So why ‘Applied Pens’, Jake? Well, I trained in applied arts, which is essentially about the overlap between three-dimensional sculpture and actually making beautiful things you can use. I’ve always liked the combination of aesthetic and utilitarian and that set the pattern for my career.
What moved you into making pens? One thing led to another! I was already making sculpted items for display at home – candlesticks, vases, etc. – and one of the dealers who sold them for me was based in Hay-on-Wye, a very literary town as you know. He pointed out that writers and their readers often like a good fountain pen, and that there’s a demand for something a bit out of the ordinary. It took some serious research to find the right mix of materials and equipment, much of which I had to source abroad, but Applied Pens soon took off. That was two years ago and I haven’t looked back.
How does a Lazzari design take shape? Here’s my little secret – I’m really a mechanical pencil fan. I’m told that’s safe enough to admit to in the stationery world, and I enjoy putting my original art skills to use. Looking at the preliminary sketches, you can see how the Streamline pen took shape. I do take commissions from customers too, but I’m always full of ideas anyway.
How are you finding working with us pen fans? It’s fun talking to such a well-informed audience. Fountain pen cognoscenti can spot a ‘kit pen’ at fifty paces and I’ve never been much impressed either, so making something truly original is good news for all of us. Going for a comfortably big pen with a large #6 nib seems to be really popular, and the Etsy site has been going well.
What are the materials you like working with best? I started out working with metals, and actually may return to this for some future pens if all goes according to plan. But for now, my material of choice is often food-grade ebonite; that ‘burnt rubber’ smell takes a bit of getting used to in the workshop, but it works well and makes for a pen which is really nice to hold. I also use acrylic quite a lot for the sections, and I’ve just invested in some remaindered Conway Stewart blanks which look amazing.
Some of your designs look like props from The Eagle – is there a bit of a sci-fi influence? You guessed it – ‘always been one of my big inspirations. Expect to see more…
What’s coming next? I’m working on some promising polygonal bodies right now, which do present a few challenges in getting the caps to line up with the barrels – I might have to make a video demonstrating how to get it right! Plus there could be some more materials on the way, so keep watching.
Coming up next for us a is a meta-review of one of Jake’s Streamline pens – you’ll probably want one – but in the meantime you can see all he’s making right now on his Etsy page.