I received a Karas Decograph as a birthday present earlier in the year, and here are my first impressions after using this pen for a few months. The Karas Pen Company is based in Mesa, Arizona, and they make a variety of machined metal and acrylic pens. Besides fountain pens, they also make some very nice looking rollerball/ballpoint pens, mechanical pencils, and various accessories.
The Decograph is normally made with an acrylic body and machined aluminum trimmings, but earlier in the year they released an all aluminum production version, which is what I have. My Decograph has a body of red anodized aluminum and silver trim with a double broad Bock nib.
One issue that I tend to have with metal pens that have threaded caps is that the threads can be sharp and uncomfortable. For example, the Kaweco AL Sport is uncomfortable to write with for more than one sentence because it has a short grip section with about 3 millimeters of sharp threads. My grip usually falls a bit high on most small to medium sized pens, so factors like threading and body-to-section steps are a consideration for me. The Decograph has flat threads (about 6 mm long), a minimal step, and a long (21 mm) grip section. All of the edges on this pen have a slight chamfer, which is incredibly pleasing. The inside of the cap has an inner cap piece and a wide o-ring so that it stays closed and sealed in your pocket. The o-ring also cushions the cap when closing it, but gets all twisted when I’ve tried posting. The weight of the body itself is just right though, so I haven’t felt the need to post.
I recently ordered the Decograph rollerball conversion kit to try out as I was using mostly rollerballs at work. I had a blue-black needlepoint energel refill in there now and there’s not much else to say other than it writes great but the tip tends to wiggle. I’ve had this issue with every non-Pentel pen body that I’ve put this refill in though. Previously, I inked the fountain pen nib with Colorverse Cotton Blue and it writes well with a thicc line. This ink is a bit dry, and Bock nibs tend to be dry, so I’ll try an Irohizuku ink for potentially better results.
Iroshizuku inks are lubricated and flow well in most pens regardless of nib size. I changed the nib unit to a medium Opus 88 Bock 250 and inked the pen with Yama-Budo. Something that had never occurred to me is that, on pens like the Decograph where you can use it as a fountain pen or a rollerball, the fountain pen nib will almost always be longer than the rollerball insert with refill. The longer nib did change my writing angle a little bit, and my finger position on the grip section changed as shown in the photos above. The medium nib with Yama-Budo writes very smoothly and it flows well. Despite the inner cap seal I keep getting hard starts after not using the pen overnight or even a few hours. This also happened with the double broad nib.
I’m not exaggerating when I say that this is the nicest aluminum pen that I’ve ever owned. The anodized finish has a slight texture, and on the clip you can see the grain of the metal. I also appreciate the Karas engraving on the nib as it brings a nice art deco flair. While I like the idea of being able to switch from rollerball to fountain pen, I think my hand prefers the longer nib and the shape of a regular capless rollerball. The Decograph is available on the Karas Pen Company website in various materials and finishes.
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