We meet Alexander Roden, workshop manager at Yard-O-Led, makers of sterling silver pens and pencils for nearly 200 years. From their studio in Birmingham’s jewellery district, the writing instruments they create are second to none – and have no trouble finding loyal customers across the globe.
Gorgeous objects, often destined to become heirlooms, each is hand-shaped, and laboriously hand-engraved using machines and tools that look as if pulled from the history books. From the whistle of a flame to the click of the engraving machine, the Yard-O-Led workshop is awash with sounds of making.
All are part of an arsenal of sensory experiences that help the craftsmen here to ensure precision in their task – one gets to know the machines intimately, says Roden, and to interpret feedback they give throughout the process. Sound plays an important role in writing, too, not only in the craft of making the writing instrument: you need silence.
The smoothness with which one can let their ideas flow onto the page, without distraction, is a kind of zen-like headspace that Yard- O-Led aims to provide.