Elmer’s Rubber Cement

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When I initially started my blog on glue sticks a few weeks ago, I had intended to just write about glue in general but discovered that there was just too much variety in the glue category to stick them all together (pun intended). So while I love glue sticks, another favourite of mine is rubber cement. I think I have always used Elmer’s, although I know it is not the only brand. It is smelly and the brush-on applicator is a bit messy but it really is “no-wrinkle” and any excess that leaks out from the edge just rubs off. The bond is flexible and modern formulas are acid-free so therefore archivally sound.

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The name Elmer’s comes from their weird cow logo. In 1929, the Borden Dairy company purchased Casein Industrial Glues. This actually made sense as casein is a milk protein and in three years they introduced a consumer version of casein glue. Borden’s spokescow at the time was Elsie. In keeping with the heteronormative culture of the time, someone must have noticed impropriety of a lactating cow without a husband so in 1939, they introduced her husband, Elmer. While the couple were busy in the first few years of their marriage promoting dairy products, by the mid-20th century Elmer had taken over marketing of the glue division.

Far in the back corners of my mind I remembered a little song about Elmer’s glue and used the internet to try to track it down. My search led to a blog called Music of the Underworld that stated the following: “The height of blasphemy is seen in such songs as The Holy Spirit and Elmer’s Glue. Check out the words. We’re bound together whatever we do by the Holy Spirit and Elmer’s glue.” Yup, that’s all there is to it. The song is one sentence long. I agree that they are not the deepest lyrics but hardly the height of blasphemy.

If Elmer’s rubber cement was a person and not a cow, they would be a bit out of touch with the times. Stout and a bit messy, they have a slight chemically smell about them so would encounter a lot of dirty looks as they blithely wander past the “this is a scent-free environment” signs. Nevertheless, they have an endearing quality about them that makes their faults forgivable.

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Walden Woodworkers Note Board

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Quite a few months ago I won a beautiful note board from the Well-Appointed Desk. Just what is a note board, you ask? It is a fancy version of a clip board but instead of being made of some cheap material like vinyl covered cardboard or even chip board, it is made of solid walnut with brass fittings. The name plate is also brass and is inscribed with Walden Woodworkers Co. Istanbul. The company slogan is Wood is Good and they hand make all their products at their workshop in Istanbul. The note board was made in partnership with another Turkish business, Galen Leather.

As well as the aesthetic appeal of the smooth, dark wood, it has a lovely faint smell from the natural tung oil finish. Just above the name plate is a groove for holding a pen or pencil. The note board is something most people probably don’t need but it is so nice to have well made tools and much more preferable to trying to balance your notebook on a book or other hard surface when you are not at a desk. The only slight inconvenience is a screwdriver is required to loosen the screws to change the notepad.

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Part of the prize was a Rhodia A5 dot grid notepad (210 mm x 148 mm) that fits this note board perfectly. I have written about my love of Rhodia paper before. The dot grid is designed to provide unobtrusive guidelines. In fact, they are so unobtrusive that it is hard to get a good photograph of them. The front cover of the notepad has lightly scored lines making it possible to fold it back neatly and the back cover is made of sturdy cardboard. The microperforations at the top make it quite easy to remove individual sheets as long as it is done carefully.

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With the paper made in France and the note board in Turkey, this turned out to be quite the international prize. So if the note board and paper were people, they would be an affectionately married couple whose love of quality and fine stationery supplies have brought them together despite distance and cultural differences. They always hold hands when walking in the park.

David Thompson Puts Pen to Paper

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For those who want to know more about Canadian fur trade stationery supplies I have found a new source of information in D’Arcy Jenish’s book, Epic Wanderer:  David Thompson and the Mapping of the Canadian West. This is hardly a new volume, it was published fifteen years ago in 2003, but has been sitting in my must read someday pile for about that long. I have been working through this stack all year because I am culling my book collection and have told myself I either have to read them or give them away to someone who will.

David Thompson was not just an epic wanderer, he was an epic journal keeper. He kept journals both for his work as a Hudson’s Bay Company fur trader and a North West Company partner as well as personally. When he died at age 87 in 1857, he had filled more than eighty journals. I don’t know how many pages were in each but judging from pictures, these were big leather-bound books. He didn’t just write in them but also included some sketches. As the introduction of the book says, they were “each crammed with the notes and minutiae, the observations and tales of nearly three decades spent roaming the great Northwest.” (p. 5). It is amazing how he managed to keep up a daily journaling habit even while traveling through very rough country, often in terrible weather. Somehow he was able to keep his journal dry, his quill pens sharp, and his ink useable even through circumstances such as overturned canoes and snowstorms.

David Thompson is probably best known for his incredible map of the Canadian and U.S. west. He was under a timeline to get it done but it wasn’t easy to get what he needed to do the job. “He was not even certain he would have his materials and supplies by then. These he had ordered from England the previous autumn – fifty sheets of Imperial paper, ten dozen small camel-hair pencils, two cakes of the best India ink and one bottle of India rubber – and they would arrive at Montreal aboard a North West Co. supply ship as soon as the ice was out of the St. Lawrence.” (p. 211). I am not sure what “Imperial paper” is but he glued together 25 sheets of it in order to make a map 6 feet, 9 inches tall and 10 feet, 4 inches wide. This map was hung in Fort William, I believe in the very room the photo in my Fur Trade Stationery Supplies blog was taken. The camel-hair pencils are actually very small brushes made of, you guessed it, camel’s hair. The cakes of India ink I assume are like Asian inksticks, a soot-based carbon mixed with a binder and dried into hard cakes or sticks. India rubber is made from the sap of trees. It was brought to the west from South America in the 18th century and grown in plantations in India. The name rubber came about because it was used to rub out pencil marks on paper so I can see why it would be useful when drawing a map but I am surprised it was shipped in a bottle. Maybe it was softer than modern erasers.

So was this book worth keeping so long before reading it? I’m not sure. I probably should have just read it sooner because overall it was interesting enough as David Thompson really did have a fascinating life. It is written in a very factual, straightforward way. I especially liked the first two parts of the book describing his travels through what became western Canada and the northwestern United States. The final third covering his survey of the official border between Canada and the U.S. as agreed upon under the Treaty of Ghent was less engaging. The last chapter about his impoverished senior years was very sad. I learned a lot but think it easily could have been a library book as I don’t plan to read it again.

Glue Sticks

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Putting glue in stick form was a big innovation in the world of glue. So, while 1969 was a notable year in history for a number of reasons, including the first lunar landing, let’s consider another technical wonder from that year, the invention of the glue stick. The story goes that a researcher in the adhesives division of the German company Henkel watched a woman putting on lipstick and thought how handy the format would be for glue. They went on to release this glue under the Pritt Stick brand name. I have one in their medium size (22g) that is made in Mexico. They also make 11g and 43g sizes and have factories all over the world. The designs for the tubes are slightly different depending on region but they all are red and white and usually feature the jolly “Mr. Pritt”.

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As well as a Pritt Stick, I also have a smaller glue stick in my usual brand, the UHU, with its bright yellow tube. Both brands must use almost the same formula as it is amazing just how similar the two glue sticks are. The virtually odorless glues are white in the tube and dry clear with pretty much the same amount of stickiness (this cannot be said for some of the generic brands which I have found to be useless). UHU is also originally a German company and it is still made in Germany, although they are now owned by a multinational, Bolton, with a strangely diverse product line. UHU started manufacturing adhesives in 1932 but I am not sure when they began making their version of the glue stick. Because their glue stick works so well, I can’t figure out why they introduced the UHU liquid glue pen with its gooby, sticky top. Even though they claim it glues wrinkle-free, I have not found that to be the case. It is just messier than a glue stick.

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If glue sticks were people they would definitely have Germanic roots. No smelly cologne for them, these guys have good posture and are unobtrusively great connectors at a party. They are efficient and handy to have them around.

Crayola Markers

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I have some leftover kids craft supplies from when my children were little but, unlike crayons and coloured pencils, markers are not ones that last. This is probably partly because a lot of pressure is needed to push the cap on securely to prevent them from drying out. As Crayola first introduced markers to their line as part of their 75th anniversary in 1978 (the washable ones came out in 1987, the same year as their coloured pencils), Crayola only meant wax crayons to me as a child.

So although I have been intrigued when I’ve read other bloggers who do really cool things with Crayola markers, I only had the skinny ones, not the thick type. When I saw a box in a back-to-school sale for $1.25 CND, I thought I would give them a try. The box I purchased has ten colours, as opposed to the twelve in the Fine Line marker box. It is missing blue lagoon and sandy tan, coincidentally the only two markers with slightly poetic names rather than just being called light blue and peach. I like how both sets of markers label the colours in three languages, all the better to assist any English speaker who is trying to learn either French or Spanish.

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First I tried some calligraphy. To do this, the pointed tip of the marker is used for the thin upstrokes and the wider edge for the thick downstrokes. It is a bit tricky to get the hang of it but I was quite happy with the results.

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Next I used the markers to colour rubber stamps. I’ve used this technique before with some chisel-tipped Mr. Sketch markers as I have a limited number of stamp pads and this allows for some fun colour variations. All you do is directly colour the raised edge of the stamp with the markers instead of pressing it on a stamp pad. Voila, you get a multicoloured image. If you want to take it a step further, since Crayola markers are “washable”, you can take a dampened paint brush and use it to spread the pigment into the design to get a watercolour effect. This technique is a little easier with a chisel-tipped style marker as you can colour the stamp more quickly.

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For both of my experiments, I used Crayola Marker and Watercolor paper. I am a little perplexed as to why they market this paper as “marker and watercolor”. It would be a nice drawing paper but it does not have the very smooth and translucent qualities of the Canson marker paper and is not at all like any watercolour paper. It is a fairly good quality paper, just not what might be expected because of the name.

Overall, Crayola has consistently good quality, reasonably priced products for children and casual crafters. There is no point in comparing them to fine art supplies as that is not what they are intended to be. Most Crayola products, like these markers, are manufactured in the United States and they seem to make some effort to employ some environmentally friendly practices such as using solar energy, recycled plastic, and sponsoring a tree planting program.

If Crayola markers were people they would be American. Not exceptionalists but approachable and nice, and coming in all sizes and hues.

Staplers

20180810_staplers Do you ever feel as if you need some help to hold it all together? A stapler may be the friend you are looking for! While most stationery supplies come and go, one item that is a constant is the stapler. There doesn’t seem to be a lot of planned obsolescence in their design as they can be refilled and used for many years. My husband keeps a classic black Swingline on his desk while I have an orange one from my mom’s first office after returning to work in 1972. Both work great (although the no-name orange one is a bit beat up looking) and use the same standard staples. These staples can be removed by another office stalwart, the staple remover. The one I have is also made by Swingline. Modern staple removers are almost identical to one patented back in 1944 by Frank R. Curtiss. For those of you who are movie buffs, Swingline is the brand of stapler so beloved by the character Milton in the movie Office Space that he threatens to burn down the building if they take it away from him.

If you want to take the eco-friendly concept of the stapler one step further, I also have a plastic stapleless stapler. This ingenious little gadget holds a few sheets of paper together with a buckle stitch, punched out of the paper itself. It actually works quite well as long as you don’t try to fasten more than five pieces of paper together and don’t mind the small hole in the paper. I have also found if you are flipping through the papers a lot, the little buckle does come loose.

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If staplers were people, the standard stapler would be a steadfast office worker, minding their own business, there when you need them, and holding things together while others come and go. No management fads for them. The staple remover would be their shorter buddy. They always have their back but get even less attention. The stapleless stapler would have a superiority complex when it comes to environmental issues. They are always pointing out the waste of others but not getting quite as much done at the office.

Vintage Garage Sale Finds

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It is garage sale season around here and although I am trying to get rid of things, not accumulate more, I love to check them out just in case I find something I need. Recently I came upon one that seemed to be clearing out a lifetime of stuff, including a box that looked like they had just dumped the contents of a junk drawer into it. I rummaged through and found a few vintage stationery items I got for 50 cents (CDN).

  1. Eagle pencil

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20180728_110311This unsharpened pencil is the grandparent of the Berol Turquoise pencil I have written about before. It has a nice art deco style eagle logo and the words Eagle “Chemi*Sealed” Turquoise Drawing HB Pencil written on one side and Made in Canada “Electronic” Lead – Super Bonded Patented 1951 on the other. I love the idiosyncratic use of quotation marks. Are they quotes? Are they being ironic? It harkens back to another time where getting something “chemi-sealed” and “electronic” were real selling points.

  1. Promotional pencil

20180728_110329This very skinny promotional pencil has Western International Hotels written on it in brown. Western International Hotels was name for the Westin Hotel chain from 1963 to 1981. I am guessing this pencil is from the 1970’s with its gold and brown colour scheme but I don’t know for sure. I could have used this pencil when I was writing about promotional stationery items or hotel stationery.

  1. Two boxes of labels

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I liked the old-timey look of these boxes of labels but I only opened one of them. When I got home and opened the second box I realized it was just round white circles like the one on the cover that says “1000 A81”. I’ll be hard pressed to come up with a use for these ones.

Both boxes of labels are from the Dennison Manufacturing Company. The Dennison family business began in 1844 manufacturing paper jewelry boxes in Maine. By 1863 they added tag making to their growing enterprise. I am not sure exactly when labels were added to the product line but in the 1920’s, the Drummondville, Quebec factory, where these labels originated, was built. Drummondville was also where Eagle pencils were manufactured so it seems to have been a hub of Canadian stationery supplies manufacturing. In 1990 Dennison merged with another big name in the label industry to become the Avery Dennison Corporation. Then in 1996, Advantag Canada took over the factory and is still manufacturing tags there but not labels.

  1. Gummed paper shapes

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These Butterfly Brand London gummed paper shapes were a trip down memory lane for me. I was in hospital for a long time with broken legs when I was a child and was given something like this along with a little scrapbook to keep me entertained. What is really amazing to me is I discovered you can still buy them today. It makes me wonder how a modern child would react when given these tiny little shapes and told to lick them to make them stick. Probably about as thrilled as the child who had been given this box as it appears to be almost full. Unfortunately, it must have been exposed to some humidity as many of the shapes are stuck together.

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  1. Notebook

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I really don’t need another little notebook but this one had such a sweet retro floral design on the cover I just couldn’t resist. I almost always carry around a small notebook (this one is 10.2 cm x 7.5 cm or 4″ x 3″) so I will replace a boring old one I have that has become a bit tatty with this one. The inside pages are blank and quite nice quality. It was made by John Dickinson Stationery Limited, a British firm that goes back to when John Dickinson himself founded it in 1804.

  1. Sheaffer pen cartridges

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These ink-filled Skrip cartridges are the type used in Sheaffer calligraphy pens. The cartridges seem to be sealed quite well as I have used old ones before without any problems. I currently only have black ink so I’m glad to expand my colour selection.

If these vintage garage sale finds were people they would be a group of oldsters reminiscing about the good old days. They still enjoy being useful, or in the case of the gummed shapes a bit fun, but they find themselves called upon less and less.