Thursday, December 29, 2011

Thinking Out of the Box

Yesterday we went shopping, my wife and I love shopping! Who doesn't? We wound up at Fisher Hawaii again, the best office/school/art supply store in Honolulu.

I knew they were clearing out some pens so I took a look at the counter where they have the higher end pens. Voila, can't go wrong at 70% off!

The above photos were taken with my new iPhone 4s and I must admit I'm pretty impressed!

I don't recall ever purchasing a Sheaffer Pen before though I do have a nice vintage Snorkel. But for that price I did get a two nice pens that we'll put aside for gifts.

A nice blue roller ball. Well actually the box said Frosted Lilac!

And a really nice copper/brown roller ball.

But hiding below the counter top and upper shelves I spied an interesting pen. The sales person took it out and it was a fountain pen. She dipped it in a bottle of Cross blue fountain pen ink and I gave it a road test...sold!

For some reason I think whale shark when I look at this pen.

Solid gold nib for well under $50.00

It was a clearance item and there was no box or instructions with this pen. I've never seen a filling system like this and it took a bit of disassembly, reverse engineering and trial and error to figure it out. It's a piston type converter but it operates without removing the cover from the pen and fills almost like a piston filler pen.

So I filled it with Private Reserve Cosmic Cobalt blue ink and gave it a whirl! I'm not comfortable writing with a stiff fine nib.

I'm not so sure, need to do some writing to get comfortable with it. I think I'll use this pen for writing in my Moleskine notebooks hoping for less bleed through.

Years ago B.K. (before kids) when I was able to purchase pens almost freely, I was concentrating primarily on acquiring flexible nib fountain pens both vintage and modern. So most of my pens are fine flexible nibbed pens and a few medium nibs. But in my opinion aside from the Pilot/Namiki Falcon the only flexible nib pens that work well are vintage pens which need a bit more TLC than modern pens.

So now I'm trying to think outside of the box of flexible nib pens and write with non flex nibs like with this Sheaffer. But what I really would like is a nice double broad oblique or maybe stub nib on a hefty pen that fits like a glove in my hand. One that flows ink well and leaves a line of ink that you can see height to it! I don't think I will find one like this Sheaffer under $50.00 though.

Who knows, I may start writing with roller ball pens too!

I think this may be my last post for 2011. I hope I can come up with more interesting posts more often in 2012.

To everyone please stay safe and Hau`oli Makahiki Hou!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

White Forest ink and a Star Walker

I'm still struggling to write especially on the weeknights. Just no time or energy. I made these Christmas cards last weekend and I only put them in the mail today. I didn't want to just send blank cards, I also wanted to write something to each recepient to give it a personal touch. Well I finally stayed up past my bedtime last night and wrote short notes to enclose with the cards.

At a past Christmas a coworker gave me a bottle of Mont Blanc White Forest scented ink. I don't get why they call it white when the ink is green, maybe there is snow? Anyway I've been seeing a few posts on Twitter about green inks, and this is the only green ink I have, and it's a Christmas White Forest it is!

Since it was Mont Blanc ink I thought I would use it in a Mont Blanc pen. I remember liking how my Star Walker wrote so that's the pen. It's a pretty cool looking pen. Their famous snow cap emblem seems to be floating in space.

This pen does not have a flexible nib so I don't worry about line variation.

I like it!

Oh I still have my Namiki Falcon filled with Irhoshizuku Yama-budo ink I still want to use for holiday writing, but it looks like it will have to wait until after Christmas.

So who wants a New Years card?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Handwritten Music Charts

I do have a passion for things handwritten.

Years ago when I was playing bass guitar on a worship team at my church, I gifted one of the members a calligraphy pen set. I forget the reason, I just wanted to bless him with it. He was very grateful, a little while later I found out why.

It turns out he used to hand write music charts. His father was a musician I think in Singapore. When the other musicians needed copies of the music, you did not go to a copy machine and make a copy. His job as a youngster was to hand write copies.

He wrote charts for our Christmas Eve service. I think these charts are works of art!

The First Noel

Angel Medley

The red pen marks are his added after and the pencil marks are mine.

I wanted to scan these but the sheets were too large for the scanner bed. I scanned a portion of one.

Closer look at the details

I can't write charts like these, but I have an idea for a future post writing a manuscript of a song, lyrics only. But I think that will need to wait until after the holidays.

"Green" Christmas Greetings

In a past I wrote a post about recycling. So I came up with an idea to do some Christmas cards using mostly recycled material.

Inspired by the business card in that post, I thought I would use cardboard from cut up boxes. Then I can use paper from a pad to write on and paste on the cards. This way I can make a mistake and not ruin the whole piece, just move to another section of the paper and cut out as needed.

It was my wife's idea to use scrap pieces of Christmas paper she used for her craft projects.

Then I thought I would use those return envelopes enclosed in those pesky junk mail offers. Same idea, write on a separate piece of paper and attach to the envelope.

But in after thought, this seemed rather "cheap" unless the recipient understood the recycled aspect of it. Also I like to consider myself an artist and not a crafter. Doing this made my writing desk look like a crafter's desk!

And it was a lot of work!

So I'm stopping at four.

I'm going to write a real letter to enclose with these cards to explain though they'll probably read this blog post.

But while I was creating these "works of art" I got other ideas using the scrap paper to make simpler pieces. I need simple and fast since I have less than a week to go.

I don't know, would you like to receive something like this?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

`Apuwai. Learning about art and Hawaiian culture from a first grader

I've always been interested in the Hawaiian culture since I was little, even though I have no Hawaiian "blood" flowing in my veins. I've always been interested in art since I was little. I still am interested in both.

A few days ago my son brought home a clay piece he had created in school. Whatever it was it looked cool. Then my wife handed me a paper with a description of what it was, what was done and why.

I love looking at kalo (taro) I think because it has so much significance and value in the Hawaiian culture. To me the leaves have a unique shape, and seeing them especially in a lo`i or taro patch just speaks to my heart. I took this picture at an ancient Hawaiian lo`i in the Waianae mountains.

I present to you my six year old's interpretation of `Apuwai.

Gee when I was in elementary school I think I made me father an ashtray...

Times have sure changed!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo

I've had this bottle of Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo ink for quite a few months now, maybe over a year.

I've been wanting to use it in a favorite vintage Waterman fountain pen, but that pen needs its ink sac replaced and I haven't had the time or energy to do it.

This morning I got into a Twitter conversation with a friend @Gentian who had the opportunity to try a few Pilot/Namiki pens at a university bookstore. She said she tried a Falcon with Yama-budo in it, and that it was the favorite color of the Pilot rep who was there who by the way is a friend of mine. So she convinced me to fill my Falcon with the Yama-budo and I did.

If I waited until I resacced the Waterman, that bottle may never be opened.

I was going to try and be all fancy and take fancy pictures using grapes as a prop because budo translates to grape in Japanese. Yama translates to mountain but that's even harder. Then I was going to make a video but that's a lot of work for someone who does not do that all the time. What can I do to make this post "pop"?

Then that inner voice told me to "keep it simple". So I did. I'm going to use this pen and ink combination for my Christmas correspondence, so for this post thought I'd write out a scripture about the original Christmas.

Since I wrote on ecru paper I wrote a bit on a more neutral color paper to show the color of the ink. But it was hard to photograph and get the right white balance.

Every year I have the intent to write Christmas cards and send to my friends. I take out the cards from storage and they sit through the holidays and I put them away without writing a single card. This year I hope I hope I hope will be different. I'm not going to use store bought cards but either make my own or just write letters. I have some ideas and hopefully I'm going to post about it here.

Oh and I like the way Gentian spells colour. I sounds so much more exotic that way!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

My Daydream

The other day on Twitter, @MissiveMaven retweeted a post about the paper letter coming back. There was a name "Bob Slate" that I was not familiar with. So I clicked on the link and watched the video.

That has been something I've daydreamed about for many years, owning and running my own stationery store! There aren't many small stationers here in Hawaii that I know of. The only one I know of is The Paperie in Kahala Mall Shopping Center. Gone are Fresh Inc and Paper Roses as far as I know. Barnes and Noble or Papyrus stores are probably the best places to purchase stationery, Moleskine, blank journals, etc. Of course greeting cards you can get almost anywhere else. But those are "big box" stores, not locally owned and not run by the owner where you'll probably get more personal service. And none of the aforementioned business promoted handwritten letters or things handwritten.

In my store I would sell good stationery like Crane Papers, and also some European papers like Amalfi and Pineader and Clairfontaine.

I'd like to sell good quality pens like Pelikan, Namiki, Pilot and also offer good affordable pens too. I would offer calligraphy service too. Would try to teach non pen people to become pen people, willing to take the effort to handwrite letters and maybe even seal the envelope with a wax seal.

But you know, I've kinda learned to never say never, however I really doubt this daydream will will every come through. One I don't have the money.Two I prefer to work for an employer where I'm guaranteed a paycheck, get paid vacation and sick leave, have a retirement fund, and most importantly medical insurance! Also I think I'd pretty much suck as a business owner. I don't like charging people money even for services I may provide. I rather someone else charge the customer and pay me for the service. Besides there must be a reason why there is only one stationery store here in Honolulu.

Well I guess dreams can come true!

Monday, November 21, 2011


Gasp. I am writing with a ballpoint pen!

To some pen fanciers that's frowned upon. It has to be written with a fine fountain pen, a fine writing instrument. But I've ruined so many store bought cards that do not do well with fountain pen ink. After the first downstroke I watch the ink my nice line feather into a hairy blob. A ballpoint never fails here. Heck I'm not even using a fancy ballpoint pen like a Mont Blanc or a Parker. Just a pen I bought from Fisher Hawaii.

I hope she will still like the postcard...

That's it, short post. Pau!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Reduce Reuse Recycle

When I see these three, words I keep hearing North Shore resident Jack Johnson singing his song titled Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. That simple song has allowed those words to sink into my head. I'm starting to get interested in this "movement" to save the Earth. Makes sense ecologically and often financially, it can save you money.

One evening while walking back to our car, (well mini-van to be exact) from dinner at a restaurant, I noticed a store that I had not seen before. Looks like some furniture and other items, but a guitar caught my eye. We walked into Stand Up Eight and had a look around.

Store owner Mark Ariyoshi greeted us.

He explained that his store takes items that were headed to trash landfill, and repurpose them. It started off as primarily furniture items but now has evolved into a cool art gallery of sorts. Now there are items from various artist all created/repurposed out of almost thrown away items.

Here is a small photo gallery of the art in Stand Up Eight...

Even his business card is on recycled cardboard!

One thing that Mark loves is wood, and so do I. I've always loved nice wood on my gun stocks or my guitars, basses and ukulele. He showed me his small work area. I loved seeing the Japanese woodworking tools...better yet they are mostly hand tools!

He told me about how he tried to talk his in laws out of cutting down their mango tree but they did anyway. So he had the trunk resawn and kiln dried. Mango is a very nice wood. Here are a couple shots of his workshop, the mango is in the corner.

Lots of wood items in the store. I saw a lot of "hints" of wood as a part of some items. No sense wasting those little pieces of scrap wood left over after cutting larger pieces to size.

This lamp really caught my eye. I love when the artist leaves a part or parts of wood unmachined in it's natural state.

A closer look shows the beautiful figure in the wood.

The word quirky or eccentric comes comes to mind, but I'm no word guru and I hope I'm not wrong. Maybe I'll just say it's a really cool place.

Near the door is a nice touch, this basket of origami tsuru (crane) made out of what else...recycled paper!

I had to ask how he came up with the name Stand Up Eight. He said it was part of an Asian proverb "Fall down seven times, stand up eight."


So why am I writing a post that is not about pens, paper, inks, handwriting, etc that this blog normally is about? I've been thinking about expanding this blog beyond pens and paper etc. I have a Posterous blog for miscellaneous thoughts that used to be for a Photo Project 365 before I gave up on that, but it's a bit redundant for me to have 2 blogs with so little posts. Besides views on Posterous really dropped off after I changed away from Project 365. I may try the photo Project 365 again next year since it does improve my skill as a photographer, but I plan to expand this blog into more than pen and paper.

Besides, aren't some of us pen and paper people much like Mark. We rescue old fountain pens from garage sales. We rebuild them or at the very least replace the ink sac. Some of us find and collect vintage ink bottles. I know there are those who store letters received in old cigar boxes or wine crates.

Anyway for those in Honolulu, Stand Up Eight is on South King St on the makai side past Pensacola St near Bac Nam Vietnamese Restaurant and Cigar Cigar. BTW they sell cigar boxes at Cigar Cigar!

Look for the origami curtain in the window.

You know I forgot about that guitar, the very item that first caught my attention. Perhaps some day I will commission Mark to build a writing desk out of recycled wood.

Maybe I'll do more with pen and paper, and post it here...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Cursive is Easy!

Last night I noticed my six year old son sitting on the sofa and appeared to be writing in a book of some sort. His actions were different from when he draws. I walked over and asked if he was writing, and he was. Are you writing in cursive I asked. Yes, it's easy!

What the...

Keep in mind he's in the first grade and does not write quite fluently yet. But I was shocked at what I saw, It turns out he was copying the guide in this composition book that he found on the bookshelf.

Every now and then he would ask me to write his name "fancy" which meant in script. So I would take my time and write his name in as close to Zanerian Engrosser's Script as I could whether it was with a fountain pen or ball point. And he would take that paper and just admire it with a big smile on his face!

Now with more practice he can write is own name "fancy"

I guess I do have an influence on him!