I was flipping through this month’s issue of Scientific American when I noticed the following complaint:
Has not the curse of steel pens swept over the land until decent handwriting is almost unknown? Do not ninety-nine persons in a hundred use steel pens, and has more than one out of the ninety-nine the effrontery to say he can write with them? Lord Palmerston was quite right — the handwriting of this generation is abominable; and as new improvements in steel pens go on, that of the next will be worse.
It appeared in a section that reprints excerpts from old issues, and bore the publication date of March 1862. Plus ça change, eh? One wonders what the writer would have thought about the effects of tablet styluses…
I was catching up on recent posts by my French counterpart when I saw this one from early January about pen spinning (“it’s very simply the art of juggling with your pen”). A propeller pen of one’s own, n’est-ce pas?
I immediately got a pang of nostalgia for my 9th grade geometry class, when a bunch of us taught ourselves to spin pencils around our thumbs. Alas, I’ve since lost the technique, but it was still fun to watch the video that Murielle posted, the so-called Daydream of a pen spinner, which is actually a commercial for Samsung Mobile.
I got a great deal on a Fisher space pen at last year’s National Stationery Show, and have been meaning to post my thoughts about it ever since. Online, I’ve learned they’re great for lab notebooks. Perfect for pockets. I have the “bullet” version, and it lives inside my bag.
The design itself is certainly impressive — smooth, nicely weighted, compact when capped but a comfortable length when opened. The space pen is a joy to hold.
It’s also fun to write with, and based on my own experiments, at least, it’s every bit as versatile as the manufacturer claims. Here are some experiments I did; click through to see larger images… Continue reading »
Here’s another item to add to the list of things I don’t need, but would love to have nonetheless: the propeller pen. This refillable ball-point pen balances on a stand when not in use, and you can spin it, too! I’m not a doodler by nature, so this seems like the perfect thing to fidget with during phone calls.
The downside: according to a reviewer, the refills aren’t easy to purchase.
My husband got an iPad for Christmas, and one of the first things I did was download Noteshelf and buy myself a stylus. After the novelty wore off, I find I barely use it, though I do sometimes use the stylus to navigate — it’s more precise than my fingers.
Partly that’s because, well, it’s not technically my iPad. But partly it’s because I’ve never seen a stylus that comes close to being as comfortable to write with as a pen. The styluses I’ve seen all have a foam “nib” or a rubber one; I find the latter tends to splay less on the screen when I use it, but it still feels too fat for writing. Karen saw an ad online for an HTC tablet that comes with a more pen-like stylus. It seems like it’d be more comfortable, though of course there’s still the issue of how long you’re willing to rest your hand on glass while you write. For drawing and meetings and jotting down ideas on the fly, I can see it. But I can’t imagine sitting down to write a story or a journal entry.
Do you use a tablet or phone stylus? What do you do with it?
In addition to explaining our commitment to working with local, independent outlets, we’ll periodically feature a retailer that’s particularly unique or well-loved. This month, for example, we profile Pieritz Bros in Oak Park, IL.
Is there a retailer in your area you’re particularly passionate about? If so, please feel free to comment on this post or contact us with suggestions about the places we should feature in the future!
Got a burning question about fountain pens, ink, or paper? This afternoon at 2:22 pm EST, Brian Goulet will be logging on to Ustream and doing a live video chat with anyone who’s interested. Last week, about 30 people joined him to discuss Brian’s writing box prototypes, ink flow with cartridges/converters, and his own personal background. He also did a couple of paper tests and comparisons, and discovered that Exaclair packing paper is fountain pen friendly (who knew?!).
This afternoon, Brian will cover some watercolors he’s been doing in the Clairefontaine Graf it sketchbooks, the J. Herbin Creapen, his personal custom pens, and whatever else people are curious about. To listen in or participate, just follow this link.
On another note, unless you’re reading this post on an RSS feed, you’ll notice that things look a little different around here this week as we launch our new design! I’ll call out some of the new features and functionalities in a separate post. In the meantime, if you have any trouble with anything on the site, please let us know.
Let me preface this by saying that nearly everyone keeps a variety of different notebooks, made by different brands, in regular rotation. We know that. We endorse that. And we all have different needs/preferences in terms of writing instruments; fountain pen users love our heaviest, 90g paper, while others need nothing more than a few pages of lightweight 64g to receive their gel pens and rollerballs and pencils.
But Karen and I were nonetheless intrigued to see pen maker Brian Goulet’s recent vlogs over at Ink Nouveau. As you may remember, Brian likes to subject the notebooks and stationery that his company sells to various acts of ink-related torture. A couple weeks ago, he put a Habana, a Webbie, and a Moleskine to a head-to-head bleedthrough test with a couple drops of J. Herbin. That video’s embedded above, so you can see the results for yourself.
Brian’s since done more detailed comparisons of Moleskine vs. Habana and the Moleskine vs. Webbie to discuss size, thickness, price, and all the other factors that help determine which notebooks best fit your needs. In a world where you can’t always try before you buy, they’re great tools to aid your decisions.
To learn more about Brian and his pens, check out this profile at Rhodia Drive!
Like many people, I often have ideas about work or writing projects right as I’m falling asleep. I know I won’t remember them when I wake up, so I keep a little notepad and pen next to my bed to jot them down.
Here’s the thing: If I use a regular pen, I run the risk of not being able to decipher my groggy, sleep-blind scrawl when I wake up. I thought I’d solved that problem a couple years ago at the Museum of Natural History gift shop, where I found an inexpensive ball-point pen whose barrel had a light in it. It was perfect—it gave me just enough light to see what I was writing without disturbing anyone or jolting me awake.
But the light bulb broke after a couple of months, and since nobody had any idea where I could replace it, I ended up consigning the pen to daytime use and buying another like it on eBay. That pen, too, has since fallen apart, despite my best efforts to keep its inexpensively made pieces in line.
In the age of cheap manufacturing, is there anyone out there who makes a high-quality version of this pen? I realize it’s a novelty item, and it’s not like I’m about to shell out big money for it. But I can’t, in good environmental conscience, buy another cheapie with the expectation that it’ll last a few months or a year, then break and be thrown in the trash.
Stephanie forwarded a link to this terrific post at A Penchant for Paper about deciding what to do with a new Habana notebook.
Should I just keep it for the future? … Perhaps it would be better suited to a pocket-sized, portable sketchbook? Or perhaps I could use it to write poetry in. Or perhaps to keep notes on the books that I am reading, and lists of books I want to read in the future. Or perhaps…
I often purchase notebooks for specific purposes — a Bloc No. 8 to use as a reporter’s notebook (fits handily into back pockets), a Steno pad to keep on my desk for work-related to-do lists (the red line down the center helps divide essential from inessential tasks). But there’s something really lovely about getting a notebook without a specific task in mind. There’s the sky’s-the-limit joy of speculating about potential uses, and the joy of experimentation, then the joy of discovery when you find the use that fits…
Mind you, I’m not trying to endorse mindless consumerism here (buy now! think later!). I just think it’s nice to be open to possibilities.