February 21, 2015

The White Owl Pen


[Posted on FPN on Mar 21, 2005, and on PenCraftsmen on Oct 25, 2007.]
       Okay boys and girls, don’t laugh too hard, and don’t make too much fun of it. Here’s a Limited Edition pen that I made up for myself a few years ago when the Cigar LE Pens were coming out.  I thought that those cigar pens were ugly,
and it inspired me to make my own Cigar LE Pen.  I had a New Old Stock noname eyedropper pen that I bought from the remains of an old stationery shop, but it was missing its cap and nib, so I installed a “Sterling” nib and decided to use the pen as the basis for my LE pen.  Sterling Picard could probably tell you all about the nib.  He collects Sterling pens, and has written a history of the company for The Pennant.
​        Local wildlife artist, Dave Kemp, carved most of his small sculptures from deer antlers, so I had him make me a cap from a deer antler point.  He did the carving, and I installed the turquoise glass-bead eyes, and fined-tuned the fit of the cap to the pen.  I had an old, near-mint-condition “White Owl” cigar box kicking around, and I inserted a tray from a Parker Centennial Duofold pen box, and surrounded it with matte board covered with slub silk, and there it was, my Cigar LE Pen.  I call it “The White Owl Pen”, a limited edition of one pen!  The antler material is quite light, and the pen is surprisingly well-balanced when the cap is posted for writing.  And the nib is a super flexy #3.  Here’s a photo of
the pen capped.  ​Here are a couple of scans of the inside and outside of the cigar box lid.  And here’s a picture of the pen sitting in its box.
    ​    When I got the cap from the artist, it was already roughly hollowed out, probably with a drill and a Dremel tool.  I used my eye and some cylindrical files and tapered circular files to fine-tune the fit.  I indexed the cap and barrel with two pointed tabs of masking tape to keep the owl’s beak in line with the slit in the nib.  I then dusted the section of the pen with a white powder, and inserted it into the cap, always with the two indexing arrows matched up.  The high spots inside the cap showed up when they rubbed the powder off the section.  I found the corresponding spots inside the cap and attacked them with the files.  I repeated this process until the powder was removed or disturbed evenly around the section, and until the cap felt right and didn’t wobble.  I did the same for the barrel end until it posted well, and until I found a good compromise between the two ends.  No high-tech lathe required, but it could have been done that way as well.  The cap is a friction fit.  It took forever to get it just right, so it wouldn’t wobble on either end, and so that it would look good capped and posted.  It was all done by hand, and it’s still not perfect, but you have to stop somewhere.  I don’t dare store it filled with ink, though, especially not lying down flat.  I might end up with a common black owl, or a red owl, or that rare spotted blue owl.
        And here’s a vintage cigar ad that would serve equally well for my “White Owl” LE pen

George Kovalenko.