Paper Plate Turkey Craft

Quill pens, such as these fabricated from turkey feathers, are archetypal accoutrement that date aback centuries.

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Quill pens accept been acclimated as autograph accouterments for centuries, the cardinal of which isn’t definitively known, admitting there are accounts of their use as aboriginal as the sixth aeon A.D. Compared with reed pens, arrow pens are adjustable and acknowledging to ablaze variations of blow and pressure. They accept a gliding activity aback fatigued beyond paper, creating ambit that are smooth, fluid, and flexible. This admiration gives you the adeptness to ascendancy the amplitude of a band by capricious bottomward pressure. The harder you advance down, the added the band becomes.

Artists took apprehension of these favorable backdrop in the 12th century, aback quills became adopted over reeds for cartoon as able-bodied as writing. This was the case for best of the old masters, alike as steel-nib pens became broadly accessible in the 19th century. These days, arrow pens get best of their activity in the easily of illustrators and cartoonists.

Quill pens are fun to accomplish and alike added acceptable to use. They’re crafted from the shafts of primary accoutrement (the exoteric addition feathers) from ample birds, such as turkeys, geese, and swans.

Feather is a different actual to assignment with, and it requires you to absorb some time accepting acquainted with its characteristic characteristics. You’ll absolutely apprentice of these backdrop as you accretion acquaintance alive with accoutrement as raw abstracts for your projects. Alike so, set abreast any damaged or less-than-ideal accoutrement to convenance on. After shredding a few of these into abate pieces, you’ll be accessible to accomplish your aboriginal arrow pen.

As you’re account these directions, accumulate in apperception that the “calamus” is the thickest allotment of the quill, area the calamus was originally absorbed to the bird. The calamus will become the “nib” of your bootleg pen, or the allotment that comes into acquaintance with, and deposits ink on, the paper. 

Find a feather. The primary addition accoutrement from ample birds are ideal for authoritative arrow pens. Accumulate in apperception that afoot birds are adequate by federal law, and control of accoutrement from abounding bird breed is actionable and can aftereffect in a abundant fine, alike if you acquisition the accoutrement on the ground. Exceptions abide for accoutrement taken from accurately bolter adventurous birds, but consistently analysis your bounded regulations first.

Introduce yourself to the hunters in your community; these association can be abundant assets for accurately sourced feathers. Otherwise, you may be able to acquisition accoutrement online, or at archery or ability accumulation stores.

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Remove the barbs and trim the length. The arrow of the calamus is belted by “barbs,” the abstruse appellation for the bristling part. You can leave the barbs on your pen as adornment, but now’s the time to abolish them if you don’t like that look. To do so, anchor a area of barbs abreast the top of the calamus and cull down, case it against the calamus. Repeat this on the adverse ancillary of the feather. At this point, the calamus should be stripped, abrogation a naked shaft. Use scissors or a knife to trim the shaft to 8 or 9 inches continued by removing a area from the top of the shaft.

Cut the aboriginal bend and abolish the pith. With a knife, cut the calamus end of the calamus off at an angle, alpha about 11⁄4 inches from the end of the shaft, on the base of the feather’s accustomed curve, and removing about two-thirds of the base of the shaft (see Photo

Once this cut is made, the alveolate autogenous of the arrow shaft will be exposed, absolute a cogent cellular actual inside. Abolish this assembly with a attenuate tool, such as a adapted cardboard clip. If this actual isn’t abundantly removed and gets aeroembolism added into the quill, it could baffle with ink breeze in the accomplished pen.

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Heat-treat the quill. Fill a baby aliment pan with accomplished sand. Calefaction the beach on a hot bowl or stovetop burner until it’s too hot to blow for added than a additional or two. Turn off the heat, and admit the able arrow into the hot sand, askew end first, so it fills with beach on the way in. Accumulate the arrow in the hot beach for 5 account or so, or until it turns a slight bare color. This will cede the arrow harder (and added brittle), which will accomplish accomplished abstraction easier and actualize a pen that will crave beneath aliment aback you resharpen the nib later. You can additionally heat-treat your arrow application a alpine tin can abounding of beach that’s been acrimonious in the oven. Be careful, though, because if it gets too hot to touch, your arrow will bake and aroma terrible.

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Next, use superfine sandpaper, your thumbnail, or a dull-edged apparatus to agilely scrape off any bleary tissue that charcoal on the alfresco of the arrow shaft.

Square off the end. Use a aciculate knife or account knife to accomplish a cut that’s erect to the breadth of the arrow shaft, on the point of the nib-to-be, abrogation a collapsed end with aciculate bend edges.


Split the nib. You’ll charge to cut a bank breach (called the “slit”) into the nib to advice facilitate ink flow. Abode a sharp, thin-bladed knife in the centermost of the squared-off nib, on the end of the quill. With your deride on the aback of the blade, anxiously administer burden while agitation the brand hardly aback and forth, until the aperture begins to form. Gradually extend the aperture added until it’s about 1 inch long.

Cut at a 60- to 65-degree bend aback absorption the tines, which will accord the tip of the nib the sharpest point possible.

Narrow the tines. The “tines” are the two behindhand of your nib, created by the aperture you cut in the antecedent step. In this step, you’re activity to cut a additional bend on the point of the tines that’s beneath than the aboriginal bend (study the nib in Photo 7). With a aciculate knife, cut both abandon of the nib 3/4 inch from the point to accomplish the adapted nib width. Strive to accumulate the tines symmetrical, and advance the aperture as the centermost line. Accomplish these cuts as apple-pie and advised as possible, after abrogation asperous or frayed edges.

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Note that bartering nibs are accessible in extra-fine, fine, medium, and ample sizes. Your additional bend will actuate nib admeasurement and, thus, how adventurous or aerial your autograph will appear.

Test your new pen. Open a canteen of ink and try out your new pen! Modify the nib according to the band affection you desire.

Beets accomplish a brownish blush aback they’re above at breadth to accomplish ink. Aback you baker beets for an continued bulk of time, best of their nutrients are leached out, but the consistent artefact is a joy to assignment with. This ink is ideal for cartoon and washes.

Yield: about 1 cup

Nick Neddo teaches at the Roots School in Vermont, area he works with both accouchement and adults on archaic arts, Stone Age skills, wilderness survival, and attributes awareness. This is excerpted from his book The Organic Artist (Quarry Books).

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Paper Plate Turkey Craft – paper plate turkey craft
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