Erin, who’s doing it all very right, felt deep things while doing it. She says
And then I switch out for my rod, and write my name very slowly, and thoughtfully on the flat below I pen the length and weight and taper. My hand begins to shake a little bit. Then the month and year — I’m nervous — whereupon I have the secret hope that several hundred years from now someone will find this rod in an attic, or woodshed, or closet with a secret door, and will wonder who Erin Block was — maybe they’ll Google me once or twice, if people are still Googling in 2413 — and then they’ll marvel at how long ago 2012 was. That is what I hope – that this rod, that these words, will someday prove that I existed. That I lived and loved and lost. And died. And that I was glad to go, but sad to leave.
But then, she was building a cane rod, so it’s OK to go all spiritual about it, there must be something in cane dust that makes you feel that way. Obviously, that wouldn’t do for me. Not the kind of approach you would expect from a die-hard TC&Cer (now in English), epoxying together bits of Chinese petrochemistry and metallurgy. I don’t feel a connexion with History when I do that (even if actually I often think about labor law and global economics when fiddling with stuff produced on the other side of the planet).
So let’s write on the blank, cheap and chic. For the chic part, you may use a fancy white ink (you should, because the cheap stuff looks like crap) and an even fancier nib.
Ink: Sennelier 01 opaque white (a French excellent calligraphy ink). Nib: Leonardt CR40, rather fine, and soft (which is important not to scratch the blank).
Then comes the hard part: something to say (not that hard), somewhere to put it (easy), and some penmanship (hard). Above you see a piece of scrap blank/rod, on which I allowed myself a fit of hysterical invention.
I very much prefer to read CCS data on a rod. Length is kinda obvious, and line rating… err, it’s just bad poetry.
Eric would say (he’s my favourite obsessional / healthily paranoid): you’d better measure that shit yourself and not trust the manufacturer. He’s right, obviously, many manufacturers take us for absolute morons. And you wouldn’t write something false on your blank. And that is precisely the point: CCS data actually are capable of being true or false. Writing “5 wt” is something else: the expression lacking proper meaning, it can be neither true nor false. Like poetry, but ugly.
(Of course there’s much more to a rod than ERN and AA, but it’s as good a start as any, and much better than most.)
The problem with the above is that it ended up unsatisfying. Proportions are wrong, it’s crowded on the grip. It doesn’t work. Good news: white ink is just a nice guy. While wet, you just wipe it out with a wet cloth. If dry, scratch it with your nails. If you don’t have nails, you’d better have a girlfriend. So you can go dip your nib and be wrong like 200 times, it doesn’t matter: wipe, repeat. Repetition takes out a lot of pressure, which is good for a nice lettering.
Second go. Sign:
Specs and a couple of wraps:
Yeah, that’s more like it.