In Which She Admits to Having Whittled a Pen

It’s not that I’m bored, honest. But a girl can only read so many books before she needs to do something with her hands. And given that I’m redeveloping my farmer’s calluses, it felt natural to take up a hardier hobby. There’s something artful and meditative about shaving off curls of wood, weighing the gentle balance of a knife in your hand. 

It appears that whittling has its own website, even appearing above the Wikipedia article in the google results (I figured that if I was going to admit my newfound love of whittling, I had better do my research). In any case, I remembered this post over at Leigh Reyes’ blog and knew my first project would have to be a pen. After a somewhat-successful but highly unattractive first try with a piece of stale bamboo, I came up with this beauty:

Finished Product

To be honest, I’m not even sure what type of wood this is, or if I went about it the “right” way. I just grabbed a piece of scrap from the wood pile, whittled it down to a shape I liked, sanded, and carved the reservoir. After sanding, I oiled the top half to keep the ink from absorbing into the wood. I left the bottom rough because I liked the look of it. The shape fits well in my hand.

Early Phases

early phase

Finished Details

Obviously the wood has absorbed some ink, and I noticed a discoloration when I tried to write with a lighter ink after using a darker ink the night before. But in general, I’m shocked that it writes so well. After figuring out all those angles, it was really a matter of imagining the capillary action of the ink itself, and how it would react to the surface of the wood. As my hippie kindergarden ballet teacher used to say, “be the tree” …

IMG_1169

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8 Responses to “In Which She Admits to Having Whittled a Pen”


  1. 1 Emily~ DreamEyce June 7, 2009 at 1:35 am

    That is awesome, and beautiful! I love it. Makes me want to make one of my own, for journal writing out in the woods. It’d be really cool to use with blackberry ink too!

  2. 2 Cole June 7, 2009 at 1:59 am

    Thank you very much! Although I love the “rustic” feel of it, I find that dip pens are such a hassle that I only ever use them in the safety of my studio. But blackberry ink, hmm, that does sound exciting– perhaps that will be my next experiment!

  3. 3 Emily~ DreamEyce June 7, 2009 at 2:13 am

    I’m often out in the woods writing with the dogs (when I need a break), and blackberries grow CRAZY around here. It’d be fun, but not very practical to do… but talk about a way to connect with nature!

  4. 5 Bob April 14, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    One of the coolest things about this pen is that it looks like a finger: very magical.

  5. 6 Cole April 23, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Haha, I suppose I’ll take that as a compliment! I didn’t want to over-carve it, so I stuck with a sort of raw wood look…


  1. 1 New Tools! « The Orchard Trackback on July 23, 2009 at 2:32 pm
  2. 2 New Tools! Trackback on May 27, 2012 at 9:35 pm

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