What’s In the Box

When I pack up a pen that I’ve worked hard on, and send it out the door to a new home, a little bit of me goes with that package. I’ve invested time, energy, creativity, and artistry into making a quality writing instrument that I hope will give you pleasure for years to come. It’s rather like sending a child to the first day of school. I worry a bit about how it will fare as it travels into unknown territory, and how it will be received as it crosses the threshold to its new home.

I do everything I can to prepare it well at each stage of creation, testing the fit of each part carefully before moving on to the next. However, once a pen is polished and washed and all shiny and sparkly, the work is still not complete. The next step is just as important as the pen crafting itself. That’s when I test and tune the new nib to make sure it has proper flow and writes as smoothly as possible.

500_blog_tune-1I now have a desk in my studio dedicated solely to this final stage of pen preparation, with all my tools in one place, in easy reach. I love to sit down there and concentrate on a nib, examining it with my loupe, working on the tines to align them, using a buffing stick or lapping film as needed to create a smooth writing experience. While I make no claim at being a Nibmeister, I can at least ensure that my nibs perform optimally.  After I make that final pass on a Rhodia pad, and the Waterman Blue-Black ink glides smoothly across the paper, a smile comes over my face, and I know that’s it, the nib is good to go.  I flush the nib thoroughly until the water is as clear as possible, and then prepare it for shipping.  If you notice a hint of mysterious blue ink still in your new pen when it arrives, this is why.

Your pen and I then move to the Shipping Room (once known as the living room) and assemble the parts for final packing. Each pen is slipped inside a soft, velveteen drawstring bag and then placed in a sturdy, durable, and reusable telescopic PVC tube with cushioning on both ends of the tube.  Accompanying your pen into the shipping box is a little “Thank You” folder that I’ve assembled. It contains a Scriptorium Pens bookmark, a sheet of blotter paper with the Scriptorium Pens logo embossed in the center, a business card, and a Sunshine Polishing Cloth for your pen’s gold, silver, bronze, brass, or copper accents.

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Into the box it all goes, and that’s the last I’ll ever see of that pen, most likely. I’ll have done all I could to prepare it for its new home, and with more than a little pride I’ll send it off, and like an anxious parent, wait for word of how it is received.  And I do get word, whether via email or traditional, written letter, and I cherish each one.  Some offer just a few words, while others are more expansive, relating how smoothly the pen writes, or how it feels in the hand, or how much enjoyment it brings just by gazing at it. Sometimes the letters are more personal and moving, of how the pen was chosen to mark a special moment in the recipient’s life — a graduation, a promotion, a new birth – or how the pen arrived at the end of a very long and frustrating day when a special pick-me-up was desperately needed.  It’s a humbling experience to know that my pens can mean so much to others, and a constant reminder of my responsibility, as an artist, to make sure my work meets the highest levels of quality that I can invest it with. So yes, what’s in the box is a little bit of me in each and every pen.  A little creation story, with a new life being handed over to start more stories. What will that next story be?

Festive Greetings

It is that time of year again! The shops are stacked with festive goods, the Christmas trees, lights and decorations are being put in place, and most folks are busy getting ready to celebrate with friends and family.  Cozy nights by the fireside, carol singers, kids getting excited… mulled wine and a nice Christmas lunch.  Of course, not everyone celebrates now.  I do reach a global community.  With that in mind, whatever, whenever you celebrate, I wish you peace and happiness.

I spend a great deal of time in my workshop, often seven days a week, making orders for customers requiring a special pen.  The pens I make are sent to people living in many different parts of the world.  I think it rather neat that my work travels far and wide. I love to work with people to make their custom pen a reality. Putting it simply, I love to make all types of pens for you!

Scriptorium Pens has a wide and varied range of writing instrument designs, developed with you in mind to suit your many varied tastes.  I am generally able to incorporate all the little preferences put to me for each order.  A certain design roll stop, a specific sized nib, special materials or combination thereof, even commissioning materials to be made as a special order.  It is tempting to sit back and continue to make those pens only. However, I do need to feed my creative urges!

Every now and then I get the inspiration and desire to make a pen that is a little different.  My creative side comes to the fore when working in my workshop.  I wonder what this or that would look like, whether a certain style is possible to make, what materials to use?   Often, those desires get pushed to one side by the need to fulfill your pen orders.

When I do have a little “me” time, that is rare!  You may be surprised to know that I find it very relaxing to be in the workshop, developing a pen I have wanted to make, but not had time to.  I do try to take time out during the weekend, a few hours to make an inventory pen or, perhaps, work on one of those ideas in my head.

I recently ordered and received shipments of Japanese & German Ebonites.  They contain some very attractive colors and patterns, and so make ideal candidates for some of those special pens I have in mind.

I’ll be taking a few days “off” for the Christmas holidays, but I’ll still be in the shop. I look forward to finalizing some of those new pen & clip designs during that time.  When I start back up after the holidays, I’ll be working on order numbers in the 180’s, making my way through the work queue as quickly as I can, yet still being careful and making sure your custom pen is just right!

Wishing You A Festive Holiday Season!

Renée

Recent Turnings from The Scriptorium Workshop

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Behold, Excalibur!

Excalibur ClipAnother few weeks have passed in the Scriptorium workshop.  Pens have been posted to their new homes and many customers should now be enjoying writing with their new Scriptorium fountain or dip pen. Of course, I just love to hear how you are getting on with your new pen.  Do please keep in touch and check the web pages from time to time, to read my blog and see what’s new in the Scriptorium workshop.  I have a lot of new things planned for release in the future!

I truly enjoy my pens-crafting work.  It is a passion that provides tremendous pleasure through making something that could be around for many years to come.  Engaging with my customers and trying to fulfil their requests is another aspect that is really quite rewarding.  The material combinations, the colors chosen, and the design requests I receive never cease to amaze me. It gives me the inspiration to go the extra mile to bring those chosen designs to reality.

Some time ago, I received a request to make a pen having a sword shaped clip. This provided a welcome design opportunity, as I have long wished for a sword clip myself. I chose to incorporate my love of British literature and history into this project. What would the design be? Should it look like some fabulous fantasy sword, or should it reflect an actual sword model? After much reflection, I decided to combine my love of the stories of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table with that of an actual sword design typical of the Anglo-Saxon period in English history.

Specifically, I chose the look from the sword found among the treasure in the Anglo-Saxon royal ship burial site at Sutton Hoo in 1939.  I particularly like the design of this sword, with its narrow crossguard, as it really complements the shape of a pen cap. The pommel and hilt echo the contours of the Sutton Hoo sword, and the blade even features a fuller’s groove down the middle. The tip of the blade has been gently rounded.  With no awkward protrusions for the pen, it is ideal.  There are no sharp edges, points, or elements that can easily snag in shirt pockets or pen wraps.

Below are some design drawings of the final sword. As with any clip design, I go through a series of versions with my silversmith, Mike Redburn, to get just the right look. Below are a couple of Mike’s detailed 3D computer drawings.

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Mike utilizes the “lost wax” casting method, and the process from design idea to completed clip is fascinating. Following approval of a final design, a 3D printed model is made. Next, a silicone mold is created in one of two ways – either by making a mold of the 3D printed model, or the model can be cast and a mold can be made of the cast metal piece. After the mold is made, wax is injected into the mold to reproduce the part. It is then put in a flask, invested, and then burned out in a kiln. The remaing hole is filled with molten metal.

 

 Here is the final resulting clip!

Excalibur Clip

Every notable sword has a name…. And what name should I choose for this sword?  Why, Excalibur, of course! This echoes my passion for the tales of King Arthur, The Round Table, & Merlin.  The clip is available in silver, bronze, or brass to add a unique touch to your custom pen. Do have a look at my Clips page for more information about these and other clip designs available, and… be on the lookout for a new pen model featuring the Excalibur clip, forged in the workshop at Scriptorium Pens, soon.

Extended Time for Fountain Pen Day Offer

Due to high demand, I have extended the special offer for International Fountain Pen Day!  All fountain and dip pen orders will receive $15 off the regular price through 12 o’clock Noon, Sunday, November 6, 2016. 😊

Enjoy, and thanks to all who have already taken advantage of this offer!

A Mineral Sea Writing Set

Without a doubt, Mineral Sea Lava Explosion owns the title of Favorite Material among my customers. A swirling mix of blues, blacks, and golden orange with some pearly chatoyance, this material comes from the talented hand of Eugene Soto of Muttblanks.com.  This past week, a writing duo in Mineral Sea came to life.

Literati Academe Dip Pen and Oversized Zephyr in Mineral Sea

Literati Academe Dip Pen and Oversized Zephyr in Mineral Sea

The Oversized Zephyr makes quite a statement with its girth and bold coloring. The Literati Academe Dip Nib Holder draws the eye to its unusual feature of a cap, which is rarely seen on a dip pen. I just recently took a Copperplate calligraphy class, and saw the advantage of a dip pen with a cap for better portability. Of course, there aren’t any caps for oblique dip pens.

Literati Academe Dip Pen and Oversized Zephyr in Mineral Sea

Literati Academe Dip Pen and Oversized Zephyr in Mineral Sea

Completing this desk set is a two slot pen rest. Normally I make one slot rests, but this customer wanted 2 slots to accommodate both pens.

Pen Rest - 2 Slot - in Mineral Sea

Pen Rest – 2 Slot – in Mineral Sea

Another Muttblanks material landed on the lathe this week : Sunflower Sky Lava Explosion. Its whirling blues, yellows, and black resemble Van Gogh’s Starry Night painting. A black ebonite section enhances the grip and breaks the wild color of the rest of this clipless Idyll.

Idyll in Sunflower Sky Lava Explosion #18 - Medium

Idyll in Sunflower Sky Lava Explosion #18 – Medium

Here’s a sneak peek at a new project I’m working on. Whatever could it be?

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Topaz, Quartz Burgundy, and Azure – A Week of Jewel Tones

Fountain pen people are picky. We are! And when it comes to choosing colors and materials for a custom pen, we can let that trait have free reign. Some of my customers often know exactly what they want right away, while others need a bit of guidance through the bewildering array of choices. Narrowing down the selection can take a while. Sometimes two favorite materials call out for attention, and rather than selecting one over the other, a client will resolve the issue by getting a pen in each color. And some order multiple pens in both colors. Four of this week’s pens fit that category, with the jewel tones of Conway Stewart’s Azure and Quartz Burgundy acrylics.

Churchillized Epics, Medium, & Custom Designs, Small

These designs are what we penmakers call a homage, or a clone of another style, often of a pen that is no longer available, with some specific modifications asked for by the client. In this case, the original models were the Conway Stewart Churchill and Wellington, but without the characteristic bluges or curves that Conway Stewart pens often have. For the Wellington, removing the cap and barrel bulges leaves a very different pen, one that is more classic in style. The acrylics used are original CS materials, a high quality Italian resin, deep and rich in color.

Custom Design in Azure, Small

Custom Design in Azure – Small

Churchillized Epic in Quartz Burgundy - Medium

Churchillized Epic in Quartz Burgundy – Medium

Another pen made this week also boasts a deep, rich, jewel tone color, but the transparency and swirls in the Topaz Water acrylic provide an entirely different personality. The pen is a Literati Dip Pen, fitted with a JoWo fountain pen nib and feed. They can be pulled out and replaced with a standard dip pen ferrule for use with other dip nibs. One customer likes the JoWo nibs in a dip pen for ease of testing new inks, and for ease of cleaning. This dip pen is about 7″ in length. A matching pen rest was requested to go with it.

Straight Literati Dip Pen in Topaz Water Acrylic

Straight Literati Dip Pen in Topaz Water Acrylic

Several other pens and projects were begun this week, including a prototype, or two…or was it three? I’ve truly lost count of all the new ideas I’d like to make reality. Some will come to pass much more quickly than others. If only I could clone myself to get it all done faster!