Penning Personal and Historical Stories
Swindon born and Swindon-based Simon Web is carving out a pen-shaped niche for himself creating beautiful, hand turned writing instruments from timbers with historical and/or personal resonances.
To demonstrate the historical:
Back in 2017, Swindon’s Christ Church in Old Town, as part of a renewal project, needed to get rid of some pews. On hearing the news Simon was swift in joining the pew to get hold of one to make pens from it. The pens he made proved popular – many couples that had married in Christ Church contacted Simon to get one of these pens.
Old Technology Makes a Comeback
Those of us of a certain age that remember scratchy nib pens and inkwells in desks and then the later cartridge pens, are forgiven for thinking that the Biro and indeed the text message and e-mail had rendered fountain pens obsolete. But not a bit of it. Back in 2012, the BBC published an article about why fountain pen sales are rising.
‘Sales of ballpoint pens are stable but the fountain pen is a classic story of how an object’s status is affected by waves of new technology.’
‘Somehow, the fountain pen became a luxury item and found a niche.
If a president signs a treaty, they don’t do it with a Bic Cristal. ‘
The hand-turned pens with historical resonances began with wood from an ancient walnut tree in Swindon’s Lydiard Park that blew down in the storms of 2013. From there, Simon branched out (see what I did there?) to making pens from the mulberry tree at the Richard Jefferies museum and from wood unearthed at the GWR Works that are sold at STEAM museum.
Continuing the theme of using historic – and famous – timbers, Simon’s lathe has been well-exercised making pens and cufflinks out of an oak plinth from Bath Abbey. Those products are available both in the Bath Abbey Shop and from Simon himself.
There are cufflinks too from HMS Victory – only small pieces of wood are available so Simon has only been able to make cufflinks.
And now we come to apples. Or to a vary famous apple tree to be precise.
the notion of gravitation… was occasion’d by the fall of an apple, as he sat in contemplative mood.”
– William Stukeley
I’m of course talking about Isaac Newton and the infamous apple tree at the National Trust property, Woolsthorpe Manor.
Simon is working with them to make pens, cufflinks, and sterling silver pendants and lapel pins with wood from this world famous apple tree. It’s now over 400 years old and still fruiting.
The rhodium plated fountain pen is finished with a gold plated, sterling silver finial with a unique Newton logo. The pen comes in a presentation case with leather carrying case, Diamine ink cartridges, piston adaptor and certificate of authenticity. This will also be available in a rollerball version.
The pen will only be available from Woolsthorpe Manor. They’ll announce price and availability shortly. Says Simon ‘I have been privileged to work with Woolsthorpe Manor on this project. This has to be my “holy grail” of wood.’
Gifts with a difference
Simon has crafted with care, pens from beams in houses, trees from people’s gardens, the staves of a whisky barrel (complete with certificate of authenticity from the distillery) and from old tools. A wonderful example of the latter being the pen you see in the images below.
Simon made this pen made from an old woodworking plane that belonged to the customer’s grandfather. A nice feature is the stamping o the plane with the owner’s name. Simon incorporated that piece in with the presentation box, giving the new owner of the pen a useful and lasting reminder of his grandfather.
How to find Simon and write your own history
On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/simonwebbartisan/
On his website: http://www.simon-webb.co.uk/index.html
And at Bath Artisan market: https://www.facebook.com/TheBathArtisanMarket/
Tel: 07834 375628
See also: Off the Cuff – A Brief History of Cufflinks