Succotash at the Studio

Celebrating The Beauty of Fountain Pens on National Fountain Pen Day

It’s hard to imagine our world without the addition of fountain pens. It’s worth giving a little gratitude to the nifty tool that revolutionized handwriting.

History in the Making

For centuries, handwriting was, and still is, one of the most important forms of communication. But before fountain pens, handwriting was a messy, time-consuming process, with a quill that repeatedly had to be dipped in an inkwell. In the 19th century, when widespread use of fountain pens began to emerge, people now had access to a functional tool that encased its own ink, could travel easily, wrote uniformly, and could be refilled as many times as they wanted. It was nothing short of revolutionary.

Things have changed a bit since the 19th century. But what has stood true through all the years is the lasting beauty and technical artistry of fountain pens.

Marking the Occasion

Since 2012, pen enthusiasts around the world have dedicated every first Friday of November to celebrate the beauty and importance of fountain pens on a day officially dubbed “Fountain Pen Day”.

The holiday began as an appreciation, not only for day-to-day use of fountain pens, but for the practice of handwriting and handwritten communication as well. It’s since grown in the past 6 years as a powerful testament to the impact that fountain pens still have on people.

Fountain Pen Day © , the official organizers and promoters of the holiday, want to see fountain pen lovers join in the celebration in any way they feel called to. They have thoughtfully put together a list of ways anyone can enjoy and celebrate the beauty of fountain pens. Here are some of their suggestions to light up your fountain pen inspiration.

Ways to Celebrate Fountain Pen Day

Write a letter to someone with your favorite fountain pen and ink.

There’s nothing quite like letter-writing that combines both the intimacy of personal expression in solitude, and the excitement of communicating with someone special. It’s a moment we can treat ourselves to any time, but it’s all the more special on Fountain Pen Day. You can mark the occasion in your letter by writing the name of both the pen and the ink you used under your signature.

 

Make up a Fountain Pen Day “Intro to Fountain Pens” pack for a friend

A struggle for any enthusiast, not just those passionate about fountain pens but those passionate about anything, is knowing people who just don’t quite grasp their appreciation. Maybe they’re aware of the concept, but they don’t fully understand the complexity, the history, or the fun of it! One of the greatest services you can dedicate yourself to on Fountain Pen Day is introducing fountain pens to more people. You can put together a brief history of fountain pens, and why they revolutionized handwriting, and create a list of reasons, or a few paragraphs, on why fountain pens are important to you. Any friend will appreciate being introduced to the world of fountain pens in such a thoughtful way.


Post on your favorite forum or blog by writing it out with your fountain pen.

Nothing breaks the mold of repetitive, uniform text on screen quite like the stark contrast of a handwritten note. How often do you get to see someone’s handwriting, a very personal expression of an individual, in our digital landscape? A great way to celebrate Fountain Pen Day is writing out your thoughts, feeling, ideas, or anything else that speaks to you, then taking a picture of it, and posting it to a blog or forum of your choice. Again, you can write under your signature what pen and ink you used.


Instead of typing Facebook status updates and tweets on Twitter, write them and upload a picture of them

This is a fun way to celebrate because of the interaction it gets. It will certainly leave a lasting impact on friends and family on social media. Throughout your day, instead of typing, spend a little time with pen to paper and write out what you would normally post. It’s a great way to create a long lasting memory for both you and others on how you spent Fountain Pen Day this year. Just be sure to mention in your posts the reason you’re doing it as well!


Take one of the pens you don’t use anymore and send it off to a friend with a handwritten note.

One person’s trash is another person’s treasure, not that we would ever call fountain pens “trash”. Nonetheless, gifting an old pen is one of the most thoughtful ways to celebrate fountain pen day. Can’t find a pen you’re willing to part with? We have a collection you can pick from.


Make this the weekend of your pen club meet-up.

You and your pen loving buddies with love spending this time together to celebrate a day made for appreciating fountain pens. If you have a regular meet-up for pens, or a pen club, this is a great opportunity to mark the occasion with a special meet-up party.



Turn off your computer, put down the phone, and spend some time writing.

It’s the easiest way to celebrate Fountain Pen Day, and it’s tried and true. Spending a little time in an analog experience is de-stressing, recentering, and vital for a more mindful state. Fountain pens can make the experience all the more mindful and enjoyable.


Like with any holiday, you never have to wait to celebrate what’s important in our lives. Holidays are meant to remind us of something, and in this case, we’re reminded of fountain pens. Whenever you’re feeling the urge to express your gratitude to the beauty of fountain pens, you can refer to this list any time. We hope you enjoy your handwritten adventures, and have a very happy Fountain Pen Day.

For more information about Fountain Pen Day, visit www.fountainpenday.org

 

 

 

 

Spooky Times at The Paper Seahorse: How a paperie + makerie celebrates Halloween

We never pick favorites when it comes to holidays but...boy do we love Halloween!

Can you blame us? It’s the one time you can throw on your craziest, most ridiculous costumes and don them proudly in public without getting a second glance. Given our penchant for curating creativity here at the studio, we get giddy just thinking of the creative costumes we can put together, and letting our freak flag fly.

 

Of course, you can’t get through the spookiest day of the year without paying a little respect to all things scary and haunted. After all, our studio is housed in a 100 year old bungalow. There’s bound to be a few spirits floating about. Tona Bell, proprietress of The Paper Seahorse, mysteriously went missing, and the studio was instead taken over by Tona the Witch, and her Little Black Kitty Kat.

 

 

Amanda gave an homage to one of her favorite children’s books and dressed up as Corduroy, the little stuffed teddy bear who was missing a button. You’ll definitely be seeing her in green overalls more often.

The inspiration.

 

Speaking of children’s books, look! It’s writer/illustrator extraordinaire Erica Sirotich! She went for the woodsy look and pulled out a lumberjack ensemble, with a long mountain man beard and the whole shebang.

 

Randy, co-conspirator at The Paper Seahorse, wanted to represent his cowgirl family in the best way: by donning his own cowboy get-up. Yeehaw!

 

And what day at The Paper Seahorse would be complete without some nifty tools for crafting? Clara doesn’t just use them, she IS them! She followed her true calling and dressed up as what we all wish we could be: a colorful box of crayons.

 

We hope you have as much fun as we did this Halloween season! The costumes were fun, but the best part by far was getting to spend the day together. Just remember: you don’t have to wait for a holiday to spend time with those you love. Be safe trick-or-treating, don’t watch too many scary movies, and have a very, very Happy Halloween~

 

 

Halloween Memories, with Little Black Kitty Kat

Remembering our Individuality in the Digital World

When I first learned how to write my name at the ripe age of three, I wrote it on everything: books, furniture, walls, VHS cases, anything that my tiny three-year-old hands could find.

Any of us who remember our earliest years can likely recall an almost innate attraction to scribbling with pens. Despite our writing often being illegible, and the nuisance it caused for our poor parents, scribbling might have indicated something much more profound in us: a need to express ourselves.

Finding Ourselves in an Age of Automation

As kids, tapping into our creative roots was as instinctive as breathing. But as we grew up and entered a modern, technology-centric world, losing touch with our expressive side has become all too easy. Screens glow at us, urging us to click and swipe, and we are constantly bombarded with information from all around. Slowly, we can become more and more detached from ourselves. Automation and efficiency are at an unprecedented peak, and when so much can get done in such little time, we can easily obsess over doing more, and doing it faster.

All said, advancements in technology aren’t necessarily a bad thing, and by no means are we destined towards a path of complete detachment. One basic ingredient for getting back to center is a simple reminder to ourselves: take a break! No matter how many screens are around us, or even where technology takes off to next, spending a little time away from our devices so we can express ourselves will always be one of the most gratifying experiences for a healthy, self-aware state of mind.  

One Small Step for Self-Discovery

When we communicate, we’re not just communicating with others – we’re communicating our thoughts and feelings. Having a chance to communicate freely without a screen in front of us, and exploring creatively in any way that we feel called to, can lead to unexpected discoveries within ourselves. Doodling, journaling, and yes, even scribbling – these are all seeds that can blossom into new passions, interests, and abilities that we may have never realized were inside of us. 

Michael Sull, a master penman and recognized authority on Spencerian calligraphy, tells us that no matter where we are at in our life, “there should always be time in a person’s schedule, and even more than that, the desire of a person for their personal schedule to stop, get away from the digital world, and express yourself personally, individually, like nobody else can, because it’s you.”

A Future for Self Expression 

Michael Sull has had the opportunity to see firsthand the massive shift from analog to digital overtime - he has been teaching his mastery at penmanship for over 40 years. Today, his lifework has a focus on reigniting the creative spirit, and he tours the world teaching transformative workshops on handwriting. But his hope for others is by no means limited to penmanship. “My hope,” he says, “is that more and more people will learn the joy of expressing themselves personally and physically through the act of handwriting, of painting, of calligraphy, of all sorts of hobbies that involve human activity.”

Sometimes we can get lost in the non-stop motion of the modern world. While we're swept up in the stream of social media and instant communication, and our attention is grabbed from all corners, we can easily lose track of ourselves. Never forget to take time to look within, find your sense of self-expression, and remember that you are an individual, like no one else. You are you.

The Paper Seahorse will be bringing Master Penman Michael Sull to the Tampa area for a weekend-long workshop series. From November 30th to December 2nd, Mr. Sull will be teaching intimate, creative classes on handwriting, flourishing, artistic signatures, and Spencerian script. Class sizes will be limited, so those interested are encouraged to sign up early. More details and class descriptions can be found here

Your Signature: The Most Personal Form of Self Expression

For Michael Sull, handwriting is much more than just putting words on paper.

“It’s a personal way of communicating,” he says. “It’s a way for any person to individually express themselves, their thoughts, their emotions.”

In the modern age, more often than not, we find ourselves communicating with the world by typing on keys and swiping screens. Seldom do we have the chance to express ourselves, not just through our words, but in how we write those words. 

With handwriting, there is no barrier between you and your words. Every word is an intimate and personal moment, and whatever you’re feeling, whether happy or sad or angry or excited, can be reflected in the way you write.

Michael Sull, an IAMPETH-recognized Master Penman who has been teaching his mastery at handwriting for over 30 years, urges people to express themselves in any way they can, to have their own personal sense of identification, and to not lose themselves in the commotion of modern automation and instant communication.

One personal keepsake we can carry with us, no matter how digitized and computerized our world becomes, is our signature. “Your signature”, he says, “is your most personal sense of identification.”

When John Hancock signed the Declaration of Independence, “he signed his name so boldly so the King of England could know that it wasn’t just ‘John Hancock…President of the Continental Congress…’, but it was ‘JOHN HANCOCK! President of the Continental Congress and this is what we believe, and we really mean it!’”

“He was the first American who expressed himself forcefully through his signature, and that’s what your signature and your handwriting can do for you.”

“So cherish it,” he says. “It’s very important. It’s part of who you are are, it’s part of who other people will recognize as you, and it's the most personal form of self-expression.” 

Mr. Sull, who has taught calligraphy, cursive, and penmanship around the world, will be bringing his practice to The Paper Seahorse to teach an immersive workshop on "Creating Your Artistic Signatures", November 30th.

It is just one opportunity in a four-workshop series to learn in an intimate and creative setting from a person many consider to be America’s most significant living Master Penmen.

He will also be teaching "American Cursive Handwriting" (November 30th and December 2nd), an "Intro to Spencerian Script" (December 1st), and "Decorative Flourishing" (December 2nd).

 

More information and details on the full weekend workshop series can be found here. Class sizes are limited, so those interested are encouraged to sign up as soon as they can!

As well as bringing his expert knowledge of penmanship to classes around the world, Michael Sull has also written several works considered modern classics in the field of handwriting. You can explore The Paper Seahorse’s selection of books by Mr. Sull, and practice your Cursive Handwriting or Spencerian Script before his arrival in late November.

Happy 3rd Anniversary to The Paper Seahorse

anatomy of a paper seahorse

You can do a lot in 36 months:

• Start a letter writing club, an origami group and a journaling meet up

• Sponsor three ETSY Craft Parties

• Teach Victorian paper crafts at three Henry B. Plant Museum picnics

• Assemble the largest collection of vintage typewriters for sale and rent in the Southeastern United States

• Have three World Typewriter Day Type-Ins

• Create a writing bar experience for over 1,700 people with 30+ typewriters

• Host the Tampa Type writing bar at four Oxford Exchange Book Fairs

• Teach The Art of Paper Crafting at Disney World’s International Festival of the Arts

• Host local artists and makers at Makers Market Tampa, three times

• Bring an international paper flower artist to Tampa for three workshops

• Bring a celebrated calligrapher from Colorado, whom you met through
Instagram, to teach

• Bring a world-renowned master penman to teach Spencerian calligraphy and cursive handwriting

• Provide over 100 creative classes with a team of 40 teachers to hundreds of students 

• Design a best-selling calligraphy kit 

• Curate artisanal goods from all over the globe in a magical space where folks can take a digital detox

• Fill a 1917 bungalow with good cheer and community for over 1,000 days

Whew! We are thrilled to be a part of the growing community in Tampa and in a stunning state we love, Florida! We are honored to have had this opportunity to create a space filled with love, creativity and mindfulness; and to provide the analog tools to slow down and take a digital detox. We look forward to what the next 36 months will bring...

If you would like to learn more, please get a copy of our very first 'zine, "Hippocampus", and get inspired by the people who made it all happen.

Hippocampus Zine by The Paper Seahorse