Upgrading Nib Organization

by Ariela

When I feel like I cannot control what is going on in my life, one of my coping mechanisms is to clean and organize. Clutter makes me tense, and it acts as a good proxy for things I cannot actually control. Last year, during a particularly bad couple of weeks at work, I labeled every ten-inch span of the shelves in my pantry.

A few weeks ago, inspired by I am not sure what, I decided that I needed to upgrade my nib organization system. I mean, I know why I needed to improve the situation, I'm just not sure what prompted me to decide that now was the time that it needed to be fixed.

 This was my old organization system:

 One box with slots, seven little envelopes, three little plastic bags, and one box labeled "random nibs" with utter chaos inside.

One box with slots, seven little envelopes, three little plastic bags, and one box labeled "random nibs" with utter chaos inside.

The plastic case with the different slots for 10 nibs, a piece of magnet, and reservoirs, was originally a set of Manuscript nibs that I bought years ago in a state of naivete. (I have since learned that I hate Manuscript everything, from their nibs to their cartridge pens.) I moved the Manuscript nibs somewhere else and put my primary set of nibs, right-handed Mitchell Roundhand nibs from John Neal Booksellers, in there. It's not space efficient, but it meant that I could find the correct size nib easily.

Not so for the rest of my nibs. My left-hand Mitchell nib set, used for certain Hebrew hands that require a different pen angle, I continued to keep in the little envelope John Neal sent it in. Every time I wanted a nib, I had to dump out the entire set and sort through them to find the right size. Ditto my backup sets of nibs for both right and left Mitchell nibs. All my other nibs were jumbled together in a small box held closed with a rubber band.

I thought about trying to get more cases like the one my Manuscript nibs came in, but it's not particularly space efficient.

 The two nib organizers that don't meet my needs.

The two nib organizers that don't meet my needs.

So I googled for "pen nib organizer." I came up with surprisingly little. Artbin has a container similar to the Manuscript one, but it has several compartments in which to put multiple nibs, which would still require a bunch of sifting through a bunch of nibs to find the right one. There was also an Etsy listing for a block of wood that would store the nibs pointing upright, perfect for stabbing yourself when trying to get the next nib over. But the second image result led me to this blog post from Studio Chavelli.

So over the following weekend, I made my own. I continue to be terrible about taking process photos, but here is my finished Nib Organizer Wallet:

 Head-on view of the new nib organizer wallet, with my hand

Head-on view of the new nib organizer wallet, with my hand

 Side view of the open nib organizer wallet

Side view of the open nib organizer wallet

The first two rows or "pages" of nibs are both Mitchell Roundhands, righty nibs in front with the yellow paper, lefty second with the purple paper. The two remaining rows behind are both covered in white paper and contain my Brause poster nibs, a selection of Hunts, aka Speedball, and two random singletons with space for more at the back. Each is labeled, but the color and order tells me at a glance what is where.

The inside of the organizer is all corrugated cardboard, but I wanted the outside to be more durable. I used a different kind of cardboard that is much denser but also thinner and taped both a front and a back on just like extra pages. I added two additional pieces to create a top flap that lapped the front over. I covered it with some tan pleather I had lying around, gluing it in place with PVA glue. Then I cut a small notch in the front of the outside cover so that I could settle the socket half of a large snap in place. I then sewed the snap down with doubled button thread. I used a piece of durable blue fabric leftover from a bookbinding project to cover the inside of the front cover; cut it to size, pinked the edges, and then glued it into place with PVA. The blue cloth covered up the edges of the pleather and the ugly side of the stitches on the snap socket.

I cut a piece of the same blue cloth to cover the inside of the back cover next. I sewed the stud half of the snap to that fabric before pinking the edges and gluing it into place to keep from having to sew through the cardboard and leave the stitches showing on the other side of the pleather. I glued the pinked fabric with the snap sewn in to the inside of the back cover with PVA. And that was it.

I brought the new nib wallet with me to Capricon where I was doing some art demos. I could tell when a fellow dip-pen user walked by because they would stop and goggle at the open nib wallet next to me. I got nearly as many exclamations over the nib wallet as I did over the calligraphy in process. Clearly I am not the only one who has felt the absence of such an item in their life.