Monday, May 10, 2010

Review: Brause Calligraphy Pen

For me, the hardest reviews to write are the ones when you just really, really don't like something. It's hard not to come off as sounding like, "I hate this!!!" even if you do. No matter how frustrated I might be with a product, I feel that it's really important to do my best to stay objective and let my experience with the product speak for itself.

Case in point, the Brause Calligraphy pen shown above.

Karen Doherty (Exaclair) recently sent me this pen to test after I voiced my curiosity about it. It retails for about $15-18, and I was expecting it to rival the Lamy Joy. (Which sells for $29)

Out of the box, the pen feels pretty inexpensive. The color of the cap is slightly lighter than the body and I don't know if that's by design or error but it looks kind of odd.

Uncap the pen and set the cap aside, as the design does not you to allow to post the pen. (Put the cap on the back of the pen.)

To insert a cartridge, unscrew the body from the nib section and be very, very careful to not lose the tiny metal body ring. Taking the ring in my fingers and flexing slightly, it feels as though it could bend in an instant.

Wait a sec... would you believe, that during the course of my writing this review... the metal ring has gone missing? I swear... I had the pen sitting here taken apart and I don't know where it went. I didn't hear it hit the floor.... Oh well.. The cap pretty much stays on without it...

Taking one of the included ink cartridges, you push it into the nib section until you feel a pop. (The cartridge seal breaking.) Give the cartridge a squeeze to help the ink start flowing to the nib. Once able to get the ink flowing, I put the nib to paper and was extremely disappointed. Brause is one of the world's most recognizable names for calligraphy nibs but the nib on this pen.... I'm seriously thinking that it can't have been made by Brause. The slit in the nib is so tight that it hinders consistent ink flow. If you use the pen delicately, it barely writes. You have to really bear down on the nib to get a true 1.5 nib width and even then, it's sketchy....

My biggest concern, is that as I'd had the pen sitting here for about a week (capped) and when I went to use it again, it was a joke trying to get it to write. A page of scribbles later and a few squeezes to the cartridge finally got the ink to flow. I find this annoying and unacceptable. If any of my fountain pens acted in this manner it would be banished for all eternity. When you want to use a pen, it should write the minute you pick it up, uncap it, and put it to the page.

As a test, I just went and dug out my Sheaffer Calligraphy pen - the one I found brand new (paid $3 for it) at a flea market 2 years ago. The cartridge in it has to be in there at least a year because I never use it. I unscrewed the cap and put it paper... and it wrote without hesitation.

While I appreciated the opportunity to test this pen, I simply do not have anything good to say about it. The whole pen feels cheap and in my opinion, is too expensive for what it is. What always frustrates me is an entry level product that might turn people off from a particular skill because they are apt to think it's "them" and not the product.



Maika said...

I have a friend who WON'T use metal calligraphy pens, but wants a 1.5 or 1.0 nib. Do you know of a good brand that is felt-tipped and skinny? I sent her a 1.5 Itoya Doubleheader, and she actually measured it with a ruler and called it a 2.0. In your experience, is there any such thing as a felt-tip calligraphy pen that is smaller than a 1.5? I have searched EVERYWHERE and cannot find one.
Thank you,

Biffybeans said...

Maika, I'm sure I've seen pens like that at the art store though nothing is immediately coming to mind. I'd suggest checking a hobby/craft store like Michael's and looking near the scrapbooking supplies.

zquilts said...

Good to read your review of this pen. I am always curious about calligraphy pens because I use one at work every day - generally a Lamy or a Pelikan Script. I love my inexpensive Shaeffer - it writes so smoothly and never clogs up or stops writing.

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