wands and nibs in London

January 30th, 2006 | Uncategorized

gillot nibsThis morning I went to an art supply store on Great Russell Street, which looked like the wand shop in Harry Potter, lined from floor to ceiling with rows and rows of mysterious black drawers labeled in gold lettering. I spent £15 on a selection of Gillot pen nibs, which I can never find in the US. Edward Gorey used Gillot nibs, a kind that he referred to as “tit quills,” but the ones I got didn’t have exotic names, just numbers. I also got a very appealing mini eraser. I have an eraser fetish.

I also went to the British Museum, which was great fun. The other museum-goers were wildly international and hardly anyone was speaking English. So if people were saying trite, annoying things, I couldn’t tell. Indeed, I was suffused with an uncharacteristic wave of philanthropic feeling.

Here’s a mummified Egyptian hand, with my live hand in the foreground. life and death at the british museumAn Italian couple in black cowboy hats was kissing obstreperously in front of this exhibit, but because they were doing it in Italian, I didn’t mind.

I saw the fragments of sculpture from the Parthenon that Lord Elgin ripped off from Greece in the early 19th century.elgin elbow The British Museum’s line is, at least he protected the stuff from further damage. And the pieces were so stunning that I’m inclined to agree. Here’s a close-up of a centaur’s elbow. Look at that vein over his bicep, and that crease of skin in the crook of his arm!

8 Responses to “wands and nibs in London”

  1. Liz says:

    Hey Alison,
    I am studying abroad in London for the semester and today I noticed that you’re here!!! I am definitely planning to go see you on wednesday for the roundtable. I would love to meet you!! I would love to show you around London sometime or maybe we could meet for coffee. I am an art history major, so a gallery or museum is always good too. Let me know!!! So glad you’re in town.


  2. Good travels, Alison. I can picture you wearing out nibs in the Reading Room at the British Museum, warming your feet on the big pipe at the scholars’ feet…

    I loved amazing old manuscripts — many illuminated (!) — on display at the British library, and the recordings of Yeats and Woolf and all reading their work.

  3. Pavel Curtis says:

    I had never before considered the possibility of kissing “obstreperously”. Thank you for expanding my horizons!

  4. ravaj says:

    hey, those staedtler rubbers are my favourites – when i was a kid at school (in london) the big turn-on for we little girls was cool stationery. england didn’t have too much in those days and we craved french and german pencils and rubbers (i know i know but that is what we call them … still recovering from first day in rabbi school when i made a mistake and asked my neighbour for a rubber) and notebooks and felt-tip pens. to this day i still can only write properly with a fountain pen!

    wish i could come to your talk … missing london and my family there. enjoy!

  5. Anonymous says:

    Hey Alison

    Glad to hear the trip seems to be going so well (the British Museum –I’m so envious).


    If the Gillot nibs show up “in the strip”, please be sure to point it out to us here so those of us not in the illustratorati can get an indication of what these are all about.

    A small Vermont tidbit for the traveller: You’ll be proud to know that both Leahy and Jeffords voted for the fillibuster and against Alito.)

  6. Gladiator says:

    Dear Alice. I just heard your interview in “Woman’s Hour” so I went to the web looking for you work and I was shocked to find how much you borrow from that unreconstructed chauvinist Robert Crumb..A little bit of originality never hurts anyone and makes the message more honest. Try it!

  7. Anonymous says:

    in re “gladiator”:

    Um, I would never presume that D2WO4 (or any of AB’s work) needed my feeble attempts at defence. So, I’ll just assume it’s far more effective to let the quality (and “originality”) of the work speak for itself.

    But, be that as it may, for those who might be interested in hearing “Alice’s” interview on BBC’s “Woman’s Hour” (especially those of us here on the other side of The Pond), you can find it on-line here:


    [in the “other” Guilford]

  8. Lauren says:

    Alyson: Oh you got that right! That little fraction of a sculpture is just off hook. And we consder ourselves to be so “advanced”, when the average person today couldn’t draw a stick figure to save their lives. I teach sculpture at Duquesne University and my students truly get that sense of awe for those things when they have o carve something out of a tiny piece of 5 lb soapstone! that shit ain’t easy – and for that sculpture to do those deatails of the viens and the folds of skin – all making it seem so natural and effortless. We gotta a lot of work to do if we ever want to leave a legesy such as this!