A little while back I backed a pen on Kickstarter and, upon receipt, put down the cheap biros I used to use and never looked back. Since, I have backed a number of Kickstarter pens of various shapes and sizes. I may have gotten a little carried away.

Carried away indeedAll of the above implements are rollerballs, with the occasional ballpoint thrown in (I don’t like ballpoints much. They have no character and I try to avoid them). Notably missing from the above collection was the ultimate concession to a pen addiction – the fountain pen. Oh, I came up with reasons and rationales – they were expensive, I shouldn’t have one until I was a registrar, I’d have to look into inks and converters and other no-doubt complicated things and it would all be terribly challenging. I mumbled along in this vein for a good year or so, and then came the Ink.

inkMade by Karas Kustoms, a US machine shop, the Ink was described as “a custom machined aluminum pen“. It came as both a fountain pen and a rollerball, but it wasn’t cheap. I had so many rollerballs already. Stuff it, I thought. I’ll get the fountain pen version, and maybe I’ll keep it until I am a registrar, and it comes with a convertor so I don’t need to worry about that, and oh I’ve backed it already. I went for orange, with a copper grip. A few days ago, it arrived.

I’ve not written with another pen since. I was surprised initially by it’s size – it seemed bulky and thick and I was concerned that I’d not be able to use it in comfort. I was wrong. It is light and perfectly balanced, and sits neatly in the hand. It is beautifully made – the screw threads are smooth, the anodizing flawless. The clip is springy and makes a sound a little bit like a mini tuning fork if pinged, and the whole pen feels bulletproof. It is an elegant piece of hardware.

Karas Kustoms InkI found the pen more…gold than the orange I had expected (especially if you compare it to the Karas Kustoms Ink image above) but it’s grown on me. Plenty.

And then there is the usage. As perhaps I ought to have anticipated, I crumbled immediately (read: before the pen even arrived) and purchased a bottle of Waterman’s Intense Black ink. I filled the pen on arrival and put nib to paper. The writing is effortless – it lays down a line with barely a hint of pressure, comfortably, calmly, without blotting or dripping. Even on the occasion that I have not put the cap back on properly, and the pen section has fallen into my pocket unprotected, it did not turn my trousers into blotting paper (I do not know how I avoided this fate but I am glad). I’ve used it every day at work since, and I’m not sure when (if) I will be able to bring myself to stop. Writing with the Ink is not only nicer than with any of the other pens I’ve owned* but also feels somehow ‘cleaner’. There are no refills/cartridges or other waste products to kick to the kerb when it runs empty – I just open the bottle of ink, and 30 seconds later…presto! The cost of refills is no longer something I need to contemplate. My ink bottle cost me about £6 and will last me, at the rate of usage I’ve observed so far, about 2-3 months. Yes, budget biros probably pan out cheaper in the long run. Do they give me joy? No. The Ink does.

 My Karas Kustoms InkThe copper grip has already acquired a patina which spares the areas I hold the pen. Four almost perfectly-delineated holds, where I grip it identically each time. I’d never really thought of it before seeing it in front of me.

Colour me converted. I will no doubt still use my rollerballs, for I have refills left and there are some lovely pens in my unintentionally-burgeoning collection. I will certainly always carry one or two in my bag in case the unthinkable happens and I should lose the Ink, or it breaks, or some other fountain-pen thing I’m unaware of happens to render it useless. I will, if I am honest with myself, probably acquire more fountain pens over the coming years, but I am in no hurry. The hours of my days and nights I spend writing are changed once again for the better and I look forward to using the Ink for many years to come.


*perhaps with the exception of the Mont Blanc Fineliner cartridge, which although far too expensive for the day to day is still an incredible writing experience.




5 responses to “Ink

  1. What was your preferred rollerball? They’ve been my preference for a while; settled on a black Uniball Eye Needle for the last few months and I really like it. It’s exceptionally smooth to write with, and the ink is really strong on the page.

    Tried a fountain pen before but never really got on with it. Felt too “scratchy” after using rollerballs, and seemed to make my (admittedly already fairly bad) handwriting look *awful*. Also the one I’ve got will only write cleanly in some directions, so it’s not really good for quick sketches or things like that.

  2. I’ve been using the Pilot G2 – it’s smooth, quick and writes instantly without a fuss. I’m less keen on the Hi-Tec C which I found too scratchy and prone to not-writing when I wanted it to be writing. The Schmidt 888 ceramic rollerball is alright as well. However, nothing is as smooth, as bold (or as short-lived, or expensive) as the Mont Blanc fineliner.

    I think fountain pens are quite varied – I now have two (I wrote this some time ago but only just published it) and one is much more…liberal than the other in terms of flow and more forgiving in terms of angles and directions.

    My handwriting is also awful, but I find that a fountain pen makes it better rather than worse. It’s still bad, but improved.

  3. Gosh I love fountain pens. I have no cause to write with a pen anymore, however. For shame. Maybe I’ll buy one to pen a letter to someone? The way they glide across the page so smoothly, so delicious. I’m not even joking, you’ve actually made me miss a *pen*, how is that possible?!

    • Go fetch one and write with it! There is a ridiculous range of inks as well – doing only Official Writings means I basically write exclusively in black but there are a billion and one different options if you’re slightly less monochromatic.

      It also initially made me somewhat nostalgic for school when I used to write with a fountain pen. The good ol’ days…

  4. Oh, swoon. I used to love in school where I’d write with one colour and then change cartridge to another and watch the ink gradually fade and replace. Delightful. Or the proper parker pen which just made essays look lovely. Maybe I’ll revive letter-writing in 2015, and put a fountain pen on my xmas list…

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