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After the success of the Bellatrix-meets-Martha-Stewart post,  'How to make a Death Eater Mask,' I thought I'd post another How To.  This time I'll show you the steps of how to make a lurvely Harry Potter inspired quill.  If this becomes popular, I'll start posting more of my How To's, given I really enjoy crafting.

Just a taste of what's below the cut:


LIABILITY DISCLAIMER:  Don't sue me!  Craft at your own risk.  This project is inherently dangerous as it requires sharp, pointy objects.  Never cut towards yourself.  Always use a sharp blade.  And recap/close any open blades when not actively using one.

Cutting quills is messy.  And it's time consuming until you get into the groove of it.  Originally I had intended to cut enough quills to bring all the girls going to Hogsmeade Witches Weekend one as a prezzie.  *sigh*  That's not likely to happen.  Especially since Tink the house garden elf told me to bugger off.  But it is a rewarding and fun craft.  So be patient, take it easy, and go slowly - particularly when you're cutting.

First things first though.  Supplies.

For this project it's necessary to have:
- Feathers.  I used left and right wing goose feathers, but Turkey feathers work just as well.  I ordered them in bulk online from smileyme.com.  Left wing feathers work best for right handed people, just as right wing feathers work best for left handed people.  I spent $26.00 for 72 feathers, including postage.  You'll want to order more feathers than you need because not all of them are winners.

-Alum.  Alum is key to setting a quill and strengthening the shaft.  It's found in the spice aisle of most grocery stores. ($3.50)

-Cutting board

-Knives.  I used a mix of knives.  I found a good sharp exacto knife worked really well for cutting the slit of the nib, but my best tool was my utility knife.  The origins of 'pen knives' were that they were used to cut quills, but most pen knives now a days are blunt, silly things.  Do not use a serrated knife.

-Sand paper.  Fine grit sandpaper works well to smooth out the barrel and any imperfections.

-Acrylic paints and paint brushes.

Step 1:
Boil water.  I pulled out the tea kettle and let it boil.  I poured about a cup and a half into my crockware, and added a heaping tablespoon of alum to the brew.  Then the feather tips went into the crockware.  The process sets the shafts - hardens it a bit.  Some flexibility in a quill nib is good, but too soft and it's worthless to write with.  Let them sit and steam for a few minutes, then lay them out and allow them to air dry.  Some recommend throwing them in the oven at a low setting or even the microwave (ye gads!).  I set them out on the back porch. 
NOTE:  Yes, it will smell like you're cooking wet feathers.  Yes, it's nasty.

Step 2:
Cleaning the feathers.  This has got to be the nastiest part of the process.  There is a thin membrane covering the shaft of the feather, up until it turns white.  You need to strip that.  Using a knife just nicks your feather.  Honestly, the best instrument I used was my thumbnail.

Step 3:
Make a huge mess.  You're ready to cut your quill.  The lower fletching needs to be removed, the quill shaft spliced, the nib split, and shaped.  These guys here: http://www.regia.org/quill2.htm do a much better job at describing the process than I could.  What they don't tell you specifically to do is to lightly sand the feather down - and I recommend it.

One tip I do have to share about this, is use a small hook to pull out the feathery cartilage inside the shaft.  I have a small hook that I bought at Joanne's for turning a tube, and it worked wonders at pulling all that gunk out.

Step 4:
Once you've cut your quill, and are satisfied with your new writing implement, it's time to paint it!  Select your acrylics and water them down.  Darker colors work best because they pale out on the feather, but the feather will take a load of watery paint and even metalics fairly easily.  Please note that if the paint is too thick, the feather will be rigid when it dries.  I played around with House colors.  I made a 'Phoenix Feather,' a 'Hippogriff Feather,' and even a 'Blibbering Humdinger Feather.' 

Green and silver Slytherin Quill

Red and gold Gryffindor Quill

Black and silver fantasy Quill

I hope this inspires you to try your hand at making your own.   It's a lot of fun, and very satisfying. 

But if you would like me to make one especially for you, please contact me at apollinawrites@gmail.com

Happy Crafting!


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January 2013

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