My father was an instructor of construction carpentry, so I grew up in a workshop and I fell in love with standing at a wood lathe by the time I was 10. I was also a curious child; taking apart watches (they never went back together), starting many model planes and boats (never finished one of them), and trying to make quill pens from seagull and turkey feathers, which were in plentiful supply growing up next door to my grandparent’s farm. I remember my first ‘real’ pen: a Sheaffer No Nonsense; I might have been 8 years old at the time. Although I probably soaked up more ink (and wasted more time) trying to keep the top of the nib clean than I did writing anything on a piece of paper.
By the time I was in junior high school, I was saving the change from my lunch money to make a weekly pilgrimage to the local architects’ and draughtsmans’ supply store, collecting new french curves and packages of Staedtler 2 mm leads in every hardness available.
About 25 years ago, I found my way back to fountain pens via the Lamy Safari, which I still have. Very slowly, the collection started to grow; initially, with lower-priced, but carefully-chosen newer pens. However, as time went on, I found it more interesting to rescue vintage pens. Initially, these were simple repairs, progressing to more and more difficult restoration projects, supported by some great books like Frank Dubiel’s Fountain Pens: The Complete Guide to Repair & Restoration and Jim Marshall and Laurence Oldfield’s Pen Repair, some helpful people on YouTube like Grandmia and The Pen Habit, and the community at The Fountain Pen Network.
As the restorations became more and more involved, I realised that it was not impossible to make my own pens using 70-year old methods, initially using kits and a small wood lathe, and then further progressing to making more and more components on a machinist’s lathe as well. When I stumbled on the FountainPenDesign website and decided that I would love to have it as a printed and bound copy for myself, I sent an email to the author asking if he’d also like a bound copy of the result as my way of saying “thank you”.
The email that I received in return included the comment: “… we share the tendency towards minutiae, it’s fun to wriggle with microns” which is an excellent description of my philosophy regarding anything I’m trying to learn; and therefore a great way to open up a new friendship! So started the project of not only typesetting the website, but the collaborative additions, proofreading, and final little corrections that always show up when you see something printed on a piece of paper instead of in the glowing pixels of a computer screen.