Chances are, you know a few people who seem anxious, worried, rushed, distracted, or unhappy when you talk to them. Some may say they aren't centred in that moment. It happens to the best of us.
Another way of looking at it is finding our sanctuary. A co-worker once asked me, "do you have a happy place? A place you can go to in your mind whenever you want?" What a brilliant idea!
The beauty of an inner sanctuary is that we can take it with us wherever we go. It's portable! To make full use of this practice, however, we'd do well to have a few reminders around to ensure we visit more often. Creating an outer sanctuary is a wonderful way to access our inner one.
It can be as simple as creating a positive trigger: every time I walk through the front door, I will take three deep breaths and take in my surroundings, for example. I can create a ritual for the morning, evening, or both! I can make a cup of tea and walk around my garden with it, pay a visit to my plants, and check in to see how they're doing.
For some, it's creating a room of their own. A place to journal, sketch or read. Maybe it's a home office or studio decorated just as you like. It might be a favourite armchair next to the fireplace or window, a seat on the terrace, a garden shed turned into your own yoga or music studio. Chacun à son goût!
There aren't any rules about creating your sanctuary, other than, maybe, that it has to work for you. If it helps you reach a state of peace and calm, it's effective.
And a great thing about reaching that state of peace and calm is you're then much more effective in whatever you do. You'll be better positioned for a positive interaction with others. And they may 'catch' your sense of peace. After all, our moods are contagious.
- Woodlot Fresh Face Exfoliant
- Woodlot Handmade Soap Bar
- Woodlot Essential Oil Blend
- Woodlot Palo Santo Incense
After some peace, quiet and centring, you may wish to venture outdoors and mingle a bit. Join us next week as we head out to the farmer's market!
As a little bonus to our series on writing instruments, we thought of giving you a bunch of related tips and tricks. You may have wondered at times, what is the best way to store this pen? Or, what do I do when my pen is clogged?
We've also created a game for you to play to reinforce what you may have picked up from this series. Keep scrolling to check all of it out...
- When in doubt, store your pens horizontally.
- Try to avoid storing pens with the tip facing up since this makes ink run to the bottom of the pen and creates air pockets in the refill or cartridge; this can in turn cause hard starts or inconsistent flow. It can even cause the tip to dry out completely.
- Remember to recap your pen or retract the tip when you finish writing. This keeps your pen from making marks on pencil cases and also prevents it from drying out.
Due to the glitter particles in shimmering inks, there are special considerations.
Shake it, but gently. Those sparkles that make your ink glitter will start settling to the bottom of the bottle after ten to fifteen seconds, so you'll want to fill your converter relatively quickly. Also, shaking the bottle gently and slowly is important. If you shake it aggressively, you're more likely to develop air bubbles, which will interfere with capillary action. This means you'll likely experience stops and starts when you write.
Shake it again, gently. Once your pen is filled with shimmering ink, you'll want to roll it in your palms gently each time you use it to write. This moves those glitter particles around to increase suspension. Again, don't shake the pen aggressively in order to prevent air bubbles (and ink in your cap).
Consider your paper. Paper has a noticeable impact on how your fountain pen writes. This is especially true for shimmering ink. You want to use a paper that doesn't eat up all the glitter in your ink, which is what very absorbant paper does (e.g. Moleskine, Inkjet copy paper, most recycled papers). Chose a smooth, ink resistant paper that is fountain pen friendly, such as Tomoe River (found in Midori's Traveler's Notebook), Clairefontaine Triomphe, and Rhodia paper.
Give it a good clean. To prevent the sparkles from building up in your pen, clean it out regularly. You may need a little extra time and a few extra flushes for glittering ink. Consider using a fountain pen flushing solution and taking out the nib, if you can. A toothbrush can also be used to clean the feed.
DID YOU KNOW?
- J. Herbin ink bottles have a built-in pen rest at the top for your fountain pen. A clever, discreet design feature.
- A converter can be installed into a fountain pen just like a cartridge.
- TWSBI fountain pens do not use cartridges or converters. Ink is filled directly into the pen.
- LAMY fountain pens are designed with removable nibs, so you can swap nib types without changing your favourite LAMY pen, if you wish.
- To change your nib, use a piece of tape. Stick it to the top of the nib and pull straight out from the tip. The nib will stick to the tape and slide off the pen.
- As a rule of thumb, the smaller your nib, the more scratchy it tends to be (EF & F), B will be buttery smooth. Actual results vary by brand and model, and may also be impacted by type of ink and paper used.
- If you suffer from hand cramps, rollerballs and even more so, fountain pens, keep you from pressing down on your pen too hard and provide a more ergonomic writing experience.
- Dye-based inks are the most common and low-maintenance for fountain pens. Dyes are inherently water-soluble, so even if they clog your pen from drying out, you can clean it with water.
- Kaweco Al Sport Collection Vibrant Violet Fountain Pen
- TWSBI Diamond 580 Fountain Pen ALR Nickel
- Diamine Ink Bottle Mystique Shimmer
- Diamine Ink Bottle Firefly Shimmer
- Rhodia Classic Meeting Book A4+
- LAMY Safari Terra Red Rollerball Pen
Ink is the lifeblood of a pen. When you buy ballpoint and rollerball pens, you choose your ink at the same time. Most are waterproof. Also, some of these pens offer refills, which is a more environmentally-friendly option.
Fountain pen inks are predominantly water-based and dye-based, though document proof options do exist. Most come with the choice of using a cartridge or converter. There are also models which allow for ink to be directly filled into the pen itself.
Cartridges are great for beginners, since they are easy to use and less expensive up front than investing in a bottle of ink. They are also convenient when you travel with a pen and need to refill or change colours on the go.
Bottled ink is more economical in the long run, and since it is usually made of glass, doesn't create plastic waste. Also, the colour options and varieties of ink are much, much greater for bottled inks than they are for cartridges, which typically have only a few options.
The grandfather of fountain pen ink is J. Herbin, founded in 1670. The "Jewels of Inks' ("La Perle des Encres") was created in Paris in 1700. They use natural dyes in their inks and floral waters (hydrosols) from Grasse in Provence for their scented versions. These inks are still made in France today.
Another big name in fountain pen ink is Diamine, which offers over a hundred colour options and is known for its many specialty shimmering and metallic sheen inks. Diamine is based in Liverpool and continues to make its inks in the UK.
A couple of qualities you may like to consider when choosing an ink are saturation and shading.
Saturation refers to the intensity of colour. Highly saturated inks are vibrant and darker than less saturated colours, which are paler and more transparent.
Shading refers to the variation in saturation on the writing surface. Ink may pool in certain parts of the text you are writing or lines you are drawing. This creates darker and lighter areas within a single letter or line. Some inks tend to shade more than others. The pen and paper you use will also have an effect.
Inks with metallic effects are often referred to as inks with sheen. The effect is created when crystals form on the surface of the paper. A couple of examples include Diamine Majestic Blue and J. Herbin Emerald of Chivor.
Another glitzy option is shimmering ink. These are inks which are infused with glitter particles. To showcase the ink to its full effect, broad nibs are recommended.
If you want something special, but a little more subdued, scented inks are fun to try. J. Herbin makes a line of these called "Les Subtiles" (The Subtle) and each colour is matched to a fragrance. These inks evoke a sense of romance and may be a great choice for a handwritten love letter.
- Ferris Wheel Press Little Robina Ink Bottle 38ml
- Ferris Wheel Press Bluegrass Velvet Ink Bottle 38ml
- Ferris Wheel Press Sparkling Champagne Shimmer Ink Bottle 38ml
- Ferris Wheel Press ~ Ink Charger Set ~ Sophie Palette
Well, we hope you've enjoyed this series on writing instruments and have come away with a greater appreciation for these everyday tools in our lives. As a little bonus, we've decided to add a seventh issue next week to feature some special tips and tricks when using these items.
The Cambridge dictionary defines calligraphy as "the art of producing beautiful writing, often created with a special pen or brush". People who practice calligraphy would likely add that it uses specific, basic strokes.
- A Rhodia Dotpad is the perfect place to practice your calligraphy. This Rhodia notepad is staple bound and folds over very cleanly; there are horizontal fold lines embossed into the front cover. Dot grid, 80 fountain-pen friendly acid-free micro-perforated sheets for easy removal.
- Dingbats* Ātopen brush markers work beautifully for calligraphy practice. Each marker pen is double-ended. One end has a tapered brush that is ideal for calligraphy and the other end is fine-tipped. Therefore, it's like having 12 pens that only take up the space of six in your pencil case!
Whether you chose to write in cursive or try your hand at calligraphy, one thing you'll need for sure is ink. There's a whole world of ink out there! More to discover next week, in our sixth and final newsletter in our six week special series on writing instruments.
If you enjoy the feel of ink flowing smoothly while writing, you'll enjoy using a fountain pen. Although they've been around for a long time, the exact date and place when the first one was created are unknown. Historical references to writing instruments made with ink reservoirs date back to 974 AD in Arab Egypt, and during the Renaissance by Leonardo da Vinci.
Each fountain pen is made up of a barrel (the casing for the body of the pen), a grip section, a feed which connects the ink reservoir with the nib, the nib, a cap, and a converter or ink reservoir. A small slit in the nib is what allows ink to flow through it and onto the writing surface. This flow of ink occurs in part due to gravity, but mainly by a process called capillary action, which means that liquid will flow into narrow spaces, even if it's counter to gravity. It's similar, in effect, to the concept of wicking. This also explains why many refer to fountain pens as a "controlled leak".
Nibs are usually made of stainless steel, but some more expensive ones may use gold or palladium. The tip, which makes contact with the paper, is much harder than steel or gold. It's usually made of iridium, a very hard metal. Iridium can be ground into different sizes to make varied line widths, called nib sizes. Common ones include Extra-Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), and Broad (B).
Extra-fine nibs are good for tiny handwriting, razor sharp lines, and use less ink than broader nibs. However, they may feel less smooth and show less shading and the shimmer effect of specialty inks.
Fine nibs are comparable to most ballpoint and gel pen tips. It's the most popular nib size and since it doesn't use too much ink, the writing dries relatively quickly.
Medium nibs are a great option for beginner fountain pen users since there is less scratchiness than finer nibs; this size tends to write buttery smooth, akin to a gel pen.
Broad nibs are great for specialty inks to show them to their full effect. However, it uses more ink, which takes longer to dry. Also, such nibs may require high quality paper because feathering and bleed-through can result on papers not made for fountain pens.
Fountain pens are considered environmentally friendly since they're refillable. Most use pre-packaged cartridges or converters, which means you can use bottled ink. Some models are made with the ink reservoir built-in, so you can feed ink into the pen directly, without using a converter.
Fountain pens write very smoothly, which is enjoyable and makes for faster writing than a ballpoint pen. Also, using one requires less pressure, so it's more ergonomic and comfortable for long writing sessions and for anyone with a hand, wrist or forearm ailment. One of the reasons for the resurgence in the fountain pen's popularity is how personal it can be. There are an assortment of models, nib sizes, inks, etc. so writers and artists can express their personal style through their choices.
Here are two of our favourite fountain pens available at Figg Street Co. Browse our fountain pen collection to find YOUR favourite!
- Kaweco Brass Sport Fountain Pen - The Kaweco Sport fountain pen dates back to 1911. The brand created a fountain pen that was compact when its cap was on, making it pocket-friendly. It was targeted to specific customers, including sports people, which is where it gets its name.
- Ferris Wheel Press Duck Duck Goose Brush Fountain Pen - Each fountain pen is handmade from copper, brass, and stainless steel for a well balanced yet substantial writing experience. Each intricate detail of the grip is now engraved to enhance the tactility and feedback of a design that is bold as brass.
Fountain pens are one of the most personal writing instruments out there. Their nibs make some of us think of calligraphy, especially when we're new to them. How do calligraphy pens differ from fountain pens? Find out next week!
Now, since you know ballpoint pens are the most commonly purchased pens world-wide, you might be wondering, why would I want to use a rollerball? Moreover, what exactly is a rollerball pen?
Here are just two of the fantastic rollerball pens available at Figg Street Co.
- Lamy Al-Star Rollerball Azure - The casing of this rollerball pen has a distinctive transparent and ergonomic plastic grip for comfortable writing sessions. It also comes with a spring-action chrome plated metal clip. Available in an assortment of colours.
- Lamy Swift White Rollerball Pen -The LAMY swift rollerball pen needs no cap at all (rare among quality rollerball pens). The metal casing has a perforated grip area, which helps you to hold on, and simultaneously gives the pen a stylish look. It has a push-button retractable clip in a classic style that demonstrates the basis of Bauhaus design: form follows function.
Do you enjoy the smooth feel of flowing ink? If you do, you'll want to join us next week when we look at a classic pen with many loyal users and a resurgence in popularity: the fountain pen!
Sometime after you learned how to print and draw with a pencil, you likely moved on to using a pen. And chances are, you used the world's most popular type of pen, the ballpoint.
This week we are featuring some of our favourite ballpoint and marker pens. Which one is your favourite?
- Dingbats* Ātopen 6-Pack Dual Tip Fineliner/Brush Pens - Available in Primary or Pastel - Atopen is a versatile marker pen with two different tips. You can use them to write, draw, for all kinds of arts projects, and for calligraphy. These archival quality marker pens are made with water-based, fade proof, waterproof, and lightfast ink. Xylene-free and odourless, too!
- Stabilo Pen 68 Metallic - Wallet of 6 -STABILO Pen 68 is a colour-intensive premium fibre-tip pen for strong lines and large areas. The metallic effects are particularly vibrant on black backgrounds. Accidental blots or annoying pumping? Not with this pen!
- Anterique Brass Ballpoint Pen 0.5 - Luxury solid brass shavings for optimum weight and balance. Equipped with an ultra-low viscosity oil-based "Mach Ball Ink" for an impressive smooth writing experience.
Have you ever wondered what all the different pencil types - HB, 6H, F, represent? Or what all the fuss is about Blackwing pencils? Today's the day you're going to find out.
Please tell us you've also bought your dad soap-on-a-rope. We can't be the only ones who've tried to find a cool, impressive, unique gift for dad only to end up with a tie. Dads can be tricky to shop for. How many grilling accessories, fishing gear items, or golf balls does a guy need?
- Leather Rustic Book Photo Album ~ For the dad who loves to reminisce... preserve all his favourite family memories in Claire Magnolia's handcrafted Leather Rustic Album. Made of soft top-grain distressed leather, this rustic album features a wrap tie closure. It is bound with glassine tissue interweaving between thick ivory cardstock pages for preservation and protection.
- Audubon Birds Puzzle 1000 Pieces ~ For the dad who loves puzzles... this delightful 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle is perfect for bird enthusiasts. The image comes from the vintage archives of Cavallini Papers & Co. The puzzle is packaged in a 10 inch long cardboard tube, with puzzle pieces safely stored in a muslin bag inside.
- HAM Fine China Mug ~ For the dad who loves to cycle... the perfect mug for his morning coffee or tea. HAM fine china mugs are hand decorated in Stoke-On-Trent. Each holds 300ml, comes in a HAM gift box and is dishwasher and microwave safe.
Mom isn't the only one who'd love to receive a handwritten letter. Many dads go without praise for long stretches of time, and we suspect he'll be touched to hear a few words of gratitude. Share with him what he's done that's meant the most to you. Remind him of some meaningful or humorous memories. Mostly, just appreciate him while he's here. It's too easy to let the years slip away without expressing your thoughts and feelings. Celebrate him this Father's Day on Sunday, June 20th.
p.s. Next week we'll kick-off a special six week series on writing instruments. Ever wonder what the difference is between different types of pens and ink? Why people are so passionate about fountain pens? Sign up for Tuesday's Tonic so you don't miss an issue. To subscribe, and receive treasured notes to your inbox each Tuesday morning, scroll allllll the way down to the bottom of our website and enter your email next to the button that says "SIGN UP"
When I heard JK Rowling say in an interview that she couldn't recall a single word from the commencement speech at her graduation, I laughed. The experience was mutual. Can you remember anything from the speech at your ceremony?
- LAMY Aion Rollerball Special Edition ~ The smooth deep-drawn aluminium body components are the first of their kind and give the series a unique, harmonious appearance. Made in Germany.
- Katie Leamon Luxury Personal Organizer ~ A beautiful keepsake gift for the new graduate. This luxury leather personal organizer is clean in its design, which lets the beautiful hide colour and texture speak for itself. Proudly made in England.
- Pilot MR1 Metropolitan Rollerball Pen ~ A smooth bodied pen, great for everyday use. It has a metal barrel, tip and clip and smooth plastic grip. Comes with a black gift box. Refillable and more environmentally-friendly than a disposable pen.
If you or your loved one is graduating this spring, we say, caps off! Congratulations on your achievement! We wish you a joyful, prosperous, and fulfilling future!
This week we are featuring our gorgeous new collection of Paperblanks notebooks.
- Joyous Springtime Dot Grid ~ Mila Marquis’s ethereal artwork combines sparkling emotion and unashamedly sweet depictions of fairies and flowers.
- Floralia Lined Softcover ~ The eternal appeal of a classic floral design is captured in the work of Irish illustrator William Kilburn (1745–1818).
- Dharma Dragon Lined Softcover ~ Ancient spiritual practices meet modern digital art in a kaleidoscopic reproduction of an original Android Jones artwork.
- Madame Butterfly Blank Softcover ~ French author and illustrator Benjamin Lacombe lends his unique spirit to our collection with this lively Madame Butterfly design.
- Violet Lined Hardcover ~ This captivating image comes from the first edition of Scottish poet and anthropologist Andrew Lang’s The Olive Fairy Book.
- Blue Velvet Blank Hardcover ~ Inspired by a piece of a 15th-century velvet dalmatic on blue velvet, decorated in brocaded gilt metal thread.
Have you noticed Japanese papers in the shop? Maybe you've thought they're beautiful, but felt a bit intimidated, uncertain about how to use them. Or maybe you're already as smitten as us and want to know some new things you can do with them. If this is the case, this week's topic is for you.
Iris folding is the method of folding strips of paper (usually coloured) to create an effect that looks like an iris - the diaphragm of a camera lens. These designs can be used to make greeting cards, album covers, or beautiful framed wall art.
Chigiri-e is a type of paper collage made with washi. 'Chigiri' means to tear or shred in Japanese, and 'e' means picture. You use a template to tear off a piece of paper in the shape you want and then glue it to a thicker paper used as the canvas.
- Chiyogami Mosaics ~ Six colour co-coordinated sheets of larger and smaller sizes plus over 20 pieces of Chiyogami paper in surprise patterns, colours, and sizes.
- Floral Collection ~ A package of Chiyogami papers measuring 8.5 x 11" (21.6 x 27.9 cm) each. Includes five sheets with Japanese floral patterns.
- Japanese Traditional ~ Includes five colour co-ordinated 8.5 x 11" (21.6 x 27.9 cm) sheets of Chiyogami paper with traditional Japanese motif patterns.
- Chiyogami Buffet ~ Package of 45 Chiyogami sheets in a "buffet" of assorted patterns and sizes.
- Emergency Pocket Pack ~ Mix of 3 x 3" (7.6 x 7.6 cm) Chiyogami sheets in 24 patterns. For art emergencies!
- Kimono Squares ~ 6 hand-printed squares of Japanese papers, each 8.5 x 8.5 " (21.6 x 21.6 cm).
Inspired? We hope so. Using Japanese paper is a great way to develop your creativity and learn a little bit about Japanese culture. There's a reason these papers and crafts have remained popular for hundreds of years.
If you try iris folding, chigiri-e, or find another use for your chiyogami sheets, let us know!