Many many years ago, when I was actually young, I had to do various classes at school. One of them was art. Now, there may be a number of things on this planet that I'm good at, but drawing ain't one of them. I would aim for Michelangelo and come out more like Lowry. (well, after all, he, "made it," in the end, didn't he! - Look up "Matchstalk Men and Matchstalk Cats and Dogs" if you don't get the joke.)
But one thing that I did progress with, was calligraphy. Even though my minor skills with a flat nibbed pen never really followed me out of school, thanks to a career in technology, I never lost my appreciation of a good pen.
It's amazing that ever something as humble as the ball point, can have a fascinating story behind it. Even more so when you extend it to the end user themselves.
We start with these three scribblers...
The top is a ballpoint in olive wood. Below that, a fountain in wych hazel and the one below that a simple caligraphy nib also in wych hazel.
I was actually at a literary festival in Faversham when one of the stall holders was selling pens. The pens were kits, but what he did was get sections of wood and turn the body of the pen by hand. One day, I might do a close up of the wood so you can see why they enchanted me.
Well, I usually buy a ball point for casual work and a fountain pen for more thoughtful writing (my hand writing is actually quite bad these days) and we got chatting over pens, writing and the emotion of it all. It seems that people who appreciate the art of writing are getting fewer in number, as a short while later, he chased me down and gave me the nibbed pen as a gift. Apparently, after I left, he knocked it together and gave it to me! One day, I'll have the kind of space where I can set up a writing bench and give it some ink.
Now, this next set marked my return to handwriting a good number of years ago...
These are my Cross pens, again a ball point and fountain pair. In fact, the fountain nearly killed my desire to return to hand writing, as the ink dried out too fast, so I wasn't getting any value out of the cartridges. Part of that, it has to be admitted, was down to the fact that I just don't hand write as much as I'd like to, these days. It also became dangerous to carry and use as an everyday pen, because of the ink and also as fountains are useless for multi-part forms.
This one has a tenuous link to Harry Potter...
Up in the North West of Scotland is a viaduct. It's the Glenfinnan Viaduct which is the one that the Hogwarts Express is filmed as traversing. It isn't too far from Fort William, and it will come as no surprise that they have a brewery there.
Whisky is matured in casks, but before the casks take on the whisky, they are first loaned to other locations where they are used for things like rum. Those leave behind their flavours in the casks, so when the whisky is matured it takes on the tones of what was in the cask before it. It's all a little romantic, and this pen is made from one of those casks.
It's a small little thing which is one of the pens I keep with me. Somehow, it has ended up in my desk collection, rather than on my person. Exactly how that happened, I'm not quite sure, but, hey!
This little sprite is the one I have with me now...
It's nothing special. Just a run of the mill short pen with a capacitive tip on the end of it. I did some experimenting with such pens, only to find out that it is more hassle than using my fingers, so it just gets used as an ordinary pen these days. If you stopped me in the street and I had to write something, this would be most likely the pen I'd use.
Now we come to signing pens...
I'm still trying to find the right level of pen. The top one is the Niceday Fineliner 0.3mm that I first encountered at work. I now keep a box of them at home and they're my go-to pen for most of my jottings and scribblings. The reason is their a sort of, "felt," so they flow smoothly, but they have a little resistance to them.
They say that if you want to improve your handwriting, then use a pencil rather than a ball point. This pen goes some way towards that, but I usually have to scribble something in a hurry so I don't end up concentrating on what I'm writing, in order to get the benefit.
The Fineliner, however, is too thin to sign with; it seems a bit weak and doesn't have much, "presence," so I've been trying the Sharpie Fine. Unfortunately, I feel that this is too thick, so I have some Sharpie Ultra-Fine on order. We'll see how it comes out, but finding the right pen to sign with is a journey in itself.
The last pens are numerous, and these are some of them...
I've hidden the logos on some of them, but they have been inevitably given to me by friends or organisations, or sometimes I've bought them myself; not for their abilities as a pen, but for the memory of someone, or something. In fact, the VullcanToTheSky pen is actually empty. I think the actual cartridge inside it wrote like absolute rubbish, and I haven't found another to fit it yet, but the Vulcan's final flight is this year, after which she goes to a display yard.
So, I hope you've enjoyed this brief look in to my pens and their part in my life journey; how they fit both emotionally and practically.