Friday, August 26, 2011

Drag yourself to school kids…its time

Well, everyone, it’s that time of year again. I know you’ve all been trying to ignore it, procrastinating preparing for it, and overall wishing very desperately that it didn’t apply to you, but it’s here at last! That’s right: it’s Back to School season! . After shopping (was it shopping or treasure hunt? Iam still hunting the exact dimension of a storage box that the school wants ) the typical school needs from the usual war zones such as Wal*Mart, Target and Costco ,just to name a few,now relax and shop at the comfort of your home by shopping at our online store. (Of course if you like the excitement of the hunt you can stop by one of our stores in Columbia and Montgomery.)
Lets see how Pen Boutique can compliment your usual school supplies with some high quality paper and pens that will improve your kids calligraphy skills.
It’s a universal truth that excluding clothes (and perhaps a backpack), the first things you will buy to prepare for the school year are notebooks. Let us begin with the Rhodia Company, for it would be impossible to talk about notebooks and not mention them. One of the leading manufactures in all stationery concerning paper, notebooks, organizers and binders, the quality of their products is practically unparalleled. One of their bestselling notebooks is the Rhodia LD 5 Webnotebook, an economical choice that is a favorite among artists and writers alike. It’s made of smooth black and orange Italian leather and possesses 90 g ivory, acid-free pages. It has been designed to give you an unbelievably peaceful and warm feeling when you open the cover, hear the gentle crinkle of freshly stapled paper and lay your hand on the crisp, cool pages. Why, it’s like heaven in book form.
For something a little smaller and more compact, Rhodia also offers the Staplebound Lined Notebook that has the same features as the Webnotebook but with only 48 sheets. It’s perfect for a lab journal, a writing journal, a sketchbook or just something convenient and fashionable to take notes in.  With a lined notebook that’s properly labeled all your notes, thoughts and ideas for that class are kept in a neat, organized and secure place so studying will be a breeze. Speaking of organization, you will most likely be doing a lot of it in the upcoming school year. Between homework, afterschool activities, clubs, sports, family, jobs, friends, and ‘me time’, you’re bound to be extraordinarily busy. You’re going to have a lot of things to do and very little time to do it, so the traditional laissez-faire feelings of “Well, I do need to get started on that final paper, but I have two days to get it done... and I do need to beat that last mission on the new Call of Duty” that we’ve all experienced must come to an end. Remember, procrastination is not your friend, but Filofax is here to give you a trustworthy one: the Flex. The Flex is a three-part leatherette notebook series that is available in three sizes: A5, slim and pocket. They are customizable personal organizers that contain credit card slots, large pockets, a jot pad, a pen loop and an extra writing booklet that can be changed in and out of the notebook. From plain notebook paper, a contacts list, a year-long diary, a year-long planner in over four languages and an assortment of other combinations, you will be as organized as if you had a personal secretary. The days of, “What!? The project’s due next period?” and “Wait, the test is today?” will all be in the past.
Now let us move on to the meat and bones of the matter: pens and pencils. Perhaps you’re thinking, why do I even need a pen? Anything I don’t need a pencil for I can do on the computer. A reasonable argument in most cases, but there will always be that one teacher, or that one assignment that requires the use of a pen that you don’t have. (Then begins the unanimous, aggravated sigh of your entire class and you asking five or more people around you if they have a pen, and of course they don’t. No one ever does.) For those of you who just ‘want a pen that works’, products by the Lamy Company will be your best bet. The Lamy Safari Aquamarine, the Pico and the Lamy Noto are all good choices that don’t sacrifice style for economics. Their unique, innovative designs are eye-catching and will earn you a few envious looks from those who are more used to seeing typical, disposable ballpoints. If you’re one of those who like to write with style, then Pelikan, Namiki and Faber-Castell each have products that cater to every indulgence. They offer an assortment of rollerball and ballpoints, but their fountain pens are where the real treasures lie. If you’re new to the fountain pen game, you can always try out Pelikan’s Pelikano series that’s specifically created for first-time users. Its structure is designed to show you the proper way to hold the barrel to optimize the pen’s performance. (And if you want something a little more colorful and whimsical, there is always the Pelikano Junior.) For veterans or those who simply want to jump into the thick of things, the Namiki Vanishing Point Series is a good place to start. Their pens have smooth, free-flowing ink, the distinguished beauty of fountain pens and the functionality and convenience of clickable ballpoint pens. With elegant yet executively subtle designs, the pens in these series are gems in their own rights. (For the latest in this revolutionary pen style, you should probably consider the 2011 Pink Limited Edition whose beauty and sensibility is uncontested.) Faber-Castell offers the Ambition and the Ambition Rhombus, both nicely weighted fountain pens that offer the perfect balance of classical and modernism. Their barrels are made of soft finishes to add comfort when writing and possess resin and chrome trims. Each of these pens has their own distinct style, technique and design, but they are all indisputably stunning and are bound to make you the center of attention. (If you’re looking for inks to compliment your fountain pen, I would suggest Montblanc’s newest “Ink of…” line. They’re absolutely amazing and I just adore them.)
Speaking of attention, have you ever sat back and paid attention to your penmanship? This may not apply to the 10% of the human population with heartbreakingly beautiful handwriting, but the rest of us have to deal with winces of embarrassment when someone looks at our writing. (It hurts, I know, I’ve been there.) These painful looks and feelings can be easily forgotten by adding a Calligraphy fountain pen to your literary entourage. Traditionally, fountain pens have a small metallic ball at the end of their nibs, but the tip of a calligraphy pen nib is cut straight across. Available in hundreds of designs and colors, these pens are designed to improve handwriting so that even the most unintelligible chicken scratch becomes passable, and in most cases even admirable. (There’s really no point in doing all that writing in class if your teacher won’t even accept the work because they can’t read it; again, I’ve been there.) Lamy offers an excellent selection, specifically the Lamy Joy which is offered by itself or as a set. It is a beautiful pen that manages to be elegant and efficient without being flashy or gaudy. It’s the Dark Knight of calligraphy pens: mysterious, deadly, and totally awesome. (Not deadly for real, of course. It’s just, I still can’t get over how awesome that movie was.)
Now onto the subject of pencils! In this day and age traditional wooden pencils are quickly falling out of favor – even though we have a nice selection of them for you traditionalists – to be replaced with mechanical pencils. Everyone always gets those dozen pack mechanical pencils with the cheap erasers – you know the ones; erasers that don’t actually erase, they just spread the lead around. These writing tools are so inconspicuous and uninteresting that they’re lost just as frequently as they’re bought. With that in mind, why be boring? Why be predictable? Why not take a shot at a mechanical pencil whose beauty, quality and superior sophistication will quickly make it a favorite writing tool that you’re sure to hold on to? Personally, I like my pens to have a “Men in Black” air about them, so products such as the Aurora Ipsilon Deluxe, the Etoile de Montblanc, and the Waterman Charleston are right up my alley. They’re reliable, beautiful, and have a subtle sophistication that’s hard to beat. Nevertheless, perhaps you like the brighter side of the color spectrum and want pencils that are so vivid and stunning they put sunflowers to shame.  If you’re looking for something a little less animated about its individuality – but no less impressive or unique – the Pelikan Pura D40 and the Retro 51 Tornado Lollipop Grape are prime choices. (And they’re economical to boot; always a plus in this day and age.)
We are living at the height of the information age in this brave new world of ours. Where programs such as Wikipedia, CNN (and BBC), Twitter, Facebook (and perhaps even Myspace if you’re one of the few people who still use it) and the internet in general are the leading forces behind everything we see, read, believe and process. They’re the masters of this age and with each passing day the electronic world gets bigger and the written world gets smaller. The importance of the written word isn’t expressed nearly as much as it should be, but this battle against electronic modernization is being valiantly combated by the creative designs of the world’s pen manufacturers and their dealers. Ballpoint pens, rollerball pens and fountain pens are unique treasures that aren’t antiques, but misunderstood and sometimes unappreciated necessities. So this school year don’t think of supply shopping as a tedious, uninteresting chore, but think of it as an exciting adventure to purchase the descendants of an exclusive order that stretches back to the dawn of civilization. I mean, you have to get these supplies anyway, so why not pick ones that make you happy just by holding them? If you don’t want your kids to take tablets and laptops to school,act up now and perhaps its time that we invest in pens,writing accessories that interests them.
Look for the add-on school supplies here .

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Friday, August 19, 2011

D.C Pen Show 2011.. Were you there?

It was crowded that day. Of course, that’s a business area and its crowded pretty much every day; there was just something different about this day. Instead of the hectic, crowded streets I’m used to with pedestrians who can’t decide whether they’re actually in a hurry or just sightseeing, there was a business-like feel in the air. People acted like they had places to go, people to see, and like me, conventions to attend .Yes,finally the much awaited DC Pen Supershow is here.  The streets were overflowed with vans, cars and busses(I agree they are all not going to show..must be the new Metrorail project coming in VA area the roads were narrowed and my GPS kept saying to take a right where there was no right turn) . I reached the convention area (of course I switched off GPS and figured it out myself) and already the parking was diverted to the deserted HUMMER building .I parked my car and walked to the hotel, and I saw many vehicles bore company workers, seasoned pen collectors, new collectors, and anyone else that just wanted to see what all the fuss was about. Groups of people in matching work clothes were pulling tables, chairs and supplies out of their cars and carting everything through the front entrance of the Sheraton Hotel at Tysons Corner, Virginia. (I’ve always liked this hotel chain, mostly because they don’t feel a need to flaunt their prestige.) The front of the building was simple; it had uniform rows of windows that cast a stunning reflection of the gray and white clouds that blanketed the sky. In the building’s center hung the words “Sheraton Premier” in unassuming red font.
Around 11am ,the Ballroom was buzzing with activity. There was a sizeable amount of shoppers and vendors alike, but not enough where I felt crowded or uncomfortable.They bustled through the various displays and stations in what could only be called a Pen Bazaar (only , you know, inside a building.If you don’t believe me ,look at the picture here in the right .Where else would you see hundreds of pens spread on a table like vegetables).Pen-Bazzar A cheerful feeling permeated the space, affecting everyone who stepped into the room. Whether their actions were methodical, purposeful or relaxed, everyone in the room had a pleasant, unperturbed air about themselves. The pleasure of being at a spectacular event dedicated to one of their strongest passions was written in the faces of everyone I saw. It was a happy affair, and it showed. As I walked around, I realized that the people in attendance were just as interesting as the products they were inspecting. I saw seasoned pen collectors who looked around and walked with a purpose at all times. Like an eagle hunting a rabbit, they scoped out the tables with a hungry look in their eyes until they found their prize. Others were veterans who came equipped with tools like magnifying glasses to inspect the pens.They would hold up anything that caught their interest and examine the nib, body and inner mechanics. Many of them were so skilled in discerning pen designs that they could immediately identify the type of nib, who made it, how old it was, how often it had been used and, of course, if it was a fake. Advanced knowledge and recognition of pen structure, which would probably take me at least ten minutes to identify, came as second nature to them. Mixed among these were the first timers and young children who were just being introduced to the world of fine writing.I remember seeing a table who were educating kids to use Fountain Pens(though I personally feel that kids under the age of 7 should not use Fountain Pen,the lady in the counter was persistent that even 2 year old should hold a fountain pen.)  Their excitement and fascination with the incalculable number of mechanics, inks, designs, and pens was as obvious as it was heartwarming.
Many customers were just there to get their pens repaired. Many had broken barrels, dismantled clip and some of them even roamed around with almost irreparable pens. Many queued up to get their nibs repaired with Yukio Nagahara,the legendary master nib maker from Sailor.
Companies like Conklin,Montegrappa(with all those icons in the background,it reminded me of the Expendables movie banner)MGP and Delta all had many tables manned by company subject matter experts. Dressed in freshly pressed black suits with a no-nonsense demeanor, they were almost as intimidating as they were professional. Certain tables had no brand owner and were manned by one or two staff members who just offered ink samplings. These stations were piled high with row after row of so many different inks that I barely even knew where to start. (After glancing over the choices I resorted to the age-old habit of just going “Oh! This looks pretty! And so does this! Oh, oh, and that too! I want that too!”) Other non-brand tables were occupied by vintage collectors selling items from their personal inventories. Most, if not all of them, were extraordinarily affordable.
Calligraphy classes were being held in an adjacent room (Maria Weyraugh's calligraphy Workshop,New Calligraphy Chisel Point Workshop). This room had less traffic, as a class reservation had to be made in advance, but it was no less interesting than the rest of the convention. All of the students – adults as well as children – were dutifully bent over their work making concise, beautiful words with apparent ease. (Though if you asked each one of them personally, I’m sure they would speak to the contrary.) I didn’t spend much time there as I had more area to cover..
Of course there wouldn’t be a pen show without David Oscarson –the guy with the totally awesome pens – making an appearance. As usual, he sat quietly in the special booth that he gets every year. He was very polite and greeted everyone who passed his table warmly. He seemed a little weary, but he spoke in length with anyone who stopped by about his collections and upcoming products.
Even though there was so much to see and so much to do, I had to check on Pen Boutique’s tables, which, I might add, were doing quite well. The artful table displays were composed of Rhodia notebooks, the Namiki 2011 Pink Vanishing Point, Filofax Flex organizers, Moleskine notebooks, Pelikan, Retro51, Parker and Waterman pens all going at dirt cheap prices. What was especially interesting about our table, though, was the raffle. The item being raffled was an antique Parker wooden pen collection box with gold-colored handles on either side. The lid was mostly made of display glass with two extra drawers underneath. It was very attractive (I really wanted it, I must confess) and I was not the only one that thought so. Just about everyone who came up to the table entered the raffle and by the end of the day the bin was completely stuffed with applications. (Hmm, the more I think about it the more I really wanted that box... I don’t believe Parker even makes it anymore...I should have entered even though I told myself I wouldn’t.) Pen-Boutieuq-Table
In the end, it was a lovely event. I got a couple vintage pens to add to my collection and made a mental note of others I plan on hunting down next year. The convention was an exciting, unbelievably informative and, as usual, extraordinarily fun event. I can’t wait until next year; it’s going to be so awesome.
While driving back home, I realized that the theme of the DC Pen Show – Delta Demonstrator IT Vermil..Oops I totally forgot to take a look at it….(Did you?) much can you see in a day? I had my measure of fun with pen today..

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