Category: Good Reads

Humbled by our community

I’m typically a humble guy. If you compliment me I will offer my gratitude but never truly feel worthy the praise. That’s a difficult position to be in for someone who practices an art but at the same time help drive to improve.

From the Pen Cup author Mary Collins recently offered her praise for a pen that she purchased from me at the DC pen show. The pen was a slightly different mix of the colors that make up the combustion resin from Jonathon Brooks @ Carolina Pen Company. I use Jonathon’s blanks for the larger percentage of my pens and love working with the material and he has a tremendous eye for colors. This particular Ares model only came to be the weekend before we left for DC. It was a whim creation from a set of blanks that caught my eye while Jonathon was up spending time in my shop. I guess it was meant to be that this pen was created and found a home with Mary. And to top it off she was able to get a matching stand from Jonathon and an Architect grind from Dan Smith “The Nib Smith” himself.

I just wanted to take a moment to thank Mary for her kind words. I spent some time with her and her husband at DC and couldn’t have met a nicer couple.

You can read the review here:



A special pen for an anonymous benefactor and a little life lesson to for my son

A special pen for an anonymous benefactor and a little life lesson to for my son

Our oldest son Ryan has been given the opportunity to travel with the 8th grade band down to Orlando Florida to play his saxophone at Universal Studios this coming spring. Unfortunately there was a rather high price tag associated with the trip and Ryan had to come up with the money to go. So when the fundraiser packet came home to sell cookies, kitchen gadgets and the like, I did what most father’s do. I reached out to people I knew to try and earn him his (average) $5 per item sold.

My reaching out included fellow pen artists across the country world.  We’re a close knit group who help others when we can. Shortly after my post to solicit catalog purchases, checks started rolling in made out directly to his band account from some very generous angels.  Most people realized that Ryan receives so little of those fund raiser sales and much of what was being sold was just not really desirable. What came next was beyond our wildest hopes and expectations and ended up completing the funding of the entire trip.

We’ll call him Mr. Anonymous or Mr. A for short. Mr. A contacted me and asked if Ryan made pens with us. Long story short, the kids are the reason we started making pens and Ryan definitely knew how. Mr. A asked to commission a pen from Ryan in exchange for funding a significant portion of the entire trip. He gave me some general ideas on what he liked and I worked with Ryan to pick the right piece of wood and got him ready to go. The pictures below were taken during the process from the start of turning through completion.

The pen is created from a piece of Amboyna burl wood. Amboyna is a highly treasured wood for it’s distinctive strong grain patterns and density which makes it a perfect choice for a pen. It polishes up beautifully with simple and natural friction based finishes which makes it a great choice for those who don’t like chemical based finishes such as acrylic, lacquer or polyurethane. The finish chosen was a simple mix of walnut oil, shellac and a microcrystal wax.

In the middle of the process, the opportunity for a little life lesson presented itself. As happens from time to time, a small catch turned into an explosion of the blank. Ryan was so upset with himself and was so afraid of disappointing Mr. A that he was ready to go in and bury his head in the sand so to speak. He couldn’t understand why I had a big smile on my face watching all of this.

My grin got bigger and I told him “Don’t worry, we’ve got this”. I sent him on a hunt for the exploded pieces which is always an interesting adventure among the saw dust and wood shavings all around. We were able to find 2 large pieces that accounted for about 90% of what went flying. He still didn’t understand and was still upset. I showed him how to fit and repair the two large pieces and then how to deal with the remaining voids using the shavings that were turned off the pen and some thin CA glue. After a few rounds of packing and flooding with CA, the voids were filled and ready to turn again. He was still concerned but proceeded anyway at my encouragement.

After turning it to the final dimensions, on close inspection you really can’t tell that anything ever happened. If it wasn’t for the pictures, you would’t believe me if I told you that it had happened. The break points and fill blend in with the grain patterns like they belong. I told him this is a great life lesson. Don’t immediately and negatively react to a situation until you’ve been able to asses the entire picture. Most problems can be overcome with a little patience and guidance from someone who’s been in your shoes. Now he has a new skill and mind set that can hopefully be applied to other aspects of his life.

However he’s still trying to wrap his head around how someone can be so generous to give him that much money for a pen. But he’ll come to terms with that one on his own and hopefully pay it forward when his opportunity presents itself.

Fountain pen nibs and feeds

Fountain pen nibs and feeds

This is a bit of an older post from Pentorium, but since fountain pen technology has changed little over the course of it’s history, it’s as relevant today as ever.  The article does a good job of covering the aspects of what a nib is, how it works, and how differnet nibs perform differnently.




Custom design and random good reads for the week


I’ve been busy working on a new 100% handcrafted rollerball design that uses fountain pen ink or cartridges but so far only have about 1/2 a pen that I’m happy with.  This pen will use no metal plated components except for the clip but rather an ebonite front section and acrylic body.

I wish I could say it was going swimmingly, but dear old Murphy has done his best to work against me and anything that can go wrong…has.

In the mean time here are a few good reads.  The first combines two of my favorite things.  Bicycles and Fountain Pens.  The other, well, we have a stylus for that 😉

Fred Clements: Fountain pens and bikes

Handwriting App Ink Adds New Fountain Pen Tool

Journaling for the rest of us – Bullet Journal

If keeping a journal intimidates you or you just don’t know where to start, bullet journal is a great way to get going. It’s a simple to follow but extremely efficient way to keep up with your day to day life. It’s not for long drawn out reflections, but rather an at a glance list of notes, tasks, and other important events in your life that would normally be scattered across multiple applications and calendars.

For the list-makers, the note-takers, the Post-It note pilots, the track-keepers, and the dabbling doodlers. Bullet journal is for those who feel there are few platforms as powerful as the blank paper page. It’s an analog system for the digital age that will help you organize the present, record the past, and plan for the future.

See more at:



A 240 year automaton boy that can write


Absolutely amazing look at a 240 year old automaton that is not only fully functional and capable of writing, but also programmable!

Watch the BBC Video

The writer is the most complex of the three automata. Using a system similar to the one used for the draughtsman for each letter, he is able to write any custom text up to 40 letters long (the text is rarely changed; one of the latest instances was in honour of president François Mitterrand when he toured the city). The text is coded on a wheel where characters are selected one by one. He uses a goose feather to write, which he inks from time to time, including a shake of the wrist to prevent ink from spilling. His eyes follow the text being written, and the head moves when he takes some ink.

– Source: Wikipedia