Introduction: Writing Quill From a Goose Feather

Firstly find a goose feather.
I got this one from a beech (Höllviken in Skåne South Sweden FYI). This happens to be white but colour is irrelevant.
The reason for using goose is that the shaft is quite wide. The width of the shaft will dictate how much liquid (ink) the pen can hold.
You'll need a craft knife (or pen-knife: where the name comes from. If you use a pen-knife it'll need to be sharp!).


Goose feather
Craft knife (penknife)
Gardening twine binder
Cutting board
Aluminium foil
Sand paper
Ink /writing medium (watercolour......) of your choice

Step 1: Remove Membrane

On the outside of the feather there is a skin or membrane.
Remove this by lightly scraping it off with with your knife so that the outside surface is smooth.
This won't take more than a few seconds.
As with any craft project it's a little messy so TIDY UP AFTER YOURSELF. Otherwise you may upset your partner or roommate.

Step 2: Remove End and Central Membrane

Cut off the end of the feather.
Use the gardening twine to loosen and remove the central straw-like membrane. You could just push this deeper into the shaft but if you continue to use your quill by cutting it down (over time) you will eventually reach the detritus. When you remove it is up to you really.

Step 3: Shaping the Nib

Now remove the sides and shape the end. You'll need to decide if you're going to make a sophisticated tip (maybe an italic pen?). To start off with keep it simple.
You need to cut a slit / split which finishes in the centre of the point: this creates a channel for the ink ('capillary action' will draw your ink down this split). Try not to open this out at all if possible.
Using the sharp point of your knife to drill a hole at the top of the slit: this will allow the ink to get into the capillary slit more freely.
Shaping the tip is trial and error. If you do it a lot you'll come up with improved shapes.
Sandpaper will finesse the shape but can be a crucial way of helping produce the best writing interface: if you hold the quill in writing position and sand the tip on the paper at that angle you'll get a better more optimum writing tip, but don't go too far.

Step 4: Making the Reservoir

Fold some aluminium foil to create an 'S' shape (in side profile) to push into the shaft.
Fold the aluminium foil over several times to make it a bit stronger so that it holds its shape better / more rigidly.
I've added a rule(er) for size guidance (as a keen Imgur fan I'm sorry it's not a banana).
When it's inserted, you want it to finish with the exposed end pointed, and to be touching (only just) the split. This will make a place for the ink to be held while it's waiting to feed into the capillary split.
Again trial and error is your guide.

Step 5: Testing

Now you can trial your new quill!
Here I've used some purple watercolour (just because that was sort of to hand) but any coloured medium will do or even invisible ink of you want (lemon juice: activated by heat).
If your making a deal with someone I suppose blood might be appropriate?
Whatever medium you use should be in a well deep enough to submerge the tip as far as the hole at the top of the split without having to bend or deform the writing tip of the nib.
Happy calligraphy!