Interview: Novelist Zoe Sumra

Pens are one of the most basic tools that writers can use, so when whole worlds of imagination flow out of them, it seems magical.

And maybe it is – the story inside a writer’s head comes to life when the words hit the page.

That’s why, even with all the technology available to writers today, some still prefer to start their work with nothing but a pen and paper to hand.

Novelist Zoe Sumra is one of them. The London-based writer recently some time out to answer some questions from the Tiger Pens Blog.

Tell us a little about yourself.

I decided to become a novelist when I was three – I’d just learnt that the youngest published author was four and a half, and realised I had eighteen months to beat that. I didn’t quite manage it: I actually started writing novels when I was twelve. Since then I have written an epic fantasy trilogy – firmly in the trunk – and quite a lot of space opera in what is now a fully developed story universe. When not writing or reading, whether for pleasure or research, I spend most of my spare time fencing, in the gym as an adjunct to fencing, or rehabilitating ankle injuries. My day job is as a print controller in the advertising industry. Continue reading

Penthusiasm!

Rob at Rob’s Art Supply reviews learns to control the Pentel Pocket Brush Pen.

Margana at Inkophile glides across the page with the Platinum #3776 Century Yamanaka fountain pen.

Heather at inlovewithjournals swoons over the Franklin-Christoph notebook.

The Weekly Pencil runs into trouble sharpening his Koh-i-Noor Toison D’or 1900 Series 2B pencil.

The Passionate Penman turns his attention to the Sakura Pigma Micron 005.

Lito at Palimpsest takes us back in time for P & J Arnold fountain pen ink.

Tina at Fueled by Clouds & Coffee charts a bumpy course with the Pilot Waverly Nib.

Michael at Inkdependence almost likes Noodler’s Dostoyevsky fountain pen ink.

Brian at OfficeSupplyGeek wishes J. Herbin Bleu Azur fountain pen ink were darker.

Christine at Pentulant dives into the Jinhao 159 fountain pen.

Rhonda at the Blog of Rhonda Eudaly sweeps up with the Midori Eraser Mini Cleaner II.

The World In Pens

Business 2 Community makes the case that doodling is an effective tool to improve communication, increase productivity and spur creativity in the workplace.

A Flavorwire article from a couple years ago making its way around social media again shows the hand-drawn/hand-written plot outlines of several famous authors, including J.K. Rowling and Joseph Heller.

The Providence Journal profiles a doodler who developed his craft into a regular business selling pen-and-ink sketches on the US festival circuit.

All4Women explains why journaling is good for your mental health in a succinct 12-point list that covers everything from stress management to panic attacks.

The Sprachen blog explains in depth how to start and organize a language notebook for tracking your progress as you learn multiple languages.

Seinfeld’s “All I said was I liked the pen” holds the No. 1 spot on the Pentel blog’s top 10 pop culture references to pens. (On a related note, a few years ago, we rounded up some of the best movie/TV fight scenes that involved a pen.)

This interview with Swedish poet Emina Gaspar-Vrana on the Memopipwrites blog contains one of the best lines ever about pens and writing: “Who needs a shrink when you have a pen?”

Kinja asked readers to vote for their five favorite pens and the Pilot G-2 made the top of the list. Maybe their readers just don’t know pens.

Blue Or Black Ink?

black or blueWe recently posted about teachers using red ink at school, and that put me in mind of another classic color debate: Blue or black ink?

There are all sorts of opinions on this and, for the most part, it just comes down to preference. That said, there are some very valid reasons for choosing one or the other, particularly in certain circumstances.

I’ll get into details below, but here’s what I generally recommend:

  • Black ink for filling out official records.
  • Blue for business signatures and most others.
  • Black for memos and work correspondence.
  • Blue (or red) for notes and most learning purposes.
  • Blue for credit card applications.
  • Blue (or another color) for creative purposes.

 

Continue reading

Penthusiasm!

Lito at Palimpsest shares a Kate Chopin letter griping about the tiny invisible hairs on her pen.

The Passionate Penman block-prints his respect for the Tombow Mono 100.

Ian at Pens! Paper! Pencils! splashes through some J. Herbin 1670 Stormy Grey fountain pen ink.

Patrick at The Cramped gets to the point with the new Field Notes Planner.

Ray at Fountain Pen Quest experiences disappointment with Toucan Bright Green ink.

Maybelline at On Fountain Pens finishes delving into the meaning of Iroshizuku fountain pen inks.

Azizah at Gourmet Pens feels no intensity from Diamine Red Lustre fountain pen ink.

George at My Supply Room finds his match with the Retro 51 cat fountain pen.

Matthias at Bleistift appeals to his Swedish readers to identify a mystery pencil from television.

Tina at Fueled by Clouds & Coffee learns new appreciation for her drawing pens.

The World in Pens

Pilot Pen continues its campaign to make pens sexy by returning to New York Fashion Week with gift bags and a dress festooned with pens, reports World Branding Forum.

Smile Politely introduces Chicago-area artist Katie Funk, who designs unusual mandalas, including one made up of mostly nudes, for her coloring books.

Moleskine fanboys/girls might be excited by the new Livescribe special edition that includes a Moleskine-branded Livescribe pen, an Evernote premium subscription, a Moleskine notebook and a few other goodies, according to The Next Web.

A college student offers some tips for personalizing notebooks – like how to use Scotch tape to make your notebook cover a dry-erase board – in the Daily Star of Bangladesh.

In the most unsurprising news story ever, the Telegraph reports that kids who don’t write letters also don’t think letter-writing is fashionable.

The Korea Herald tells the story of an artist whose installation art about handwriting consists of having people walk into an isolated room and transcribe literary works with a pencil.

Good news from the Atlantic: Artist Jason Polan’s project to draw Every Person in New York has been turned into a book with 30,000 of his drawings. (In 2011, Jason told us about the pens he uses.)

Create great nail art on the cheap with Pilot Choose gel pens, according to BlogHer.

Interview: Ruth Stephens, Child Occupational Therapist

The brilliant thing about pens is that, while they’re capable of producing great art, they also provide one of our simplest, most effective means of communication, aside from speech.

That’s why we love to hear from  people who put their pens to that most fundamental task, connecting people through the handwritten word. Especially when they’re helping to pass that skill on to the next generation.

Today, we introduce you to Ruth Stephens, an occupational therapist and pen enthusiast in West Sussex.

Please tell us a little about you.

I am a mum of 2, who loves baking, coffee and making a difference in children’s lives

Tell us a little about your work.

I work in private practice assessing and providing therapy to children of all ages who have coordination and sensory issues. My areas of expertise are working with children who have handwriting difficulties and children who are adopted (both very different I know). My working life never ever has a dull day!

Courtesy Ruth Stephens, optimatherapy.net Continue reading

9 Stationery-Inspired Halloween Costumes

Halloween’s always a load of fun and a great excuse to play dress-up, especially if you’re going to a costume party.

So why not take the opportunity to flaunt your stationery geekery?

There are any number of costumes you can buy or make that will show off your favorite pens, pencils, and paper. We’ll show what a few people have done in years past, then we’ll toss out a couple of ideas of our own.

Now fire up your imaginations and let these costumes inspire you.

Courtesy: Jade Brady, www.jadebradymakeup.blogspot.com

Courtesy: Jade Brady

UK make-up artist Jade Brady put together this simple, but terrifying costumer of the old pencil-up-the-nose joke gone wrong. See more of her SFX work at her blog.

 

crayola costume

 

Kid’s felt Crayola costume going for £10 on eBay. There are other colors, too, including blue and green. Continue reading

Pens-Only Classrooms At University

laptops in the classroomWith everyone back in school, I thought it might be a good time to revisit a topic that pops up in university classrooms every year: the banning of laptops.

The Globe and Mail reported in August that it’s becoming standard practice in Canadian universities to prohibit laptops from lecture halls. American universities are also getting on board with no-laptop policies, as the campus newspaper of the University of North Carolina explained earlier this year. In the UK and Europe, while banning laptops seems to be less widespread, it isn’t entirely uncommon.

Typically, it’s not the universities, but specific professors who tell students at the beginning of the year that laptops are verboten and that classrooms are pens-only. Some even include it in the syllabi.

Why? Continue reading

Penthusiasm!

Tina at Fueled by Clouds & Coffee test drives the Pilot Parallel pen.

Angela at Paper Lovestory stocks up on stationery for the new school year.

Ian at Pens! Paper! Pencils! spends a week in Italy with his pencils.

Nifty at Notebook Stories unlocks Pete Doherty’s prison notebooks.

Azizah at Gourmet Pens weighs the Lamy Logo fountain pen.

Michael at Inkdependence samples Franklin-Christoph Terra Firma ink.

JD at Kicking Ass and Taking Notes works out a system for organizing notebooks.

The Unroyal Warrant reviews the Namiki Yukari Royale Vermilion fountain pen.

Maybelline at On Fountain Pens chronicles the Montblanc Writers Edition Leo Tolstoy 1868 fountain pen.

Matthias at Bleistift gets technical with the Zebra DelGuard mechanical pencil.

The World In Pens

Teacher Josh Giesbrecht makes the case in the Atlantic that it isn’t technology causing the decline in handwriting; it’s the humble ballpoint pen.

The Wall Street Journal recounts the story of how a man tracked down one of the Parker pens Admiral Chester Nimitz used when he signed Japan’s surrender to the US at the end of WWII. (subscription required)

Sharpie and Paper Mate pen companies spend more on advertising in the US than any other brand, according to an interesting article in Broadcasting & Cable.

Looks like Donald Trump writes all his poison pen letters in Sharpie, says this article on Mediaite.

Religion News Service explores the idea that adult coloring is not only good for your mental health, but may also boost your spiritual well-being.

A college student heaps adulation on a showing of drawings by Kurt Vonnegut (yes, drawing, not writing), in a column for the Cornell Daily Sun.

MPs paid an artist £17,000 to create an amazingly detailed drawing that depicted the Britain’s 2015 election, and the Mirror offers a close-up examination of all its bits.

Doodling in the workplace can aid productivity and help communicate big ideas to your co-workers, according to Business 2 Community.

Interview: Pen-And-Ink Illustrator Rob Turpin

While we all love pens in their various incarnations, ultimately, they’re just the tools that channel the creativity of craftsmen, both artistic and practical.

Here at Tiger Pens, we’re all about those craftsmen, the pens they use, and what they choose to do with them. So it’s always exciting for us when one chooses to share his story with our readers.

Today, it’s Rob Turpin, an illustrator known for his sci-fi and fantasy-inspired drawings done in pen and ink.

This is our interview with him.

Please tell us a little about you.

Originally from Yorkshire, but now living in the suburbs of southwest London, I trained and worked as a graphic designer before making the leap in to illustration. I’ve just completed my first book illustration project, and I’m working on another about robots. Continue reading

Penthusiasm!

Brian at OfficeSupplyGeek clicks through the Rite in the Rain mechanical pencil.

Ray at The Fountain Pen Quest runs Faber-Castell Garnet Red ink through his Christoph Model 20.

Christine at Pentulant offers a close-up of Rohrer & Klingner Konigsblau ink.

Rhonda at The Blog of Rhonda Eudaly gives good marks to the Sakura Ballsign Knock gel pen.

Angela at Paper Lovestory admires the Pilot Vanishing Point.

Nifty at Notebook Stories opens up her latest completed Moleskine sketchbook.

Azizah at Gourmet Pens fills her fountain pen with Pelikan Edelstein Topaz ink.

Stephanie at Rhodia Drive points the way to fountain pen fandom.

Peaches at the Pentel Blog dresses up ordinary notebooks in tissue confetti.

Mary at From the Pen Cup marvels at the Montegrappa DC Comics Penguin Fountain Pen. (Sorry DC, couldn’t help it.)

Sharpie Nail Art

I’m forever amazed at the things that people can do with Sharpie markers.

So I was fascinated when I stumbled across a YouTube video explaining how to blend markers and nail polish to make brilliant Sharpie nail art.

I’ve seen Sharpie nail art before, but this takes it to a whole other level. Australian Jema uses three different colors of Sharpies diluted with acetone to mix her own unique color, which she puts over a white base and then seals.

Continue reading

Penthusiasm!

Ian at Pens! Paper! Pencils! uncaps the Blank Forces X1 and X2.

Matthias at Bleistift introduces us to his Lamy Line Friends.

Austin at Art Supply Critic finds the Faber-Castell Pitt Artist Brush Pen manga set to be incomplete.

Angela at Paper Lovestory recalls the stationery she used during her first two years of medical school.

No Pen Intended gets serious with TUL pens.

Amanda at Pens Paper Ink judges Sheaffer calligraphy pens.

Lito at Palimpsest calls attention to the pen seller of Beirut.

Azizah at Gourmet Pens sizes up the clear Gama Jumbo fountain pen.

Stephanie at Rhodia Drive recounts the reviews of J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor ink.

Michael at Pensninks explores iterations of the Montblanc Meisterstück fountain pen.

Pen and Ink Sketches From 17th Century Georgia

de castelli sketch 2If you keep a sketchbook, this might interest you.

Georgia Today had an article recently about some pen-and-ink sketches by a 17th-century Italian missionary named Christophoro de Castelli.

Apparently, he spent 22 years travelling in the country of Georgia, and kept a series of books in which he sketched landscapes and scenes of life in the Eurasian region.

De Castelli’s pen and ink sketches and notes fill seven volumes and those available online are worth perusing. (UC Berkeley has many of the same and a few additional sketches by De Castelli.) Continue reading

Artist Turns Rocks Into Doodlestones

(Update: Bryan Payne’s mother Barb just let us know that there is a DoodlestonesUK community on Facebook.)

doodlestoneOK, this is a project that should go global. We’re going to say right up front, we’d love to see this happening in the UK.

What “this” do we mean?

Doodlestones, a project created by a man in St. Louis, Missouri named Bryan Payne. He uses markers to draw faces and other features on small, flat stones, then hides them in places around town. Sometimes, he lays them flat in an unobtrusive spot, other times he uses Scotch mounting putty to attach them to surfaces.

(Payne told us he uses Faber Castell India ink art pens: “I love them, but wear the nibs down pretty fast.”)

Upworthy.com has done an excellent profile of Payne and Doodlestones. From the article:

Each stone comes from a river in his home state of Missouri. On each stone, he writes “#doodlestone,” the date, and “finders keepers.”

He posts photos of the doodlestones on the project’s Facebook page with small clues and geotags. People can use those clues to help hunt down the doodlestones. (You can see more photos of his doodlestones at Payne’s Instagram account.) They can also create and leave their own.

The Facebook page seems to have been started in early August and already has more than 3,000 likes. People are starting to post photos of their doodlestones, with hints about where they are hidden.

Payne told Upworthy he started it to connect people in the St. Louis area, which has been troubled since the shooting of Michael Brown in nearby Ferguson last year. He seems to be accomplishing that.

It would be such a cool thing if a project like this would start in the UK. With so many wonderful and talented artists here, surely it would not be difficult.

If anyone were to do it, you can be sure that you’d get as much notice from Tiger Pens Blog as we could give. Projects like this should be celebrated. If anyone makes an attempt, please let us know.

Penthusiasm!

Julie at Peaceable Writer pieces together the problem with her Sailor Brush Pen.

The Unroyal Warrant gets down to the details of the Montblanc Meisterstück 136 fountain pen.

Michael at Pensninks offers a little pen porn with his new Kaweco fountain pens and inks from the antique market.

George at My Supply Closet shows off some pen porn of his own: a rainbow collection of Lamy rollerball pens.

Angela at Paper Lovestory unboxes the Faber-Castell Aqua Ambition fountain pen.

Leslie at Comfortable Shoes Studio lists her six pencils for the month of September.

No Pen Intended reaps the rewards of the successful Pen Rest project on Kickstarter.

Azizah at Gourmet Pens approves of the TWSBI Eco fountain pen.

Margana at Inkophile tries some öli ũclips magnetic clips on her journals.

Tina at Fueled by Clouds & Coffee paper-tests Sailor Nano Kiwa-Guro Ink.

Pilot G2 + Potato Message = Money

I thought this was a joke when I first heard it. Actually, I’m still not convinced that it isn’t some big hoax.

But it was on TV, so it has to be true, right?

A man in Texas – it would have to be Texas, wouldn’t it – has created a business out of writing on potatoes with a Pilot G2 and sending them to people.

Alex Craig calls it “Potato Parcel” and he told a local news crew that his potato message business started out as a challenge from his girlfriend. Continue reading

Penthusiasm!

Austin at Art Supply Critic recommends the Sanford Peel-Off Magic Rub eraser.

Patrick at The Cramped shows off the pen-and-ink artwork that lead to “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Matthias at Bleistift introduces the Book Block customizable notebook Kickstart project.

Stephanie at Rhodia Drive makes sure to write down her thoughts as she has them.

Ian at Pens! Paper! Pencils! reorganizes his Roterfaden Taschenbegleiter organizer.

Azizah at Gourmet Pens inks up some Paper Oh notebooks.

The Unroyal Warrant finds a new favorite starter pen in the TWSBI Eco Fountain Pen.

Leslie at Comfortable Shoes Studio gets intense with the Uniball Air.

Ed at Ed Jelley sizes up the Ti Scribe Fountain/Ballpoint Pen.

Mark at Cool Tools pits the Milwaukee Inkzall against the Sharpie Pro.