Note: This article has been migrated from my previous blog at HeyMatthew.com.
Pardon the double posts as I work to combine my blogs.
Living in a small Southern town means I often miss out on some of the things you find in bigger cities like awesome restaurants and great shopping. But some days, I stumble on something so much better than whatever the biggest city in the world is offering. In this case, I'm talking about Carolina Pen Company.
First, a little bit of history... A couple of months ago, I commissioned Renee Meeks at Scriptorium Pens to make a fountain pen for me. I noticed later that she had tagged @brooks_803 in one of her posts and I recognized that 803 is a local area code so I did a little cyber sleuthing and a few clicks later, I discovered Jonathon Brooks and his company. Turns out, my hunch was right and he lives just 2 hours away in the tiny town of Aiken, South Carolina. He and I started chatting via email (ironic, isn't it?) and being that my birthday was nearby, I coerced him into allowing me to drive over to his shop for a field trip.
I drove over a few days ago and Jonathon and his family treated me to an amazing lunch of turkey-prosciutto sandwiches on tasty brioche bread paired with perfectly-roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts and then we spent the day talking about the pen-making process. Everything from mixing up the concoctions that get poured into molds to make pen blanks to Delta lathes, collets and top secret, super specialized pen-making techniques that I swore I would never reveal lest Jonathon release the Pen Ninjas on me and have me extinguished (I'm paraphrasing here, but it was something along those lines). It was pen nerd nirvana. And I have to extend an extra-special thanks to Jonathon's wife and daughter for giving up an entire Saturday so that I could come and hang out.
Of course, you can't go see a pen-making operation and not buy a pen. I mean, even if he hadn't invited me over for sandwiches and hang-out time with his awesome family, I would have still purchased a pen from him because, well, he makes beautiful pens. Duh...
But towards the end of the day, he gave me the opportunity to pick out a material from his bin of pen blanks (9" rods of alumilite resin expertly mixed to create one-of-a-kind materials). We picked out a stunning blue and black swirl, lovingly dubbed Blue Nebula (quite fitting as you'll see below), discussed the size and shape I wanted and Jonathon went to work shaping, sanding, measuring and polishing until, finally, I had what I think is an amazing pen.
To be able to see a pen being made from scratch. To fully understand the process of mixing chemicals, allowing the resin to set, measuring, tooling, cutting, shaping, sanding and polishing was a really great experience for me. Jonathon made the pen to my exact specifications right down to the polish, section shape (for you non-pen peeps the "section" is the part you grip with your fingers) and thread tightness. Yes, thread tightness. He customized how tightly the threads locked on the cap. Mostly because he knew it would be a pocket pen and I told him a story about how I looked down one day to see a giant puddle of ink seeping through my pants pocket. If there was anything at all wrong with this pen, it would have been completely my fault because I was literally dictating the entire time about the specs from start to finish. It seriously doesn't get any more "custom made" than that.
So, if you ever find yourself in the tiny Southern equestrian-loving town of Aiken, South Carolina, give Jonathon a ring. If he's not busy entertaining the bundle of joy that is his amazingly cute little girl, or cooking something awesome for his lovely wife, or tending to the horses, or pulling pork or... Now that I think about it, you better call first. Either way, head over to Carolina Pen Company and check out his beautiful work. He'll customize a pen for you from the colors of the material right down to the tightness on the threads and everything in between. It doesn't get much cooler than that.
By the way... Here's the pen. Just look at all that swirly, twirly blue nebula goodness!
Thanks for reading guys!
All the best,