Monday, April 12, 2021

Un(der)appreciated Writing Accessories


Lists of writing instruments and accessories float around the internet like any other list. I’m just as guilty of filling the world wide web with them as any other person that writes about writing. There are some unforgotten, underappreciated, or unconsidered writing accessories that I feel are worthy of being added to my list or, in this case, given their own list that is an addendum to the list I put out for the On Writing series. Here are some that jump to mind for me that I tend to take for granted but when given thought make the list without hesitation.

Post-it Notes is a complete no brainer for me. I use 5-10 of them every day around the office. I’ve tried other brands and found them wanting either in the paper category or in the stickiness category. The one outlier being the Staples brand sticky notes, but I tend to stick to Post-it brand because they just work. They can be a bit finicky with lubricated inks and wide nibs, I believe this is because of the paper composition which is not very fibrous or porous, so lots of ink takes a while to dry. That being said, using my Pilot Precise loaded Bolt or Retrakt is my preferred method, in fact this list was compiled on a Post-it before I wrote it all out in Word.

Another item that is similar to Post-it Notes is quality 3x5 (or 4x6) index card. There are expensive options that are made for fountain pens, but I find them too expensive to invest in because when I need index cards, I need a lot of them. Two solid options I’ve come across that are Oxford brand and Yoobi. Neither are truly fountain pen friendly, but they don’t have a lot of bleed through and limited feathering so they’re a great option if you don’t want to shell out $10 dollars for a single pack of index cards. Personally, I used Yoobi index cards when I was in college a few years back because they were easy to find and relatively inexpensive. Plus, they came in a hard case that protected them from getting bent up or water damaged.

Something I’m often in need of, but somehow seem to lose all the time is a good solid ruler. While I measure a lot of things with a pair of calipers, I still find myself requiring a ruler a few times a month. I used to rely on the wooden rulers we had in school back in the day, but they aren’t nearly as straight as I need them to be. I tend to use a 6-inch metal ruler/machinist’s scale, mostly because I usually need to measure something less than 6 inches long, and when I do need to measure something longer than that I need a full measuring tape. The metal ruler is easy to carry around, durable, and generally small enough to fit in a backpack or even a pocket.

This one is out-of-left-field, but I have a few of these at work that I use as jokes more than anything, and that’s custom rubber stamps. I never considered these as “writing accessories” until I was gifted a few in gift exchanges, then low-and-behold, I started using them on notes around the office or in correspondence. I think they’re a great addition to letter writing or if you leave handwritten notes for employees or coworkers. I’ve seen some that were fancy signature block type stamps and others that just had funny or irreverent sayings on them. They’re fun especially if you have a bunch of different colored ink pads and can switch things up when using them.

Specifically for fountain pen use, I love having a blotter or blotting paper handy. This was something I never considered when I was using extrafine and fine nibs, but as I’ve moved to medium and broad nibs, I have come to really value having a decent sized sheet of blotting paper handy. Sadly, there are not many options for blotting paper out there. Since I use Nanami Seven Seas notebooks, these come with a sheet of blotting paper which is a bonus, but of the limited options, the J. Herbin blotter is probably the best out there.

This one isn’t for everyone, and I realize that; but owning some decent leather writing accessories, while not a MUST, is one of those premium upgrades to the accessory realm. There are a LOT of options out there when it comes to leather writing accessory brands, and they run the gamut in terms of price. Personally, I prefer to find small makers that do high quality work even if they’re considerably more expensive. You pay for what you get and, in many instances, using a small maker will allow you more of a custom look and feel to a product plus you’re helping keep someone in business. I’m partial to Stache Leatherworks, Inc products and have quite a few of them. These are absolutely gorgeous pieces, handcrafted out of high-quality leather with beautiful stitching. I LOVE mine and always get compliments on them when I’m out in public with them.

Now for a few honorable mentions, and these are really additions because they are on my writing instrument list, but I feel like they are both writing instruments and writing accessories; mostly because they’re often looked down on by people who are active in the writing instrument world.

The first honorable mention is a decent wood-cased pencil and a pocket knife. This duo is the original EDC for writers on the go after the invention of the wood-cased pencil. I small knife to sharpen your pencil and said pencil lets you write pretty much anywhere you’re going. I’m not going to get into the specifics of knives, there’s too many to go over, maybe in a future post I’ll cover my favorite knives; but I do really enjoy Blackwing 602 pencils though I use them sparingly. For a “daily driver” pencil, I keep a box of Palomino HB or ForestChoice pencils in a drawer by my desk. They’re a bit handier than mechanical pencils when I do a LOT of writing in pencil, so I keep a few around for the days when I aim to use a pencil for all of my writing.

The second honorable mention, and something that will ALWAYS be on my list of writing instruments or accessories until they stop making them, is the Bic Cristal pen. I am an unashamed proponent of this pen and its myriad of uses. I will always recommend that you have one of these in your bag. They’re probably the best, most universal, easiest to find, reliable, fill-in-the-blank pen on the market. The 1.0mm Bic Cristals write like an absolute dream. There’s a reason it has a permanent place in the Museum of Modern Art and is considered ubiquitous in terms of pens; it just works and when it does finally die, you can easily replace it.

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