Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I made a Folded Pen. Go ahead and say it - You made a what?

Mandala drawn with folded pen and Diamine Light Green Ink

One late night while surfing around Flickr for who knows what, I found some calligraphy images where the writing implement that used was referred to as a "cola-pen."

Google didn't provide much info on "cola-pen" other than vintage Coke collectibles so I kept searching until I found another name for it, "folded pen."

With home-made folded calligraphy pen

The folded pen is basically just that - a thin piece of folded metal that you either dip in ink/paint or fill with a brush. They appear to be an updated version of the ruling pen - a vintage drawing instrument originally used together with straight rulers for technical drawings in engineering and cartography. (How old are ruling pens? Not sure, but here is an image from a book published in 1901,)

Guess what this is!

After seeing an images of a folded pen I pulled out some 32g copper sheet and created this. It is probably larger than it needs to be, but this is how it ended up. Depending on which way you orient it to the paper, it can create thin or very wide brush-like lines. I love it.

With home-made folded calligraphy pen

Every image in this post was created using one of my folded pens. I tried to make one out of a Pepsi Thowback can but it was too thin and broke the moment I tried to lean on the nib. I made two more from the copper that look much prettier than the one above but they all work the same because the angle of the folded edge is the same. (That's what I get for working without a plan. LOL) I also just tried making one more with a horizontal folded edge... interesting results which I will post at a later date. (It was very brush-like)

Visconti Burgundy drawn with folded pen

Here are some helpful links on making/using folded pens:

How to make a folded pen. (I did not make mine from a soda/beer can, I used 32g copper sheet and I did not need to reinforce the tip as was shown in this tutorial.)

How to use a folded pen.

Another tutorial (from Argentenia) on how to make a folded pen. (I do not load my pen with a brush - I just dip it in a shallow bowl of ink.)

Live Everyday

After I made the above piece, I went back and drew a large light blue mandala behind it.

Rose Tendresse w/ Folded Pen

My friend Leigh Reyes did a great blog post on her new folded pen. I broke down and ordered the same pen (no.30) to see the difference between the ones I made. Somewhere I had seen a complete set of handmade folded pens from a site in South America but I can't find the link.... Guess I forgot to add it to Evernote!

Releasing judgements

I have a real affinity for any kind of writing implement where I can vary the line width. Brush pens, calligraphy markers - I love them!

Mandala to remove obstacles

After filling this page with the mantra "Om Dum Durgayei Namaha" in Herbin's Rose Tendresse fountain pen ink, I drew the mandala and filled it in using Pitt Brush pens.

New Old Compass set

After learning about ruling pens, I bought two vintage ones from eBay and also this compass set - which I didn't realize also contained a ruling pen. Unfortunately, they are all very straight in nature and only draw very thin lines. I will continue to experiment but am not really finding them useful. (Just in case you were going to ask, it is unlikely that I will try using the compass to make mandalas... no patience, and not really my style.)

Check out Leigh's video of her using her folded pen.


Leigh said...

I'm glad to see this entry finally up! Copper sheet is very useful, and I would like to try making my own folded pen from it one day. Thanks for featuring my video! We must convert more people to folded pen fanhood. ;)

Megan Warren said...

I have a ruling pen - didn't know what to do with it - now I'm interested to learn more. Great post!

JD at I Do Things said...

So cool!

Trust Pepsi Throwback to make a cheap can.

These folded pens are amazing. I never knew such a thing existed. And I love seeing all the cool things you did with yours.

I'm gettin' the itch to DRAW!

Chris said...

OK, the fact you had "some 32g copper sheet" around is cool all on its own... :-)

Stephanie "Biffybeans" Smith said...

Thanks Leigh - it wasn't hard at all, and the 32g can be cut w/ kitchen shears. The only hard part is if you have to do any small trims, it makes tiny sharp copper curly things.....

Megan - dip it in some ink or some watercolor paint and see what happens! If it has a little dial on it, you will get different results by twisting it back and forth.

JD - had I paid strict attention to the directions instead of trying to "wing it" on my own, I would have noticed that I needed a Guinness can which would entail driving to the beer shop up the street and buying said Guinness, then drinking said beer, going to sleep then waking up the next morning having completely forgotten all about making the pen.....

Thanks Chris! I bought it from a company called Rio Grande a while back. Looking at their website here: http://www.riogrande.com/MemberArea/ProductPage.aspx?assetname=132130&page=GRID&category|category_root|104=Metals&category|cat_168|4936=Copper I'm not seeing 32.... only 30 & 34. I think what I have is 32.... I'd have to check the package. I initially bought it to try crimping it with a tube wringer to make stuff like this but I lost interest... http://www.ganoksin.com/borisat/nenam/corrugation-project-1.htm

larin said...

If you hold the ruling pen from the compass set up and down it will make thin lines. But if lay it on the table and then pick it up in a sideways hold to that the long edge of the pen runs across the paper, rather than the smaller tip, you can vary the size of your lines by how much of the edge you let touch the paper. I have one that looks like a pair of tweezers that I really enjoy using. I also have one that has a curved edge and a straight edge, which I have found harder to use. I recently purchased a set much like the compass set you bought that has two ruling pen pieces that are proving a little more challenging. I just need more time with them--and more patience!

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