Posts Tagged ‘Art&Craft’

The Art of Pen

One day, I reached to the side pocket of my backpack, seeking for the fountain pen I have owned for four years. To my horror, it had vanished.

I turned up bag upside down. Searched my jacket pockets. Searched my desk. Traced my steps.

Nowhere can it be found.

My hand is itchy. My sketchbook looks too empty. I realized that my wallet will suffer soon, because I want a fountain pen, and they – at least the one of decent quality – are never cheap. But hey, I can try a different pen this time. I am not a student anymore, and I just got a part time job, so maybe it will be ok for me to a bit relax about the price.

Is it strange to mourn for the lost of a pen yet excited for the prospect of a new one?

Actually, why would someone lust after a pen? For those of us in a generation dominated by digital technology, fountain pen is not a daily tool anymore. They are also appear ridiculously expensive to us for a reason.

For this generation, we write a lot less. Most of us is good with a pack of Bic ballpoint pen. But for those of us who have writing or artistic hobby, that’s just not enough. Bic pen are cheap for a reason. They are designed to be dedicated for casual light writing, to be toss around, and not intended to last. Their line weight don’t change, nor do the change the matter. Their ink flow don’t change or leak if upside down, but their construction is fragile and flimsy because of the cheap plastic material. They are not designed for heavy amount of writing, so it is just a cylinder shaped, hard plastic pen where long term writing would result in a sour hand. People buy them in packs, because they lost, breaks, taken, and run of writing power in packs. People probably never think about the life span of a Bic pen, because they don’t have life span. People don’t cherish them – and they don’t need to, because it was never designed for that intention.

Fountain pen, technical pen, and other artistic pen are different. In the case of fountain pen, it writes smoothly, its line weight varies, and I can even change ink color and nibs. Because of its more flexible nibs, I can write for a much longer time and quicker without hurting my hands. I don’t worry about it breaking, since it tend to be of a sturdier construction. Since I can change ink cartridges, the pen last a really long time instead of getting throw away the moment it’s done. I wouldn’t deny that it is much more expensive than a pack of Bic pen, and that most people would probably never need that quality of pen in their life for this era, but for me who journals and draws, it is a cherished pen.

And so, a few week afterward, when I slowly settle into my new job and I finally have some income, I decided to have my parents drive me to Flax Art for a new pen after a family lunch outing. Unfortunately, the store don’t have my old pen:

Actually, the store associate don’t even know the pen, which is slightly disappointing. I had a Sheaffer No Nonsense, which was an old classical student pen. But hey, I should be grateful that the store still have a fountain pen department.

He eventually recommend me me to use the same brand of pen, especially since I needed a student budget pen. I took a look and immediately find the sets of pen he displayed attractive – especially the blue one. I ask him to let me hold it, and after a try, I know I like it right away. Just like my old Nonsense pen, it is just a cheap-end fountain pen, but its build is definitely different. It is made of metal, so it got a nice smooth texture combine with a little weight. It also give it a sense of classy-ness. The slim body also helps – it is not as thick as my older pen. The pen cap, unlike Nonsense where the cap is open by twisting, snaps on and off with a nice click. Classy… I like it!

Here a picture:

Sheaffer VFM


The pen is known as Sheaffer VFM. I keep misspelling it though – why don’t they use a easier to remember name? No one would forget a name like Nonsense.

… Although VFM does sound great deal more professional than Nonsense, which does give any non-fountainpen-fan the urge to giggles.

The pen is pretty nice for a student-budget pen. The only few problems are that, unlike my old Nonsense pen, it only have one nib choice (instead of letting me change different size nib, including ones good for calligraphy), its cap keeps falling off the end of the pen when I am writing, and …. it uses INTERNATIONAL INK!?

I had to stop myself from banging my head against the wall. Really, Sheaffer? You have manufactured and designed your pen to fit your own company-designed ink cartridge, and now you suddenly change to international ink cartridge design fountain pen WITHOUT a warning on the label? I have over 10 ink cartridges, and they are pricy too.

In addition, because I neglected to remember that I do practice calligraphy on occasion, now I have to get a calligraphy pen because Sheaffer didn’t design this pen to be nib-exchangeable.

Alas, the pen is great if I am just taking notes and working with my journal/sketchbook. The ink flows fine, the pen feels good in my hand, and it is easy to use – didn’t realize how inconvenience it is to having constantly twisting pen cap of Nonsense until I got my VFM’s snap-able pen cap.

Now I just to wait another month since… well, budget, budget.

I have way too many hobbies (glances at my transaction history in my Mint app account). Calligraphy pen, please wait for me in a month…


New Craft Obsession: It’s All About the Way We Dress

I have a new obsession now. One that I do while taking the bus or waiting for pages or files to load. One that lets me play with color. One which creates products can be use on a daily basis. One that takes a long time to finish and therefore will not deplete my wallet quickly. One that makes me purl.

Nope, I didn’t misspell that word for those with careful eyes. Though I guess purr instead purl also work in this case. My new obsession is, in fact, knitting. With yarns that cats love so very much. I’ve been obsessing over it for close to a year now. I have quickly discovered that how colors match with the pattern really makes a different in knitting, that there’s a real big differences between 5.5mm and 6.5mm (at least in term of needle size), that yarn work encourages one to practice on their algebra, and that I will have to resize everything I knit because I got the body and head size of a child.

It is great for self-exploration, isn’t it?

Really, though, it’s fun. I like matching the color with the right pattern, and I like seeing how changing my knitting method creates changes the whole projects. It feels almost like magic, and I can’t wait until I am good enough to create my own pattern. I just updated my profile on the knitting network Ravelry today. Since this blog is about my trying new things and exploring the my surrounding environment, I figure I should post it here too – with insert from my Ravelry comments:

Overall Knit ProjectsHere’s my overall projects. My first one was the scarf:

Amethyst Scarf Amethyst Scarf Detail

“The first scarf that I made that are to my liking. My actual first one is done all in knits, pretty much just a practice scarf. I had, in fact, took my first scarf apart and reuse the yarn in this one. The variegated color scheme works very well for this pattern.”

Summer Hat

“Since most Western size is too small for me, naturally I started the smallest size. Since this is my first time knitting hat and I decided to be cheap and used 5.5mm needles thinking it’s ‘close enough’, naturally I miscalculated the stitches needed and probably miscounted later too.
This is all a round-about way to say that the hat is the size of an small child’s head. Since I am not a child any more, naturally it barely fits.
Maybe one day I will have a kid and inflict the terror call ‘my first hat’ to her.
… On the other, that is too much of a terror even if a kid is oblivious of terrible knitting skills.

My terrible knitting skill aside, the hat is pretty simple to made. The repeated white, v-pattern hat and my black hair makes too strong of a contrast though, so I added a black ribbon to tie the color scheme up. If I tried it again, I will either use some darker, possibly variegated yarn.”

Rose Petal Hat 1 Rose Petal Hat 2

“Beautiful 3 leaf pattern!
Though, the text pattern did missed some of the stitches. Namely:

  • Row 6: should have fcp after p2
  • Row 8: Should have k after p3

It’s a good idea to check the text before knitting the row and see if there’s a correct number of total stitches whenever there’s an increase or decrease. Otherwise, lovely hat.
Sadly, since this is 2nd time I brought yarn and the brand instruction’s in Japanese, I brought one that was a bit too thick. It ended up being slightly bulky for me. But the thickness does close the gaps, and with the deep red yarn, it now reminds me of rose petals.”

Seed Starting Ideas – Commercialism Vs. DIY in Gardening

It’s sunny, it’s warm, it’s a season that inspire all gardener to go all out. Even containers ones like me.

So, as of a few days ago, I found myself rumbling through my boxes for seeds. The questions though, is how I should grow them? The plant nursery has so many different seed starter kits, sparkling in front of me and tempting me. So, what are someway to start seeds indoor?

Hmm… how about the good old jiffy pots? The compressed soil tend to led to sterile soil that will develop a moldy surface. I want to use my own, healthy soil. Besides, my chives has never successfully seeded in a jiffy pot – and I plan to plant some chives seeds.

Plastic container? They don’t have it, and transplanting is going to be nightmare for the seeds I have in mind.

Oh, what’s that? Biodegradable Coco-fiber pot? And it looks shiny too. But nope – bigger than what I want, pricier than other products in store, and don’t look that biodegradable. Maybe it will degrade outdoor, but I am not so confidence about indoor without all the bacteria and rain. I want something with thinner surfaces, like paper.

…No cowpot, pulp pot, or other paper-like pots on store shelf.

In the end, I ended up buying only a bag of all-purpose “Natural Plotting Soil” from a nearby succulent shop named Succulence (Yep, they sell not only succulent soil, but also natural and occasionally organic soil, all for a lovely $2 per bag. Oh, and they have Renee seeds and… wait, wrong post! Shall shut up now).

At home, I mentally debated on which seed starter products I should use. I mindlessly took some paper out for recycling. Lo and behold, I saw a egg carton. My mindless haze cleared up, and the wheel in my brain started cranking as ideas popped into my head. I was so busy thinking about what to BUY to solve my problem, I totally forgot my Eco Crafty side! The scariness of consumerism culture.

I make a quick, sneaky gaze around the apartment trash room. Area clear. I grabbed the carton and checked for a clean condition. Good. I chucked my papers-to-be-recycle and stealthy transport my egg cartoon without any neighbors seeing me.

Once I got home, I renewed my research, now with a new mindset and a new weapon idea. Excitingly, I googled about egg carton seed starter. I immediately learned that it is too small and not very biodegradable. Fortunately, I came across other solutions – homemade paper rolls, eggshell, and newspaper containers. I didn’t had any eggshell and paper roll prepared, so newspaper it was.

I decided to forgo the tape that several blog uses, and relied on my origami folding  skill. Then I rumbled through the cabinet for something to put it in. To my luck, I found a take-out rice box with a clear plastic cover – perfect for a greenhouse. All the seeds are edible plants. A lunchbox of edible garden – yummy.

From left to right, there is two strawberry, chives, nasturtium seeds.

The nasturtiums outgrown the box pretty quickly though. So I took it, and it’s now arrange symmetrically with two other baby aloe. One of the chives have also popped up. Strawberry will take a while, but I think it is a pretty successful experience so far.

Point one to DIY.

Good Beading Book: Bead Romantique

I borrowed the book “Bead Romantique” by Lisa Kan from the SF library. I like the designs. They are inspire by the author’s experience with Art History – the Gothic, Renaissance, Victorian, Art Deco, and Art Nouveau eras, to be more precise. They got a sort of elegant, royal touch. I haven’t touch beadwork for a while, so the drawings looks somewhat complicated. Unfortunately, I can’t take SF book all the way to my school at SLO. I don’t think the interlink school library system extends all the way from San Luis Obispo all the way to San Francisco.
Wait! The SLO public library have it.
Well, it is actually in Morro Bay. But the interlink system do extend to there. Ha!