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Cutting a Quill Pen

“I am afraid you do not like your pen. Let me mend it for you. I mend pens remarkably well.” Caroline Bingley, Pride and Prejudice Though made of a humble feather, Quill pens are perhaps the most widely used writing instrument throughout history. Certainly none of Jane Austen’s novels would be possible without them! To actually cut a quill pen , a sharp ‘pen-‘knife and much patient practice are needed. Select the feather from one of the first five flight feathers of any large bird such as a Goose, Swan or even a Peacock. Interestingly enough, feathers from the left wing fit the right hand best, and vice versa. Soak the feather in hot water until it is soft, harden it by pushing it into hot sand, then proceed as follows: 1: First shorten the plume (amount of shortening is optional). Then strip away the barb (which would otherwise rest uncomfortably against the knuckle of the index finger). 2: Cut away the tip of the barrel at a steep angle. Remove the membrane from inside the feather. 3: Make a slit in the top centre of the barrel. The best way to do this is to place the point of the knife inside the barrel, and lever the knife blade gently upwards, releasing pressure as soon as a crack occurs. 4: Slice a scoop from the underside of the pen, to about half its diameter, and centred on the slit. 5: Shape the nib on one side of the slit.

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