The Maker: Crafted Ink Pens

Great On Paper: Self-taught turner Randy Kimery transforms odds and ends into gorgeious ink pens.
Randy Kimery’s first love may be wood, but improvisation is a close second. Using snakeskins, coffee beans, pinecones, old countertops, and other found objects, the Columbus-based artist has been hand-turning pens that incorporate unorthodox materials for 14 years. “It’s a different form of recycling,” he says. “If I can turn it on a lathe, I can make a pen out of it.”

He now has more than 500 designs for sale on his website. Regardless of the material, Kimery first creates a “blank”—a rectangular section that will become the barrel. For wooden pens, that means trimming boards to size. For nearly everything else? He mixes loose materials like shredded money with a polyester resin, pours the mixture into a silicone mold, and allows the resin to cure. (For a splash of color, Kimery sometimes adds automotive paints, too.)

Making blanks from hard components such as watch parts takes extra effort. Using a jeweler’s tools, Kimery carefully affixes each tiny gear around a tube that will house the pen’s ink. Then he places this blank-to-be in resin in a pressurized pot. After the blank has cured, he uses a lathe to smooth the blank into a pen. The whole process can take a week, which is why the pens cost up to $200. But we assure you, these ballpoints are worth writing home about.