CUSTOM HAND CARVED ERGONOMIC CALLIGRAPHY PEN HOLDERS
Custom fit ergonomic holders from a single kind of wood can be ordered directly through my website in my Custom Pen Holder Shop. Any available general fit, readymade holders are listed on my Ready-to-Ship Holder and Pen Accessory Page. If you're interested in something a little fancier, like a holder from multiple kinds of wood, a hand dyed holder, or if you're curious about left handed or straight designs, contact me for a quote. I'm always happy to answer any questions and provide recommendations to help you find exactly what you need.
I make holders in small weekly batches that I balance with my other freelance and commission calligraphy work. All custom orders are completed on a first come, first serve basis, and are prioritized over general sale holders. For most custom orders there is a wait time while I complete prior orders and then a one week manufacturing time. Contact me any time if you’d like an up to date estimate on the wait time for a holder.
I ship through USPS unless you request a different carrier or shipping option. All orders are shipped within 3 business day of your holder being completed and paid in full.
USPS Priority Mail shipping is free within the United States. Insurance for the value of your holder is available upon request. Delivery time varies, but is typically within 3 business days of the shipping date.
International shipping is $10 per holder through USPS’ Economy First Class Package Mail service. Delivery to most countries generally averages 2 weeks from the ship date. More expedited options as well as tracked and insured international shipping is available on request for actual cost. Please contact me with your shipping address to request a quote.
Combined shipping is available on request for group orders. If you would like to combine shipping with another order, please contact me before placing your order and I'll create a custom listing for you.
Pricing is based on a combination of material costs and the time it takes to make a holder. Typically smaller holders from softer woods are the least expensive with the prices increasing progressively for larger pens and harder woods that are more difficult and time consuming to carve.
Manufacturing Process and Design
All of my holders are individually hand-carved in my small workshop in Chicago. The ergonomic design is one I've developed and refined over time based on my experience as a professional calligrapher, and from feedback from other calligraphers and pen makers. The shaping is not as rigid as many historical ergonomic holders, allowing for more flexibility and easier manipulation of the holder for the subtle rotations and angle changes required for many pointed pen scripts.
For each custom order, I adjust the specific shaping of the grip and the scale of the holder to fit my customer. The core form of my design stays the same from holder to holder, but I can easily adjust the thickness of the grip and the body of the pen to accommodate preferences for slimmer or chunkier writing experiences. I employ no power tools with the exception of a small rotary tool to assist in cutting the slots and drilling the holes required to mount the flanges. The merits of hand vs machine made can be debated (probably endlessly), but regardless, the fact that mine are each fully hand made makes each one unique. I am constantly tweaking my core design to find ways to improve fit and comfort.
When you order a holder from me, you're purchasing something special, made just for you, that will serve you for years in all your calligraphic endeavors.
CUSTOM Fit & SIZING
All custom orders are made specifically for each customer and are proportioned according to the size of your hand and your grip. In order to determine the correct size and unique variation of my design needed to fit your holder for you, you will need to provide me with:
At least one photo of your hand gripping an oblique holder like you do when you are writing
A measurement of the distance from the middle of the pad of your index finger to where the tail of the holder rests against the web of your hand between your palm and thumb (see Measurement 1 in the photo below)
A measurement of the distance from the middle of the pad of your thumb to where the holder sits against your hand (see Measurement 2 in the photo below)
You can provide your photo/s and measurements any time between when you place your order and when I begin carving your holder. Photos should approximate the example below and need to show the angle at which you hold your pen as well as where you place your finger and thumb in relation to the flange. Including a ruler in your photo where I can directly see your measurements is a great way to avoid uncertainty on how to accurately measure.
You can also request a general grip diameter if you have a preference for a thicker or a thinner holder. Since my holders aren't perfectly round, requested diameters are approximate and I base them on the diameter of the thinnest part of the grip when seen from above with the holder turned so you're looking directly down at the top of the flange.
FLANGE SELECTION AND FITTING
I offer standard flanges in brass or nickel silver. If you have no preference I'll choose whichever strikes my fancy when fnishing your holder.
Your flange can be fitted for a nib of your choosing as long as I have the same nib in my collection. If you request a nib I don't own, I'll work with you to try to match it with something I do have, or you can send me a nib to work from. If you have no preference, I'll use standard fit that will accept a variety of commonly used nibs
Bullock flanges are available as a separate upgrade option and can be added for your holder by purchasing a Bullock Flange Upgrade from my shop when you place your order. Bullock flanges can accept a wide variety of nibs and are available in either brass or nickel silver.
I seal all my holders with a full coverage coating of cyanoacrylate (CA). This is one of the most durable finishing options available for pens and it creates a hard, high gloss surface that is essentially impervious to ink and water. With proper care, your holder will last many many years without needing to be refinished. The only downside to CA is that it is not flexible so it can sometimes develop micro-cracks over time when applied over more flexible woods. I've found that even in the occasional instances where these cracks do develop, they remain largely waterproof and the life of the finish is still longer than found with other common options like polyurethane, shellac or friction polishes.
I've been a calligrapher and artist (on some level) all of my life. In 2015 the idea popped into my head to design and make the perfect holder for myself. I shared my progress online, and almost immediately started receiving messages from people all over the world requesting holders of their own. Before I really knew what was happening, I was staying up late after work and spending all of my weekends carving holders, developing a healthy set of callouses, and learning all I could about the specifics of well designed oblique holders. Today, I'm fortunate enough to support myself through this rewarding work (along with my calligraphy). I love what I do, and I love the opportunity to serve the global calligraphy community.