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My daughter had a large feather that she wanted to make an old fashioned ink-dipping pen with. We could have cut the end of the quill and slotted it to feed ink, but she didn't want to have to slowly whittle away her quill as it wore down with use. So we resolved to make a quill fitted with a metal nib that would last much longer. The idea was inspired by seeing metal tipped quills in the Harry Potter movies.

Step 1: Materials

* Feather

* Metal Pen Nib

* Heavy Embroidery Thread

* Super-glue

* Dipping ink

The feather came from my daughter's art supply box, though you can find large ones at your local hobby store (often dyed). The metal pen nibs are sold with caligraphy supplies at your local art store; they are designed to be slipped into a pen handle, usually made of wood or plastic. You will find dipping inks in the same area.

Step 2: Slotting the Quill

Using the exacto knife, cut a slot across the base of the quill.

Think about how you are going to hold the pen when you make the slot -- my daughter wanted the top of the nib to be parallel to the face of the feather, so we cut the slot accordingly.

Our nib is scalloped, with a bit meant to be dipped (the writing end) and a bit that is meant to be attached to the pen handle. We cut the length of the slot to fit the piece that joins with the pen handle.

Step 3: Tieing the Nib

We didn't want the metal nib to come out, so we tied it on to the quill with heavy embroidery thread.

Starting above the nib, start with an over-under knot, with equal lengths of the thread on either side.

Wrap the thread around the nib, crossing the left and right threads over each other as you work your way down to the bottom of the quill.

At the bottom of the quill, tie the thread off with a tight square knot. This whole wrapping procedure was easier with two sets of hands, to keep the thread tight as we were wrapping.

Step 4: Glueing the Wrap

We didn't want the thread moving around, nor the nib to fall out, so we resolved to permanently glue it. Place a drop of super-glue on each of the knots, and at the interfaces where the threads crossed over the cut line on the quill.

When the glue is dry, you will be the proud owner of a metal tipped writing quill!

Step 5: Writing

We use calligraphy dipping ink with our pen. Metal nibs hold a small supply of ink by capillary action, between the two tines that form the writing point.

Just dip the writing tip of the nib into the ink, no farther than the top of the slot in your nib. If you go above this, you will get ink on your quill, permanently discoloring it. Additionally, getting ink into the high parts of your nib and quill will make it more likely to cross contaminate colors if you switch inks.

Learning to write with a nib pen takes a bit of practice. If you are used to writing with a regular ball-point pen or pencil, you'll need to practice only using strokes that draw the pen toward you, never away from you. If you try to push the pen away from you, the tines on the nib can catch on the paper, digging into the surface, bleeding ink out of the nib, and possibly damaging the nib. With practice, you'll get used to smooth motions of writing with a nib pen.

Enjoy!

<p>great job I'll make one</p>
Been making my own quills for years but never considered doing this. Thank you!
<p>Great work</p>
I showed my little sisters and they love it.
I have always wanted to learn how to make these so thanks soooo much!
<p>Great Idea</p>
Sweet!!!!! Now you are an olden day person
<p>This turned out looking great. My kids would love to have their own feather pen like this. Thanks for sharing how you made yours!</p>
<p>Not just kids.</p><p>My sister as well. (She's in college.)</p>
<p>Touché!</p>
<p>Not sure why I can't comment on anything else. Unless it's a reply to you.</p>

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Bio: I'm a professor of physics and astronomy at Northwestern University and an astronomer at the Adler Planetarium. I do a lot of "making" hobbies ... More »
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