find something else to use the case for. The base does make a nice stand for the pen that would look cool on a desk too.
Nib Performance & Filling System:
Karas Pen Co. uses Bock steel nibs in their Decograph line. I’m totally okay with this decision. I prefer seeing the Bock branding on the pen over low-quality laser engraving on a plain nib. They perform quite well too. I do have a few other Bock #6 nibs in my collection, so it’s nice to know that I can easily swap them in and out for other materials or nib sizes. The steel medium nib that’s included has a nice medium flow and wrote smoothly out of the box.
The Decograph comes with an international standard converter. It works like the rest of them do – pop it in, suck up some ink, and get writing. The Decograph can also be used as an eyedropper pen, which is pretty cool. Instead of the converter, you can just fill the body of the pen up with ink. Personally, I can barely commit to a few millilitres of ink in a converter, let alone TONS of them in the body of the pen. It’s nice to know that it can work this way though.
In hand, the Decograph is quite light. I think the pen works the best unposted. The 5″ length works well, and the light weight allows the pen to go practically unnoticed in hand. At work, I find myself entering some data, writing something down, entering more, writing another thing down – over and over and over. I don’t like putting my pen down in between data entry and having to record a confirmation number. I’ve been appreciating the light weight and shorter length of the Decograph at work. This task definitely wouldn’t be as easy with a heavier or bulkier pen.
While the cap does post, I think it throws off the weight and balance of the pen. Since most of the 20.4g weight is in the cap (due to the clip and finial), it skews the balance heavily towards the back. I find the pen to be comfortable, whether I’m taking quick notes, or writing during a meeting. The grip is on the thinner side, but it’s definitely comfortable to write with. The threads are cut nicely so that they don’t dig into your fingers. I’m a fan of the feel.
- Vintage-inspired design
- Light, airy writing experience
- Cartridge, converter, or eyedropper filling methods
- Cool case
- Clip attachment point could be a bit more elegant
I like the direction in which Karas is headed with the Decograph. The standard edition of the pen looks cool, and I like that they can make use of different materials for special limited editions. Although the Elektron has sold out, that doesn’t mean you can’t get a similar experience with the black or green version that’s regularly available. Overall, I’m a fan of the pen. The pen is made in the USA (with the exception of the German-made nib) and retails for what I believe is a reasonable $165. The craftsmanship is great, the finishing is on-point, and the pen is a pleasure to both use and look at. To read up more about the 1702 “Elektron” version, check out the page here. To snag a standard edition for yourself, head over to this link instead.
Thanks to Paul and the rest of the Karas crew for reaching out. It was awesome to check out this new pen that I’m sure will be a springboard for future special editions and colors in the future. This pen was sent to me free of charge for review. Opinions are my own, but please form your own.