Where My Inks and Ephemera Live

Where do your inks live? Maybe scattered around a room, under your bed or neatly filed away in a shoebox perhaps? This is something I often wonder about, especially when reading correspondence from pen pals. Many of them use fountain pens and different colors of ink. Where do they keep it all? How do they keep it organized?

I thought I’d answer this question myself and show you where and how I keep my inks, cartridges, converters, seals, sealing wax, stamps and ink pads. I keep all of that in one desk drawer. One. I keep my fountain pens and calligraphy nibs and my enclosures in another drawer. My things weren’t always arranged like this. Years ago, they lived in an old shoebox. Then, they took up three boxes. I downsized and now they live here.

Ink Cartridges and Converters

See, it was overwhelming having lots of supplies. Why did I need so much? I didn’t. That’s why I think I felt that way in the first place–felt the need to question the amount of things I was keeping around. I decided to only keep things I used 80% of the time. Boy, that cut out a lot.

Sealing Wax and Seals

I have about half a shoebox full of stuff yet to get rid of. Stamps, pens, stickers, ephemera, pins, buttons, bits and bobs. I’m debating on it. Should I try to sell it to someone who really wants it? Should I just slowly send each piece off to a pen pal one-by-one, as the occasion calls for it?


I don’t want to be someone with a ton of ink, a ton of paper and a ton of stuff. I want to keep a lean desk. I want a desk full of things I actually use.

I think most of us are like that. None of us want a ton of stuff taking up space in our lives, especially when we don’t use it. Stuff is heavy. And stuff we’re just hanging on to for arbitrary reasons is really heavy.

Stamps and Dip Ink

In all my years of yoga, one thing that has really had sticking power is this concept of non-attachment. Yoga is not just physical exercise. The physical part is probably actually the smallest component. Yoga is more like an approach to life. Yoga tells us to practice non-attachment. To avoid having attachments to things. I think this is good advice. I’ve seen family members with entire basements full, literally full, of things they have not used or needed in years and years. I don’t want a basement full of my arbitrary attachments. I don’t want a closet full of things I don’t want or need but are somehow guilting me into keeping them. Why do I let this cheap heart stamp guilt me into keeping it? Why?!

Sealing Wax Storage

I suppose this post is about just that. I write letters and I receive letters. That in itself just requires pen, paper, envelope and stamp. It doesn’t require 3 dozen stamps, 25 types of ink, 40 fountain pens, 80 packs of stickers. The stickers and ink aren’t what make a letter meaningful and treasured. It’s the words on a page. When I sit down to write, I want to focus on the words I’m choosing and not the placement of all my stickers and stamps, what ink to use, how to place my stamps.

Silicone Grease

I’m pretty sure that’s a good approach to life in general. Keep and use only that which serves you. Don’t give up physical and mental space to things that serve no purpose.

Ink Cartridges

So what about you? How do you keep and store your supplies? Do you have things you keep for no real reason other than you’d feel guilty if you got rid of it?


  1. Oh, I have way more things than I really NEED. Sometimes it’s nice to have options, but most of the time it’s just a struggle. I seem to tend toward addictive personality issues.

    As for storage – I have a couple of shelves above my desk that hold my inks, pens, and seals. Most stationery is on a desk corner. I admit to a box or two of stationery, desk pen sets and inkwells, and a large stack of journals and notebooks I acquire faster than I use.

    I do try to use it all though. Most of it was purchased to try – is this a better nib? This pen is nicer to hold. I like this shade of ink better. Thinning, it turns out, is best done as you go along.

    I think you are correct though, about running lean. I just about get to that point, but wind up interupted (or just mentally exhausted trying to deal with the ‘stuff’) and it winds up postponed.

    • I agree with you Paul. I wasn’t at a point where I could clearly ‘let go’ of things until I figured out what exactly I liked and didn’t like. Many of my things were also acquired because I was trying new things; attempting to find the ‘perfect’ this or the ‘perfect’ that.

  2. In all the years of teaching yoga and meditation, the one thing that I always bring to focus is the connection that threads everything {Yoga is union}. This connection is can be threaded seamlessly into all of our daily actions and how we consume and handle our possessions.

    I love the hand written letter and the tools in which we use to create them. I love having just what I need to create…I try to have only a few good quality nice possessions..2 nice fountain pens, 2 ink bottles..1 sealing stamp…2-3 sealing wax sticks..plain paper and envelopes. I do the same with my non-writing things as well.

    This was a awesome post..Your site is wonderful!

    • Andrea, I love having a fellow yogi stop by! I so appreciate your comment, and I love hearing how you truly keep it simple. We must leave space for all the words we are to write on the page.
      Glad to see you on Twitter too!

  3. I keep my inks, pens and notebooks on a shelf. I’m quite proud of that shelf. It’s the only one dedicated to pen and ink paraphernalia.

  4. Hi, Cole —
    So glad to stumble upon you here (I follow you on Twitter for some reason I don’t recall…serendipity?) — ever since I heard someone on NPR after New Year’s Day talk about how we don’t use most of the stuff we have, and I sat down and thought about it, I have been trying to weed down… but, as one of you said here, it takes knowing what you want/like/enjoy to know how to weed out the others.
    My inks are Noodlers, supposedly they won’t corrode my pens; a Waterman bottle of ink corroded my Waterman Opera pen, although I did leave the ink in the pen for a long time… My goal is no more disposable/plastic pens or pencils — I’m fond of mechanical pencils — or ink cartridges; no more buying notebooks until I have used the ones I own (two more to go…); consolidation of electronic devices (still can’t decide that one); and keeping, of the things I do love and do DO, a modern digital version plus one version of the old analog. So: Nikon digital camera, but also 1956 Rollei TLR; Mac, but also Royal portable typewriter, etc. It amazed me how much time and money is/was spent acquiring, storing, cleaning, moving, etc all the ‘stuff’!
    I don’t do asanas, but found Eknath Easwaran a wonderful teacher (albeit in absentia?) of meditation and such things…yoga, yes, is the whole life orientation, not simply the postures. I find the issue of ‘non-attachment’ much misunderstood: it isn’t not caring; it is not being selfishly determined that things are a particular way, people behave a particular way. When I have moments of achieving that, it is incredibly peaceful.
    Kudos to you for your insistence on the human touch in a world increasingly devoid of it. My friends all LOVE getting a handmade card or handwritten letter in the mail, it’s like a wee Christmas…
    Best wishes to you!
    (you might like beherethen.wordpress.com, note my post on handwriting…)