Demonstration on how to cut quills by Ewan Clayton

29-07-2023 | Author | Categories: Inspirations | Tagi: , , , | 💬 »

Ewan Clayton demonstrates his goose feather quill cutting technique in a short video. The video shows the steps of preparing the quill of a feather to create a calligraphic tool. An interesting feature is the original feather quill knife. Clayton refers to it as the Crow knife and dates the creation of the tool to 1820.

In this short movie, the process of making a quill pen for calligraphy is demonstrated. The presenter starts with a Crow knife from around 1820, which has a small blade sharpened on one side to cut with a scoop. A goose quill is chosen for the pen, and the initial step is cutting off the end, known as the bowel or butt. The presenter then uses an old bicycle spoke to remove the quill’s inner membrane.

Next, the presenter cuts the scoop out of the back of the quill and adds a slit to encourage ink flow. Precision is key as the presenter shapes the nib by cutting away excess material. To achieve a sharp nib, two cuts are made – the first slices forward to thin it slightly, and the second cut goes straight down.

Once the quill pen is crafted, a problem arises with the long shaft, which may obstruct the user’s view while writing. Thus, the presenter trims off the excess length, leaving the barbs on the other side intact. Optionally, the barbs can be shaved off with the right angle to create a more streamlined look.

In the end, the beautifully crafted quill pen is complete, ready to be used for calligraphy with its precise nib and comfortable grip. The process demonstrates the artistry and skill required to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing writing tool from natural materials.

Worth to mention that in the Polish thematic literature, the tool called Crow Knife is simply a penknife [1]. Unfortunately in the film, we will not see techniques for hardening an already cut off pen, which are used to extend its life.

  1. Szybiński D. G., Sztuka pisania w trzech rozdziałach, wyięta z Encyklopedyi i pożytecznemi przydatkami pomnozona, Warszawa : w Drukarni XX. Missionarzów, 1781., s. 83

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