One of the challenges faced by almost all those associated with the crafting of custom writing instruments is the sourcing and design of materials. Nibs, clips, roll stops, and other decorative elements become part of the brand’s identity, and so must be chosen carefully. There are many factors to take into consideration, the main being the proportional dimensions and aesthetics of the finished item. Ready made parts from “kit” offerings rarely fit these requirements, so we must look elsewhere. The most difficult item to source? Clips.
After initially making a brief foray into the possibility of getting custom steel clips made, around 4 years ago, I put the idea aside as untenable for my little business at the time. All the options I found were jaw-dropping in both price & quantity required, and clearly not something I could afford. However, several years later, I found the issue arising again. This time, I was determined to make it a reality. Little did I know what a challenge it would be!
Obviously, with my former career in teaching, I knew next to nothing about the world of manufacturing, or even of how to begin to find someone to create clips to spec. Another obstacle to overcome was the understandable tendency of well-established pen makers to hold their own sources and findings close to the vest. So, there was nothing for it but to jump into the search and do some serious legwork.
Exploring avenues for a ‘local’ supplier/manufacturer proved to be both time consuming and fruitless, unless I wanted to spend vast amounts of funding, which I simply do not have. I did come across a few interesting leads though. That led me to explore the possibilities of commissioning production from China. The language barrier was a difficult one to overcome, but a picture, as they say, paints a thousand words, in any language! I approached several companies with my design sketches.
Numerous emails and weeks later, I finally hit upon an excellent source for the work I wanted. I paid a healthy sum for the setup fee and awaited samples. The whole experience was really quite exciting! With samples seen and approved, and another hefty sum parted with, my clips were now scheduled for production. How neat is that, thought I!
With the clips scheduled and the samples to hand, phase two of the project needed to be put into place. I had already sourced suitable establishments to perform the all-important task of plating to various finishes: Gold, Nickel Silver, and Black Oxide. The unplated clips were eventually completed and delivered to me. I counted out the first batches for plating and off they went in the post. A few months later, back from the platers they came, and I was truly proud of the end product. The clips have really nice finishes, with the shape I want, made to suit my very own specifications and pen models.
I choose to call this the Exclamation Clip. Its shape reminds me of the exclamation mark, with a classic and functional design which will complement many of my pen styles. Offered as a standard clip with all base models, it fills a long-standing gap for me, and I am proud to present it to my customers as a truly bespoke item! I really am very proud of my achievement…. Have I written that already? The challenges faced and overcome in this quest have provided valuable experience and knowledge that will benefit both my business and my customers, paving the way for additional clip offerings in the future. And it all started with making an Exclamation!