By Michael W. Harris
It has been almost a year since I feel deep down the rabbit hole of fountain pens and stationery, and early on in my journey there were a number of blogs and YouTube channels that helped me to learn a lot about the hobby and make me feel like there was a warm and welcoming community for me out there. And while the newly formed Memphis Pen Club has finally provided me with an in person group to share my love with, for those whose locales lack such a group, here are a few places where you can feel the pen love!
Note: There are A LOT of great content creators in the pen and stationery community and this is by no means an exhaustive list. I’ll mention a few others at the end, but this is just meant to get you started.
- The Pen Addict – Brad Dowdy and the folks over at the Pen Addict (and its associated podcast) are pretty much the standard bearer for a lot of what is seen as the revival of pens and stationery amongst a younger crowd. For me, discovering this side shortly after getting into the hobby opened up a lot of the world to me.
- The Well-Appointed Desk – Ana Reinert and the writers at WAD are also fabulous and cover a lot of crowd that veers towards the more arts and crafts side of stationery. But even if that isn’t as much your speed (and it isn’t mine), there is still a lot to like on the site. Plus Ana is the genius behind the Col-o-ring and Col-o-dex ink swatch cards, and there is a lot of other fun stuff to be had from her on-line shop.
- The Gentleman Stationer – Joe Crace quickly become one of my favorite pen review writers, I just wish he could do more, but unlike the above sites, he is a one man show. I spent a lot of time in his archive, and I still dive back in time to time when I am looking for stuff to read. I especially loved his short lived Digital Divide newsletter.
- UK Fountain Pens – Anthony’s blog is a relatively recent addition to my reading diet, but it is another favorite of mine. Again, a one-man show, but I like the more personal discussion of how he uses his instruments that are peppered in with more regular content like reviews.
- Mountain of Ink – While not a regular part of my rotation, Mountain of Ink is truly a staggering ink catalog. If I am ever looking to get more info about an ink before I buy it, odds are that Kelli has reviewed it. Nearly 550 inks as of this writing.
Other blogs that are worth check out, but whose update schedules are not nearly as regular are Macchiato Man, The Clicky Post, and The Pencilcase Blog.
But blogs were not all that let me down the rabbit hole of stationery. Indeed, it was a YouTube video that fanned the simmering flames of the burgeoning stylophile within (I had gotten my first two fountain pens in 2013 and 2014, but had yet to fully dive into the hobby). To be precise, it was the Goulet Pen Co. Lamy factory tour that proved to be the gust of wind that turned the pilot light into a raging fire.
With that in mind, here are a few YouTube channels to check out:
- The Goulet Pen Company – Yes, it is a “company” account, and yes, they want to sell you stuff, but Brian (and his wife Rachel) are such wonderful and approaching people in the pen community, and their early Fountain Pen 101 videos are a great educational resource for the community. And they are also very open about their role as retailers and never try to push anything.
- sbrebrown – Stephen Brown is a wonderfully charming European living in Canada whose reviews I really enjoy. He also does the occasionally “topic” video that are interesting to think about. His wife Azizah is the brain behind Gourmet Pens, so they will often review the same things and it is interesting to compare their two styles and takes.
- Figboot on Pens – “David here with Figboot on Pens,” is how every video starts. And while it took me awhile to really dig his videos, they are now a mainstay for me (though I usually skip the writing sample). Also, if any of you are fans of puzzles, pay close attention to the backgrounds in his videos as they are usually clues to a big giveaway every quarter or so.
- Inkdependence – Great ink reviews, fun commentary, and just solid. Mike Matteson also turned me on to my favorite ink: Kyo-Iro Soft Snow of Ohara.
Lastly, I want to give a shout out to The Pen Habit. Matt Armstrong stopped doing his reviews right as I was getting into the hobby, but while his tastes and mine were not in alignment, I enjoyed his reviews and his occasional testy remarks about some mean comments. His back catalog is deep and worth exploring.
Hope you find something worth reading and watching, and if live in the Memphis area, come join us at our next meeting!