Writing and drawing ... the old way, by hand ... has always been a big part of my work practice. And whilst I do a lot of it these days with styli on desktop and mobile tablets of various sorts ... most times I still draft articles and thought processes using pen and paper ... albeit, then porting the written mess into digital format by one of several voice dictation methods that I use.

handmade pens in wood by Bob Gilmour

Touch-type and committing thought processes straight to digital has never been easy for me because I can't type as quick as I can think. Nor do I find it easy to dictate on the fly. There are a lot of factors involved but for now, let me just say that I'm sitting on a couch on my veranda committing my thought process to paper with a heavy fountain pen ... and taking time to stare up at the mountain range when I need my thoughts to collect for the next assemblage of words. So, it goes without saying that I've long had a love of writing instruments ... and always have a selection on hand for the "process" of "writing".

handmade wood pens in silky oak and Queensland silver ash by Bob Gilmour

When I was a kid I had a small fascination with "old style" ink nib pens and was given one to use for my drawings. A mission to write my memoirs at the age of eight or nine was born ... although destined to be short-lived when I knocked the first bottle of India ink over on the family couch.

Recently, I was asked by the people managing my stock for the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (Australian government) if I could (or would) make some pens to go out as diplomatic gifts. Strangely, it's not something I've ever done ... or ever really wanted to do, but I said yes.

It took some time to decide what I needed and get the gear together. This included fully re-building a wood lathe which had been destroyed several years ago in a storm. The field of pen-making is quite specialised and begins with acquiring kitted components and can be taken as far as fabricating all of the hardware in-house on a metal lathe. The latter is hard-core and naturally, I find that concept very interesting and its hovering on my "will do" list for a little later.

During the last couple weeks, I put out the first batch of 8 pens ... all roller-ball instruments in single barrel (body) designs. I'm not a fan of thin lightweight pens, so I'm opting towards larger fuller body designs that have substantial weight. Each pen of this batch has a main body made of wood and finished with hand-rubbed resin and oil. The woods include Silky Oak, Queensland Silver Ash and Purple Heart.

handmade wood pens in purple heart by Bob Gilmour

The components so far have all come from several suppliers and are of a design known as "Sierra" in various configurations. It's a lovely solid pen which I certainly will be maintaining as a core design in my range.