To the Victor Go the Spoils...

We remove mountains, and make seas our smooth highway; nothing can resist us. We war with rude Nature; and, by our resistless engines, come off always victorious, and loaded with spoils. - - Thomas Carlyle

Edythe. The name not only means “spoils of war,” but it’s also my grandmother’s name. I wouldn’t say she was combative, but she was full of sass. One day when I was about 16 years old, she took a ring off her finger and gave it to me. “That’s real onyx and gold, so don’t go giving it to one of your friends. You keep that!” I still have the ring and I thought of it often while I was turning this fountain pen.

I knew it would be beautiful. How could it not? Let me tell you how.

Stone is notorious for two things: it despises heat and it loves to shatter if you force it. It’s unfair to say it’s rude because if you abide by its rules, it will turn into something truly exquisite right before your eyes. Its colors are true and it takes a shine like no other material on the planet, with the exception of a teenage girl who has been given a genuine compliment.

Image of shiny Victorian black with gold thread pen blank

Two lessons this stone taught me: a cool drill bit is a welcome drill bit (and there are worse things than taking your time removing the core); and it’s worth taking the time to knock off the edges of a square blank before turning it on the lathe, but drill the core first! Special K helped me with the edges before I drilled the core and that made getting this blank ready that much more tricky.

Image of TruStone blank with edges knocked off

While turning, I often stop the lathe and look at where I’m at on the blank. If there’s a fabulous pattern emerging somewhere I don’t want to lose it, but also to check to see if I’m digging into the blank somehow. TruStone blanks like this one are very hard on tools and I did find ridges forming in the lower barrel. I thought I was mishandling my tools, but I wasn’t. After pausing to rotate the edge on my tool (I use carbide tools), the ridges disappeared after a couple of passes.

Image of pen blank with scratches and ridge formations

The shavings that came off the blank were fine and chalky, no ribbons this time. Still, I swept them into a cup and will use them in the production of a future resin blank. I think they’ll do a bang up job recreating the look of ruby silks. I see another Victorian pen in the near future, mwahahahaha….

Image of finished Victorian fountain pen, black with gold threading

Overall I'm really happy with Edythe. She's everything I wanted her to be: elegant, edgy, and formidable. My grandmother was certainly formidable. 

Image of Edythe, a woman sitting on a vintage car

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