I walked into Ed Hamilton’s boutique pen shop, Century Pens located in the Loop by the Board of trade, just over eight years ago, and have developed a wonderful friendship with Ed, a Prince among men, who has owned Century Pens for eleven years. Trained as an architect and hailing from the fair state of Indiana, Ed and I have spent many hours talking about pens, ink, penmanship, architecture, Chicago’s history, politics, and tales of our wild youth. I got the fountain pen bug just before I met Ed, who recognized a potential addict the minute I walked in the store with a sketchbook in my hand and an assortment of pens peering over my vest pocket. Ed was every bit the enabler and fanned the flames of desire for this draughtsman who’s fountain pen collection passed the $11,000 mark several months ago I’m sure. At first, my enthusiasm got the best of me and I made some purchases that I have made scant use of since, but, it needs be said that Ed was honest in his appraisal and experience with the pens in his store, looking at me with a wincing smile and giving me the short comming a of some of the pens that he didn’t think we’re up to snuff or whose reputation and price points were head of their performance. He was particularly wary of some of the Italian pens saying their emphasis was style over performance. He was correct on several as I have experienced since.

His collection was stellar when I first entered his candy shoppe of script. Some brands have since changed policies making it very difficult for him to carry those. Sailor has been one brand. Prices on pens have continued to climb, even through a downturn in the economy and the changes at the Chicago Board of Trade has meant fewer traders flush with cash would pat themselves on the back with an eye catching pen pulled out austentaciously in front of their peers. There is a good reason an expensive haberdashery was just a block away from the CBOT.

I recall talking to one of Ed’s regulars who’s collection was over 650 fountain pens. Century Pens has been the premier fine writing pen store in Chicago and one of my absolute favorites nation wide. Chicago lost Gilbertson Clybourne a couple years back and I fret Ed’sage and the prospect that he may hang up the spurs one day. Today, I spent most of the day sitting in Ed’s store, drawing, sharing take-out lunch, and shooting the bull with Eddie and Charlie. Online is in so many of it’s convenient ways a poor substitute for the face to face, hands on, of the brick and mortar experience. Cheers Eddie.

Ed Hamilton, Guru @ Century Pens

  • May 17th, 2017
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Catching forty winks in the Chattanooga Airport. Fountain pen, Platinum Carbon Ink, Pitt Pens, Tomoe River Paper.

Airport Nappin’

  • May 11th, 2017
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The before and after eyeball demo using watercolor pencils. I enjoy giving live demos where after drawing out something, I eradicate the sketch. Gets their attention.

Faber-Castell Albrecht Durer Watercolor Penvils in a doctor’s billing ledger book.

Now You See It…..Now You Don’t

  • May 10th, 2017
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Just drawing the full figure from life enough these days. So this past Thursday and Friday I put in a little time but still got caught up in the partials.

Steven Assael happened to be at the Palette & Chisel teaching a workshop and sat in on the Friday night life drawing session. I was behind him for a couple of poses and enjoyed watching him draw as I sheet he’d him n the act. Also included are a few head studies acquired in transit.

   

Various inks, fountain pens, Pitt Artist Pens, Seven Seas Tomoe River Paper.

A Wee Bit Of Life Drawing

  • April 29th, 2017
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Got on the CTA to head downtown for a job and saw this gentleman get off the north bound train at Howard, it’s final destination, cross over to the south bound platform, board the train, and fall to sleep. The trains run all but 4 hours a day I believe and it is possible, if homeless, and cold, to spend most of the day at least warm, and dry. I’ve asked myself how I would manage if I became homeless, and until such a time that I face that possibility I’m speculating. Where would I have parked the belongings such as books, artwork, clothes, other things way more than I could carry around, or pay for at a storage unit, or leave at a friend’s garage. Whatever the circumstances a person goes thru that would deliver them to the state of homelessness, and there are several, loss of employment, debt load, broken family, mental illness, addiction, I personally can’t image the ability to endure that hardship for long. A very good friend of mine did wind up on the streets after a long, slow decline thru poor financial decisions, substance abuse, frustration with career struggles, wearing out the welcome of friends who tried to help him. In the end, he gradually poisoned himself with alcohol till he had a systemic collapse. It was his way of killing himself, of that I’m sure. I would try to see him on return trips to the city he lived in and towards the very end, the loss of will, and his mental and emotional decline sealed his fate.

Now, as my generation gets old and the possibility of safety nets and affordable health care and affordable housing seem anything but certain, this challenge has become too possible for a frightening number amoung us.

My generation became obsessed with how they were going to get their children into good schools and pay for insanely expensive college degrees. Having cleared those hurdles, the conversations will definitely turn to their wellbeing and management of their August years.

 

Rebound Rider

  • April 26th, 2017
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