Making a folded pen or cola pen

Barbara Close taught her students how to make a folded pen, also known as a cola pen (yes, as in soda pop). A fellow student, Juan, graciously posed for the step-by-step photos.

  1. First we cut the strip of sheet metal Barbara supplied according to a pattern:
Hand-made folded pen, shape to cut

Hand-made folded pen, shape to cut

2. We put the pattern on the sheet metal and cut it out:

Hand-made folded pen, cutting out nib with pattern

Hand-made folded pen, cutting out nib with pattern

3. Here is the piece once it was cut. It is still unfinished:

Hand-made folded pen, metal nib cut out

Hand-made folded pen, metal nib cut out

4. The piece is then folded around a dowel. A pencil works just fine! So now you know where the “folded” part comes from:

Hand-made folded pen, folding metal around handle

Hand-made folded pen, folding metal around handle

5. On the paper pattern, we draw the outline of the final shape and place it around the sheet metal to cut out:

Hand-made folded pen, cutting nib into final shape

Hand-made folded pen, cutting nib into final shape

6. Here is the piece on the pencil, tightly crimped to stay put:

Hand-made folded pen, metal folded into place

Hand-made folded pen, metal folded into place

7. We added plenty of tape to hold the nib in place:

Hand-made folded pen, tape being attached

Hand-made folded pen, tape being attached

8. Here is the final piece, ready to dip in your favorite media and use:

Hand-made folded pen, finished

Hand-made folded pen, finished

I had created a pen a year earlier, but the metal was from a soda can. So that’s where we get the name cola pen from:

Hand-made Cola pen forged from a soda can

Hand-made Cola pen forged from a soda can

For homework, I used the pen to create a word in a sentence. Here’s the project I turned in. I used the cola pen to write Glory with green ink, then used a broad edge pen to write the top lettering in gold gouache. I applied colored pencil and pastels to the piece to brighten it up. I applied the pastel with a stick containing Q-tip-like ball on the end. (Pastels and sticks came from Stampin-UP! It is no longer in production.)

Psalms 102.16, using broad nib nib and cola pen

Psalms 102.16, using broad nib nib and cola pen

Barbara had announced that a library in Whittier, CA will display calligraphy pieces during the month of November. Since it is the month of Thanksgiving, it had the theme of gratitude. I had an idea at the last minute (well, after the last minute — so it will be put up after the showing starts), and borrowed the idea above to create the artwork below:

In Everything Give Thanks, with pointed pen nib and cola pen

In Everything Give Thanks, with pointed pen nib and cola pen

I dipped the cola pen into a tray of red gouache and formed the T. I cleaned the pen and dipped it in the blue gouache for the h, cleaned it, and so on through the word. Because it was so watery, the colors merged where the letters overlapped. Then I applied pastels and colored pencil around it. The top lettering was done with a pointed pen with Moon Palace Sumi Ink.

Now I’m off to find a frame for it!

About Steve Husting

Steve Husting is a mild webmaster by day and fearless writer by night. He is deaf, loves making calligraphy, hiking, terrific movies, and making the Bible's message clear to his readers. His devotionals are regularly published in Daily Devotionals for the Deaf, and his latest apps are sold in the iTunes App Store. His self-published Christian and calligraphy books are on lulu.com/spotlight/stevehusting
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2 Responses to Making a folded pen or cola pen

  1. Hello Steve,
    I am an artist and currently doing a painting and want to add calligraphy. I love your lettering Thou Art the Christ and would like to try my lettering with that same font and with the “broken up” or nonperfect letters. What font is that? Did you use the cola pen for this? (Do you have a true to size pattern for the pen you could share? I so also like you Thanks shown above, what font is that? The message I am trying to convey in the painting is for those women considering abortion to consider the life of the child and that God will help them. I am going to use Esperanto language because it is an universal language and this is universal. I have done calligraphy before, just not much of it. Thank you so much, you work is amazing. God bless.

    • Steve Husting says:

      The broken up lettering was accomplished by using a broad-edged nib on very rough watercolor paper. So the non-places at the edges of the lines correspond to dips in the paper the ink did not fill.

      By Thanks, I assume you mean the Thanks in In Everything Give Thanks. That word was created with a folded pen with water only, then dropping watercolor into place with a brush, causing the color to spread. After it dried, I used mainly colored pencils to add small details throughout.

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