Custom 2-tone Mini Fountain Pen - in Orange & Black Acrylic.

(Click each photo to view larger views)

Orange & Black Mini (capped) Orange & Black Mini (uncapped) Orange & Black Mini (close-up)

Orange & Black Mini (posted) Orange & Black Mini (accent bands) Orange & Black Mini (blind-cap) Orange & Black Mini (size comparison)

About this Pen:
This was another custom ordered pen. And at first glance it doesn't look to be very special except for maybe the accent bands. But it's actually a mini, or what I call a "Junior" size pen. The client wanted a small portable pen, and had a specific size and style in mind. Because of the size requirements and wanting it with the accent bands, I thought the pen was going to be a bit of a challange to make. So as I do with every new pen style, I firs started working up the layout on paper using her required specifications (I actually use a CAD program). Once the pen is approved I'll post it on the wall above my lathe and refer to it as I'm making the parts.

A great little pen, but... I'm going to mention this because I think it helps to show how easy it is to have miss communications when you have limited contact with a customer. I do my best to try and ask all the questions to get the information I need to process the order. Note I said "what I need". But sometimes there's a gap between what I need to process an order, and what the customer is expecting to get. And I only know what the customer wants from what they tell me. And with this order, we ended up having a gap in that expectation. Both of us made an assumption, and in this case they were opposites.

After spending the time to work up the layout and getting it approved, everything went smoothly once I started making the part, and it turned out to be a great looking little pen. I sent photo's to the customer before i shipped it and she was pleased. So I boxed it up and sent it on its way. But all that came to a halt once the pen was delivered! As it turned out (from the clients point of view) it was missing something. Because it was going to be a short pen, the client was expecting it to post. But posting isn't something I do as a rule. It requires a few extra steps to make a cap postable, so I only do it if it's specifically requested (and because it takes a extra steps--and more time--I charge additional for it). But in this case, the client assume that all pens were made to post, therefore this one would post as well. So after we worked through how the missunderstanding happened, ultimately I had to figure out a way to fix it, because the customer wanted her pen to post.

The problem.. On a normal pen, making it so the cap will post, even after the pen is completed, usually isn't too big of an issue--it just takes a few extra steps. One is making sure the end of the barrel is turned down to an exact size with the right amount of taper so the cap will fit snugly over it, but not fit too shallow or too deep. But that is also assuming the diameters of the parts allow for it--the cap needs to have clearance on the inside, the barrel diameter needs to be able to be turned down small enough--which in this case was the problem. As you can see the barrel had a blind cap and accent band on the end. And the blind cap was very short (to fit within the clients length requirement). But the bigger issue was that the accent band diameter was larger than the inside diameter of the cap, so the cap wouldn't physically fit over the band. And the blind cap alone was too short for the cap to post over it securely. The cap coudn't be drilled larger otherwise you'd drill out the capping threads. But somehow, I needed to come up with a solution that would allow the cap to post, while still keeping the accent band (the part that was in the way). Dropping the accent band would make a big difference in the overall look of the pen, so it was something neither of us wanted to drop.

The solution... Thankfully, after a little bit of brainstorming between us, we came up with a fairly simple solution that allowed the cap to post firmly, while still keeping the original barrel design--including the accent band-- in tact. I replaced the short blind cap with a slighly longer one (about 1/4" longer) that was sized to fit the cap, yet is slightly smaller than the accent band, so that when the cap posts on the barrel it stops right at the band. The only change made to the original pen was the additional 1/4" added to the length, and a very slight (about 1/2 mm) step down from the band to the blind cap (a feature that is fairly comon on some pens such as Pelikan's), but is typically much more prominent that the one on this pen. In this case, the difference was so minimal, that you have to look very hard to actually see it (the step down).

Conclusion... I wish I could say the solution was my idea, but it wasn't-- the client thought of it first. But I thought it was a great solution since it made minimal changes to the original design requirements the client wanted for the pen. In the end, the client was happy with the solution, AND her postable pen!

This problem was also a grim reminder that you can never ask to many questions! Every time I think I've run into the last problem I'll ever have in pen making, another one pops up. But when you're only communcating via email, I think it's just something that can happen once in a while. Since we can't know what the other is thinking, we just have to remember not to assume and keep asking questions. And if we do run into an issue, we just have to stay calm and work towards a solution.

About this Material:
This orange colored material is an Acrylic Acetate called "Orange Crush". As you can see, it's so called because of the color and pattern. The pattern is called CRUSH because it's made up of small "crushed" pieces of acrylic. It's made by first making a batch of solid orange acrylic, then it's crushed up before putting back into a mold. Once the crushed pieces are placed in the mold, it's filled again with the solid orange. Once it cures, you have a solid piece of material with the crushed pattern. It creates a very vibrant color, so it's a very popular pattern. You'll see several other colors used on my pens (the Cranberry Red, and Sapphire Blue are two).

This Pen's Specifications:
Color / Material: Crushed Orange & Solid Black Acrylic.
Length: Capped 5.0" / Uncapped 3.56" /
Posted 5.125".
Diameter: Barrel .55". / Cap .59".
Nib: #6 2-tone Steel Meister.
Clip: Molded chrome plated.
Cap Bands: Silver plated.
Filling System: C/C.