This is my first review on this site. I think reviews are a great resource for others doing research on pens, and I’d like to give back.
I am reviewing a Spalted Oak wooden pen, handcrafted by Ryan of Ryan Krusac Studios in Georgia. I bought this pen from him at the recent San Francisco pen show. I honestly just could not pass it up.
Ryan Krusac Studios is a small shop that makes hand crafted pens out of various beautiful woods and horn. Ryan puts his efforts into the carving and decorating of the organic materials and uses quality metal furniture and German nibs. His fountain pens come in various sizes and materials, mainly using #5 and #6 sized nibs. (He also creates rollerballs, whatever those are!) Ryan also does a lot of scrimshaw work and hand paints a lot of pens. One other great aspect of working with him is his willingness to do customized work at a reasonable price. I encourage you to look at his website and see what is on offer. It was there that I first saw his body of work.
I do try to support artists and this was a nice aspect of the purchase process for me. I appreciate getting to speak to craftsman and understanding more about their craft. I can confidently say that Ryan is a passionate person who truly enjoys what he does. He has a good sense of humor and is very approachable. I would not hesitate to do business with him again because he showed me (through a few dealings after the show) that he has a high level of integrity and customer service.
The pen I picked:
It is one thing to see a pen on the internet and another to see it and touch it. When I saw the Spalted Oak pen in the large body size, I was taken by the beauty of the wood. Spalted wood occurs when a fungus gets into wood and adds color before it starts to decompose. It tends to happen in dead trees and it is most noticeable in lighter hard woods. If you get to the wood in time you can have the wonderful coloration without loss of integrity in the fibrous structure. After handling this pen, there was no loss of integrity!
The pen is a cartridge/converter filler. It came with a converter and I filled it right when I bought it. I generally prefer piston fillers, but the converter works fine as I think the pen is a little heavy for me to write more than a cartridge at a time. The pen came in a velvet sleeve which is all I really need. I think if you order on-line you can get a fancy box for presentations, but I was happy not to pay for a box I don’t need.
Fit and finish:
The quality of this pen is top notch. The transition between the wood and the metal portions are smooth and pleasant to the touch. The barrel and cap are completely smooth and I cannot find any areas where the wood surface will splinter due to flaws. The pen had a matte finish to the wood, which works really well for me. Hand oils will keep the wood supple enough over the course of the year, but you can always add a little olive oil to the wood. The wood layer is good and thick, and I do not have any concerns about it standing up to normal usage. If the pen does split for some reason, Ryan stated he can take care of the issue.
The metal appointment on pens in this price range can be pretty horrible. I am happy to report that Ryan has found good components. Most of the hardware is rhodium plated except the end caps and cap band which are black titanium. The designs are understated and I find them pleasing and not overwrought. Ryan marks his studio logo on each pen. I personally like that it is not overdone, but I might prefer it on one of the end caps because I think it is pretty good looking.
The nib is German made and marked Dayacom. It is smooth but very firm. The nib is medium and write a little on the thinner side. This is one area where I’d like to see more exciting options. While Ryan offers a good assortment of sized and 18K gold options, I am going to look into adding a better nib to this pen. I think the wood is amazing and deserves a better nib. The standard nib is very serviceable, however, and this is just me being a fan of big nibs (like the MB #9).
The cap screws on with a few twists, maybe 2 rotations. This is a fair amount, although I think the Graf von Faber Castell pens set the standard of easy on and off for me. (Visconti has a nice groove system on some of its new pens too.) The clip seems fairly robust and I don’t doubt it would hold the pen securely, but this pen is so heavy it is not for fancy shirt pockets.
This is a big, beautiful and heavy pen. If you like wood pens, I think Ryan’s work is excellent and a great value for the money. I will use this as an everyday carry pen in my office.