Previously, I made a pencil and brush
to write in my book.
But next, I want to take a look
at the origin of today’s
most common writing instrument the pen.
The first common form of the pen was a basic reed pen.
Dating as far as 3000
BC The quill pen became popular starting in the 6th century.
As they were more flexible and lasted longer than reed pens.
It wouldn’t be until 1822 that the metal pen
would eventually replace the quill.
I”m here with Dennis Ruud,
a professional book binder and calligrapher.
And he’s going to teach me how to make a quill.
So I have a variety of feathers I’ve collected
from other projects now.
I have ostrich feathers, pheasant feathers, and wild turkey feathers.
So of these, do any of these work for making a quill?
Dennis: Well I think that the turkey feather would be good for a quill,
but the others are not, they’d be too weak.
Andy: Turkey feathers work best because of the thicker stem here?
Dennis: 正是 更坚固
Dennis: Yes exactly, they’re stronger
thicker walled implements.
And they cut better into quills; last longer as writing implements.
The word pen is another word for a quill
which is from the latin for feather’penna’
And so we’ll make the traditional, historical
quill pens made from the flight feathers of large birds
Geese have been preferred, historically.
You pull them off the bird and soak them
in some water overnight.
and then you heat them in hot sand
and that is called’clarification’
or’curing the quills.’ And it makes them a little bit hard
Try to fill it up
with sand and not burn your hand
and put it
in the hot sand leave it in there for maybe a minute
and that’s really all it is.
How you cut a quill is like this
It’s got first of all, this whispy membrane on the outside
and it needs to be scraped off
the next thing you do is to put the slit in
and in order to put the slit in
I first just remove some material
from the end. Just slice it off.
Put the knife in,
you know just like that much of the knife
so that it hits and has a sort of leverage
that will make the slit and then– ok that’s good
And I want to start cutting then the cutting
around the slit opposite from– where that slit was
and just start scraping and pulling
on either side of the slit.
and then I’ve got, rather much more
material than I need there So I’ll take a toenail
clipper and just remove a bunch and you get to a
certain point And I wear a finger protector
cut off from a rubber glove
and you flatten the inside of the tube
because that’s where it meets the paper and it needs
to be flat so just, slightly scraping and ok that
‘s good you could stop there.
And you make a couple of slits at the end here
One is a bevel cut which is
at maybe a 30° angle or so
and you end up with that
You can test it on a plate like that
and see that when you press down it
the– the nib spreads apart slightly
Dennis: So it’s got this good flexibility
you can see it’ll deliver ink
Andy: Now that you’ve shown me how to make a few quills
can you show me how to use it?
Dennis: 好 我会尽我所能
Dennis: Well, I’ll see what I can do Andy
I’ll give it a shot First of all I
‘ve got a little bit of ink, dip the
pen in Whenever you’re going to write something
have some scratch paper; some waste paper
so that you can see
that the pen is going to work well
Andy: So I see that the table is at a slant
Andy: So I see that the table is at a slant
Dennis: 噢 是的 这对于送墨
Dennis: Oh yes, it’s very important
for the delivery
of ink because it puts the pen at a horizontal angle
as the table gets flatter the
pen goes up and up like that
and it starts to bleed ink because of gravity rather
than the careful delivery of ink by the slit
that’s the main reason you have a slanted table
and when you look at old manuscripts and picture’s
of old calligraphers the ancient calligraphers–
they’re almost always on slanted tables
Andy: So besides having to dip it in ink
and write at an angle what else is different
from just using a regular ball point?
Dennis: The whole deal with these quill pens like you have
like you made is that they have a chiseled edge
I’ll kind of draw a picture
of what the quill point looks like
so you see it’s got this chiseled edge on it
Andy: That’s compared to like a ball point pen which is just a round one
Dennis: It’s just a round blob
it’s just pulling a blob of ink around
in various directions so that’s kind
of the secret of western calligraphy
and even western typography it’s
all related to an edge pen like that
the weight and appearance of letters.
For instance, if you have the letter
O you can see it has thin parts and thick parts
related to the fact
that its got this chiseled edge on it
Andy: The style of western calligraphy is kind of based on the fact that they use quills
Dennis: 正是 这是西方书法
Dennis: Exactly. Eastern calligraphy, oriental calligraphy
and middle eastern calligraphy
and they have a completely different mechanics of delivering ink
but with western, this is what it is.
Related to quills and before that, reed pens.
The way they essentially work is
you always are making strokes by pulling down
and from left to right like that.
And if you’re going to make the second part
of the O you go back up
so you’re coming down and from left to right.
Essentially, so you make it in two parts.
If you’re making the letter N take down like that
go back up there and make an arch
on the top like an O
you come down– a little serif on the bottom
Andy: Ok so I can–
when you write with a modern pen, you just kind of
draw an O you just go
just go do a full circle
so with a quill you have to do more
Dennis: 是的 更小心了
Dennis: Yeah, more careful
more careful with where the thicks and
thins go and how they connect this particular hand
which is a’Carolingian’ hand that
Andy: YeahDennis: That you see in a book today
Dennis: That you see in a book today are related to
this kind of letter that I’ve been doing right here
Dates from the 9th century if not earlier
Andy: 这真的很有趣Dennis: 是的
Andy: That’s interestingDennis: Yeah
Andy: Because western writing they use the quill
which has a flat nib so that has affected the style of font
which even now that we’re a few generations
beyond using the quill our font still looks like that
the nature of this pen formed the way these letters look
If you see a letter M
and you wonder”oh its got thin legs and thick legs”
if you remember it was made by a pen
the first leg is a little thinner
this leg is thicker
then this one is thinner again
and that ones thicker again and that’s how
M’s are the way they are they are
that way because of this kind of pen
Andy: 哈 太有意思了
Andy: Huh, so interesting
that’s something you normally think about
Ok Andy, this was a little introduction to calligraphy
and quill pen writing why don’t you try it?
Andy: 好的 我试试
Andy: Alright, I’ll give it a shot
It’s pretty good!
Dennis: Very good!