In my family we insist there is a semantic distinction between “handmade” and “handcrafted.” Something that is handmade is, well, made by hand — often with love, but inexpertly. Pipe-cleaner ornaments are “handmade.” Clothespin dolls are “handmade.” Anything made out of Sculpey Clay, slathered liberally with a protective coating of Mod-Podge, is “handmade.”
“Handcrafted,” on the other hand, is a term we reserve for any item that transcends the “handmade” label to become an object d’art: something crafted not only with a high degree of technical expertise but with a real artist’s eye and passion. My dad’s guitars are “handcrafted.” My grandfather’s knives are “handcrafted.” And Nock Co.’s line of pen cases are “handcrafted.”
There’s been dozens of wonderful reviews of the recently released Nock Co products, some of which convinced me that I should invest in them. But as I recently commented to Tim “the Nib Creep” over at his review, I never get tired of seeing photos of these pen cases.
Just a few basics, for those of you who aren’t yet familiar with these products:
Nock Co. is a company founded by Brad Dowdy (alias The Pen Addict) and Jeffrey Bruckwicki, softgood design and development expert. Their company is based in the state of Georgia, and their pen cases are all 100% handcrafted right here in the USA. You can check out their blog for photos of their sewing machines in action. After a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign followed by a crop of beta-test reviews by lucky bloggers who received early test versions of the cases, the Nock Co. online shop opened on June 25 for business.
Currently they have 7 different cases available for sale, not counting sold-out limited editions. They are all made with a textured 1000D nylon with DWR (durable water repellant) coating on the outside for rugged protection, meaning every case is stain-, tear-, and water-resistant. Meanwhile, the insides are expertly lined with nylon pack cloth, which is slicker and silkier and the perfect swaddling cloth for your precious pens.
Every model comes in a variety of color combinations, and I decided to go with the Mandarin/Bluejay combo for my two cases. The Mandarin is a fiery orange that is impossible to lose in any of my regular bags, while the Bluejay is a cool, almost royal blue, its vividness a good complement to the Mandarin.
The Hightower is a three + one bifold for note taking on the go. The right-hand pocket is the perfect size for a Field Notes (or comparable pocket jotter). You can squeeze up to three in there, if you absolutely need that many Field Notes in your pocket.
The left-hand side is fully subdivided into three pen slots, over which a long nylon flap folds so as to protect your pen clips. You can see in this photo that my Delfonics mechanical pencil is a touch too long for the case, which causes the flap to bulge up a little bit. Any regular no. 2 pencil you want to put in there will be too long at first, too.
The stitching is immaculate, and the edges of the trim are singed to prevent fraying. It makes me smile just looking at that bit of shiny, neatly melted nylon.The only way this design could be improved is with a snap or a magnet or a bit of Velcro to hold the whole thing shut. I don’t like my Hightower accidentally flapping open inside my bag, and some sort of fastener would make it that much more secure.
The Brasstown is by far my favorite of all their designs! They call it a “zip roll,” and it merges two indispensable types of cases in one streamlined design: the zippered bag, a catch-all for your erasers, glue sticks, rubber stamps, etc.; and the traditional roll, which has individual slots for six precious pens.
The case manages to hold a ton of stuff without sacrificing its streamlined look. One of my favorite features is that there’s a little breathing room on the ends of the case, meaning I can tuck a pot of lip balm in one end and not have to unzip the entire case and roll out the tongue to get to it. (Also, if you have an extra-long pen — or normal-sized wooden pencil — it will still fit into a pen slot!)
The Brasstown is pretty much the perfect pen case for me. It can hold everything I need on an average mobile writing day with room to spare for car keys, or an ID, or one of those adorable little Tootsie Pops that the Goulet Pen Co ships with every package. (Which reminds me… it’s about time to put in another order.)
So go ahead. Nock it up. But be forewarned: once you start, you’ll never stop.
Nock puns generously provided by my sister.