Dip, wipe, write.

Imagine me, a woman of thirty, trying to grab a rooster by the tail in my grandaunt’s backyard. I didn’t succeed, but my huffing and flailing amused my family. After a good time was had by all, my uncle handed me a tailfeather he picked up. Here, he said, I don’t know what you want it for but you don’t have to scare the chickens to get one.

I wanted to make a quill. I didn’t know about curing the tip with heat, or stripping the feathers for better balance. I had better luck with bamboo, not the least because it couldn’t run away. I used an X-acto knife to shape the tip and hollowed out the pith to create a “reservoir.”

To follow up animal and vegetable, I turned to mineral. Speedball nibs are well and good, but vintage dip pen nibs are mind-opening. I bought an assortment from a seller on FPN more than a year ago, mostly Esterbrook. There are Judge’s Quills and Falcons and Double Elastics. Similar to the proliferation of ballpoint and gel pen designs today, there was a nib for everyone back then.

I prefer the Esterbrook 048 Falcon to a rooster feather.