The Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements Starling — Versions 1 and 2
PAA established the Starling version 1 per year ago. It was a limited run intended to collect comments from customers. It sent on a deal modeled on the Wade Butcher / Durham Duplex handle of the 1920s. There was a grim baseplate meant to be standard relaxation, and a golden baseplate that came with a card warning it had been more aggressive. At the moment, my impressions were that neither were really comfortable. After a week’s worth of shaves with equally, attempting different blades and unique angles, so I put them away.
The pity of it is, it is such a nice looking razor. The plates and cap are anodized aluminum, in vivid purple, brilliant green, silver. I am pretty certain that when I filed the spikes off and scattering the teeth of this open comb plate, it would become an easier-to-use razor – but that is not how it’s made.
The Starling is a machined aluminum razor from Phoenix Artisan Accoutrements (PAA). Why is it unique is that it’s one of a handful of contemporary GEM safety razors. Most modern single edge razors are the OneBlade with the Feather blade, or razors which use the AC Shavette” style blade. The contemporary GEM is not as common, and PAA and Above the Tie will be both long-established vendors even attempting it.
Here is what’s giving me trouble: At the surfaces of the sharp edge of the blade on the bottom plate is a narrow spike. It appears unnecessary since alignment is done by the hole at the center of the blade. With the smallest pressure or wrong angle, these spikes scratch skin as you shave, and so are horrible. They are found around the V1 but to a considerably lesser degree. Together with the V2, the second base plate is an open spoonful. The geometry is exactly the same as the solid pub plate, but in comb form. The borders of the comb teeth are sharp and similarly trigger distress on the skin.
Both plates are a combination of the version 1 A & B plates, attempting to choose the best of each with tweaks. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for me. The PAA is much more aggressive than I care for, and requires attention to angle and the lightest of pressure, with no prejudice, no winner.
They sold out fast, and I waited to get another production run to order it. PAA claims on their product page to get it,
Shaving with the V1 and V2 solid bar plates back to back actually reveals something I was not initially aware of: the version 1 is simpler to work with since it does not have nearly as pronounced spikes on the base plate. It’s really frustrating. This razor was designed based on comments in the V1, making it the first razor designed by a decently large community of consumers. It was a fantastic experiment, and caused a razor that, anecdotally, people enjoy. If you decide you want to try out the Starling, my advice would be to be mindful of angle, then use lighter pressure than you may normally, and experiment with different blades. When it works, it leaves the face quite smooth. The PAL stainless blade might differ for you from the GEM stainless or Teflon coated blades. The razor is presently sold out, but both plates without a top cap are offered for $24.99 in phoenixartisanaccoutrements.com
Lets put it this way, if you did not enjoy the V1 base plates, you will love these! Or, even better, if you’d enjoy that the V1 base plates…you will Absolutely adore the V2s!”