Monday, January 18, 2010

Rapidograph Rant.

So, being the child, step-child and grandchild of professional writer stock, I'll call that my excuse to love pens. I do, I love pens. One of my earliest memories of drawing anything involves these cheap, black metal ballpoint pens with some sort of government inscription on the side that my Dad always seemed to have laying around the house (in my vague, couldn't-read-yet, three-year-old's perspective, I want to say they just said "U.S. Government" on the side, but since I couldn't actually read yet, they could have said "Uncle Barney's Government Surplus and Podiatric Supplies," yet, I can hardly see how that would have fit on the side of the pen). Those black ballpoint pens were so sleak, simple, fun to chew on and made a nice, even, smooth line on whatever paper I could find (or the radiator in the dining room). Since that time, I've gone through many different styles of pens: Ballpoints, which eventually grew thin on my patience with their inconsistent skipping and oily, uneven marks, erasable pens, which, until I learned to write sideways, simply amplified the left-handed curse of "black pinkie knuckle," rollerballs, which, though beautiful, smeared way too easily, no matter how long I left myself in suspended animation with my hand poised above the page, thinking, certainly, it was dry by now.

With this love of permanent writing impliments, coupled with my artistic inclination, it was only a matter of time before I went down that slippery slope to my affection for drafting pens. For whatever reason, my fascination with their permanent, archival nature was only peaked when I found out that you could buy them with tips so fine you could perform a trachiotomy on a housefly with one. Not cheap these little buggers were, either. And it seemed, the finer the point, the more expensive they were, and the more difficult to care for. It seemed also that the tiniest of points on these pens were also insanely fragile. Couple that with the fact that the diameter of the tip now approached the molecular diameter of the ink particles, and you've got a rather expensive, no-one-told-me-this-was-a-one-use-only pen. As a teen, I managed to save up my nickels until I could afford to buy one of my own, only to get completely burned by my own lack of experience and care, getting the thing utterly clogged with ink and the tip bent irreparably at the same time. I have no idea what happened to that pen. I hope it is burning in pen hell.

That being said, I completely forgot this lesson a couple years ago (or perhaps I thought I was mature enough, as those of us over forty sometimes think, to own something complicated and expensive without effing it up) and bought myself a set of four Rapidograph pens from Koh-i-noor. Old school, just like the one I toasted in high school, only now there's four of them. I had completely forgotten the labor involved in keeping them functional, and today is a lesson in patience, wherein I am presently waiting for the nib of one of them (pictured above) to dry after cleaning the clots of old India ink out of them. I really just wanted to draw something real quick and be done with it.
But hey, my loss is your, well, also loss, since this is probably the most rambling-on-about-nothing blog posting I've ever written. I think the nib is dry now, but now someone needs to be driven somewhere, so I guess it'll be especially dry by the time I get back.

1 comment:

Karen and Syd said...

You have received the Sunshine Award from us! Please visit our blog post when you have the chance so that you can claim your award and pass it on!

-Karen and Syd, BZD