On Monday, August 15, 2011 artist Tom Winterstein taught about 20 members of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective how to make reed pens!
He brought Phragmites Australis (common reed) for us to use. (He went into the marsh last fall to harvest them. They need to dry first.) One stalk will make several pens depending on the strength and thickness of the reed and the maker's desired pen length. I just had to show you the photo at the left because it makes me smile.
Tom brought along several examples of his own reed pen drawings as well as his favorite books about pen and ink drawing. I noted down two of them, Paul Hogarth's, "Creative Ink Drawing," and Donald Anderson's "The Art of Written Forms."
There was also another book that I found interesting, "Pen, Brush and Ink" by Henry C. Pitz published in 1949. (Tom reminded me of the exact title so I could amend this post.)
After his introduction Tom walked the group through the cutting of their pens. It is really quite straightforward a process and I recommend that you seek out instructions (with diagrams so you can see the angles) because these pens are quite fun to work with.
Tom also brought soda cans and tuna can lids so that we could cut strips of metal to turn into reservoirs to insert into the tip of our pens. Something so simply is a marvelous addition to the pen because it holds more ink in the pen nib and wicks it out at a more measured pace, allowing you to make longer lines and work for a longer period before redipping the pen.
Tom also had several quill pens on hand. The ones I tested had a very smooth feel along the paper.
I don't have a close up photo of the pen we actually made. I'll try to post an image of it, and perhaps some reed pen sketches…right now I have to run errands, and of course, go sketch with my new pen.
Thanks to Tom for a great talk and to everyone for showing up and making it a great evening of production and fun.