My pen making journey started 20 years ago...
Although a native Texan, my family had relocated up to Pennsylvania for a time, and December of 2000 my Grandfather came up from Texas for Christmas. He had been an Industrial Technology teacher (woodworking, photography, drafting, etc.) and had just learned how to turn pens on a lathe. He setup shop on the tailgate of his truck and taught me and my brothers how to make pens ourselves. We became so enthralled with it all that he surprised us by buying all the equipment we needed to get started for our Christmas present. From that moment on, we were hooked and made all kinds of pens off and on for many years after that. Eventually, life got busy for me, college and marriage happened, and pen turning went to the back burner for a while.
Fast forward to 2016. I needed a distraction from my work as a licensed commercial architect and decided to dust off the equipment that had been sitting in my parent’s garage. My initial intentions were to simply build back my skills at pen making and treat it more as a hobby. By random chance, I decided to blend my love of photography with the pen making and started up an Instagram account to display my work. Little did I know that simple move would spark something much bigger than just a basic hobby. I started getting a lot of attention from people who were interested in purchasing my work and quickly started selling pens throughout the US, as well as internationally in places like Israel, Hong Kong, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Continuing to develop my skills and having an ever-increasing group of followers on social media, I decided to take my shop to the next level. Up until this point, I had been focusing my efforts on “kit pens” as they’re referred to in pen-making circles. These are pens that incorporate pre-manufactured metal components that are then paired with wood, acrylic or resin bodies to create the complete pen. While still great fun to make, I did not feel challenged by them anymore and wanted something to expand my horizons. I began studying other pen makers like Bob Blanford (@rjbwoodturner), Shawn Newton (@newtonpens) and Tom Gauntt (@chesapeakepenco) who were doing “bespoke fountain pens” which entails turning and fabricating each pen component from a blank (block) of acrylic or resin. I knew this was what I wanted to do and slowly began acquiring the necessary tools over the next year or so.
In 2018, I dove headfirst into the world of bespoke fountain pen making. Many of those early experience were challenging to say the least, and I still keep a box of broken pen parts as a reminder that a large part of learning includes failure. Throughout the whole process, I’ve meticulously developed, adjusted and refined my pen making process to fit my preferences and expectations of what a bespoke fountain pen should be. I’ve continued to cultivate new friendships within the maker circle who have inspired and encouraged me along the way. It’s awesome to be able to consider myself a part of such a positive and uplifting group of people that is the fountain pen community.