Posts filed under Travel

New Orleans is a Pen Destination

Papier Plume

(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.

Papier Plume Shop

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.

Jean-Pierre Lepine Indigo Classic

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.

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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.

Scriptura

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.

Scriptura inside

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.

Scrpitura purchase

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.

Posted on April 4, 2019 and filed under Papier Plume, Scriptura, Travel.

Five Stationery Stores Not to Be Missed in Taipei, Taiwan

(Original Mai-bun.com article posted 11/29/2017. Written by Takuya Takahashi. Translated by Bruce Eimon.)

The people of Taiwan are just as passionate about their stationery as the people of Japan. Similar to Japan, there are strong communities of people who love their stationery and planners, and you will readily find bookstores and gift shops that carry a wide variety of such products. Last November I had the opportunity to visit Taipei with my close stationery friends, and here are the ones I was most impressed by.

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Everything trendy in Taiwan under one roof: eslite Xinyi Store (誠品書店 信義旗艦店)

The eslite bookstore is one of the most prominent bookstores in Taiwan that also carries a wide variety of stationery and lifestyle products. It is known amongst local people as the place where you can find “all of the trends in Taiwan under one roof.”

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On this trip I had the opportunity to visit eslite Xinyi (誠品書店 信義旗艦店), their flagship store. Not only do they tout to be one of the largest bookstores in Asia, but the building also houses approximately 150 stores from Taiwan and around the world.

The stationery departments are on the 2nd and 4th floors. The 2nd floor has an area for high-end writing instruments, with an impressive selection of fountain pens from around the world. [Image 2 eslite inside.jpg] When I visited in November, there was a special display of 2018 planners by the registers - just like you would see in Japan!

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Here you can also find local Taiwanese products as well as eslite’s private brand products.

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On the 4th floor you will find more casual products for daily use.

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I was especially impressed by their display of colored pencils!

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Their product displays were quite different from what I am used to seeing in Japan - everything was so accessible that I couldn’t keep myself from reaching out and trying things. Their wrapping paper and ribbon section was also quite impressive.

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As a trend-setter of Taiwanese culture, you will find eslite bookstores in many neighborhoods, with each store having its own unique theme/character. It is a store you surely will not want to miss when you visit Taiwan.

A place to enjoy functional stationery, coffee, and craft beer: Plain Stationery Homeware & Cafe(直物文具Café)

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This is a store run by one of my stationery friends, Mr. Tiger Shen.

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You will find a range of functional stationery curated by Mr. Shen as well as tasteful houseware.

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He also has a line of his own products, with the latest addition being rubber stamps.

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These are cute stamps that are perfect for decorating your planner.

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According to Mr. Shen, these fountain pen ink cataloging stamps were quite popular when he took them to Japan. There is also a space to play with calligraphy pens, which is quite the “thing” in Taiwan now.

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In the back of the store there is a space you can enjoy local tea, coffee, and even craft beers.

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It is a charming store where you can enjoy good stationery and good drinks. What more could one ask? I love this place.

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Mr. Shen speaks good Japanese, so don’t be scared to ask him questions.

Where you can find charming stationery & houseware: VVG Thinking

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The Huashan 1914 Creative Park houses many fashionable gift shops and boutiques. This is a commercial zone that was built back in 1914 on the site of an old sake (rice wine) distillery. VVG Thinking (好様思維) is a store in this complex that carries antique books, select housewares, and stationery.

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You will also find a wide variety of gifts and stationery products made in Taiwan.

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It is walking distance from Plain Stationery Homeware & cafe(直物文具Café), so I highly encourage you to check out both.

A sanctuary for Taiwanese stationery lovers: TOOLS to LIVEBY(禮拜文房具)

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TOOLS to LIVEBY(禮拜文房具)is a place that many Taiwanese stationery lovers refer to as their ultimate stationery sanctuary. Inside the store that looks like a renovated garage, you will find, fashionable stationery from all around the world, with no room to spare. The display is tasteful and well thought out.

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They also sell original products and bags. It is a perfect place to stock up on gifts.

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This is a magical space where a whole day will pass without noticing if you are not careful.

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A store with a great selection of Japanese stationery: Vision Stationery (明進文房具)

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A short walking distance from TOOLS to LIVEBY(禮拜文房具)is Vision Stationery (明進文房具). This is a stationery store with a great selection of Japanese products. Here you will get a feel for which Japanese products are popular in Taiwan. There are not many local products, but I found some interesting washi masking tapes.

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They also carry store-branded Kokuyo Field Notes as well as a original rubber stamps.

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Taipei is merely a 4 hour flight from Tokyo, and even closer from Osaka. With many low-cost carrier competing for your business, it has become very easy for Japanese people to visit Taiwan. If you like stationery, I urge you to treat yourself to a stationery tour of Taipei, Taiwan!

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Infomation

eslite Xinyi Store (誠品書店 信義旗艦店) (Map)

Plain Stationery Homeware & cafe(直物文具Café)(Map)

VVG Thinking (好様思維) (Map)

TOOLS to LIVEBY(禮拜文房具) (Map)

Vision Stationery (明進文房具) (Map)

Posted on March 2, 2018 and filed under Mai-Bun, Travel.