Thursday, 2 May 2013

Q is for Quill

“Oh, nature's noblest gift, my grey goose quill, Slave of my thoughts, obedient to my will, Torn from the parent bird to form a pen, that mighty instrument of little men”
 Lord Byron   (English Romantic poet and satirist, 1788-1824)

 A quill pen is made from a feather (usually a primary wing-feather) of a large bird such as a goose or turkey.  Scarcer, more expensive swan feathers are used for larger lettering.
I have one proper quill; it is made from a white turkey feather.  For my tag I photocopied my quill  (50% size) against a mottled background which produced some nice grey tones. I then used my quill to write part of the Byron quote above, on top of the photocopied image.
After several attempts, I found my quill was not obedient to my will and produced some rather messy writing.  The quill may be nature’s noblest gift, but I prefer a metal edged dip-pen or fountain pen for the best results!!
I wrote the quote again using a fountain pen. 
It is this version I made into a tag. I backed it onto some feathery handmade paper and attached a grey goose down feather and some grey threads for a tie.  I will keep a quill-written version in my Calligraphy Abecedary for comparison.

 Depending on availability and strength of the feather, as well as quality and characteristic of the line required, other feathers can be used for quill-pen making.  I have been trying out some other feathers here:

The pheasant tail quill measures 53 cm! I made it just by cutting it with scissors!  It held the ink well and made a nice rustic line.

In a carefully prepared quill the slit does not widen through wetting with ‘quink’. It will retain its shape adequately and only requires infrequent sharpening and can be used time and time again until there is little left of it. The hollow shaft of the feather acts as an ink reservoir and ink flows to the tip by capillary action.

Quill pens were used to write medieval manuscripts, the Magna Carta, the Book of Kells, and the Declaration of Independence.  Quill pens are still used today mainly by professional scribes and calligraphers.

That’s all for now, Thank you for all your lovely comments, I’ll be queuing up to see all your ‘Q’ tags later,
Love Jane xx


  1. Very nice! Never tried using a quill pen.

  2. I have a very pretty quill too, but don't write with it too often. Lovely work from you! Valerie

  3. Oh the art of letter writing! Lovely tag and your K, beautiful work. X

  4. Really nice! I love the feathery background paper you used. Great tag!

  5. Totally fascinating and such beautiful work as usual Jane. I am a BIG fan! :0) Mo

  6. JUST BEAUTIFUL and so clever! Does it take you ages? Carolyn xx

  7. Yes it does take ages, but only because I'm a perfectionist. If you go wrong you can't just unpick it, you've got to start again! But it keeps me out of trouble! Jane xx

  8. Beautiful! This is such an elegant tag.


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