I love wood (get your mind out of the gutter).
The grain, the smell, look of it when you apply a finish. Wood has been the foundation of our lives since humans started walking this earth looking for shelter. Today, we're fortunate enough to treat wood as a luxury (though, thanks to poorly managed environmental damage, that may change), one that affords us the ability to use it for artistic works like the custom wooden pens we make at The Acadian.
Let's take a quick look at some of the different types and styles of wood and how we turn them into beautiful works of art.
Woods like Maple, Oak, Elm, and Walnut are what are considered domestic woods in the U.S. They're fairly common, but the pieces of art you can make with them are anything but. A quilted maple board can be turned into a handmade box that seems to glow with waves of light when an oil finish is applied. The grayish look of a figured walnut board can be transformed into a deep, rich, swirling brown when you turn it on a lathe and create a handmade pen from it.
When we're talking about woods like Padauk, Wenge, Olive, and Zebrawood, we're talking exotics. And really, it just means they come from a country outside the U.S. These exotic hardwoods can be difficult to attain, and in some cases are from protect species on the verge of extinction. When it comes to exotics, it pays to know where they've been sourced from. Conservation is important to us at The Acadian, so we try to buy from trusted sources.
Maybe you've seen them on trees in your neighborhood: large, bulbous growths sprouting from the side of the tree, almost resembling a tumor. And essentially, that is what a burl (or bur, in the U.K.) is. Burls are growths that form on a tree when it has been damaged or infected with a parasite of some kind. They're not the same as bark covers where a limb has been cut off.
Burls, when cut into, reveal swirling grain patterns unlike any in the rest of the tree. These patterns turn into beautiful plays of light and dark throughout the piece. When a finish is applied, the undulations become mesmerizing.
Burls are great for making high end custom pens. Because burls are much less common than straight grain wood, the pens we make with this type of wood tend to be a bit higher in price.
Hybrids are fun plays on wood and acrylic. As a woodworker, you often find yourself with cutoffs from the projects your working on. Burls often leave you with "worthless wood" cutoffs, especially when making wood pen blanks. But thanks to ingenious makers, these wood cutoffs are worthless no more.
Molded with resin, wood/acrylic hybrids can turn out some truly stunning custom pen blanks that make each pen a really unique work of art.
It's amazing the myriad ways to make a custom wood pen out of something most of us see every day. Trees are special to us at The Acadian, and if you browse our shop, you can see why.