Review: Brian Gray’s masterpieces

25 02 2008

First things first. 

If you haven’t had the chance to see Brian’s work at his website, Pencraft, you need to.  Every once in a while something spectacular comes along, and it shouldn’t be missed.  Brian Gray is that something spectacular. 

He doesn’t sell in any stores.  He doesn’t really advertise, other than his website.  He just builds outstanding custom pens for his customers, and charges very reasonable prices to do it.  His work has attracted a LOT of attention, too; most recently, by the Pen Maker’s Guild (believe me, if you’re in the PMG, you’re a certified big pimpin’ pen crafter) for one of his new designs, the Herald.  Here’s a picture of one he did in black and green ebonite.

Brian loves to work with ebonite for its natural warmth and terrific feel.  I don’t know where he gets his materials, but this stuff is simply outstanding.  It’s a gorgeous woodgrain, and it feels awesome in the hand.

The coolest thing about Brian’s work, in my opinion, is just how custom he’s making these pens look.  He worked with a friend of mine to create this pen, which I had the pleasure of using for a couple of weeks towards the end of December.  This isn’t any ordinary pen, either.  It was made from a chunk of material called TruStone, which is (as I understand it) crushed stone suspended in a stable resin.  This particular one, I believe, has crushed lapis in it, and the gold veining sets it off really nicely.  His pictures of it are ten times better than mine, so I’m going to borrow them.  You’ll see them below.  However, as good as these pictures are, they don’t do the pen the kind of justice it deserves.

I can tell you from firsthand experience that this is a flawless piece of work.  It writes beautifully, it looks fantastic (those pictures ARE a true representation of color – it’s a truly gorgeous blue), and I know that its owner is extremely happy with it (so much so that he and Brian just finished another one together!). 

Those of you who are playing along at home may notice that this pen has a Bexley nib.  That’s another thing that Brian does that’s a little different.  Dissatisfied with the nibs that are oftentimes supplied to custom penmakers, Brian has gone after some of the best in the business for his upgraded nibs.  Thus far, he offers Taccia’s first-rate steel nibs, Bexley’s 18K nibs, and Bock’s 14K nibs on his pens.  I can speak personally to the quality of the Taccia and Bexley nibs, as I own both in my pens.  There’s rarely anything wrong with them…ever.  I recently got a Taccia Staccato as a gift from a dear friend (quite unexpectedly, too), and it has to be one of the smoothest nibs I’ve ever used, regardless of material. 

Brian’s pens start at around $125 and move up from there depending the model, material, and nib you choose, but I’ll nearly guarantee you that you’ll have a hard time spending less money for a nicer (and more personalized) pen.  Every now and again, he’ll take on a custom commissioned piece, so if you’re up for one of those, he’s definitely willing to work with you on it.

One of these days, I’m going to have Brian make something cool for me, but I’m going to see what I can do to challenge him on the design.  Hey Brian, figured out how to do a piston-filled model with something like the old Waterman blue/green ripples yet?




6 responses

27 02 2008


if he could make one of those blue TruStones with a piston fill, I’d sell a few of my Sheaffer vintage pens in a heart beat and buy one. I’d make it a treat for myself.


27 02 2008

That would be a sweet pen, wouldn’t it?

I’m sworn to secrecy about this, but I know of an UBER-COOL project that might be in Brian’s queue here pretty soon that if it works, will change Brian’s business forever.

We’ll have to wait and see, but rest assured that if it happens, you’ll probably hear about it here first. 🙂

29 02 2008

The first pen is so slick and modern in design. The finish is out of this world.

1 03 2008

Duc, that’s not just a finish on the material…that’s what it’s like all the way through. Ebonite is what early fountain pens were made from, and the few that are still made that way today have this unmistakable “warmth” that the user can’t help but enjoy.

I know that sounded a little hokey, but it’s definitely the truth. The one that Brian sent me (the same model as Alex’s TruStone) was so I could get a little first-hand experience with ebonite. It was made from the same rod stock as the Herald, and I’m here to tell you…it’s a feeling that you just can’t get from anything else.

I don’t own any of Brian’s work…yet. 🙂 Keep watching him, folks. Brian may just be the next Paul Rossi!

13 03 2008
Joe Smith

Ryan – if you ever have one of Brian’s pens local again, I’d love to try one. They really are beautiful looking pens and I bet the Ebonite feels wonderful. Well, maybe one of these will be on the menu next Christmas for me.

Thanks again for the conversation and the pens yesterday…took the Parkette to work today…tomorrow the Estie.

18 07 2008
Review: Edison Glenmont « Brassing Adds Character

[…] ImpressionsAs I’ve seen a few examples of Edison Pen Co.’s work and I was really impressed with them, I was looking forward to seeing what happened when I contacted Brian Gray about something for […]

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