Good Made Better

What is a Rocking Blotter and When Would I Use One?

What is a Rocking Blotter and When Would I Use One?

“What in the world is a rocking ink blotter?” This is a common question I hear when we’re shilling our goods at fountain pen shows all across the land. I’m surprised within the world of fountain pens that it’s as unheard of as it is, but to be fair I don’t recall when I first came across a rocking blotter myself, and I suppose I take it for granted that I’ve always known about this vintage desk accessory. 

Our generously sized rocking ink blotter

In their heyday rocking blotters (also called rocker blotters) lived in a world when fountain pens laid down a much wetter line than any modern pen would and ink wasn’t dry the instant it hit the paper. This meant there was a real danger of smearing the wet ink all over the page, something less than satisfactory in any instance where one was aiming to be professional. The rocking blotter does exactly what its name indicates it should do–it rocks over the paper in a back and forth motion and blots up the wet ink, leaving one an almost completely dry page that’s at minimal risk of ink smudging. 

When is a Rocking Blotter Used?

That’s all well and good, but the follow up question I usually receive is, “When would I use this?” It’s a fair question to ask, and there are three common situations where a rocking blotter is a good tool to have in your arsenal.

Reason 1: You’re using wet inks on slow drying paper

If you’re using a Bic Stic on a yellow legal pad, I’d say you’re safe to assume a blotter is not a tool you would use much. But, if you’re using a fountain pen with a broad nib on Clairefontaine paper, I’d say it’s a tool you might get an awful lot of mileage out of.

In my own case, I have certain pen and paper pairings that I know are susceptible to smudging if I’m not on my guard. I’ll also find I go from one part of the page to another as I amend things I’ve previously written, and it’s surprising how quickly I can still smear ink I laid down minutes ago if I accidentally brush my hand across the page. Periodically blotting what I’ve written does wonders for keeping my pages orderly.

The Deluxe Rocker Blotter lifted off its stand

Reason 2: You want to put your work away without delay

Sometimes an ink and paper pairing isn’t noticeably prone to smudging as the dry time is relatively fast, but if it’s not given a chance to dry even for a few seconds it can cause some issues.

For instance, I have a Leuchtturm1917 Some Lines a Day notebook that I’ll routinely write in in a rather hurried way, which means I’m immediately closing the book and putting it away. Depending on what I was using for a pen I’m either in the clear or I’ve made a mirror image of my last line on the facing page–always a frustration. Giving it a quick once over with my blotter easily eliminates this as a frustration.

Another solution for this particular issue is our pre-cut blotting paper sheets. These fit inside a number of the most common sized notebooks to act as both a bookmark and blotter. When the notebook is closed any wet ink transfers not to the opposite page but to the sheet of blotting paper.

A host of Good Made Better desk accoutrements

Reason 3: You like old and anachronistic things.

I’m an old soul at heart and I love tools that once were common but simply have had their useful existence erased by modern technology–whether deserving of obsolescence or not. I think of my safety razor along the same lines as a rocker blotter. It’s still as useful and effective now as it was when first introduced to the market, but a great number of people that would have used it when it was the chief technology have moved on to what is now the chief technology.

I believe in owning good tools even if they’re not necessarily my daily tools (although there are clearly limits to this practice as my dear wife reminds me). A sense of history and connection with the past has never done me wrong, and I find that so many of my old tools just perform better than anything made today.

Smoldered black rocker blotter, anyone?


The Good Made Better Deluxe Rocker Blotter

We’ve not only attempted with our blotter to create the longest name possible, but to present a timelessly designed tool for your writing space. We use solid black walnut and included a grain matched walnut base to rest the rocker portion on when not in use.

The blotter consists of four parts–the base, the rocker, the cap, and the knob. I suppose five if you include the blotting paper which is rather imperative. So five parts, we’ll say. In any case, the blotting paper wraps around the rocker and is held in place by the cap which is held in place by the knob which screws into the rocker proper. The paper is easily changed by unscrewing the knob, disassembling, and reassembling in opposite fashion with a fresh sheet of blotting paper. Our blotter comes with one sheet installed and a spare as well. We also have replacement sheets available in our shop.

The rocking blotter fully disassembled

I’m a firm proponent of having good tools to do good work, as a well designed tool not only makes for more pleasant and easier work, but it makes the work more enjoyable and can be the means of making unsavory work something to (gasp!) look forward to (if only very slightly). This was the case when I first discovered fountain pens. The pen single handedly brought sparks of joy to work I never relished (writing up landscape estimates), and I’ve found that the more joys I can incorporate into my work the better the result is and the longer I can stick with it before wanting to jump out of my office window. 

In a similar fashion our rocking blotter might just be the tool to allow you to use the pens, inks, and papers you love without having to worry whether a particular combination is the death knell to your neat and smudge free work. Fear no longer, and take heart once again in your daily tasks. We’re here to rescue you from the drudgery of the mundane by injecting it with a bit of hope and a bit of joy. This is what we do.

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