I don't use material from animals unless I know the animal was not harmed in its collection. Shed antlers make a good example. Members of the deer family like elk naturally drop their antlers each year. Horn, found on animals like bison, grows throughout the animal's life.
Noted on the wood pens page, I've used domestic and exotic hardwoods but am transitioning to the exclusive use of domestic wood. This is to avoid impacting tropical species and the difficulty of interpreting CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species).
Along this line and new for 2019, I have started wood stabilization. This process involves drawing liquid resin under vacuum into porous wood or things like conifer cones. The resin impregnates the material and is then cured with heat. Stabilization allows me to use punky wood or wood with voids that would have been wasted. The cured resin imparts a higher density to the wood. It works well when combined with colorful acrylic resin to fill the voids.
As mentioned on the color acrylic pens page, I use acrylic resins made for pen makers and other artisans. The acrylic resin blanks are generally small batched which means replication of an exact hue is difficult. The patterns and swirls can never be replicated.
I also pressure cast clear acrylic pens. In this process, thin items like playing cards are affixed to brass pen tubes then encapsulated in resin. Turning these blanks can be challenging since the thickness of the resin barely exceeds the encased item.
Making a Parus Pen
This page is in lieu of the ubiquitous blog that is sure to languish under my care. Better to follow the sage advice of Yoda, "Do or do not. There is no try." Below you will find information on things like materials I will or won't use and pen platings. At the bottom is a slideshow outlining the basics of pen making.
Whether acrylic resin, antler, or wood, tool marks always remain after turning on the lathe. Sanding begins and becomes polishing at some point.
My work in wood is sanded through six progressively finer grits. Stabilized wood is often taken beyond this through three more very fine grits. I end with multiple applications of oils, shellac, and wax over days in conjunction with buffing. This creates a finish that retains the warmth and feel of wood. Wood pens are meant to be used and handled. Over time, this handling, chemicals on your hand, and exposure to sunlight will impart a patina to the wood. Despite claims to the contrary, no wood finish is permanent. I believe a wood pen like heirloom furniture should age with use and retain the warmth and feel of wood.
My acrylic resin pens are sanded, polished, and buffed through 16 steps. No finish is applied to acrylic resin. They provide their own luster with a good deal of coaxing.
The wine bottle stoppers are stainless steel to provide the best corrosion resistance to acidic liquids like wine.
Visible metal components on pens are plated. I've outlined the platings I try to stick with below. I've listed them within color groups you may be looking for and then by their resistance to wear. This pretty much corresponds to cost as well. The ratings are my opinion but generally agree with everything I've researched.
Silver Color Metals
Rhodium (5/5) is used by premier pen manufacturers to plate their very finest pens. It is expensive but provides the best shine and wear resistance. I like using rhodium plated parts as much as possible.
Bright Chrome and Satin Chrome (4/5) have good wear resistance and are affordable alternatives in this color. The satin chrome has a distinctive feel as a result of the plating process.
Gold Color Metals
Gold Titanium (5/5) is the only gold color plating I use. Titanium gold is an alloy that easily outwears any other gold color plating like 24K or 10K gold.
Gray to Black Color Metals
Black Titanium (5/5) is more dark gray to my eye. It's the best darker color plating available.
Black Chrome (3.5/5) is really sharp on light color woods or some acrylic resins with colors that pop with the black.
Satin Nickel (3/5) is really pretty with particular woods and acrylic resins. The plating process also leaves it with a distinctive feel.
White Color Metals
Satin Pearl (3/5) goes really well with multicolored acrylics.
Copper Color Metals
Satin Copper (3.5/5) and Bright Copper (3.0/5) are some of my favorites with certain woods or acrylic resins I've intentionally mixed with copper or bronze powders.
Rose Gold (3.5/5) is hard to find but a great, warm plating that complements woods like pink ivory well.
Overview of How to Make a Pen