Picture of Making a quill pen
The quill pen, my favorite tool for ink drawing, was the standard tool for writing and drawing in Europe until the 19th century. Goose quills, particularly large (at least 10-inch) feathers taken from the edge of the wing, provide the ideal combination of flexibility and strength needed for fluent drawing that will not scratch the surface of the paper. This Instructable is part of a project I completed for the RISD Museum, for which I copied Luca Cambiaso’s drawing Deposition from the Cross (ca. 1570).

You can also read an article I wrote discussing my process for copying Luca Cambiaso 1570 drawing using a quill pen.

Written by Andrew Raftery (RISD faculty, Printmaking)

Step 1: Selecting a quill

Picture of Selecting a quill
Feathers being removed from the quill .jpg
Once I choose a proper quill I strip the feathers from the bottom of the shaft to make the pen easier to handle.

do u cut all the way through?

Curiositykt6 months ago

But what should I look for in a feather? Can I use chicken flight feathers? or tail feathers? Do I need big goose/turkey feathers?

Jasco971 year ago

I thought the quill had to be hardened by dipping it in hot sand

risdmuseum (author) 2 years ago
@Hoopajoo Thanks! Check out our other related post on making iron gall ink.
Hoopajoo2 years ago
Thank you for sharing this! I've used quill pens for art and calligraphy for almost 30 years. I notice that it helps to drill a tiny hole at the top of the slit you cut in step 7. It will not only keep the slit from riding up the quill with usage, but will also give you a slightly greater ink reserve.