I’ll Drink To That!

A couple of years ago, top calligrapher Paul Antonio came to out college and gave a talk and demonstration. As part of this, he made a pen from a can of coke and produced some beautiful and exotic calligraphic linework. I was reminded of this as I was using my dip pens recently and decided to have a go myself.

Please note, that this is an excellent sponsorship opportunity…

Safety first; if you are going to do this yourself, please drink responsibly – I recommend the night before. I used ordinary scissors to cut open this can, but had to be careful as the edges are extremely sharp.

Not as sharp as the clean, crisp taste of Stella Artois. (See what I mean?)

After flattening out the curve, the can was cut into strips and folded in half, where I cut out my nib.

Using my Archimedes drill I drilled through the shaft of a paintbrush and poked corresponding holes into the nib.

Threaded with wire…

and tightly wrapped to secure it in place. I needed to shape the nib some more to bring the two sides together. I needed to do this three times in all because the aluminium kept splitting.

This one was no exception, but it was fairly high up from the tip so I pressed on regardless.

The pen is loaded by dipping into the ink. I used a watered down indian ink for this. The ink is drawn up in between the two sides by capillary action, and released as the nib is drawn across the paper.

After a little while I gained a bit more control, and discovered ways of holding the pen, and moving the nib to achieve particular qualities of line.

When I pressed on the side of the nib a small spray of ink was released…

By the time I had finished the nib looked just a tired old meat cleaver!

Although I did not produce anything of particular importance here, I am very encouraged by this and will make more. I would like to add these types of line quality to my asemic works alongside the more controlled stuff.


6 thoughts on “I’ll Drink To That!

  1. Hi Chris! Love your effort here. Not long ago I was also researching homemade calligraphy and ruling pens, to do just as you’ve done, and came across this article:

    Not too different from your approach! I like your recycling/re-purposing of the Stella can! Perhaps a Young’s can could provide different results? I would recommend the luxurious Double Chocolate Stout.

  2. Aah, A man after my own heart! I do beleive the contents of the can will have a direct effect on the results! Seriously though – a steel can is better than the aluminium on I used here – less prone to splitting and just a little stiffer.

    Did you do anything with your research? I would like to see how others get on with these things and exchange ideas and tips…

    1. I haven’t done anything as of yet. I have a few block prints in queue that I’m having some fun with. Although, I do have a can saved just for this project (I don’t come across many. Most of my adult beverages come in a glass vessel.). I’ll try to remember to document my process and results to share!

  3. Lovely stuff, I used know people who make their own markers with the rest of the can, some sponge and a lot of paint; again the effects can be really dynamic but yours probably are not as smelly and a tad more legal.

  4. Just wanted to say that this brings back interesting memories Chris. I’ve been meaning to give this another go lately as well (and an around the world animation), haven’t played around with ink sense I’ve been at LCC.

  5. The marks from your home-made pen are amazing! So much variation and expression…really beautiful! I’m sure that a conventional nib pen probably doesn’t have such character…

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