It's all about the written word...

Celebrating three years in publication. Thank you for visiting often!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Spring Snow

The Taccia Snowy Dreams is at first glance, a pretty pen. But as I examined it more closely, I discovered that its beauty is much more than skin—or should I say, ebonite—deep. The pen is an example of maki-e, the ancient Japanese art form that means, literally, sprinkled picture. A spiral of raden—hand-inlaid eggshell and abalone—and hand-dusted bokashi-maki abalone climbs the barrel of the pen, making it appear as if lit from within. The trim on the pen is silver colored, accentuating the matte finish of the ebonite, which is sealed with urushi lacquer. Decorative bands belt the barrel in two places, and the cap has a simple band and an arced ring clip that lines up perfectly with the nib when it is posted via threads. Another nice touch is the button of abalone set in the cap crown. The polishing is flawless, and the pen’s balance is good. The Snowy Dreams fountain pen comes with an 18-karat gold nib, and it is filled by cartridge or converter. This is a limited edition of just 50 fountain pens and 15 rollerball pens, priced at $895 and $745 respectively. In general, I like the Taccia brand a lot—in part because and it owned and operated by a woman, Californian Shu-Jen Lin—and also because it was one of the first small pen brands to bring fashion in pen making to the fore. The whole range of moderately priced Taccia pens, some gender specific, offer good value, and needless to say, that’s important these days.

I used the Snowy Dreams to pen a letter to my dearest friend’s mother who had recently lost her husband. A pen is a powerful agent for inspiration. Sometimes it’s simply something to hold on to when the words fail.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Calling All Pen Lovers

Pens have been part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad, who attended the Rhode Island School of Design, kept a lot of his drawing paraphernalia around the house, and we children would regularly try out his Koh-I-Noor Rapidograph or use his sketching pens or brushes to test out our own talents or lack thereof. Then, too, there was the beautiful engraved gold-capped Sheaffer fountain pen that he owned. It was a gift he'd gotten years before from his father-in-law-to-be when my dad left Rhode Island to do his part in the war effort in the early 1940s. We played with that, too. I remember marveling at the nib and enjoying the lovely sensation of putting it gently to paper. Perhaps that was my earliest inkling of what I wanted to do with my life.

Little did I know that pens would become so important to me—as an everyday tool, collectible and, eventually, career. Though it seems I didn’t inherit any of my father’s talent for drawing and painting, I became an artist of another kind—a writer. Yes, I write about pens. I test them, play with them, evaluate them and collect them. And I’ve spent the last twenty-one years editing magazines about pens.

At this very moment I am at a major pen show in Los Angeles, where hundreds of people will convene this weekend to share their mutual passion for writing instruments. Thousands of pens—both vintage and new—will be strewn across tables as people buy, sell or trade them. Quite a fun job I have. So the purpose of this blog is to share some of my passion about the great writing instruments I get to see in my travels.

Each week I will post something about a new pen I’ve tried, or a new and interesting person I’ve met that is somehow related to pens. Please send me your suggestions if you have a particular writing instrument that you’d like me to evaluate. I’m on it.