Author: Nick

making a real crow quill

For years I had thought it would be cool to make a crow quill pen out of a real crow feather. As it turns out, one of my neighbors takes a walk every early morning and feeds the local crows. My wife told him about my interest in pen-and-ink and my desire to try out some crow feathers. So this man very kindly collected feathers as he made his morning rounds. Every week or so another package of two or three feathers would be left on my porch. In a short time, I had a tidy little collection.

crow feathers

I have been holding onto this collection for a few months now, continually telling myself that I should get to making some pens. Well, the holiday season gave me the proper impetus and I finally got around to making some.

The instructions I followed came from here and here. According to these directions, the first step was to prep the shaft. To do that I had to scrape off some of the loose detritus and strip off some of the lowest barbs. At first, I tried scraping off the barbs with my knife, but I found that wasn’t very effective. I discovered that I could simply pull the barbs off with my fingers.

pulling off barbs from crow feather

After the feathers were cleaned and stripped, they were ready to be tempered.

crow feathers

I tempered my feathers in an old cookie tin filled with sand that I heated in my oven. I think now that a deeper tin, such as a coffee can, wold probably be better.

crow feathers in sand

After the sand cooled down, the feathers were ready to be cut. I ran into a lot of problems at this stage. The shaft was easy to crack and sometimes slits cut into it would run in odd directions. I found that I couldn’t cut perpendicular to the shaft with any downward pressure or the shaft would crack. I also discovered that I had to use the sharpest knife possible. So I cracked off the old edge to my utility knife and continued with a fresh blade. This made things proceed a lot more smoothly.

A cracked shaft on an early attempt.

By about the third feather, things started to come together and I wasn’t simply mutilating the shafts. Finally, I was able to get something that resembled a quill.

I still have some more feathers to cut and give as gifts. Still, drawing with some of the ones I made hasn’t convinced me to shift from metal nibs. The metal nibs are just some much stronger and more reliable. Still, using a real feather quill is fun and there is something romantic about it. Almost everyone who sees one wants to use it.

The Walking Dead – episode 607

In this episode we finally get back to the meat of the show.

I really liked episode 604, and not just since I’m an aikidoist who also takes care of goats. It was important to see what happened to Morgan. More importantly, the episode offered a feeling of hope that had been missing from the show for a long time. The fact that this feeling was communicated through the words of Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, just made me love the episode all the more. Still, it was a dirty delay keeping us in the dark about what really happened to Glenn at the end of episode 603. Episode 605 showed how the average people of Alexandria were dealing with the events of the first few episodes. This was necessary, but the episode felt padded. It was odd not to see Rick and Carol discuss their experiences and process the events and make plans for next steps. And still the truth about Glenn was delayed. Episode 606 felt even more like filler. I’m guessing the group that Daryl came across will come up in a later episode, but otherwise nothing was advanced except for the possibility that Daryl may not be so noble with the next people he meets. But we’ve seen Daryl go through this before and so the episode seemed like fodder to extend the delay regarding the truth of Glenn’s fate. And, I’m sorry, Norman Reedus just isn’t a good enough actor to hold up an entire episode.

And I was right (as was most everyone else). Glenn lives. I have to say though that the delay of this reveal took some of the steam out of my annoyance at how contrived the whole thing was. But to carry on my prediction, I think Maggie will only see Glenn for a moment before he is finally killed by a new threat. I think this because of both the comic and what happened to Beth last season. We’ll see if I’m right.

Yet it is a bit odd that Glenn seems not to be affected at all by what happened to him. He just seems to need some water and he’s good to go. After failing with Nicholas, he’s ready to try it all over again with Enid. It makes his whole fake death seem even more pointless.

I’m still not sure about Enid. In this episode she doesn’t seem like she’s with anyone, especially not the Wolves. Still, the things she said in episode 602 make me think there’s more to her story than we’ve been shown.

The best thing about this episode is that it brings all the differing philosophies to the surface without hammering any one of them to death. The interrogation of Morgan was really well done and we can see how much Morgan wants to prove to himself that there is another way to be in this world, a different way than Rick and Carol take. Michonne seems more in the middle. While she thinks Morgan’s beliefs are too simplistic she likewise thinks Rick’s way of going about things is too narrow-minded. There’s something bigger at stake and Deanna, while seemingly naive, is a part of that bigger picture.

While I liked this episode overall, I think the whole thing with Spenser was a non-starter. It seemed to be there only to put someone in danger and to make Rick realize that, hey, maybe he really cares about life after all. And Carl is a jerk. I guess that makes sense for the age the character is and what he’s gone through. Still, he was lording it over Ron when Rick was teaching him how to hold a gun. And do Rick and Carl really have no idea that Ron might, you know, be a little mad that Rick killed his father? I guess maybe guilt is making Rick extend a hand to Ron, but you’d think Carl would be a little suspicious at least. Oh, and apparently Tara can’t miss now.

I’m not sure what to make of the entire Carol/Sam conversation. I like that it happened, though it was odd that supposedly Jessie couldn’t hear them while Sam had to shout from the second floor. But Carol’s words were chilling. It seems odd that after her experience with a homicidal child earlier that she’d tell a kid that killing is what keeps you from being a monster. I don’t think this is going to end well.

Overall, episode 607 felt like the real version of what episode 605 was trying to be. This time, the plot lines, character arcs, and philosophical competitions are all moving again. I hope the show can keep firing on all cylinders for awhile.

e+m antique style turned penholder

e+m antique turned penholder

I just got a new e+m antique penholder. It’s a beautiful thing to behold. The one I have is lighter in color than I expected, but it’s still a nice piece of mahogany.

e+m E+M antique penholder pen holder

The nib is held in place with a metal ring and internal prongs (if anyone knows an official term for this, let me know). This is the same sort of mechanism as used in the Koh-i-noor, Brause, and General’s penholders. The only drawback I’ve encountered with this mechanism is that sometimes the metal prongs get a little weak. I’ve taken to placing an old nib in the holder with a new one in such cases.

e+m antique penholder with Leonardt 30 nib

The e+m antique penholder fits a Leonardt 30 snuggly.

e+m antique penholder and e+m  artist penholder

And here’s the e+m antique penholder next to an e+m artist penholder (which I wrote about before).

The e+m antique holder fits nicely into my hand and I like it’s length. The one caveat I have about it is that it is very light. I prefer a nib with a bit more heft. Still, I think I’ll be using this nib holder a lot and it makes an attractive edition to my collection.

e+m antique turned mahogany nib holder

I got mine at Paper & Ink Arts.

And on the subject of links, Jet Pens has a great guide to nibs and nib holders.

The Walking Dead – episode 603

I’ve suddenly realized that The Walking Dead is a Republican fever dream. Trust in others and they will exploit you. Give something to someone, they’ll use it against you. Democracy is an naïve pipe dream; only strong men can lead us. Authority must always have ultimate authority. And if you question authority, you’ll die. And giving everyone a gun really does make everything safer.

I’m (kind of) joking, but it is unnerving how the world of The Walking Dead constantly justifies Rick’s way of doing things. Yet again in episode 603, we see someone question Rick’s decisions only to have his face torn off by zombies. Likewise, Rick counsels Glenn and Michonne not to stop, to leave the others behind if they slow them down. And what happens? Glenn and Michonne stop with the others and all hell breaks loose. And yes, I do like how the Wolves whom Morgan lets free near the end of the previous episode are the ones who attack Rick. Connections like that are one of the cool things about this show. Still, it is another example of Rick’s way of doing things (and, in this case, Carol’s) being proven right. I just find this glorification of Rick’s philosophy troubling. So, in the zombie apocalypse, Ayn Rand is right?

And what is up with the non-subplot about Daryl? I guess we’re seeing that he’s willing to disobey Rick to put people above orders. But it’s weak the way it’s handled here. Plotwise, it’s just scenes of Daryl riding his motorcycle.

And this episode makes it really weird that Morgan was in the last episode at all. He was with everyone else in the first episode, then he’s back at Alexandria right as the Wolves start their attack. Yet it takes everyone else an entire episode to get back to Alexandria. Can Morgan teleport?

All that being said, this is a straight-up zombie episode and it’s been a long time since we’ve had one of those. So that was fun. The scene at the fence was nice. And while the scene on the dumpster felt like it was lifted from La Horde, it was a great scene.

Until the end. Because you see, I’m pretty sure it’s going to turn out that Glenn is alive. And that is stupid. My reason for believing Glenn will pull through has nothing to do with logic and more to do with how off-hand his death was. Not that he has to go out a hero. Sudden and senseless deaths are more realistic. Still, there wasn’t much build-up and once Glenn was on the ground, there wasn’t any swelling music, or slo-mo, or anything to call due attention to the fact that this is a character we’ve been with since the beginning finally being taken down by the creatures he’s been running from for six seasons. There just wasn’t enough gravitas. So I think the guts we see belong to Nicholas and Glenn will crawl under the dumpster or something. Which is stupid. And I’m going to be so disgusted when the show does this.

But then again, if Glenn actually is dead, it just compounds the Republican fever dream. Nicholas was beyond rehabilitation and it cost Glenn his life. Social work is a waste of resources.