Sunday, February 5, 2023


Repairs fascinate me. So do people who attempt them or make them possible. In his newest blog post, the writer of La Vie Graphite meditates on restoration. I read everything in this blog. I may disagree with his theology, but I love the elegance of his writing and the quietness of his life.

I’ve always admired restorers of objects, structures, and historic artifacts. Gratefully, my speed-dial numbers include my typewriter repairer, fountain pen restorer, camera technician, and auto mechanic. These individuals are also esteemed friends. When any of us talk shop, we’ll often note the parallels between their crafts and mine as a bookbinder and conservator. The purposes of our respective restorative work is to keep things in fine operational order. 

The part about pen repairs resonates me with me. 

Pens present their own forms of mechanical puzzles. While rinsing a much-loved Reynolds fountain pen from one of my many sojourns in France, I watched the ring from the nib section roll across the kitchen sink and irretrievably down the drain. As with the toolbox mentioned earlier, a study of the pen showed me how the ring was more than decorative trim- it actually provided the needed margin of space to allow the pen to be tightly capped by pushing the nib section into the mechanism that snaps it closed. I set the disabled pen on my desk, not sure what to do with it. One night, while writing and listening to the radio (a supply-line of culture itself), I stopped to look at the poor old Reynolds and an empty yoghurt cup I used for calligraphy. That curved rim got me thinking, and it occurred to me that perhaps if I could slice the plastic just right, I’d have a replacement part. Using my narrowest bookbinding mat knife, and masking tape to hold the container in place, I sliced thin strips of the plastic. It took a few tries, as I saw how exact the fit had to be, to get the pen to snap closed with the same click as it did before with its former metal ring. After getting the precise breadth and length, I sliced an extremely thin slice of archival plastic tape for the inside of the replacement ring. It worked perfectly, and I was able to use the pen as before- albeit sporting a white yoghurt container ring. 

I've had my own challenges with repairs. I sent my MacBook Air to Jeff for a battery replacement; it's working like it's fresh out of the store. Cosmos Bazaar, the official seller of Pilot products in the Philippines, reached out to me and gave me instructions to send back my Pilot Custom 823 in Amber. The pen has now been safely delivered to Manila, and will be brought to Japan, for repair. 

Ours is a broken world where material things are destined for eventual deterioration. 



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