Zen comes in the form of a pen

Posted Oct. 04, 2012, at 12:32 p.m.
Bucksport resident Dan Horowitz finds tranquility in the turn of a lathe and creation of custom pens for clients
Bucksport resident Dan Horowitz finds tranquility in the turn of a lathe and creation of custom pens for clients
Five sample pens showcase the different materials Horowitz uses. (From top to bottom): A fountain pen made from white Tru-stone (85 percent stone powder and mixed with resin); A gold ballpoint pen made from spalted birch; A pen featuring pheasant feathers encased in clear resin; A rollerball pen featuring a grey dolphin scrolled into blue and white swirled resin; A ballpoint pen with Cholla Cactus and resin.
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Five sample pens showcase the different materials Horowitz uses. (From top to bottom): A fountain pen made from white Tru-stone (85 percent stone powder and mixed with resin); A gold ballpoint pen made from spalted birch; A pen featuring pheasant feathers encased in clear resin; A rollerball pen featuring a grey dolphin scrolled into blue and white swirled resin; A ballpoint pen with Cholla Cactus and resin.
Horowitz begins the turning process using rectangular blocks like this one (at left) featuring a scrolled grey dolphin in blue and white swirled resin. The final product (at right) shows how the pens look when they’re finished.
Horowitz begins the turning process using rectangular blocks like this one (at left) featuring a scrolled grey dolphin in blue and white swirled resin. The final product (at right) shows how the pens look when they’re finished.

Bucksport resident Dan Horowitz found zen in the turning of a lathe.

After being laid off from a local stove shop around Thanksgiving in 2010, Horowitz found himself in need of holiday gifts on a restricted budget.

That’s when he discovered the hobby of wood turning. Most wood turners, Horowitz explained, start with bowls. However, Horowitz finds passion in creating custom pens from a variety of materials.

“I’m an unusual person, I like to do things that not many others are doing,” he said. “This is not something most other wood turners like to do because [making pens requires] turning the same shape over and over. I like turning different materials rather than concentrating on shapes.”

He started small and found that this art “turned into a passion rapidly.” In fact, when he was hired the following January at another stove shop, he purchased his own lathe and “has been turning ever since.”

Today, he’s the owner of the EmbroidMe franchise, located at 753 Stillwater Avenue in Bangor. EmbroidMe, like his pen turning business Write Styles & Gifts, creates products to enhance a personal or professional image.

Horowitz’s pens are made from natural materials including wood and cactus, polymers, and man-made synthetic materials. Each material has a unique temperament when placed on the lathe. But that’s part of the challenge, he says.

“I like creating,” he said. “Wood turning is like a zen mode [for me]. When you’re watching something spin at high speed, shaving off materials, watching something be formed is very calming.”

That “zen” results in a completely unique pen. In fact, every part of his pens is chosen to make them stand apart. That includes the type of nib used (ballpoint, rollerball, or fountain), the type of material used as the base, the clip, and other decorative elements.

Two of his favorite materials to turn are spalted wood and Cholla Cactus: the dried skeleton of a Cholla Cactus plant surrounded by a custom resin.

Spalted wood is made up of wood afflicted with a fungus. But that wood produces pens with amazing “character.” Cholla Cactus comes from southwest Texas and when combined with a custom resin produces a pen with a unique look.

Some pens even include embedded images, such as a dolphin intricately placed into resin reminiscent of ocean waves.

The ultimate objective, he said, is to make a pen that will become a cherished writing tool. The added bonus? Having a blast making it.

Horowitz’s custom pen creations are sold through Write Styles & Gifts and exclusively at Blue Heron at 15 State Street in Bangor.

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