There are a number of ducks and geese that wander around the farm constantly preening, fighting and generally leaving feathers of all sorts behind. This weekend as I did some gardening I was picking up large flight feathers from them and as I held them, wondering if I could create a quill pen.
BD & Buddy, my Muscovy ducks, are here having a great time searching for worms in a newly ploughed garden. They LOVE bugs and mice to eat. Yes, mice. Its bizarre. They are my favourite ducks. They are the ugliest creatures, but placid, slow moving and quackless. They hiss which sounds threatening but its their only way of communicating. They greet me each day when I come home, bobbing their heads, hissing and wagging their tails like little dogs. I adore them. They are very large ducks, the size of turkeys or geese so their feathers are perfect for quill pens.
A quill pen is made from a flight feather of a large bird, most often a goose. Quills were used as instruments for writing with ink before the metal dip pen, the fountain pen and ballpoint pen came into use.
Common writing equipment in medieval times were the quill and parchment. The strongest quills were the primary flight feathers taken from living birds in the spring. The left wing was favored because the feathers curved outward and away when used by a right-handed writer. Goose feathers were most commonly used and swan feathers were of a premium grade being scarcer and more expensive. For making fine lines, crow feathers were the best, and then came the feathers of the eagle, owl, hawk and turkey. Quills obtained from living birds in the spring proved to be the best for writing.
How to make a quill pen
I'm working on developing the dark background and dress and sculpting the upper portion of the head dress and the gauze. I've been using charcoal for the dark background but its not covering really well at this point. I'll try a little fixative and go over it again for a smooth surface.