Karas Kustoms Decograph 1801 Sleeping Beauty Limited Edition Review.

Karas Kustoms contacted me some time ago to ask if I would like to use their latest signature limited edition fountain pen, the Decograph. I have been using this pen for some time, all the opinions and thoughts shared in this review aren’t influenced by Karas Kustoms in any way.

I have been using the 1801 ‘Sleeping Beauty’ Decograph for some time, months in fact. The Decograph is not my first experience with Karas Kustoms pens, I own a Retrakt and an Ink fountain pen both of which I enjoy but in very different ways to the Decograph.

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The name.

This limited edition is the 1805 Sleeping Beauty. Its name is taken from the blue colour of the pen which is inspired by turquoise mines found in Arizona, where Karas Kustoms is located.

The packaging.

I don't really often mention packaging on the blog, because really who cares. But the Decograph deserves some attention here. This is one of the nods to Karas Kustoms specialities, working with aluminium. The Decograph is packaged in an aluminium tube with the Karas Kustoms logo stamped on the front.

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As this is an aluminium tube its heavy. This tube provides serious protection to the fountain pen, perfect for shipping but also for storing your pen when you’re not using it.

I was genuinely wowed when I opened the box, I wasn't expecting anything like this, and it’s very different to how the Ink and Retrakt came to me. I presume this is all part of the signature line.

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The Decograph design.

The Decograph is a move away from the traditional Karas Kustoms materials. It’s made from a thermoplastic or acrylic-like material which they have combined with their distinctive aluminium finishes. The blue acrylic has a black swirling pattern moving through the pen body that is similar to other acrylic pens.

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I really like the blue used in this edition because its bright and vibrant. I expected it to be semi-transparent but in fact it’s not, it’s a solid blue. I like this because you aren’t distracted by the inner workings of the pen and seeing the convertor which is pretty boring, instead you concentrate on the beautiful colour and design.

The defining features of the Decograph come from the aluminium flourishes. The sturdy pen clip and the aluminium cap top and bottom.

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There’s a subtle Karas Kustoms logo nestled on the underside of the pen. The aluminium is almost a brushed finish which looks nice in the overall design. The contrast of the plastic and aluminium helps to add some weight to the pen but also finishes everything off really well making it look and feel like a premium pen.

Each limited edition pen comes with the model number and pen number etched into the side of the pen. Each limited edition has a limited number of available units and you can track your unit number on the pen itself.

Model number and pen number subtly hidden in the pen barrel. 

Model number and pen number subtly hidden in the pen barrel. 

The nib and using the Decograph.

Karas Kustoms Decograph uses a #6 Bock nib. I am not sure what nib I have here, I am presuming a fine but it writes beautifully. The nib is smooth and the ink flows well. The #6 Bock nib is the right size and fits proportionally with the Decograph, anything smaller would have looked odd.

The Bock nib

The Bock nib

I have used the convertor provided with the pen using my Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-Ro, one of my favourite inks that matches so well with this pen.

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I have used this pen a lot over the last few months because I enjoy it so much. It’s really nice to write with and the light weight makes it a really comfortable to use for long periods of time.

Overall thoughts.

I have used my Decograph almost every day which shows how much I have enjoyed this pen. I’ve tried to think about how to summarise the Decograph and do the pen some justice. When you look at this pen it’s clear its made by Karas Kustoms. The simple, classic shape plus the high end aluminium finishing touches all scream Karas Kustoms.

Size comparison against the Lamy AL Star

Size comparison against the Lamy AL Star

For me the Decograph puts Karas Kustoms in a place where I feel like I can really use their pens. Their past alumiunium pens, while they are solid and great to use, are too clunky for long term use. By expanding out and using a different material and pairing it with aluminium is a great idea and potentially opens Karas Kustoms up to a whole new market. The Decograph has become my favourite Karas Kustoms pen and one that I will use over and over again.

I’d like to thank Karas Kustoms for sending me the Sleeping Beauty fountain pen to review here on the blog.

Field Notes Resolution Edition Review

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I haven't reviewed a Field Notes release on the blog for some time. Actually this is the first Field Notes release I have bought since Lunacy in Fall 2016. Between Lunacy and Resolution I didn't get the pull to buy any of Field Notes releases in the same way I had before. Resolution is the first release that feels like Field Notes, something practical that should be used.

Edition specifics.

Resolutions purpose.

Not only is this a well named and well timed release (you'd think they planned this), but the Resolution edition is perhaps Field Notes most practical edition for some time. There are no major flourishes with this release, it's simply a notebook the list maker / organiser / planner and for that I love it.

The elements

There are three different colours, red, white and blue. Two of the notebooks, the red and blue, are your bullet point/list notebooks. These are similar in concept to Word Notebooks with pages full of bullet points.

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Inside you have two different paper colours alternating by line, one is a Frost White and the other Winter Sky Gray.

Internal colour cover stock

Internal colour cover stock

I really like this line altering, its makes my lists easier to read and nicer to look at. This does however result in some variation in how the ink performs. Fountain pens respond differently depending on the line, the Winter Sky Gray seems to make the ink feather a lot more. When using a black drawing pen the ink almost looks dull and like a dark grey colour. As you would guess, there are less concerns when using pencils, both colours are fine with graphite.

A pen test showing ink on both of the page colours

A pen test showing ink on both of the page colours

The white notebook of this three pack, is the undated planner. This gives you a week per page with enough space to jot down brief notes on your week, or for appointment planning. This notebook has the same internal colour stock however the majority of your written space is the Winter Sky Gray. The one gripe I have is that Saturday and Sunday are given a tiny amount of space with the assumption that these days aren’t as important. So if you’re a weekend worker, or someone who does a lot on weekends you’re going to run out of room.

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I really like the thick matte finish covers of this release. The blue is my favourite, the red cover with blue copy is a strange colour combination. The white with red copy reminds me of one of the Day Game notebooks, which was my first experience with Field Notes.

Resolutions little extras.

There is a nod to the Field Nuts in this release with Staple Day printed in the centre pages. I guess when printing 35,000 packs Field Notes can afford to add in touches such as this.

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The front cover also includes a small move away from the traditional Field Notes front cover. I presume for archival purposes this edition includes a From and To area where you can include the dates for each notebook. The matte finish cover means you can write easily on the cover stock with almost any pen or pencil, mine is actually filled in with pencil.

I love this colour combination. 

I love this colour combination. 

You also get a very handy little annual calendar included in each three pack. This is the size of a Field Notes and made from thick stock making it durable for the year. I keep one with me and it has come in very useful on numerous occasions.

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My practical applications.

This edition is perfect for me. It allows me to create my daily to do list, mark off in progress items and then cross off completed ones.

In my notebook I use one page per day where I throw down everything I need to do. At the bottom of the page I track my water versus caffeine consumption (a 2018 habit change in progress). Using a Field Notes in this way is ideal for me due to its small size. I am aware I could use any Field Notes for this job, and I probably will moving forward, but the thicker paper stock in the Resolution edition makes this more durable and tougher wearing for a bullet journal style notebook.

A sample couple of pages.

A sample couple of pages.

I can see this being a long term popular release for the list makers out there, appealing to more than just the Field Notes faithful. I wouldn't be surprised if there are requests to make this edition a staple in the Field Notes line-up. An idea I thoroughly support.

Overall thoughts.

I really like the Resolution edition. I can see this being a two pack that isn't cast aside after a month, but used completely. I don't have a use for the year planner notebook and have actually given both of mine away to people who needed them. But the list notebooks are fantastic. Coloured cover stocks are also heading back to the traditional Field Notes design, which again is welcome. This could all change with the Spring release of course but I really like what Field Notes have done with their final 2017 release. The Winter editions are always the best.

2018 Planner Plans

The start of a new year always means a change over of planners. It’s a time to refresh and create new habits, a chance to review the way you have been working and planning over the past 12 months and refine.

I haven’t been too good at the refining part, but I have reviewed. Here is what I plan on using during 2018.

My beloved black Travelers Notebook

My beloved black Travelers Notebook

Travelers Company weekly refill - the memories planner.

I have written about these notebooks in a previous post comparing the horizontal and vertical formats. This year I bought the pre-dated version and will be continuing to use this as a form of capturing small fleeting snippets of my day.

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I really enjoy looking back through these notebooks, I include ephemera, quotes from books I may be reading and decorate the pages most weeks. This is a staple notebook that I can’t ever see changing for me.

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Jibun Techo - the time tracker.

This was an eleventh hour addition to my 2018 plans. I only found out about this planner in November and immediately ordered one (I have no will power). There is a lot to like about this planner system and a lot of content in a small concise notebook. Its thin, light to carry around and has the wonderful tomoe river paper making it fountain pen friendly.

I am using this as instructed by the notebook, tracking and planning out my day, including the weather, my food. It almost becomes a time tracker of sorts showing me where my time is spent and the things I accomplish, people I see and tasks I have achieved.

A sample of my week in the Jibun Techo

A sample of my week in the Jibun Techo

I track my month using the monthly pages in this planner. I always like to see a full picture of my month on one spread. I like that this planner includes colour and bold type which is very different to some alternative planners on the market.

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I think as I use this more and more I will mould this into the type of planner I want it to be. Once I feel I have found a way that works for me I will of course post a full review of the planner here on the blog.

Field Notes Resolution Edition - the daily to-do list.

This is my to do list on the move. I have a day per page and just throw in everything I need to do that day. There are other to do lists, such as my master house to do list which is really handy to reference when I am on the move.

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I like the bullet point format of this notebook and this is the first Field Notes release I have liked in some time. They’re practical notebooks that I have a defined and specific use for. I can see this edition becoming popular and perhaps a staple product for Field Notes in the future.

Simple to-do lists

Simple to-do lists

Hobonichi Weeks - the planner.

This is my traditional in-my-handbag diary. I was tempted into this purely by the cute hedgehog cover and because I was already ordering the Cousin so why not throw it in my cart.

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Based on my week shown in the photo I am not confident that I will use this planner for the full year, I haven’t been great so far at keeping up so the odds don’t really look great.

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Hobonichi Techo Cousin Avec - the health tracker?

I have used a Hobonichi for a few years trying out my first Cousin last year. I chopped and changed its use and thought I had a firm role for it this year…but things change.

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I thought about making this a journal where I experiment, draw, journal and this may still be its use. But somewhere out of the blue on 1st Jan I started writing down practical personal information. I’m not sure I can really call this a health journal but its something along those lines.

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2018 is going to be the year of Me. That may sound a little selfish but I seem to have lost myself somewhere over the past 2 years being pregnant, a new mum, a wife…all the things lot of people contend with, but I haven’t taken care of myself in the way I should. So maybe this years Hobonichi Techo is about tracking everything to do with me. My ailments, mood, weight etc. It’s a planner I’ll figure out as I use it and find the best way to do things.

The Bullet Journal - the missing planner.

I haven’t properly bullet journaled for some time now because I got lost with the system. I have a work bullet journal that helps me to remember things and stay organised. Since implementing this at work, I’ve become better at my job.

But personally I stopped bullet journaling because the spreads felt like work, and the habit trackers felt annoying. I think I need to revise this and find new ways to bullet journal using a format and a system that works for me. This starts with finding the perfect notebook and I think for me this would be a Baron Fig Confidant, it’ll need some researching on spreads that are useful and generally borrowing (stealing) ideas from other people.

Too much?

Probably. I feel a little exhausted after reading through this post, so you dear reader have probably not even made it this far. It seems like a lot of words and thoughts on planners. I shouldn’t have bought some of these planners, but because I did there is a pressure there to now use them. I need to refine my planner routine and lifestyle. I would love to use 1 or 2 properly but I don’t actually think thats achievable for me. I quite like my little pile of planners.

I will review these planners at different points through the year and let you know how I am getting on.

My 2017 Stationery Resolutions Reviewed

At the beginning of this year I decided to make some stationery related resolutions. I am never normally a fan of new years resolutions because I always break them, and I don’t think a new year is the only time to make resolutions. But I did assume stationery resolutions would be easier to keep. So in today’s post, the final day of 2017, I will look at how I fared under each one.

Resolution 1: Learn Brush Lettering.

This one I think I have done pretty well. The goal here was simply to try brush lettering, find and improve on my style and do it as much as I possibly could. During this venture I have tested out several different tools some of which I reviewed in this post. I think my preferred brush pen at the moment is the Tombow Fudenosuke pens, both the firm and soft tips. These pens are really nice to handle and give some great line variation. I am in no way a master brush letterer but I think I can tick this resolution off as achieved.

Resolution: Achieved.

Practicing brush lettering styles for a New Baby card.

Practicing brush lettering styles for a New Baby card.

Resolution 2: Sketch.

This is an easy fail. I have intermittently drawn throughout the year, I have watched thousands of urban sketchers on YouTube but I have never found a way to be consistent with my own sketching and I am disappointed with not meeting this resolution. I have tested and bought a number of tools to help me to sketch but I’ve been very bad at the doing part. Going into 2018 I really want to make this a habit, sketching daily and borrowing from master urban sketcher Liz Steel sketching an everyday item each and every day. I just have to settle on the right object.

Resolution: Fail.

A sketch from August, which has numerous flaws, the biggest being poor watercolour technique. 

A sketch from August, which has numerous flaws, the biggest being poor watercolour technique. 

Resolution 3: Consume more.

I have made a conscious effort to consume more of the items I have. I have fought the urge to buy the new limited edition items, mainly pocket notebooks, working my way through the stash I have on hand.

The majority of this years used pocket notebooks in a very hand gift box  

The majority of this years used pocket notebooks in a very hand gift box  

Looking at other stationery items I have been rotating pens and using more pencils. For my [first NaNoWriMo challenge][0] this year I wrote everything out by hand to consume some of the notebooks and ink I had.

As always I think I could have done more to consume the stationery I have, but I am an addict and I always end up being lured in by something pretty.

Resolution: Partial achievement.

Resolution 4: Use a bottle of fountain pen ink.

This was almost a joke resolution and does sit within the resolution to consume more. I took the idea from Brad on [The Pen Addict podcast][1]. I have failed miserably at this task during the year but as I have been consuming more in general I have noticed my ink levels in various bottles has gone down. Full bottles are almost half empty. I haven’t changed inks in my fountain pens as regularly but rather refilled and refilled time and time again.

Resolution: Partial achievement.

Ink levels are going down

Ink levels are going down

What does 2018 hold?

Probably much of the same. I want to continue consuming more of the stationery I own. This has been a good 2017 resolution. Most of the stationery I bought because its something I like and therefore it makes sense to use more of it. Maybe this year I’ll actually finish off one of these ink bottles, or maybe that is just one of those resolutions that can never be achieved.

2018 will be the year that I actually start sketching. For this to be achievable I have to make this a daily habit, not a pipe dream that I am scared of attempting. Fear shouldn’t stop me from sketching.

Does anyone else have any resolutions for 2018? Will these be set in stone? Will you be committing to them?

This year I am going simpler, below are my 2018 resolutions written with a Baron Fig School Set Archer pencil in an Ambition edition Field Notes.

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