Special Guest on The Erasable Podcast - Episode #34

This week I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Erasable Podcast, a podcast about the love and admiration for all things wooden pencil.  Even though I'm a total novice (although dipping my toes into it), the guys were kind enough to have me on to chat!  A lot of fun and I appreciated the opportunity very much.

To listen, visit the Episodes page of their site.  Thanks again guys!


"It's just a pen...."

"It's just a pen...."  

Is this something you've ever heard from a friend, colleague, spouse or significant other? Agreeably, our little obsession is hard for some to comprehend.  Why would someone in their right mind choose to purchase a $200+ pen when a $2 would suffice?

This can be applied to almost everything, or at least anything where the perceived value of use or experience is worth more than utility alone.  Deep thoughts.... 

This post seems to be heading in the direction of how and why we justify our desire to find, buy, and use new pens (wash, rinse, repeat), but actually I've been having other thoughts.

I've been thinking a lot about how it is possible to have too much of a good thing.  Even pens.

We've all done this in one way or another with things like certain foods, shoes, jewelry, vintage cameras, baseball cards, knives...  there is a time when all we can think about are these things which generally leads to higher rates of purchase or consumption.  We find ourselves scouring the internet, talking to people about them, shopping, and even finding "groups" or pockets of individuals that are just as obsessed as we are (or more) .

That high level of consumption by looking for "the next thing" often leads to having a lot of stuff.  More stuff than any human would ever be able to use and truly enjoy fully.  

Eventually though, does our love and obsession start to dwindle in its savor a bit?  Have we had too much too soon?  Do we have an abundance to the level where we aren't as "hungry" as before? 

What ends up happening is that we start seeing all of the things that used to excite us like that new model, product, edition, or whatever, as "just another....".  Can that thing that brought us some of our greatest satisfaction ultimately get pushed out of our lives or into the realm of indifference (or contempt) because we stuffed ourselves at the buffet table a bit too much.

I've bought and used a lot of pens.  I write a pen blog for goodness sake!!!  I love pens and I don't foresee that ever changing.  That being said, are there moments where I have had feelings like this?  Absolutely.  

In the recent months I've been trying to be more mindful of what I'm using most often, what things work for me, and trying to take more time with the things I enjoy rather than feeling the need to always bounce from pen to pen or look for the "newest" thing.  Part of this process is also parting with things that I don't find myself using.  Does that mean they are bad pens?  Not at all, just not what is bringing me a lot of joy currently. 

Do new things still excite me?  Sure!  But is the compulsion to go buy everything the same? Not as much. 

What I've found is I feel a bit more connected and appreciate what I am using more.  I look forward to picking up that pen that I couldn't put down for two weeks or more.  When the mentality of always trying to find the greener grass (or just have all the grass at once?...kind of weird analogy) is in full swing, it is hard to settle down and just enjoy the things that can and really make us happy now.  It makes life simpler as well which is always a bonus.

This is absolutely a different kind of post than normal, but I felt a bit compelled to share.  Pens and fine writing are a part of us and is something that makes us a part of this great community.  It is fun to always be trying new things, but if you feel like you're getting to a point of "just another....", find a way to step back and evaluate what you really do like and stick with that for awhile.

Would love to get other peoples thoughts on this if you're willing to share.   



Pilot Vanishing Point - Architect Nib Grind by The Nibsmith

If you're new to fountain pens, especially if you've just purchased your first "expensive" fountain pen (a certainly relative term), the idea of sending this perfectly new pen off to someone to "adjust" may seem a bit foreign.  Totally understandable and in many ways I'm still right there with you.

The unfortunate fact is that you may purchase a nice pen and ultimately find that it doesn't quite feel perfect.  The nib may be slightly scratchy or seem misaligned, or the flow of the ink may be too little.  A good way to make a new purchase sour a bit.  Ah, the world of fountain pens we've so blindly jumped into...

Sometimes though, it isn't that the pen writes badly but that you want a specific type of grind like a stub, italic, or maybe you want a medium tuned down to more of a fine line.  All of these are appropriate times to get your pen "worked on" by someone.

This was the case with my Pilot Vanishing Point medium nib.  I love the pen and how it writes, but after seeing a nib grind called the Architect (also known as a Hebrew or Arabic), I knew I needed it in my VP.  

Why an architect grind?  Well, I write in all caps most of the time in my print and people say I have a very draughtsman (or draftsman) style writing and I knew that this type of grind would enhance it.

If you are familiar with a stub or italic nib, while writing your lines change depending on your stroke.  With vertical strokes your lines will be wide while with horizontal strokes your lines will be narrow.  With the architect grind it is the opposite which makes for some really interesting character variation.

I sent my Vanishing Point to Dan Smith of The Nibsmith.  This type of grind is generally one of the more pricey at $55, but it takes grinding multiple angles into a nib to achieve.  

I definitely want to be clear that I don't think every pen that you buy needs to get a specialty grind done on it.  The price can add up quickly and is usually always a non-reversible action.  My first "real" fountain pen awhile back was the LAMY Vista which comes in at around $35, so seeing a $55 tag on nib work may be a bit of a shock, but a lot of consideration needs to go into getting things done to your pen and whether the value is there overall for you.

Samples written on Clairefontaine Triomphe

Dan did a great job on my architect grind and it is one of my absolute favorite pens to write with now.  The nib still has some feedback after the grind, but just enough for what I enjoy in feeling when the nib hits the page.  I find that I always have this pen inked.

I did some comparison shots of my architect VP inked with Diamine Oxblood verses my Franklin Christoph Model 02 filled with Edelstein Topaz that has a medium italic stub by Mike Masuyama.

As mentioned, this particular architect started out as a Pilot medium, but still provides ample variation.  If you started with a larger nib like a broad, there is a strong chance your variation would be even more pronounced.

Dan has a website at nibsmith.com if you wanted to check out his info.