December 9, 2019 0

How to Cut a Quill Pen

How to Cut a Quill Pen


So if you want to cut a feather quill, the
first thing you will obviously need are some feathers, I’ve got here a pile of turkey pointers,
but historically you could also use goose or swan. The most important thing to note is that the
spine should be really really nice and strong so that it won’t bend when you try and write
with it. Second you’ll need a nice sharp blade, I’m
just using an X-acto blade. You’ll also need some scissors, I’m using
just generic paper scissors, and finally you’ll need some sort of long, thin poking device. I’m just using a bodkin but any strong bit
of wire will do just as nicely, so if you’ve got a coat hanger hanging around that you
would be willing to take apart that will do just as nicely. So I’ve gone ahead and selected a feather
and I’m just going to go ahead and make my first cut just about up here. If you just feel along the spine you’ll notice
that the end bit here is a bit softer than the center and the upper bits which are much
[tap tap tap tap] firmer, and that’s what you want when you’re writing. So I’m just going to go ahead and cut off
hopefully all of the soft bits while preserving the tougher bits up at the top which is what
we want so that our nib doesn’t bend when we try and write with it. And I’m just making a little gentle scooping
motion up here and slowly whittling down the end of it here so that eventually we end up
with something a bit like this. There we go. And here is where our slim poking device comes
in. We just want to go in and get this inner membrane
to come out so it doesn’t interfere with the uptake of the ink when we try and write with
it. This is connected up at the top here, you
can see the little bit where it starts to get a bit opaque. It’s connected just up there so if you just
try and get up as far as you can, little swirling motion here, try and disconnect it from the
top and it should all just slide right out. There we go. And you can see we’ve got a nice clean quill
in here, ready to take some ink. So now I’m starting to carve the nib roughly
into the shape that I want it to be in. And you can decide here how wide you’d like
the nib to be, and how wide your writing will be, ultimately. But I think we’ll go ahead with this shape
for now. And now here’s the tricky bit: you want to
try and put a tiny little slit into the end of it here to coax the ink down from inside
of the feather. So just place your thumbnail roughly where
you want the blade to stop, otherwise the feather will just continue to crack. I find there’s quite a bit of trial and error
involved in this; too long and the ink just rushes straight down onto the paper and blobs
all over the place but, too short obviously and the pen doesn’t work. So before we go any further we’ve got a slight
problem here in that these feathers are quite long and if you’re going to try and write
with this you’re probably going to be poking yourself in the face repeatedly with the end
of the feather and we don’t really want that so believe it or not the end of it actually
gets snipped off with your pair of scissors to approximately the length of just a normal
pen. And I don’t mean to crush your medieval aesthetic
fantasy dreams any further but so rarely in portraiture do you actually see people writing
with an entire feather like so, very often you just see them writing with something that
looks remarkably like a normal pen. And that’s because the barbs on the feather
are actually quite delicate and if you were to try and put this through the same daily
stress as you would a normal pen, it would probably end up quite gross quite quickly,
and so all of these barbs on the end of the feather here where your hand is supposed to
grip, these all get cut off. But the good news is you get to do some quite
interesting little designs features with the end of your feather here, or you can just
cut them all off and use them quite like a normal pen. And so here we have our completed quill. [Music]

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