We’re going back to old school today with this easy craft for kids: How to Make a Quill Pen. Yup, I thought it would be fun to show the kiddos how people used to write before we had things like pens and computers to do all that fancy writing stuff for us. Feather crafts are also fun because they are just so pretty no matter what you make; you can’t go wrong!
We also made homemade ink to go with our homemade pens, it’s no more difficult than combining water and food coloring, see below for the complete steps. Oh and no you’re not seeing things, there are just two steps to making a quill pen and homemade ink. TWO STEPS, that’s it!
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How to Make a Quill Pen
- Large Colored Feathers I found ours at Joann Fabric but they can be purchased online too!
- Sharp scissors
- Ink- make your own (see below) or use India Ink
- Step One The end of a feather is called the quill. Take your scissors and clip the tip of the quill at a sharp angle.
- Step Two Use your toothpick to clean out any debris form the quill tip
- Step Three Oops, there is no step three! This project is that easy!
How to Make Homemade Ink
- Food Coloring
- Small bottles
- Step One Add 2 tablespoons of water to one of your bottles.
- Step Two Add about 20 drops of food coloring to the water and swirl to mix.
You’re done! If you want the color to be darker add more food coloring. I matched up the color of each feather with the matching color of ink.
Now its time to write or draw. Quill pens are a great example of how a writing tool can be used to create different types of lines. Depending on how you hold the quill pen you can make thick or thin lines. Rotating it while you draw creates variations in the type of lines you make, similar to a calligraphy pen.
Another bonus to this project is that it can easily be transformed into an art project! Working with the quill pens and homemade inks to make art pieces is a sweet little afternoon activity in and of itself!
I may be stretching it here but when I think of designers who like to reference antique styes the first person that comes to mind is Philippe Starck. He is the master of using taking a classic design piece and making it modern, like his Louis Ghost Chair and the Bourgie Lamp. In fact, I believe that designers should have a great knowledge of classic design, because it helps them understand what has been tried and tested before.
Discussion and more
So when you are making your fancy quill pens think about how we went from using feathers to modern ball point pens for writing. Is the feather easy to hold? Were modern pens modeled after quill pens? Now that we all use mobile devices and computers will ball point pens someday be obsolete? If you want a good look at the history of quill pens be sure to check out wikipedia’s page here: Quill Pens.
This is such an easy craft for kids, all you need are a couple of fancy feathers and some food coloring and you can travel back in time to write old school!
If you enjoyed learning how to make a quill pen check out another classic activity we tried last week: Paper Sundials.
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Ah my history mad kids will go nuts for this!!! How is that you keep posting just exactly the sort of stuff my big kids will love? Thank you for saving my sanity!
Ana Dziengel says
Great minds think alike Kate ;)!!! I love your blog too, we must have similar taste!
Wiida Hamman says
Hi Ana, this is so cool! Thank you.