As a stationery brand, we are always curious how and what people use our stationery goods for. With this blog series, focusing on the hands at "work" and beyond, we ask five questions about the usage and meaning of the stationery tools to our friends in Los Angeles.

For our fifth and the last post for the year, we visited 
a LA based research economist, Neal Wilson's office and his favorite stationeries.

Neal uses a Prime Timber Brass 2022 in Navy. 


Q1.  What do you do with the Hightide stationaries you have?

I put this Marble Pen Tray in front and center on my workspace. It holds the pencils I use every day. It also holds an eraser, scissors, and pencil sharpeners.

The Prime Timber 2022 mechanical pencil is in that green tray. I use this pencil all day long for notes, lists, and general writing.

I use the small Penco scissors as a light utility scissor. There are so many miscellaneous things that benefit from a little attention (opening package, cutting off a tag, a stray thread) it is very useful to have these at the ready.

The small Penco scissors in Ivory and a Koh-I-Noor 6911 eraser,
a brass pencil sharpener and the Prime Timber sharpener on the marble pen tray. 

This Margin A5 notebook went into rotation immediately as the location where I work through the statistical models I encounter in my research activity. My current research is focused on childhood lead poisoning—I’m working on modeling the benefits that come with getting lead out of older homes and in the process reviewing the models that have been used in previous research. I can write out the statistical models long hand (with their Greek letters, superscripts, and multiple subscripts) much easier than I can write them up on the computer. It’s helpful to have all of my related research notes in one notebook.

LIFE Nobel Note Section A5 notebook: In addition to research notes, I also use notebooks for keeping track of events, both global and personal. My current notebook is almost full and I’m excited about starting a new one.


Q2. In our technology driven world, what does it mean to you to make things by hand?


It occurs to me that we live in a world of interconnection and dependence. I do most of my writing on the computer, but when I am working through the equations on which my work depends, I am writing those out by hand. One way of working cannot exist without the other (for me). Similarly, when I am using the Penco Prime Timber Mechanical Pencil to take notes longhand I am aware that I am using a manufactured product. Technology leads me to pick up the pencil and my writing leads back to the computer.

 Neal's research notebook for the local restaurants on York Blvd. 


Q3. Pencils or Mechanical Pencils?


Both! I love mechanical pencils but I write with a heavy hand so I am always breaking lead. The Prime Timber solves that problem with it’s wide lead. The pencil came with a sharpener for the lead, that means in practice my handwriting is easier to read. I also love using a standard pencil for note taking. I always read with a pencil in hand, marking sections of critical text and leaving myself notes in the margin. I frequently find myself using blacking pencils for this task. My grandfather was a draftsman and he used blackwing pencils, so it’s fun to talk to him about those pencils, their distinctive erasers, and the quality of their graphite.  


Q4. What’s in your pen case/pouch? If you don’t use a pencase, how do you store your stationary?


When I travel there are always a couple pencils floating free at the bottom of my bag. The pens, exact-o blades, bone folders and seam rippers, and the other implements that I rarely use can collect dust in that mug off to the side of my desk. Now, I use a green tray from Hightide. I’m very glad to have a pencil tray that keeps the stationary I use every day organized, available, and centrally located.


Neal's desktop scene: a big stack of note cards, multiple pencil sharpeners, and more. 

Q5. What is your most favorite stationary?

I love notecards. I go back and forth about the relative merits of the 3”x5” vs. the 4”x6” size. Regardless of size I prefer a heavier stock card than is readily available, so I am always on the lookout for a new source. I use these cards most often for quick notes and lists while I am working. Sometimes I’ll go through a dozen or more cards in a day making and remaking lists, working through notes and so forth. Notecards also make great bookmarks; I’ve underlined countless passages using a notecard to guide my line. I find that I particularly like writing on these cards with the Blackwing Matte pencil.

Neal Wilson is a LA based research economist and special faculty at Cal Arts where he teaches economic modeling and economic history.

 You can find his website here

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.