Before the invention of pencils, pens, or markers, people used crude writing utensils like twigs or feather quills. Quill pens worked better than twigs because the quill held the ink better and you didn’t have to dip the pen into the ink so often. Making an old fashioned feather quill pen is easy. And kids will have fun trying to write with them.
To make a feather quill pen, you will need to find a feather. A large feather like a goose feather, turkey feather or a crow feather works well. You can ask your local zoo or neighborhood poultry butcher or egg farm if you can have a feather. If you don’t have access to a large feather, you can try using smaller feathers like that of a pigeon or blue jay. You can also buy a feather at any craft store. But hunting for a feather is more fun. So next time you are out and about, look for feathers on the ground! The best time to go feather hunting is in the spring and fall when birds molt and drop their feathers.
You may be tempted to wash your feather before using it. Be warned that washing it will ruin the shape of the feather. However, if you are concerned that the feather might have pests on it, feel free to soak it in hot, soapy water then rinse and lay flat to dry. The feather will not look the same, but it will still work as a quill pen. You can also try wiping the feather with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol. Again, the feather may not look as pretty, but it will be clean. You can also just brush the feather clean using a very soft brush. This will remove sand or dust from the feather. There are other methods of cleaning feathers that require the use of gasoline or borax but I won’t cover those methods in this article.
If the feather on the fat end of the quill goes too close to the tip, strip some of the feather off. You want enough room on the quill to be able to hold it comfortably without having any of the actual feather under your fingers. Then cut a pen point at the end of the quill using sharp scissors. Cut at an angle so the tip comes to a nice, clean point. You may want to clean the inside of the quill by inserting a narrow wire or thin pipe cleaner into the hole. This will dislodge any debris that might be inside the quill.
Your old fashioned homemade quill pen is now ready to use. Just dip it in ink and start writing! You can buy ink at Walmart or any craft store. You can also make homemade blueberry ink. Just crush the blueberries against a strainer and let the juice gather in a bowl. You can experiment with the shape of the tip. The width of the line it draws will be determined by how sharp or blunt the tip is. You can also cut a 1/8 inch vertical slit in the pen point so the width of the line will vary as you press down on the pen.
If you like easy craft projects for kids, please take a look at some of my other articles. Here are just a few of my favorites:
Crafts for Kids – Wood Dough for Sculpting
Crafts for Kids – Edible Peanut Butter Play Dough
Crafts for Kids – Making Rock Salt Jewels and Gems
Arts and Crafts for Kids – Homemade Lava Bottle