Dip Pen: Making Nib Holders – Part 2 (Materials)

Link to Dip Pen: Making Nib Holders – Part 1 [2016/08/16]

In this part ,  I will talk about my experience with the Materials for the Body of the Dip Pen Holder.  Since my last post in this series, I have tried a few other materials. One is some very old piece of Rosewood, I had to literally beg to procure a small piece of and second one was just lying around everywhere around me, Coconut Fronds. Since starting an attempt to make dip pen holders, the majority of the time I spent have been researching available and DIY  materials to make the body of the holders.  This second part of the post surely demands  shedding some mystery on the materials used.

I can easily assume that you would have seen and probably used a  plastic(PVC/Acrylic) and Wooden dip pen holders. Apart from these two  doubtlessly the most common materials. There are  some nib holders , old and new that are made from precious metals like Gold and Silver.  Then are few more  bamboo, glass, other metals etc. Acrylic , itself is available in a few of its versions  vig, Lucite, Galalith , Acetate ,  casting compounds (Epoxy Resin, Alumilite etc. super casting kit,  and maybe more.  Wood on the other hand has tons of options Teak, Rosewood, Walnut, Oak   and much much more.

Failed Materials (Marble Powder , Terracotta Clay) :- Having tried wood, bamboo and even some recycled plastic, I gave some  materials like air dry clay, Powdered marble and even terracotta clay a try as a possible candidate for exotic looking dip pens.  They all had their own flaws and probably some flaws on my part in not understanding how to treat them to make them suitable for the job at hand.

I believe , I must give  Marble  Powder and Terracota  another try some day! for now I have decided to put  them to rest.

The successful home made material, Air Dry clay:-  This material came about as a perk of every chaning hobby. Having no clue that I could use it to make some dip pen holders , I had tried making some made Air Dry Clay  ( If you want the recipe, ping me!)  for entirely a different hobby. But  then,  it seemed a possible candidate for making pen holders as they are easy to work and pliable enough to  shape it into any form or shape. and does work . When completely dry ( which might take around a week or more , for the purpose of making holder) , it  works well for a nib holder . Also since it is like a blank canvas, you can blend it , colour it , shape it to your hearts content.  Since one of my interests has been Zentangling, I tried a few doodles on the holder too.

Oblique Dip Pen Holders made from home made air dry clay ... Lighter and slightly flexible

Oblique Dip Pen Holders made from home made air dry clay … Lighter and slightly flexible

The most rewarding material , WOOD :-  Beyond any doubt, Wood has to be The Numero Uno material for making nib holders. I have now  tried  Teak, Rosewood, Pine, Beech,  Mahogany  and a few local varieties.   The  richness of the grains of a good variety of wood, like teak and rosewood , indisputably makes the nib holder look stylish and upmarket. Also it is The Time Tested easily available material.  To begin , I used the ordinarily available batons of teak wood usually used by carpenters for borders and piping  from a local hardware shop ( I only have small one in my village, and he had ample stock of it) . It is available in long lengths ( of 12 feet or so) , but the cross section is around 8mm X 8mm , good enough to make slender  oblique holders, but not so good or rather thick enough to  drill a hole to fit any kind of nib in. Yeah! maybe a crow-quill nib.  Later, I found some proper  but very antique piece of some black wood and a few pieces of rosewood from the local saw mill.

Spanner in the Works :  Not having any local option to turn the wood into  dowels and holders  , I went to extant of building my own small lathe machine. Even spent more than couple of months trying versions of it.  I was partially successful, but the result was nowhere near enough continue down that path. The beauty of working with wood is that you don’t need anything much but a good file and a few sanding (emery/abrasive) paper  of a few different grits and your imagination.  If you  happen to have any rotary tools like Dremel , Minicraft or even a regular  angle grinder , it helps a lot. Also most handmade dip pen holders are not always round . If you wanted to make any sharp/square faces , Or even a ergonomic calligraphy pen , then Lathe is useless! You have to craft it using hand held tools only.

You would even try your own combinations of materials , like combining two/three different varieties of wood , Wood and Acrylic,  wood and Bamboo,  Wood with Metals etc. The possibilities are endless  and each one would come with its own endless merits and demerits too.

Finally,  currently the last material I tried  had been starring at me from every angle, Coconut Fronds .  Living in South India, Coconut fronds are in abundance. Similarly, I bet there will some local material  waiting to be made into nib holders right where you are. Look out for it! Let us know too!

Coconut Frond, Ergonomic nib holder

Coconut Frond, Ergonomic nib holder

Possibilities are endless …

In the next part , I will discuss about the  parts of the  nib holder , that makes it Straight Nib Holder  or an Oblique Nib Holder
#calligraphersindia #calligraphynibholders #obliquenibholder #dippenholder


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