Sunday, October 3, 2010
Aesthetics of Ink
Bavarian floaty pen. photo courtesy the author.
Many years ago my friend Diane showed me a part of her floaty pen collection. I was charmed--a collection that is affordable, portable and storable by the average person!
I began collecting floaty pens for her when I traveled, and have become an afficionado of the genre. I've mentioned this to other people who began bringing them to me, so now that I've got a mini-collection (20 against Diane's 200+), I buy two wherever I go.
During one trip to Denmark for an IKT conference several years ago, Diane charged me with buying up to $100 worth of pens at one of the two big floaty pen factories in Europe (the other is in Italy), but I never got out of Copenhagen for the a shopping spree. Too bad. When you start looking at the pens you can tell which are better made. It's all part of the aesthetic.
There are several styles of floaty pens, the predominate one being a tourist kchothke like the one from Bavaria, above. This includes Dutch on bicycles, Finns ski jumping, bluebirds underneath the St. Louis arch. I get it, but it's not that interesting.
Some pens evidence a sense of humor, but these are harder to find. The Liberace Museum in Las Vegas (which recently closed) had a floaty pen of hands moving across the keyboard. I would have liked one of Liberace dressed in some frou frou feather coat with air blowing it up to reveal--what? In any case, I now judge an institution or organizations' sense of humor, or lack thereof, based on their floaty pen.
Mustachioed Mt. Rushmore.
A floaty pen with a sense of humor includes the Mt. Rushmore mustache pen, above, although this is not the "official" pen of the historic site. It seems there is a new breed of entrepreneur who is producing these pens and having a good time doing it!
The best pen I've ever seen is one in Diane's collection. A cow moves slowly into a barn, placed at the mid-point of the glass capsule of the floaty pen, and comes out a hamburger on the other side. Now that's aesthetic transformation! Droll commentary on industrial farming? All-in-all, this is the one pen that sets the design standards for them all.
Kevin thinks my adopted floaty-pen obsession is a scam--for whom, me or Diane? We both are getting them for free. In either case we both get to imagine other places and experiences through the pens that make the way back into our lives. This, ultimately, is why people collect anything at all.