4. Materials... As with most of my custom pens, you can order a Desk Pen in your choice of acrylics or wood/acrylic combination. Although only acrylic samples are shown, fountain pens can be made in wood with an all wood base and a wood/acrylic pen. And while the colors and patterns of acrylics are many, there are a few things to keep in mind when choosing the acrylic for your desk pen:
a) Bases... The first thing to keep in mind is that most acrylics sold for making PENS are sold as 3/4" square x 5" long 'blanks'. Clearly not large enough to make a base. So if you want to have a Desk Pen made from most of the popular acrylics, the base must be made by laminating standard pen blanks together. There is nothing wrong with a laminated base, both the Cranberry and Sapphire bases shown are laminated. But it does take some considerations when choosing the material so the glue joints are as discrete as possible. However there is one type of acrylic that I've made arrangements with a supplier that allows me to special order larger pieces in order to create solid, larger, or custom shaped bases (see SOLID BASES below).
Laminated bases... The laminated bases shown are made using 4 standard size pen blanks glued edge to edge to create the 3" x 5" base. I choose this size as the standard for a single pen because it utilizes the blanks most efficiently with the least amount of waste and glue joints, while still producing a decent size base. Because most pen blanks are slightly oversized or undersized, the bases may end up slightly larger or smaller. I should also note that some glue joints can be more prominent than others depending on the color and pattern of the material chosen, so you need to keep this in mind as you choose your material to insure the glue joints as inconspicuous as possible.
b) Best patterns... While it may seem obvious, I thought I'd mention some of the best patterns to use in order to get a nice looking laminated base while keeping the glue joints as inconspicuous as possible. As both the cranberry and sapphire bases show, the best type of patterns to use are semi-solid and/or random colors/patterns. Because the pattern is random, it is easier to hide the straight glue joints. Blanks such as those with wavy patterns are typically not good choices.
c) Complex segmenting... While the bases shown here are simple 4-piece laminations, it's possible to us more blanks and additional materials to make a 'segmented' base. With segmenting, you can play around with colors, patterns, and mixed materials to make a more complex design that would accent the joints rather than trying to hide them. Just keep in mind that this type of base adds more labor, therefore will increase the cost.
d) Solid bases... OK, DON'T WORRY-- solid bases are possible! Having a multi-piece base is the best options to allow for using the widest selection of pen acrylics that are available and at the least expense. If not for the laminated base, the choices of colors AND patterns would be severely limited. But with the help of one of my suppliers, I can special order larger pieces that makes it possible to have not only solid bases but also larger or custom shaped bases as well (see base sizes below). However there is a trade off with this material. This is a type of acrylic called 'Inlace Acrylester' (IA). IA is a type of acrylic that is used for pens, but it's not as popular because it a little harder work with. It's also not as transparent as most other acrylics and the patterns are limited. However many of the colors have a translucence that you can't get with other acrylics. For a full list of the Inlace Acrylester sample colors that are available, please email me and I'll email you a sample sheet. I'm also hoping that as the demand grows for desk pens, I may get some of the other custom pen blank makers to make the larger slabs available.
Pens made from Inlace Acrylester... As I metioned, IA is a little harder to work with. It's a softer yet more brittle material than the more popular Acrylic Acetate (AA) that is used for most custom pens. These characteristics causes it to come away as a powder when turned with a
cutting tool, but chips easily when turned with a gouge, so it takes more time and
concentration to turn it without chipping. But more importantly because of these characteristics, IA is not a good candidate for threading the pen parts (the 'male' external threads on the pen barrel) with a die. Try as I might, I've always had mixed and unpredictable results threading the IA. So in order to get predictable results, I've changed the pen parts slightly, and use a piece of Acrylic Acetate for the pens front-section. The Golden Black desk pen is an example of a pen made with an AA front-section. In this case the colors match well, so it's not notice. If you choose colors to coordinate rather than match, it would be seen when the pen is in use, but when the pen is stored in the funnel, the front-section is hidden away.
4. Base sizes... While the 3" x 5" base was chosen as a standard size due to the limitations of the pen blank sizes, the great thing about custom ordering is that virtually any size or shaped base is possible. Larger size bases such as one for a two-pen set may be desired, or a custom shaped base (like on the maple ball-point) can be ordered. The only caveat to ordering a special size or special shaped base is that it will add to the material cost and labor hours which will increase the total cost of the special order. The full size IA 'slabs' can be ordered in one of two size configurations for making solid bases or custom shaped bases: a) 5" x 10", or b) 7" x 7". My standard thickness of the bases are 3/4", but the IA can also be ordered in a 7/8" thickness if a thicker base is desired.
5. Pricing... As you can imagine, because of the many combinations of pen styles, base sizes and other options that can be combined in a single desk pen order, just listing or even quoting a flat price just isn't possible without getting some details first. So if you are interested in getting a quote on a desk pen, it's necessary to put together a few specifics of the custom order before quoting a price. Listed below are the basic things I would need to know in order to give a quote for your custom desk pen order:
Number of Pens: single, double, or triple desk pen.
Pen Type: Fountain, ball-point, roller-ball, pencil or a combination.
Base Size: Standard (3x5) or custom size, or shape and edge treatment.
Material: Standard pen blanks, or custom ordered IA for one piece base.
Additional options: such as a card holder (added to the base) or custom accent rings.
For Fountain Pens:
Type of inking system: Standard C/C, Button or Lever filler.
Desk Pen Type: Desk pen only or full pen with conversion.
I know I've listed a lot of information here, but hopefully it will answer most of your questions. If you are considering ordering a desk pen and would like a quote, or have any additional questions about materials or something I've not mentioned here please don't hesitate to send me an email. I'd love to hear from you, and I'll try to reply promptly.
Thanks for your interest.. I look forward to hearing from you!