Sunday, August 7, 2016

Sealing Wax: A Postal Test

Okay, one more post on wax seals.  In an effort to test which sealing wax brand(s) would survive a trip through the United States Postal System, I mailed four envelopes that traveled roughly 300 miles. Two of the envelopes had seals of Atelier-Gargoyle wax (purchased from the Goulet Pen Co.), one had a seal of Gartner Studios wax (purchased from Michaels), and one had a seal of The Paper Studio wax (purchased from Hobby Lobby).

Atelier-Gargoyle wax

All four seals survived the journey pretty much intact.  The two seals made with the Atelier-Gargoyle wax still clung to the paper.  When I peeled the seals off the envelopes, one took some paper with it; the other did not.  The seal made with The Paper Studio wax seemed the least secure when I formed the seal, and it easily peeled off the envelope.  I am surprised that it made the journey.  The seal made with the Gartner Studios wax is in between.  It peeled off the envelope relatively easily but did not feel like it would just fall off.

Gartner Studios wax

This is not exactly a fair test.  First, two envelopes had Atelier-Gargoyle wax, and each seal behaved differently.  Second, the colors of the wax are different.  Perhaps the dyes are important.  Third, maybe I did a poor job making some of the seals.  And fourth, let's face it -- only four envelopes.  Not exactly clinical trials size.  So, a tentative conclusion: If you want maximum adhesion, I think Atelier-Gargoyle is the best bet, followed by Gartner Studios, and then The Paper Studio.  Of course, not everyone wants maximum adhesion.  Some people use seals on wedding invitations, for example; the seals go inside other envelopes and the senders do not want torn paper.  If so, wax from The Paper Studio might be perfect and from Atelier-Gargoyle, terrible.  It all depends on your needs.  

The Paper Studio wax

Sunday, July 17, 2016

USB Typewriter?!

If wax seals are back why not typewriters?  But this is not your grandfather's typewriter, as the saying goes.  For the full story, go to Amazon.  Thanks to Office Supply Geek for bringing this to my attention.

Friday, July 8, 2016

Wax Seals

Nostalgic Impressions seal and wax (Naples, FL, USA) and Clairefontaine paper (France)

Are wax seals becoming the 21st Century?!  Maybe not mainstream, but they're making a small comeback.

Friday, March 25, 2016

If You're Going to Write a Letter, Why Not Make It Special?

As noted in a previous post, master penman Michael Sull encourages us to make our writing special (a near quote), in particular, when writing letters -- actual letters.  I have attempted to compile a list of how the average person (with some exceptions) might do that.  I make no claims of originality.  In fact, I have provided links and references for many of the ideas below.  [Addendum:  As further evidence of my non-originality, I am confident that I am repeating some of Mr. Sull's suggestions.]

Brian Goulet, co-founder of the Goulet Pen Company, refers to the interdependence of pen, ink, and paper.  That is a useful organizational scheme.  To it, I add writing itself and a couple of extras.


1.  If writing with a fountain pen (assumed, of course), use a special nib, for example, stub, italic, or flex (see Steven Brown).    

2.  If you’re feeling especially exotic, use a dip pen with a steel nib.  The nib can be non-flexible or flexible.  If flexible, you might also try an oblique pen holder (see Joseph Vitolo’s videos and the IAMPETH website).

1.1 mm nibs from the Goulet Pen Co. (Ashland, VA, USA) and the Edison Pen Co. (Milan, OH, USA)


3.  Black ink can look good, but try one of the hundreds of other colors that are available.  In addition, try an ink that shades or a specialty ink, such as the Diamine shimmertastic colors.

Noodler's Baystate Blue (Massachusetts, USA)


4.  Use some fancy stationery, which doesn’t have to be all that fancy, just nicer than loose leaf notebook paper or printer paper.  Make sure it is fountain pen friendly.

5.  Use something unexpected as stationery, such as the back of scrapbook paper (based on a trick from an old artist friend).

Neenah's Southworth paper (Neenah, WI, USA)


6.  Brush up on your cursive handwriting, assuming you learned it in the first place (see an interview with Michael Sull; Sull & Sull, 2010/2011, American Cursive Handwriting).

7.  If you’re especially invested, work on something like calligraphy, Spencerian script, or copperplate.  These will require special training and special pens (see item #2), but you can also just goof around (see the IAMPETH website; Rebecka Hathaway; Carter Sams).

Sull and Sull's cursive handwriting system (Gardner, KS, USA)


8.   Include sketches in your letters.  Van Gogh did it, right?  Your letters then become borderline journal entries/sketchbook work (on journals/sketchbooks, see Price, 1999, How to Make a Journal of Your Life).

9.  Use wax and a seal to close or at least to mark your envelopes (see Brian Goulet).  

J. Herbin's handle and seal (Paris, France) and Atelier Gargoyle's sealing wax (Half Moon Bay, CA, USA) 

Other ideas?

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Up Close and Personal (aka the yin and yang of loupes)

Fountain pen enthusiasts like Staples office supply stores for their Sustainable Earth writing pads and their Black n' Red notebooks.  The former are regarded as fountain pen friendly (I agree) and the latter seem that way, too, in my limited experience.  Recently, I discovered another reason to like Staples:  Its illuminated loupe.

Loupes (magnifying glasses) are useful for checking out fountain pens, for example, to make sure the tines are aligned.  I bought my first loupe at a science and hobby store.  It doesn't have a light and I'm not sure about the magnification, but it looks identical to a low-tier loupe that Steven Brown discusses.  In contrast, the Insten loupe, available at Staples, magnifies 40 times (so it says), it has an LED light, and it costs only $7.69!  Amazing!   If you're looking for a loupe, I think this is an excellent start.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Things Overheard While Listening to Pen Reviews (part 1)

  • "I'm afraid we're going to have to get rid of that sac."
  • It's "fat and bold; somewhat stubby, it's not very long but it's there. To me, it was pleasant to hold. I enjoyed that. Definitely big enough."
  • "I remember a pelican that somebody had left in a car on a very hot day and there was a slight warp to it."
to be continued....

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Is Noodler's Kanwrite (and vice versa)?

I understand that Noodler's pens (USA) are made with parts and materials from different states and countries, including India.  Mr. Nathan Tardif, founder and CEO of Noodler's, makes that clear with every Noodler's pen sold.  No problem.  But I was intrigued when I came across a YouTube video pretty much equating the Noodler's Ahab and a Kanwrite pen; Kanwrite is an Indian pen company.  So, what is the story?  One retailer suggested that I contact Luxury Brands, the distributor for Noodler's products.  I did so and Luxury Brands -- to my understanding -- denied any connection between Noodler's and Kanwrite.  I like Noodler's; I'm not trying to cause problems.  But as an enthusiast, I'd like to know -- what is the story?  [UPDATE, May 24, 2016:  A post on Fountain Pen Network clarifies this matter, somewhat.]  

Noodler's resin Konrad, not the Ahab (although it's just a sketch, so what the heck)