“The Greatest Invention of All Time” — an interview with Count von Faber-Castell

There’s a wonderful piece of travel journalism on FREITAG Grand Tour — a blog run by the Swiss bag manufacturer FREITAG. They sent a reporter to Stein, Germany, to tour the Faber-Castell campus and talk with Count Anton Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell. Don’t worry, this is in English:

The count pushed his chair back slightly. We were sitting on wooden chairs with peanut-brown cushions decorated with the outline of flowers.

“We have a minister in Stein who one day decided that henceforth, he should type his sermons on the computer to keep up with the times. Previously he had always written his sermons out by hand. Do you know what happened?”

“No.”

“When he reached the pulpit, he realized he couldn’t remember anything at all. He had to read out his sermon line by line, something he had never had to do before.”

I love this description of the Count, his generations-old company, and his bemused, poetical waxings about pencils. In my head, his voice sounds like Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, but with a German accent.

And he’s very dignified and aristocratically handsome — exactly what I’d imagine the head of this company would be like:

Count Anton Wolfgang Graf von Faber-Castell: Don't you think Christopher Plummer should play him in a movie about Faber-Castell?

Don’t you think Christopher Plummer should play him in a movie about Faber-Castell? (Photo from FREITAG Grand Tour.)

Go check it out. It’s a great read.

(And a big thanks to /u/magicpainter for sharing it on Reddit!)

Scribomechanica, an impressive stationery blog with a great name

I’m tickled pink to see the launch of a new pencil blog, Scribomechanica!

Scribomechanica: Regarding all kinds of writing technology

If the name of that blog sounds familiar to you, it may be because I’ve been trying to coin that word for five or six years now. It began after my gig at PencilThings ended, and they decided to do away with their in-house blog (that I ran). I decided to start a couple blogs, one about social media (which was rapidly becoming an interest of mine), and my own blog about pencils, paper, typewriters, fountain pens, et cetera. I didn’t want to narrow myself down to pencils. Also, I really wanted to register a .ca domain name.

I ended up registering mechani.ca, and started a (terrible) social media blog at socio.mechani.ca, and a(n equally terrible) stationery blog at scribo.mechani.ca.

The stationery blog, at least, failed because I soon realized that I needed a niche topic to write about. After a few more month of deliberation, I registered Woodclinched.com, and the rest is history.

But, I kept on with the term. I even submitted it to the Urban Dictionary.

A few people have used it over the years, but I figured it was mostly just me — until last week!

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p style=”text-align:left;”>Vikram Shah, a mechanical engineering student, started the blog Scribomechanica.com and has already posted an impressive array of really detailed reviews of woodcased pencils, fountain pens, mechanical pencils and rollerball pens! I like that he’s really honoring the idea of the term — he’s widened his net to include lots of writing instruments. I hope to see some typewriter reviews and even some word processing apps, too.

Thank you for embracing the term scribomechanica, Vikram, and keep up the awesome work!

Pennaquod, the stationery blog search engine

This is pretty cool — introducing Pennaquod (pronounced “PEN-a-quad”), a Google-powered search engine created by Ian Hedley, editor of Pens! Paper! Pencils!

From his blog post about the new site:

I was frustrated with trying to find pen reviews and search results being swamped by ebay and Amazon listings so Pennaquod searches only sites that have chosen to be part of it.

That’s a great idea. There are definitely times when I wanted to look up a pencil review from years ago, and I can’t remember if it was on, say,  Pencil Talk or Pencil Revolution.

This searches 24 different pen, pencil, paper, et cetera sites, all of the top-notch. He’s growing the list, I know, but he wants to make sure the bloggers opt-in to appear on the list. I’m honored to be among them.

Thanks, Ian, for this service to the scribomechanisphere!

(By the way, if you’re reading this on Woodclinched.com rather than an RSS Reader — see the little glyph at the end of the headline?

Link Headline

That indicates that this post is a “link post”, meaning that you can just click the headline to be taken to the link I’m talking about.

Some of you may be familiar with Daring Fireball or Marco.org, or another link-blog-style site. I love that editorial style for when I want to share something. This is my hybrid attempt to emulate that.)

Why on earth would I want to use a Pencil? My guest post on The Cramped

Thank you, thank you, Patrick Rhone for letting me talk about pencils on The Cramped! Readers of Woodclinched don’t need convincing, but sometimes our other analog brethren might need some apologetics about why they should use wooden pencils.

One of the moony-eyed reasons why pencils are great:

Pencils offer a lesson in temporality. Life is fleeting, and so is your pencil. My grandmother’s 70 year-old Esterbrook, if I keep it in good condition, will probably go another 70 years. But even the best pencil, no matter how well I take care of it, will disappear with use. It’s fundamentally selfless — in order for me to create, it destructs. And if it has an eraser, it absolves me from my mistakes with literal pieces of itself.

(Don’t worry, I won’t take this metaphor to a Messianic level.)

There are some practical reasons, too. Go check it out and see for yourself.

Erasable Episode 6: The Brotherhood of the Traveling Sharpener

Reviewing materials for a podcast about pencils has never been so yellow!

Reviewing materials for a podcast about pencils has never been so yellow!

Tim, Johnny and I have been having a blast with the Erasable podcast so far. An absolute blast. Perhaps my favorite episode so far is the one that just came out today, Episode 6: The Brotherhood of the Traveling Sharpener.

Whenever we’ve asked Twitter for ideas on what our followers would like us to talk about, almost everyone wants to know about sharpeners. Trouble is, we’re just an hour(-ish) long podcast, and there are so many sharpeners out there!

We decided to just go through some questions people have asked, and then list our favorites and explain them, like the Classroom Friendly Sharpener and the much-debated KUM Long Point Sharpener. Invariably, the conversation came around to David Rees and his artisanal pencil sharpening, and, of course, his book.

Rees talks a lot about one of my sharpener obsessions; the El Casco, which I’ve blogged about before. It’s quite expensive, and Johnny proposed we all three pitch in to buy one and then share custody (like the pants from the movie The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Hence the episode title).

Go take a listen — if you have any interest in pencils sharpeners at all (and why would you be here if you didn’t?), you’ll love it.

I was on the Pen Addict podcast!

Exciting news, you guys — I was honored to be a guest on The Pen Addict podcast this week! Brad and Myke are great guys — I’ve been talking to Brad for a few years now, and I’m a big fan of Myke’s other podcasts from the mighty 5by5 network, like CMD+Space and Bionic, so listening to this one regularly is a no brainer.

I was a guest on The Pen Addict podcast this week! Click the graphic to check it out.

I was a guest on The Pen Addict podcast this week! Click the graphic to check it out.

Continue reading

The Baron Fig notebook: worth the hype?

The Confidant, a notebook by Baron Fig. Photo from BaronFig.com.

The Confidant, a notebook by Baron Fig. Photo from BaronFig.com.

When it comes to the Baron Fig notebook, I totally missed the boat. I definitely heard about it the day the Kickstarter launched, but when it came time to pledge, I either didn’t have $20 I could spend on a pledge, or I just had other stuff going on. Excuses, excuses.

Long story short; I’m excited that they’re about to sell their notebook! According to the website, the Kickstarted product is called the “Confidant” and will be on sale for $20 starting Tuesday, March 4. Continue reading