Pen Review: Kaweco Ice Sport (Black)


Kaweco ICE Sport (Black) [M]
Rhodia 80gsm #16 blank (top staple)
Ink: Kaweco Sunrise Orange
Length Capped: 105mm
Length Posted: 132mm
Length Uncapped: 100mm
Section at Thinnest Point: 9mm
Section at Widest Point: 10mm
Weight w/quarter barrel of Ink & cap: 10.5g
Weight w/quarter barrel of Ink & no cap: 6.3g
Fast writing: Keeps up fairly well; couple of skips
Upside down writing: Pretty dry.
Wetness: Dry.
Pros: Can be eyedroppered, lightweight, lots of color options & nib sizes
Cons: Nibs can be finicky, may be too light for some, no really *good* converter options (see below)

Kaweco's ICE Sport is a demonstrator version of their flagship Kaweco Sport.  The pen has the classic octagonal cap design, with the finial sporting the 3-syllable Kaweco logo.  The body is a clear plastic with a section matching the color of the cap, which holds a standard a steel Bock nib.  The pen is pocked-sized, which nice for portability, and it posts to a comfortable size for regular writing.  This version is one of the new colors that Kaweco has introduced to this line, and is my personal favorite.  They also have some other really neat colors like a florescent yellow, florescent orange, red, pink and many others. 

What distinguishes the plastic Kaweco Sport pens from their aluminum and brass counterparts is the fact that they can be eyedroppered.  If you're unfamiliar with that term, converting a pen to an "eyedropper" allows you to fill the barrel with ink instead of installing a cartridge or a converter (after adding a little silicone grease to the threads).  Many people buy the Sports just for this reason, and with the ICE sport being clear, you get the added effect of being able to see your ink sloshing around in the barrel - which also lets you know how low your level is!  The Kaweco pens are too short for a standard international converter, and unfortunately most of the Kaweco squeeze or plunge-type converters have been less than desirable to the masses, so eyedroppering is really the best option in my opinion.  I've used the Templar Skinny Mini converter in my Brass and AL versions, but for the plastic I much prefer to eyedropper for both the ink capacity, and the look.  Some folks have reported having burping issues with eyedropper pens; I've been fortunate not to experience that.  I use my pens more for burst writing sessions instead of longer ones, and usually the cause is when the air in the pen is heated up by the hands.

Like a lot of Kaweco pens I've used, the nib suffered from a case of baby's bottom.  It's a medium nib, but much to my liking, it wrote on the finer side of the spectrum.  I don't care for super wide nibs anyways, so it was a pleasant surprise.  I've heard a lot of people say that even Kaweco's broad nibs write closer to a western medium.  I'm not sure if this is the case for all Bock nibs, or if Kaweco's are slightly different.  Either way, I had to do some tuning on this one, and I still don't think I quite have it where I want it yet.  Because this is a medium I think the issue is a little bit worse than it has been on some of my fine nibs.  I will say that once they're tuned, they're really a pleasure to write with, just don't be surprised if you have to work on them a little bit.

The pen itself is very comfortable to hold and use.  It is very light, though - between 6 and 10 grams depending on whether you use the cap, and slightly more if you have more ink in it.  It may be a little too light for some folks, but I find it very comfortable.  It's a little too short for me to use comfortably without posting, but it certainly can be done depending on your hand size.

So far, I've found the pen to be easy to clean, even when eyedroppered.  I've had this ink in here for quite a while and it washed out just fine; I recommend using a q-tip to dry the barrel once you're done rinsing it, and at worst you can fill the barrel with some pen flush and let it soak a bit to get a more stubborn ink out. 

I really enjoyed this pen, aside from the nib troubles.  It's a beautiful design, and I'm a sucker for demonstrators.  Kaweco have a great selection of colors with the ICE Sport, so you're likely to find something that'll suit almost anyone's taste.  If you're interested in eyedroppering your Sport, I recommend Goulet Pens' silicone grease, but you can use just about any 100% pure silicone grease.  The Kaweco ICE Sport sells at most US retailers for around $25; if you love a good demonstrator and want a good pocket/purse pen with a high ink capacity, you can't go wrong at that price!

(Kaweco has provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review.  My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).

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Pen Review: Kaweco Special Dip Pen


Kaweco Special Dip Pen - Steel Leonardt 30 Pointed Nib
Length: 199mm
Section Width: 10mm
Weight: 17.2g
Pros: Nice sturdy nib holder, good flex, anodized aluminum body
Cons: Rusting issue (not specific to Kaweco's nib holder), frequent dipping depending on the ink you use, nibs wear out easily.

I am very new to dip pens in general, but I've been wanting to get my feet wet a little bit with them.  A while back I'd gotten an inexpensive dip pen set from John Neal Books because it included the Mitchel Witch Pen, which I wanted to try using for ink "passes" on my ink reviews - my ink reviews are ever-evolving as I figure out what best represents the ink and what I want my reviews to look like.  I really only bought the set for the Witch Pen, but I did mess around a bit with the dip nibs that it came with and my experience wasn't so great.  Noob Lori was using fountain pen inks with the pens, and without a reservoir, they dried up VERY quickly, railroaded a lot and required constant dipping.

Kaweco launched their Dip Pen from their Special line, and I thought it was a perfect opportunity to give a review from the perspective of both a dip pen novice, as well as a pen addict who knows a thing or two about a good pen in general.  I had a really good time reviewing the pen, and I do think that I'll continue to use it for specialty things such as lettering cards or art in the future.

The pen comes in come minimalistic packaging, which I can always get on board with.  When I received the tube from Kaweco, my first thought was, "How did that nib not get bent in shipping?!" Of course Kaweco certainly thought of this because the base/cap of the tube actually grips the end of the pen as you slide it into the tube and it's tight enough to prevent the pen from slamming its nib into the back end of the tube.  Pretty cool!

The nib holder itself is one of the best one's I've seen - it's black anodized aluminum with a faceted barrel.  Most nib holder's I've come across are either wood or cheap plastic.  This one is heavy and feels like it will last a lifetime.  I don't find it slick or uncomfortable to use, though not having your traditional tapered and flared section design was something I had to get used to.

Of course I mentioned earlier that I'd tried out some dip pens before with fountain pen ink and that was a fairly unimpressive experience.  I did my research online, and even checked out some dip pen pros like Azizah at Gourmet Pens (if you're not following her Instagram, you should be!).  I found that most folks use one of these few inks for their dip pens, Speedball or India ink, calligraphy inks, or fountain pen inks with gum arabic in them.  I went to my local hobby stores and I could not for the life of me find any gum arabic at either of them (probably would have had better luck at a food store), so I headed to the calligraphy aisle.  I'd read online that inks labeled "calligraphy ink" are runnier than some of the speedball or higgins brand inks.  My store carried both Higgins and Speedball brand and I read that acrylic inks are more viscous and don't railroad as much in flex pens (if you know more about these ink types, please enlighten me!), so I ended up choosing Speedball's Super Pigmented Acrylic ink.

I dipped the pen and played around with some flex writing and testing how long the ink would last with a single dip.  My experience with the acrylic ink was much more pleasant than with fountain pen inks, and the single dip lasted for quite a while.  The acrylic ink, especially when laid down thick from flexing, dries in almost a textured 3D form on the page.   I can't imagine you'd have an issue doing washes over this ink.

So as I mentioned, I am a complete dip pen noob.  I figured this out the hard way after I finished using the pen for the first time, took it into the bathroom and gave it a quick rinse under the sink.  I dried it with a paper towel, sat the pen down and didn't touch it for a few days.  The next time I pulled the pen out, I attempted to remove the nib, so that I could try out some other dip nibs in it, and I had a terrible time getting the nib out.  I soon discovered that my very brief rinse under the sink water was enough to start a very rapid rusting process of the nib.  I was a little shocked by this - I didn't realize how easily dip nibs rusted.  I did a little more research online and found others who'd had a similar problem, and many folks said to just wipe your nib clean after use instead of using any sort of water - or at least make sure that you're drying it absolutely completely.  Dip nibs are apparently not meant to last a lifetime and some people even mentioned that after a while, because there is no tipping, the tips would begin to wear out - which makes sense.  I checked the inside of the Kaweco nib holder and saw a bit of rust in there too - I can't really tell if it was contact rust that was transferred from the rusted nib, or if the inside of the nib holder also rusted from the water contact.  To further test the rusting issue, I did the same rinsing with the cheap plastic nib holder that I got from the John Neal Books dip nib set, and it rusted as well; so I feel comfortable stating that this is not specific to Kaweco's product.  I would definitely advise you not to rinse yours unless you absolutely have to, and if you do make certain it's completely dry.  Total noob move on my part!

Finally I wanted to try out various fountain pen inks with the dip pen, just to see how well the fared compared to the acrylic ink.  I tested some of my current favorites, as well as the two newest Kaweco inks and surprisingly there was quite a variation in the amount of dips needed to complete my writing with each one.  It certainly wasn't scientific, but I did try to keep the writing as consistent as possible and the amount of time & depth of the dips.  On average, I was dipping multiple times for the very small writing sample, and found that some inks were so runny that they would blob ink down after a fresh dip.  I was very pleased with how Rohrer & Klingner Scabiosa and Noodler's El Lawrence fared - Scabiosa held up for my entire sentence and I even did some extra flexes before the ink ran out.  El Lawrence was on the higher viscosity side as well with just two dips.  Most others were at least 4 or 5 dips.  With the acrylic ink, I was able to write the entire upper half of the review (not the title - that was done with a folded nib), with some extreme flex, with only 6 dips.  Pretty impressive!

In all, I really enjoyed venturing outside my normal fountain pen regimen and trying out Kaweco's Dip Pen.  I have tried the Noodler's Ahab for flex, and this one was a lot more pleasant to use because railroading wasn't a factor with the right ink.  I could see myself using this for holiday cards, design work, or just for fun.  I do still want to try out some gum arabic mixed into fountain pen inks, so that I can have a wider color variety than most dip inks offer.  Kaweco's nib holder is sturdy, well balanced and very enjoyable to use.  It retails for around $36 at places like - I feel like that's a very fair price for an anodized aluminum nib holder.  You can also swap out different dip nibs for a whole different writing experience.  Have you tried any dip pens before? Let me know your experience!

Thanks for reading!
- Lori

Pen Review: Kaweco Supra


Kaweco Supra - Steel nib (Bock M)
Length Capped: 129.5mm (with extension); 99mm (without extension)
Length Posted: 163.5mm (with extension); 133.5mm (without extension)
Length Uncapped: 124mm (with extension); 94mm (without extension)
Section at Thinnest Point: 9.5mm
Section at Widest Point: 10.5mm
Weight w/Ink & Cap: 49g (with extension); 37g (without extension)
Weight w/Ink & No Cap: 39g (with extension); 27g (without extension)
Fast Writing: Lots of skips.
Upside Down Writing: Not bad at all.
Wetness: Dry.
Pros: Unique! Changes sizes, pocket pen option, very smooth nib, patina potential, balance in the hand
Cons: Baby's bottom, weight could cause fatigue, no converter, only available in brass (which also makes your hands smell like metal)

I feel like every time I write about Kaweco lately, I'm talking about the newest awesome and unique innovation that they've brought to the writing table.  Today is another one of those days.  The Supra is one of Kaweco's newest fountain pen designs, and what makes it unique is it includes a removable 3cm midsection which allows you to change the length of the pen on the fly - taking it from a full-size pen to a pocket pen in just a few seconds.  This is such a neat feature, and something I've not seen with other pens.
The pen is the big brother of the Kaweco Liliput; and if you weren't a fan of that pen because it was just too small, this might be your answer to that.  It's made of brass, so it has some decent weight to it (around 49g with the extension and 37g without).  There is a step down on the barrel from the extension to the back end piece of the pen, but I don't think it takes away from the sleek design, and your hands shouldn't ever come into contact with that during writing.  The section is a tapered and flared design, and it's size is very similar to that of the Kaweco brass sport (and other Sport pens).  Being that it's a metal pen, the threads are a tad sharper than you'd experience on a plastic or resin pen, but I didn't find them to be uncomfortable.  Like the Liliput, the cap has the 3-syllable Kaweco logo on the top, with the Kaweco name in script and pen name on the upper half of the side of the cap.

Another thing that differentiates this pen from most of Kaweco's others is it's nib.  The Supra comes with a large #6 nib, and it's a beauty.  The nib really sets it apart, and I didn't have an issue with the pen at all until I started writing.  I typically use F nibs but wanted to give a Kaweco Medium a try, and this one unfortunately suffered from a pretty severe case of baby's bottom.  I would get a skip at the beginning of each stroke, and at faster writing speeds that carried on throughout the sentence.  It's an incredibly smooth nib (as is the case with a lot of baby's bottom nibs), and I enjoyed the pen so much that I wasn't ready to give up on it.  I spent some time doing some minor smoothing on some micro mesh, and it writes like a dream.  It is unfortunate how frequently this does happen with Kaweco's nibs - not sure if it's a Bock issue, or if they're tuned at Kaweco before they're sent out.

Nib out of the box - just a tad misaligned

A bit out of focus, but, the nib after alignment.  You can see the gap that is likely causing the flow issues.

Underside of the nib

Top side of t he nib

Compared to other pocket pens, Supra stacks up nicely against pens like the TWSBI Mini.  At its full size, the Supra is a tad longer than the Mini, but in it's pocket form it's shorter.  Of course it's heavier being that it's brass, but the size is nice.  I also compared it to the Pocket 40 from Franklin Christoph, and without its extension, it's shorter than that pen capped, and a tad longer posted.  The pen has a great balance in the hand, both at its full size (unposted for my preferences), and in it's pocket size, posted.  I don't care too much for posting it at full size because at that point it becomes almost an oversized pen, but at the same time I don't post any of my full size pens.  If you post regularly, then the length is probably something you're used to

Capped, with extension

Capped, without extension

Posted, without extension

Writing issues aside (which I was fortunately able to remedy), I am a huge fan of this pen.  The removable extension is absolutely brilliant, and Kaweco continues to come up with awesome ideas for their customers.  I would love to see them come out with other finishes/materials for this pen, as I think it will only increase the appeal (fireblue, anyone?).  I do also think it should come with a converter, especially at this price.  Speaking of, the price seems to vary pretty drastically between the US and Europe - I've seen listings at most US sellers for $140, and some European sites for around €95 (little over $100).  So if you're interested, a non-US seller may be your best option.  I can't recommend this pen enough!

(Kaweco has provided this product at no charge to The Desk for the purpose of review.  My opinions are honest and without bias - visit the About Me page for more details).

Pen Review: Karas Kustoms Fountain K


Karas Kustoms Fountain K - Steel nib (F - Bock)
Length Capped: 134mm
Length Posted: Not meant to be posted.
Length Uncapped: 124.5mm
Section at Thinnest Point: 9mm
Section at Widest Point: 10mm
Weight w/Ink & Cap: 28.2g
Weight w/Ink & No Cap: 18.9g
Fast Writing: Keeps up very well.
Line Variation: Very little line variation, which is to be expected with a steel nib
Upside Down Writing: Very very scratchy, I wouldn't recommend it.
Wetness: I find this to be a pretty wet writer, even with some drier inks.
Pros: Amazingly durable, great grip section, unique and modern design, USA made, lots of color, nib, material and section combinations.
Cons: I'm not the hugest fan of Bock nibs, though I was able to get this one to write very well (of course after a tine adjustment), which was a pleasant surprise.  I really have no complaints at all about this pen - it's officially in my top 2 pens and is the pen I now use most often!

Ever since I bought my Karas Kustoms INK, I have been a huge fan of the Karas Kustoms brand.  That pen was one of my most used pens for a long time.  One thing about it that didn't *quite* fit me, was the pen was a bit on the large side.  The grip section itself wasn't, but the pen itself was just a bit large and a tad heavy.  When I saw they were producing a fountain pen version of their Render K, I was so excited to get my hands on one.  My boyfriend was nice enough to get me one in my favorite tumbled aluminum finish for my birthday, and I was certainly not disappointed.

The Fountain K comes in 3 different metal options - aluminum, copper and brass.  The copper and brass are raw materials, so they will develop a patina over time from the oils on your hands.  The aluminum versions come in just standard polished aluminum, raw tumbled aluminum (pictured), and in a variety of anodized colors (the new turquoise looks amazing! (though it's painted and not anodized)).  In addition to the many color options for the body of your pen, you can choose from a copper, brass, silver, tumbled aluminum (pictured), or black grip section.  With so many options, you can definitely make this pen your own, which is what sets Karas Kustoms apart from almost any other pen manufacturer.

After opening up my Fountain K and holding it in my hand, my first impression was the weight difference between this pen and the INK.  The pen is also quite a bit skinnier all around.  The widest part is at the top of the pen at the knurling, and it continuously tapers to the bottom.  The tumbled aluminum finish is smooth but with a tiny bit of texture, so you have a nice tactile feel when using it.  The grip section is a traditional taper and flare and is a very comfortable width for my hand size.  The knurling at the top of the cap gives it a nice industrial look, which I love.

Being a metal pen, you'd think the threads would make a lot of noise and would be tight and hard to open, but that is certainly not the case with this pen.  The threads are silky smooth, and after about a day of use they don't squeak at all.  The pen and cap have a very positive close, and has a really satisfying sound to it.

The original Fountain K pens were shipped with the Schmidt nib on them.  Not too long ago, they made the switch to Bock for their nib production.  I was a little concerned with this change as I've had some pretty rough experiences with inconsistency on the Bock Kaweco nibs in the past.  I also have the Schmidt nib on my INK and I really love it.  The Bock on the Fountain K shipped with the tines misaligned, so the initial writing experience was less than stellar.  However, after adjusting the tines the nib was very smooth and laid down ink well with no skips or hard starts.  I do love that the Bock nibs offer a black option as well as a titanium option, though the titanium is only available on the INK due to some inconsistencies on the smaller nib size - so that was a bit of a disappointment.  I would love to see Bock get that issue corrected because I think this pen would look beautiful with a titanium nib on it.  Nib options for the Fountain K go from EF-B and in steel or 14k gold.

This pen has been a complete pleasure to use, and has found it's place in my main daily carry. Karas Kustoms has taken the pen world and turned it on it's head by adding some rugged and unique designs.  I am excited to see what they choose to do next.  If you're interested in a Fountain K for yourself you can grab one straight from Karas Kustoms' website, or from a retailer such as Goulet Pens.  Prices range depending on the materials you choose from $75 - $215.

Thanks so much for reading!
- Lori