I recently won an award and I wanted to do something nice with the prize money, something that I could cherish for a good few years and get joy out of every time I use it. I decided on a fountain pen, but not just any fountain pen, I got a handmade, wooden, beautiful work of art which is absolutely stunning and a joy to use. David, the owner of Pagan Pens was kind enough to take a couple of pictures of my pen being made so I could share them on this post.
The first step is to select the wood. On the website there is a useful guide of woods based on the Ogham Calendar. The Ogham Alphabet is one of the earliest forms of written communication and was found largely within Ireland, but also in parts of Wales as well. Later medieval documents suggest that the letters of the alphabet were named after trees. The Ogham Calendar is based on a 13, 28 day cycles each represented by a tree. This lends itself quite nicely to having birth woods, in a similar fashion to the having a Zodiac star sign. My birth wood is Alder (18th March – 14th April), which is represented by the letter Ogham letter F ᚃ (Old Irish: Fearn, although originally in Primiative Irish this symbol was a W for Wernā). Each wood has it’s own unique characteristics and properties. Alder is said to be the magical tree of Bran, the King or God of the Celts (who was said to be a paternal and maternal ancestor of King Arthur). Alder gives protection, courage and eases fear and doubt. It is also a pioneer tree, often being one of the first to claim wet,treeless ground and improves the soil to allow for other trees to grow there as well. As a result it is often see near water, which connects the tree to the element of water. However, it is also connected to air, with ancient legends suggesting the wood was used to make wind instruments. Furthermore, it’s bark once cut turns to a fiery orange, which gave rise to the belief there was a flame within the Alder, as a result the charcoal was used in forges to make Celtic weaponry. So I thought it was a pretty perfect and unique wood for me to choose!
Once I had selected my wood and placed my order it was David’s turn to select the actual piece of Alder. David picked a piece of spalted wood, which means the wood has gone through a colouration process caused by Fungi and can produce some beautiful interest on the wood. It is typically found on dead wood and is the stage before the wood begins to rot. The first process is to cut the wood to size and then to drill and glue the brass parts of the pen into place.
Next the pen wood is mounted onto a lathe and using a heavy gouge chisel the wood is turned and begins to become rounded. Once the basic shape of the pen is reached a skew chisel is used to produce finer shavings and give the wood a smoother finish. The final stage of the pen making process is to sand the pen down to make it smooth and then apply three different waxes, each wax is applied four times given a total of twelve coats of wax.And here is the finished:The pen is absolutely breathtakingly beautiful and it feels soft and smooth in my hand. It’s more light weight than I expected (but then again I do have a very heavy wooden locket which I was comparing it to, so I expected it to be a lot heavier than it is). It’s a good weight and the pen itself is very comfortable to write with. The nib itself is smooth and had a good flow from the start, it doesn’t skip and it really nice to write with. As you can see at the end of the pen, there is a knot visible. This is common within wood and was not visible at first when David cut the wood. It has sanded smooth and there is no visible ridge to the pen. David did contact me and say that if i was not happy with the knot he would make a new pen for me as some customers prefer to have the pen knot free. For me I was completely in love with the pen and thought the markings were truly beautiful. I did not see the knot as a flaw but a wonderful unique feature to an already beautiful pen.The craftsmanship and beauty of this pen far exceeds anything I was expecting and I am truly blown away from the quality of this pen. Considering I paid £32 (plus £5 shipping), I really got one hell of a pen for my money. I am completely in love with it and it fits in so wonderfully with my letter writing case. The only downside is that I do not have enough letters to write. I am hoping my pen pals will speed up a little bit and give me some letters over the coming days.
Waiting time was very reasonable, I ordered the pen at 2:38am on the 5th August. It was posted on the 24th August and I received it the following day. The pen was presented in a lovely purple velvet pouch and came with a standard size ink cartridge and an ink converter. There is also the possibility to get other nibs and you can use this pen for all your calligraphy needs.
So if you are interested in a unique gift at a great price I recommend checking out Pagan Pens, and if you are not a fountain pen lover there are other pen options available. To see more photos of David’s beautiful pens check out his Facebook page as well.