Thursday, June 25, 2009

How I Do What I Do

In the course of my wanderings through pendom I have seen a number of workshops, from the exquisite workspaces created by Richard Binder and David Parisi to the creative caverns of Victor Chen, Jim Marshall and Osman Sümer. My own space cannot compare to any of them.

We like in a small house at the northeasternmost reaches of California’s Silicon Valley, where even in these hard times the smallest house can approach seven figures in cost. Moreover, my small office must also do its duty to my academic work, such as it is.

Therefore, pens, tools, parts, shipping supplies all vie for space with books, papers and the like. Thus all my pen stuff must be storable.

This includes my “photo studio,” which lives in a nether corner of the office tucked between bookshelf, inventory box, and file cabinet; and when it comes out it gets set up in the dining room, often to Sharon’s patient dismay.

Recently, I undertook the largest update ever to the site, one which is still going on. Despite the fact that my workplaces are so humble and disorderly I thought folks might like to see what goes on behind the scenes. So here goes a tour of the recent update, for what it’s worth.
It all starts on my desk, so to speak, with pens, tools and a database
Although with an update this big, stuff got stacked on my Parker pencase alongside the desk
At this point stuff is getting unpacked to get examined, go through the first testing, and to get catalogued. After being entered into the database, I begin describing the pens for the website
Further testing and cleaning

Here a couple of 51s get resacced, the one on th top is for a client and the double jewel buckskin will go to webmaster Gilly who has finally gotten the 51 bug.
A trio of 51 sets, the buckskin set is the only one still available at this writing. Both the Nassau and Cordovan are in new hands.

This is the "photo studio." Ninety five percent of the images you see on the website are done in this fashion. Until recently I used the 500 watt, blue 5600 K photolights, but those seem no longer to be available. Note that they are supplemented behind by little table top fill lights. Recently, for top highlights I have begun using a fifth light, the camera's own flash. It adds additional dimension and highlight. When shooting metal pens I leave it off.

I do use photoshop after the fact, mostly to adjust exposure, occasionally to sharpen. Sometimes to adjust colour when the camera misses, especially now that I have had to go to 300 watt clear incandescent lamps, at least for the interim, until I decide what new light source to use permanently. Like much of what I do, it's pretty primitive, but it works, I think

Here's where the "studio" lives.
And, when I have finished everything the pens will live in the portfolios, boxed pens in the tub. For pen shows, all this has to go into a suitcase that I can carry onto an airplane. Wish me luck. It's part of the reason I lift weights, so I can hoist the seventy pound suitcase into an overhead compartment on a Boeing 737!
After seeing all this, maybe no one will ever want to buy a pen from me again!


Tom said...

Rick, it's great to see your work space - and how compact it is! Amazing how much one can fit into a small space...

The PENguin said...

Glad you enjoy. I guess I am in the same position as Russian programmers who learned to write so elegantly because they had such primitive hardware.