Carrying on from yesterday’s post, Strikethru mentioned another great Vancouver stationer. A counterpoint to Paper-Ya, The Regional Assembly of Text is not in a tourist area, and focuses on products from individual craftspeople and small presses, rather than prominent brands.
The store is decorated as an homage to typewriters, filing cabinets, and yesteryear’s offices. It also has a small press/zine reading room that Strikethru described. TRAT is quite an amazing place for anyone who likes letterpress, and it is filled with high quality interesting (and sometimes quirky) paper and stationery items.
I picked up a few library and ledger journal inspired items.
Also worth noting – they give pencils as treats to customers!
Paper-Ya is located on Granville Island, a vibrant arts district in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. The island is easily (and probably best) traversed on foot. Notable landmarks include the Emily Carr University of Art + Design.
Paper-Ya is immediately discernible as a labour of love. They stock an immense array of paper items that seems well beyond commercial viability. And I do mean immense – if one could extract the product names mentioned in the last five years from every stationery blog – a good number of them are at Paper-Ya, representing twenty or more countries of manufacture.
My suitcase only had room for some very limited purchases, including handmade paper from Papetrie Saint-Armand.
The David Hayward Design 5mm Brushed Nickel Scribbler is a very well made leadholder/clutch pencil with an incredible heft. At 66 grams, it is heavy and dense, and by far the heaviest handheld writing implement that I own.
The aesthetic is one of simplicity, with clean lines and surfaces. It is a design for designers – it dares you to not pick it up and start drawing.
The website for the KUM Special Diameter pencil sharpener seems reserved in describing the sharpener’s purpose:
The idea of a specialty sharpener just for large triangular pencils is appealing, but it is hard to imagine the engineering behind such a sharpener. Note the octagonal pencils in the graphic:
The sharpener appears to be the usual fare:
And the sharpening result (not bad, in fairness) doesn’t convince me that this product is a specialty item:
A local campus bookstore now stocks an unusual item – the Sun-Star Crosno stick eraser.
The eraser has features that include a cross shaped eraser stick, a rubberized grip, a window to see how much eraser remains, and a clip.
The cap even has – another eraser!
Overall, I find it a bit over-designed, but it is amusing. The eraser is a harder vinyl style that I would say is okay to good.
From El Casco, here is the M-430 chrome plated and black pencil sharpener.
I’ve heard good and bad things about these sharpeners for years. I also don’t seem to ever have read a review or heard a personal account from an owner. An online retailer recently had a very good sale, and I decided to purchase one.
The sharpener is handmade in Spain by a former gun manufacturer. One complaint is that the handmade parts can be finicky, and must be sent back to the manufacturer if a repair is needed. I’ll say some context is needed here. Who else even guarantees sharpener parts or offers repair? I suspect El Casco is the last desktop sharpener manufacturer in the entire world outside of China.
Another reason for the purchase – they are made to unusually high standards, compared to almost anything one might find in the entire commercial stationery realm.
The price is also cited as prohibitive. The story here is that Deskstore had a May 30% off sale, and refunds VAT to foreigners (they are a Swedish company), so the $US319.00 M-430 was $US178.64. I know, most of us don’t spend $178 on our pencil sharpeners. Some of us even balk at $175. But if you’ve bought a fancy handheld sharpener which easily could be $50 to $250, you’ll see that this peak of craftsmanship at this price is a true bargain.
In the box:
It turns out that the giant polishing cloth is not excessive:
There is a lot of very nice chrome to be maintained:
The surfaces are like a mirror, so it was hard to make sure I was photographing the sharpener, and not reflections:
The camera lens inspired opening for the pencil:
The viewing portal, which is mesmerizing in use:
What pencil would you sharpen first? Which pencil did you think I would select?
Not sure if I need more practice, as a ring of graphite is noticeable. The point is remarkable:
The blunt surface at the end of the point makes the pencil even more usable and break resistant, in comparison with needle points.
Some further points, especially about aspects of the sharpener that can’t be inferred from photos:
The base has a suction clamp and lever. This is essential, and seems to work better with kitchen counter tops and very smooth surfaces. My pine desk does not get the greatest grip.
The reason this grip is needed is that two hands are required to operate the sharpener. One hand must feed the pencil – the entry hole is not a vise grip as in the Carl sharpeners. It is just a guided entry point. For a right-handed person, the right hand must rotate the handle while the left hand feeds the pencil in.
Larger diameter pencils can be accommodated. I am not sure of the limits, but I just sharpened a LAMY plus and a large diameter Ito-Ya, and wow, wow, wow – the results are amazing – they are the finest looking points I’ve personally seen with large diameter pencils.
The tray has an edge with a file for further shaping a pencil point. One of those little details that confirms the thought put into the product.
I’m really looking forward to using the El Casco. The beauty is not just on the surface!
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