(Sarah Read is an author, editor, yarn artist, and pen/paper/ink addict. You can find more about her at her website and on Twitter. And check out her first novel, The Bone Weaver’s Orchard, now available where books are sold!)
When you think of New Orleans, stationery might not be the first thing you think of. I'll admit, it wasn't even for me. But when I found out I would get to spend a weekend in New Orleans this spring, you can bet I looked into it. As any healthy pen addict would. Turns out, it's a fantastic place to indulge in stationery tourism. So I did.
The first place I went (and I don't just mean the first stationery store--I mean literally the first building I entered upon arrival in New Orleans) was Papier Plume in the French Quarter. It is located at 842 Royal St, conveniently near a million fun things, so you can't miss it. Patrick and Renso run the show there. You may have seen them at a pen show, but nothing beats seeing them in their beautiful shop in New Orleans. The store is gorgeous, beautifully furnished with art and antique furniture, with big windows that let in tons of light and a view of the iconic ironwork galleries across the street. And then there are the tempting wares--shelves and tables full of beautiful papers, glass dip pens, handbound leather journals, desk accessories, seals, Italian leather bags, and of course pens. Many in styles and brands from Europe that I had never seen in person before. Of course I caved. Happily.
I purchased a Jean-Pierre Lepine Indigo Classic in Cocobolo wood. I was charmed by its wee pocket size and lovely woodgrain. And I paired it with a handcrafted leather and marbled paper journal. The perfect souvenir match. The only reason I didn't buy any ink is because 1) we were traveling without checked bags and I feared for a delicate bottle in my backpack, and 2) I honestly couldn't decide on any one among the incredible selection. I'll be placing an online order soon, I'm sure.
Patrick and Renso were as warm and welcoming as their lovely shop and I can't recommend them highly enough. You can, of course, shop online--but I suggest a trip to New Orleans, instead. Also, a little bird told me that they'll be making an appearance at the Atlanta and Chicago pen shows.
Later that weekend, I ventured out to Scriptura at 5423 Magazine St. This shop is located in the Garden District of New Orleans, possibly one of the most walkable neighborhoods on earth if you love browsing beautiful architecture. And when you're done picking out all of your future dream homes, you can pop into this wonderfully appointed shop to purchase your housewarming invitations. This shop, which retains a rich historical character inside in keeping with its surroundings, caters mostly to paper and letter writing. Their selection of cards and papers is infinitely browsable and endlessly tempting. They also have a case of rollerball and fountain pens, including some nice pieces by Pilot, Retro 51, and Lamy. There are also shelves with a nice ink selection.
I picked out a lovely postcard, a notecard, a 2-pack of Cavallini & Co pocket notebooks with bugs on them, and a midi-size Paperblanks Flexis with 240 pages, a ribbon bookmark, and beautiful marbled edges. I hadn't encountered the softcover Paperblanks before. I think I'm in love.
I didn't get to chat much with the proprietors, but they showed me some of the past Retro 51 New Orleans special editions. It's probably best for my wallet that I couldn't buy them anymore, but you can bet I added my name to the list to find out about the next edition. They were also kind enough to let me use their outlet to charge my phone so I could continue taking pictures. As much as I devote my life to analog tools, my sketches would not have done the place justice. You really must see it for yourself, and I very much recommend that you do.
I did a lot of wonderful things in New Orleans. The city completely captured my heart. I know I'll go back someday, and when I do, I look forward to visiting my new pen friends there and shopping for souvenirs.