Posts Tagged ‘diy’

From time to time, my mind urges me to make something different, to try something new. So what better thing would be, for someone that writes in her own self made books, than to try and make her own writing instruments? This is how my feather quill making journey begins. Step one – find a tutorial that you think you can trust – I followed this one:

As with all things I didn’t followed the step-by-step tutorial exactly by the book, and tried to see what works best for me. The results came fast. Well… depending on what you call fast – first, I sunk the feathers in water overnight Second, I dipped them in hot sand (from the oven) and left them there till the sand was cold.

Indeed it had an interesting effect, it hardened the quills quite a lot. It is called tempering, and I imagine the feather shaft is similar as in structure to the fingernails, they get soft in water but harden in heat.

I prepared quite a lot of tools to try and find the perfect one, the only ones I found useful were the little blade (used for thinning leather) and the crochet. It seems the perfect knife should be small and not flexible. And very very sharp – you can see I used a jewelers rouge (that chunky white stuff in the photo) – that works like a very fine sand paper, you rub it onto the backside of a leather piece and then sharpen the knife on it.

The reason why the blade has to be short is so that you have good smooth control over it. It has to be a stiff blade so that it won’t bend and wobble while you cut, and very sharp so that you can cut things with one single diagonal strike and not have to make the back and forth movement like with a saw, that would give uneven results, some kind of “stairs” to your cut.

Also at some point you have to remove the residue inside the feather shaft/tube, people use all kinds of self-made instruments for that, I used a crochet but I could improve my instrument. It’s not that important anyway, if you can’t remove the stuff, just press it to the end of the tube with a stick and it will stay there. I am such a perfectionist, I know :p

That being said, all that remains is cutting the feather. It’s “top” is the one you would see when writing, and that will get the slit like nibs have. The top is situated on the convex side of the feather, like, if you hold the feather in your hand to write, you want the quill curved with the convex side up, and concave side down, like sheltering your hand, to rest comfortably in your hand.

So, the first cut is made from the top, not what you’d expect, I know. Not sure how steep the angle should be, I just cut diagonally with a long strike. Let’s say 45 degrees angle, for those that care for numbers. If the feather shatters a bit, like a broken fingernail and you know the knife is well sharpened, just repeat the cut a bit further up, you have to find that portion of the quill which is hardened but still flexible, the end portion of my feathers did that shattering thing but as I moved upper I could see that the cut lines were smoother and I could sculpt the feather more precise. The second cut is opposite to the first one, so it is on the concave side, close to the paper when you would write with the quill. This second cut has to be more elongated and made further up the feather (closer to the fluffy barbs of the feather) You would then obtain a weird thing with two “horns”. Some tutorials recommend you to cut the slit of the nib with an Xacto knife, and you can do just that, if this method I like best doesn’t work:

Just press the two horns together until the feather cracks and a slit forms naturally. I think this is the best method as I tried the knife thing and the slit tends to widen too much and you end up with a nib that writes double. After you have the slit in place on your horned feather, you just need to sculpt the nib, getting rid of the horns, and shape it to resemble a metal nib. Also you may need to recut the bottom side so that it is elongated enough and the quill pen would look close to this:

After you made a fairly symmetrical nib,  very pointy at the slit, you can sharpen its end point, peeling it with the knife, making tiny cuts to both top and bottom to make the nib flatter. The last thing is to put the nib on a straight surface, at the edge of the work table, and just remove the very end, the pointy bit, pressing it with the knife perpendicular on the feather shaft and straight down towards the table.

Don’t remove too much, just as little as you can. If you’d leave it as it is, I guess the end would be too flimsy and irregular and would wear out instantaneously, and because it would be so thin and narrow it would stumble and get stuck in the paper fibers and splatter the ink all over. To sum it up, you’d have 9 steps: 1: soak feathers in water, 2: heat them in sand, 3: cut it on the top, 4: clean the inside, 5: cut the bottom side, 6: make the slit, 7: sculpt both sides of the nib, 8: sharpen the nib end, 9: cut the very point of the nib (nipping it). That’s it, you can dip your feather quill into ink and try it. If something doesn’t look right, try and see if there are differences in shape to the quill shown in the picture. Cause that one works nice.

Please don’t be deterred by the long explanations, it takes 1 minute to cut a feather into a usable quill pen, I just made it seem like a long tedious operation because I tried to explain it thoroughly, so that you understand which is the top of the feather and which is the bottom, etc.

Oh and I got the best results with the goose feathers, will give the others one more try but first, I have to become a pro with the easiest-to-work-with materials.

All the writing you see in this post’s pictures was made with the quills I made, I am pretty happy with the results, since they are much better than the ones I had using this commercial feather quill I bought from Shepherds /Falkiner:

Hope you’ll try making a quill someday, if you ever get stuck in the middle of nowhere with no tool to write your memoirs… that will be one useful quill… umm skill!


[avatar user=”Anca” size=”100″ align=”left” /]

Anca is an artistic soul, with lots of ideas. She wants to try this and that, buys all the possible craft supplies that no one ever heard of, “for future projects” (she says)… She is a social media inamorata and ensures a quality customer service. She is our calligrapher and she plays the piano. a lot.

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Even though it is a fairly straightforward thing, to make a pendant out of a vintage key, there are several tips I want to share with you.

First and most important is the shape of the key – the easiest ones to work with are those that have a round bow, or a quatrefoil bow, that is because the key will stay vertical when it’s hanging from a chain. Otherwise, if the bow is oval, the gravity will make it slide in the jump ring and the key will fall in an diagonal position.

If you use an oval bow key like most are, you can use this design instead:

this will only work if the necklace is a short one as the bow of the key will have two distant supporting jump rings right and left. If the key would be on a long chain, the jump rings would be too close to each other, one slightly left and the other slightly right, and then the key might still tend to fall on one side.

Another approach would be to allow the oval bow key to slide on one side and fall diagonally and add some other little bits and pieces, beads or whatever to the necklace for a more hippie free-form gypsy look.

A thing to mention would be the thickness of the circular metal band from which the bow of the key is made, if it’s too thick, you’d have to use a large jump ring and that may not look too pretty if you’re aiming to make a delicate necklace. If, on the other hand, your key is a larger more industrial type of key, you can use large elements like a larger jump ring and a thicker bolder chain.

The last thing to mention would be protecting the keys from rust/oxydizing (after cleaning them beforehand).

There are a lot of solutions out there to protect metal from rust, basically any varnish, but the more specialized, the better. I use a metal sealer from Ranger which I like, as it has a satin finish, this doesn’t alter the look of the keys, doesn’t make them too shiny or too matte.

As for the chain, I prefer sturdy chains, ’cause I am a power user 🙂 the ones with soldered links are very solid, even though they look delicate.

The rest is up to you – I love to use gunpowder black chains or antiqued silver ones if I have an iron key, or brass if I have a brass key.

As each vintage key has its own personality, they will guide you to a certain type of necklace. Have fun and if you felt inspired to make something, show me your experiments!



[avatar user=”Anca” size=”100″ align=”left” /]

Anca is an artistic soul, with lots of ideas. She wants to try this and that, buys all the possible craft supplies that no one ever heard of, “for future projects” (she says)… She is a social media inamorata and ensures a quality customer service. She is our calligrapher and she plays the piano. a lot.

love it, share it! google pinterest