16 July 2011

A Feather To Write

The Summer Wizarding Event is fast approaching. Our crew of Makers is rushing to finish up their respective tasks. One of mine has been the creation of the "quill pens" that our new wizarding students will be using on the day.

I found some feathers at JoAnn Fabrics; turkey feathers of many sizes that had been dyed a variety of wonderfully bright colors.  And my local Walgreens had the el-cheapo style of ballpoint pens I needed for the ink supply.

The procedure for making the feathered pens was pretty straightforward.  I first examined all the feathers and selected ones both that had a wide-ish shaft all the way to the point and a hollow space in the shaft that was at least 2.5 inches in depth, preferably three.  Then I did the following.
  • Step 1: Clipped the end of of the feather point to open the shaft.
  • Step 2: Used a narrow knitting needle to gently clear the keratin material from the inner shaft.
  • Step 3: Using a basic household pliers, removed the ink column from the pens.

  • Step 4:  Measured how deeply the inkpen column would fit into the feather's shaft; cut the inkpen column to that length.
  • Step 5: Insert the pen column into the shaft, using a tad of super glue at just before the pen point (so that the pen column would stay put in the shaft when in use.

Here's how the pens looked at this point:

Besides looking a little incomplete, the pen shafts tended to want to snap off in use (it took me two mistakes to realize this!). I spoke with my brother, Woodcrafter, after hearing that some 10 years ago he had done something similar for a wizarding party he, his wife, and friends did for their children.  He told me that the pen shafts needed extra support.  Great minds think alike: I told him of my plan to wrap the shafts with cord.  He did that too!  I also added a thin piece of felt around each shaft to provide a cushioning effect.

Here are the finished feather pens. It's a little difficult to see in these pics, but the cord I used for wrapping was a dark gold color that had a second, metallic thread woven throughout.  So the shafts of the pens sort of glitter.

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