Flax is comprised of a small team that works hard to serve you. Ryan Finnegan was learning the extensive selection of writing instruments when the pandemic shut everything down and used the time since to become an expert on our offerings.
A fast-study and an avid lover of all things Flax, Ryan sports several journals (each has a different purpose), pens and pencils when his hands aren't occupied with a crochet hook and yarn for his latest creation. You might have seen his bumble bee brightening our spring displays.
Ryan is a big fan of the Kaweco Special mechanical pencil because (he says) it is the "comfiest" mechanical pencil he's used. he also likes the Pineider Avatar in Amber, Sailor 1911 clear and gold, and the Diplomat Aero.
Ryan is a "lefty," who prefers extra fine fountain pen nibs, believing they dry quickly and help avoid smearing. You can find him writing in Midori MD lined journals, Oasis notebooks, and virtually anything Rhodia. Don't start him talking about the pulp made from the bark of the mulberry tree ... that will get you into Hanji line and you might never write on "plain" paper again. He can tell you how you'd be supporting the environment while the rest of us talk about the new ink colors we love.
If you relate well to "Gen Z," Ryan's the guy - but he's a product expert regardless of your birth year.
My father was the picture of strength during my child- and most of my adulthood: he was an all-star wrestler and coach, gym and health teacher and master Red Cross water safety instructor, seemingly teaching most of the County how to swim. It could have been from years of blaring his whistle (I'll never forget the "Acme Thunderer" which summoned us home immediately), the passing of years or the insidious Alzheimer's he suffers, but my ability to talk with my dad, who is over 3,000 miles away, went away a while ago.
Frustrated by the inability to have a conversation with my dad (don't get me started about video calls - he retired "when the getting was good," which in his mind meant before he'd have to learn to use a computer), I decided to write. I didn't think much of it because, for the most part, my letters weren't very long but, after a while, my mom said he loved getting the letters. She said she would have him read them aloud and explained that often it would be the only time she'd hear his voice during the week when the communication wasn't about medication, a problem or something else bad. She said reading out loud was good for him and helps stem some cognitive decline. I don't envy my mom as the caregiver but I'm told the letters also give her some respite and a view into what's doing in my life in California. (Years ago she sent a birthday card and wrote, parenthetically, that good sons don't move 3,000 miles away from their mothers.)
I admit, my handwriting isn't the best and is certainly nothing like that of my mom, who writes as neatly today as if writing on a blackboard 30 years ago, but when I write to my dad, I write in larger size so he won't struggle. Every time I sit to pen a card or a note, I make an effort to counteract the years of college and law school note-taking and produce something legible and personal. Because this takes effort, I think about how the use of e-mail and computers play a part in the loss of an art form: handwriting.
While at a museum in Albany a little over a year ago (back when people traveled), I happened upon a display which included pages of the area's census. The scripted entries were beautiful. I said to Ryan, "Do you see this?? This is how people wrote a long time ago." He said, "Gorgeous!" It was.
My years of practiced handwriting and calligraphy were decades ago but I've made a commitment to write more by hand and trust the time I take is appreciated. It also makes me feel like a solider in defense of an art that might be lost if we don't fight the battle, so I encourage you to take up your figurative sword, be it a fountain, ballpoint or rollerball pen and share your writing with people who would love to hear from you. Feel free to share your stories with us.
At Flax we have four specialists. The "older" Jeremy (Schuster) studied printing systems and management at RIT, availing himself of master classes in typography with Herman Zapf and bookbinding with Werner Rebsamen. He "worked his way up" from typesetting through graphic design and reportage and ultimately to editor of a magazine, where he produced a full-color edition. Although a lawyer in his 30th year of practice, Jeremy brings a wealth of knowledge he is eager to share. He also brings Wesley Crusher (Whippet), the store's mascot.
1078 Gayley Avenue
Los Angeles, California
Tuesday - Friday
11:00 AM - 6:30 PM
11:00 AM - 5:30 PM
CLOSED - Sundays & Mondays