Modern, unique, creative and fun!
Affordable handmade calligraphy nib holders, hand-painted to custom designs.
One Christmas I asked Zach to make me a holder for one of my gifts, and he did and I loved it and I posted about it and other people wanted one! Totally took us by surprise, and I really love that that's how it started. It was a natural and organic thing, born from a gift of love. My favorite part about what we do is how each holder is a reflection of the person who designed and owns it, instead of being a reflection of me. I want your holder to be an extension of you and your creativity!
Design Your Own Semi-Custom Pen
Semi custom pens give you a handful of shapes and designs to choose from to design your own pen!
These are readily available in the shop, are cheaper than fully custom pens and have a faster shipping time!
Designing a Fully Custom Pen
Designing a fully custom nib-holder for yourself is so much fun! Here are some of the customizable options for you to think about for your pen:
Length: Do you have a preferred length? If not, we default to 8" which is a happy medium. Sometimes people with smaller hands prefer shorter pens.
Shape: Seen any pen shapes you've liked? Send those along! We love trying new things, as well as mixing and matching different designs. Don't have a preference? Zach loves having free-range to be creative and design whatever he wants!
Type: Do you work best with an Oblique, Straight or a Carrot? We can make all 3! Carrots have a thicker grip that helps with hand cramping, and gives you a little bit more control.
Design: Here's the fun part! How do you want it to look? Do you want a hand-painted scene? A shimmery ombre? Natural wood? A mix of all 3? Get creative, we love trying new things! Check out #ashbushholders on Instagram to see all previous pens.
Flange: There's all kinds of different ways to approach your flange -
- Affixed Flange: The flange is non-removable, glued in. To remove nibs you just pull them out. An affixed flange gives more stability, with no worry of wobbling while writing, but leaves less room for adjusting it to suit or taking it out to clean.
- Non-affixed Flange: The flange is interchangeable. The whole flange slides out the bottom of the holder. The pen comes with both a large and small flange to fit multiple sized nibs. The flange is secured with a small wooden shim (pin/toothpick) inserted into a hole in the bottom of the holder. The shim will fall out when the flange is pulled out, and then once the new flange is inserted the shim must be pushed back in. A non-affixed flange provides more versatility and the ability to clean the nibs and flanges separately, but has a greater chance of becoming wobbly over time. It's okay if the shim stays in when changing the flange. And it's highly recommended to glue your flange in once it's adjusted to your liking.
- Large: Fits Zebra G and other similar sized nibs
- Small: Fits Hunt 101 and other similar sized nibs
Instagram Handle: Don't forget to include your IG name in your message! One of our favorite things is tagging people in photos and videos of their custom pen while it's being made - from the fresh wood on the lathe, to the painting, finishing and even once it's packaged!
As with anything, the more specific information you give, the closer we can get it to the picture in your head! Whenever you're ready to design your custom holder, just send the Etsy shop a message detailing everything you'd like and I'll create a listing for you to purchase it!
How do I adjust my flange?
The beauty of calligraphy is that every hand is different! This can making customized pens difficult to make because every writing style is different. If you find the defulat angle uncomfortable for your hand it's very easy to adjust! A set of small pliers are the most helpful when adjusting, just pull the arc of the flange wider to fit larger nibs, and squeeze it in to fit smaller nibs. See video for more assistance.
How long does it take to make a custom pen?
Custom orders generally take 3-4 weeks (per pen) to make, more intricate designs and multiple pen orders may take longer.
How much does international shipping cost?
$14.50 (that's the bare minimum at the post office, so unfortunately even if you buy a $2 item the shipping will be that much. This is out of my control.)
- How do I remove a non-affixed flange?
Non-affixed flanges are pinned in place, but not glued in. You can pull the flange out, it will require some force. It's okay if the pin doesn't come out, you'll be able to push the flange back in. It's recommended to glue in your flange once it'd adjusted to your liking to prevent wobbling over time. You can do that with any super glue or epoxy.
- I'm a beginner, what do you recommend?
I recommend carrot obliques with affixed flanges for beginners. The short and fat carrot shape helps alleviate hand cramps, and trains you to have a light grip and light hand while writing. It also gives you more control because more of the pen is being held in your hand. Oblique's can seem odd to work with at first, but are easier overall because the flange puts the nib at the 50 degree slant needed for calligraphy, instead of having to turn your paper and perspective to that angle. The affixed flange is more stable and prevents wobbling, altho an extremely heavy hand will cause wobbling no matter what.
- What's a carrot?
A carrot is a short 5" pen with a thicker grip. The thick grip helps alleviate hand cramping and works to train your hand to have a light grip and light pressure. It also maintains more control than other pens because more of the pen is being held in your hand.
- Do you make ergonomic holders?
No, we don't hand-carve any pens. The process is extremely tedious and time consuming and would result in our prices having to double, and our goal is to create mid-range, afforable pens in a designer style. If you're looking for an ergo pen you should definitely look up Heber Miranda's holders, they're amazing!
- Does it come with a nib?
Yup! Every pen comes with a G nib already inserted.
- The colors aren't a perfect match/why doesn't it look like "so and so's" pen?
Just like how every calligrapher is different, every pen maker is different. There's no right and wrong way to make a pen, and a lot of it comes down to preference. There's also no pen-making manual out there, so every maker learns through trial and error. Difference in pens comes down to a lot of different factors: price, preference, style decisions, amount of time to make, personal goals, etc. Some things to take into consideration before comparing my pens to other pens out there:
- Price: Our pens are very mid-range and afforable, and that's exactly how I want it. I want the average, or beginner calligrapher to be able to own a unique and creative pen. If you're looking at other pen makers, or other customized pens you should expect to spend $150-$300 depending on what you want.
- Preference: I tend to prefer a steeper flange angle when writing, not everyone does - and that's okay! Just adjust the flange to your desired angle. I also purposefully use very light-weight wood, for many reasons: to help train you into a lighter hand and because the specific wood takes watercolor paint the best.
- Style: I'm one of the few pen-makers who hand-paints the pens. That's my style preference. Every pen out there is beautiful in it's own right, I just specialize in watercolor painting and marbling. This process takes much longer than most pen-making processes out there (excepting hand-carved pens.) This hand-painting process also does not afford me the luxury of finishing the pens on the lathe - meaning I have a much more laborious lacquering process.
*An important point to remember: these pens are hand-made and hand-painted... meaning not made by machines, so they have human characteristics and imperfections making each pen unique and different from another. Please don't hold me to machine standards and please don't compare me to other pen-makers especially when they have a completely different making process and price point.
Since every pen is hand-painted we can't guarantee exact design or color matches. Especially with marbling - the process is much harder to control. Also light colors are the hardest to marble, the wood shows through much more and the light colors may be difficult to see or make stand out.
- Do you offer wholesale pricing/discounts?
We do! Order minimums are $500 - Please contact us directly for specific inquiries.
- Do you accept returns/refunds?
We only accept returns on non-custom items. Must be returned within 2 weeks of purchase and be in new condition. Feel free to resell anything!
- How do I store my pen/why did my pen crack?
Any type of wood with a lacquer finish needs to be stored in a temperature controlled area for any long period of time. A crack in the finish of a pen means that the pen was most likely stored for a while in a very hot environment, causing the wood to expand. This can also happen if it's stored in a very cold place, causing wood to contract, and then expand and crack when going back to a normal temperature.
This is my cute husband. We met in art school where I promptly hated him. He's one of those freaks of nature that oozes natural artistic talent. I was always one class behind him, so the professors would give us our assignment and I'd bring it in, thinking 'yeah, this is pretty good.' To which they'd automatically bring up some of last semester's projects, which ALWAYS included Zach's... "And here's what Zach Bush did." And I was like, 'yeah, I hate that guy.' His work made mine look like a 3 year old did it.
So, naturally, I married him. And he CHANGED my whole career trajectory. Nothing has made me a better designer or artist more than him. He challenges me, pushes me, encourages me and helps me. I fear no project because I know that if, worst case scenario, I can't do it - Zach definitely can.
He's worked in Hollywood on movie posters and games, has designed ads, done awesome photoshoots, and is now getting his masters in 3D design from Virginia Tech. His natural talent obviously pours over into others areas. One of which has been wood-working. Pretty much everything in our house was made by him in our workshop - dining room table, coffee table, bar stools, shelves, end tables, coat rack, counter tops, seriously.
He's amazing on the lathe. He understands the engineering and technical side so well, and has a crazy creative side that makes him so good at what he does! Anyone who has ever tried pen making knows that it's way harder than it looks, there are so many different things to think about and learn, and without Zach this would literally be non-existent.
I hand-paint them using all kinds of different mediums! Watercolor is my favorite to work with, I use acrylic, ink, PearlEx, Gold Leaf, stain, and more! After the holder has been designed I finish it with a few coats of shiny lacquer, fix the flanges, package it up and send it off to it's home!