If my memory is correct, Kanilea Pen Co. was launch at the 2016 Washington D.C. Pen Show. I remember seeing their fountain pens made with beautiful acrylics and considered buying one of them. It took almost four years, but I did eventually buy one.
I stumbled across the Cherry Kona on their website and was considering buying one. It looked gorgeous, plus it was available much faster than a typical Kanilea web order. Then the Pen Addict podcast’s turn came up in my podcast player, and both Myke and Brad gushed about it. It was less than a couple hours later that all resistance and doubt collapsed, and I ordered one.
I did manage to screw up my order, but thanks to proactive and hands-on customer service, it all worked out without causing a delay. I wanted the “Classic Flush” profile, both because it was immediately available, and it is the design I liked best. I must have reset the order form and returned to the default “Classic” profile. The next morning I got an email asking me to confirm that’s what I really wanted. They sent the email because the Classic profile wasn’t the one available immediately. So I replied that yes, I meant to order the Classic Flush profile. I later checked the entire order and found that I had used the shipping address as the billing address, so I sent off another email to update that. Despite all this, the pen shipped out within the promised timeframe.
Hawaii is the focus of Kanilea Pen Co., and the packaging reflects that. The packaging also shows the thought and care that went into the pen. All the pen acrylics are inspired by scenes around Hawaii, and a photo postcard of the pen’s inspiration is included. This does add to the cost of the pen, but it also enhances the experience. In purely marketing terms, it gives the buyer a feeling that justifies the expense. Experience isn’t important, even though it doesn’t make the pen write better. Let’s face it, I have multiple fountain pens with similar nibs, so experience matters to me, whether it’s the writing experience or the emotional experience. It doesn’t make up for a bad fountain pen, but it enhances an already excellent fountain pen and softens the blow to the wallet.
I dug through the packaging to get to the Cherry Kona fountain pen, after all, that’s what I wanted. I then spent some time admiring the acrylic. It’s gorgeous, with fantastic depth. It seems to bend and reflect light in different directions. I mentioned in the Leonardo Messenger review that the Messenger had a large translucent swath that bothered me since it provided a clear view of the converter. Not so on the Cherry Kona. I knew the converter was in there, but the little chrome that was visible looked like part of the bending and reflecting light. There’s no metal in the pen, so if the converter does bother me, I can simply eyedropper fill the pen.
I finally got around to filling the pen and ran into my first complaint. The cap requires a marathon to twist off, It takes four complete turns to uncap. This translates to six twists with my fingers each time. I don’t have to tighten it completely if I pause when writing, but it’s a bit much for my taste. I don’t recall any of my other fountain pens requiring this much effort. A minimum of a dozen finger turns each time I use the pen.
There’s a choice of nib styles and materials. I picked a polished steel nib. There is some engraving on the nib, but no branding. I like a plain silver nib, so no complaints here. There’s also a flower medallion on the cap finial, and I picked sterling silver for that. No gold on this pen.
Finally, to the ink. I picked Sheaffer Red as the ink to inaugurate this pen. A nice bright red to match the acrylic. The fine nib is a friendly smooth writer, The nib tines and feed seem perfectly aligned (to my eye).
I’ve noticed my hand getting fatigued after writing as little as a page. This isn’t something I expected or currently understand. The pen is on the large side, although very light for its size. The gripping section is concave, so I pulled out my calipers to see if it was thinner than it appeared. At 11mm, it’s in line with my comfortable fountain pens, although that girth is on the low end of the range. I’ve been paying attention and trying to keep my grip looser than usual. This seems to help a little, but it could be a placebo.
Further confusing me is that the fatigue arrives quickly but doesn’t go to the next level, which would be pain or cramps. It’s just tired. I’ve only had a couple other pens with a concave section. A few Karas Kustoms Ink fountain pens and rollerballs, none of which caused any fatigue. I sold most but kept one and will probably ink it up for comparison. The second, an Edison Nouveau, was sold off since it was too thin and light for me, but I didn’t tie this to the concave section as it was a thin pen.
I’ve yet to finish the first fill of ink. Still, the writing experience has been enjoyable, despite the fatigue issues. There’s no skipping or hard starts.
The Kanilea Cherry Kona is gorgeous, no doubt about it. As I’m sure you gathered, the long uncapping effort really annoys me. It was enough to move it down to the “hangers-On” category from what I thought was a sure “Core Pen” listing. Maybe I’ll warm to it, or at least learn to ignore it, but I think it will always annoy me. The fatigue is another issue, and unless I can solve it, the pen will probably go up for sale. Running a marathon to uncap the pen while knowing my hand will feel tired after about 5 minutes will keep me from using the pen. Especially since I have many choices that I can use all day for hours at a time. If I had seen the Cherry Kona at a pen show I would have bought it, there’s nothing about it that would alert me to it being a fatiguing pen for me. I can’t even say it’s uncomfortable, because at first, it’s not. But the bottom line is that the uncapping marathon and fatigue has given me a disappointing first impression.