18 January 2010

Stationery – in which we pander to fetishists

In our experience, stationery is something of a fetishised item.

Some people have been known to walk the aisles of Officeworks as a kind of meditation. Others will only copyedit with a Uniball Fine Deluxe (0.7mm dia.tungsten carbide ball - naturally). And most remember fondly the back-to-school treat of all new stationery ALL AT ONCE.

So in the service of science and in the spirit of nurturing this fetishism we polled the Onions for their Top FIVE stationery items, the Top THREE stationery items that incite them to fury, and their Top ONE Oh-I-Wish-It-Existed stationery item.

While we did unearth some interesting stationery trends (there’s a PhD in here somewhere) we were also alarmed to discover that for a bright bunch of Onions whose comprehension and numeracy skills are well-developed and exercised daily, most of them can neither count nor follow instructions.

It seems that, given a numbered list to complete, our fellow Onions believe it is perfectly acceptable to note more than one item of stationery (eg: sticky notes, sharpeners, rubbers; scissors, stapler, ruler) at one LIST item. One Onion also noted:
'I honestly can't think of any [items of stationery that frustrate me or would never darken my desk]. My heart warms towards all stationery.'
And then went on to list FIVE items of displeasure. This is what fetishism promotes, people – over-zealousness, contradiction and a marked lack of obedience.

We will be sharing our results over the next few days. So consider this a warning: if you don’t know your HB from your 2B, your fineliner from your art tip, your post-its from your page markers, maybe you should check back later in the week, when the fetishists have left the building.

Top five FOR THE WIN stationery items:

1: PENS*
  • A slender blue ball-point with a bright consistent ink & a black fine-liner with a smooth flow (and no scratching on the paper).
  • Pens - oh I love a particular kind of smooth flowing, fine but not too fine tip.
  • Nice pens that write nicely.
  • Free-flowing medium point biro (for firm handwriting).
  • Papermate Kilometrico blue pen.
  • Luscious fat, yet sleek, weighty but elegant, cool, black lacquered, chisel-nibbed fountain pen (and peacock-coloured bottle of fountain-pen ink).

  • Pencils, pencils, pencils (good sharp pencils).
  • A box of 64 Derwent pencils (still in original box with all pencils present, which my little sister was NEVER EVER allowed to touch on pain of death).**
  • An army of coloured pencils (they flash me back to my first treasured Derwent set, all standing in perfect order of colour shade, in their tin). **
  • Australian-made Staedtler HB pencil (sharp).
  • Pencil (for scribbling all over authors' manuscripts).

  • Pencil sharpener, pencil sharpener, pencil sharpener (for good sharp pencils).
  • A pencil sharpener with a good action.
  • Metal pencil sharpener that doesn't snap leads.
  • Pencil sharpener, a good one - that also works on eyeliner.
  • Pencil sharpener (to use while I think what to scribble on authors’ manuscripts next).

  • Double-sided sticky tape.
  • Magic tape.
  • Scotch invisible tape - nothing else cuts it.
  • Permanent spray glue.
  • Clag (that distinctive smell recalls my first creative projects at kinder).

  • Spiral bound notebooks.
  • Notebooks - for all those lists.
  • An extra fat, 320-page, dog-eared exercise book (the one I use for 'to do' lists, notes from meetings, discussion points with authors, new procedures to remember - absolutely everything all in one place).
  • Brand-spanking new notepad (optimistic).

6: ERASERS****
  • A good clean rubber (for rubbing out the markings of the good sharp pencils)
  • Completely clean, unused, virginal rubbers (erm ... erasers).
  • Rubber/eraser (for when I change my mind).

Honourable mentions:
Clever but expensive rubber bands which go four ways so they can grip a manuscript on all sides, post-it notes, brown paper, wire stands that hold folders at an angle, Manila folders, coffee machine, post-it notes, plastic clear-view sleeves, Sharpies, comfy chair, highlighters (plentiful in quantity and colour-range), smiley-face squeeze ball, post-it notes, scissors, stapler, ruler, paper, cardboard calendar tent, post-it notes, tiny bulldog clips, zip-up diary (so all the pesky loose items are safely secured), removable labels, gorgeous creamy, textured, deckle-edged, silk-to-the-touch writing paper and envelopes, post-it notes.

* Not a hint of fetishism here. No. None at all. Nope.
** SNAP! No, not the pencils. We’re not going to breathe on those Derwents, much less even consider snapping them. We are a little scared by these Derwent fetishists.
*** Who would have thunk it? Pencil fetishists like [GOOD] pencil sharpeners. Imagine.
**** Okay, we know this is List Item SIX in our stationery Top FIVE. It seems we can’t count or follow instructions either. (Birds of a flock, and all that.)


mimbles said...

My daughter received a set of 72 Derwent watercolour pencils for Christmas. She took them out of the tin and put them in a box. It caused me actual physical pain.

Rubyfire writes said...

Aah the Papermate Kilometrico pen! We used to covertly melt them over bunsen burners in high school, and compare and marvel at their oozing, stumpy form...sigh. That was before OHS became the new black.

Natalie Hatch said...

It's my birthday tomorrow and I have asked my family to get me stationary, pencils/pens/post-it's, paper, printer ink. Anything will make me happy. I especially love the smell of freshly sharpened pencils. The teacher's supply cupboard in Primary school was a veritable treasure trove. Oh and those old erasers that were made out of rubber. Amazing.

Celine said...

a good handly-cranked pencil sharpener is a joy and a treasure. Specially one which gives pencils so-lethal-ninja's-use-them really really really sharp tips.

Courtney said...

Um, in the honourable mentions block, there are five seperate post-it mentions. Is this a) a joke (!!!) OR (!!!) b) seperate mentions for different colors? hmm... colors... purple; lime green; crazy eyesore neon orange; much-softer-that-lime minty green; neon pink...

Anonymous said...

Staedtler brand pencils certainly, but 2B not HB, as they feel so much nicer to write with. It almost hurts to be typing this rather than handwriting it in pencil...

(BTW Staedtler also have a nice line in erasers made in Germany and called 'rasoplast'. They have a beautiful texture and work perfectly).

When pencil is unsuitable, Parker medium-point ballpoint pens are almost as enjoyable to write with as a good 2B.