Despite my fancy smartphone and my technology-focused job that has me using a laptop several hours a week, I’m really an old fashioned girl: few things restore my faith in humankind like the careful handcrafting of something commonplace, like a pen. Last month’s “What Are You Working on Now?” contest revealed all sorts of lovely creations from jewelers’ benches across the land, but I was especially charmed by a submission from Matthew Davis, jeweler and pen maker.
Matthew’s Etsy Store, Pantera Pens, features stunning hand-crafted pens and sterling silver jewelry. I asked Matthew if he would share with The Studio a little about his store and how he came to be a pen maker, and here’s what he had to say:
“I’d be delighted to have my shop featured! As a kid growing up with a silversmith father and living in New Mexico, I actually used to go (get dragged?) to Rio with him from time to time. At the time, I don’t think it ever occurred to me that 30-35 years later I would be buying silver, stones, and tools from Rio myself!”
Molly Bell: How would you describe your work?
Matthew Davis: I’d say I have a fairly abstract style that’s heavily influenced by art deco, Frank Lloyd Wright, Japan, and old science fiction – the way the future used to look before everything was designed by computer. I want my designs to be a little exotic but still elegant.
MB: How did you begin making pens?
MD: I came to penmaking from the woodworking side. Pens make great projects when you’re on a budget – “entry level” pen components can be bought for just a few dollars, and you can use scrapwood. The amount of wood needed is small, so even expensive exotic woods are affordable! It was wanting to make my own pen components like clips and center bands that led me to silversmithing. Of course it’s also nice that I’ve gotten to learn so much from my dad and carry on the “family tradition.”
In my store, the Masterpiece Collection pens have handmade clips, centerbands, finials, and such; for the other pen categories, the metal parts are commercially made.
MB: What are your favorite materials to work with?
MD: Definitely wood and sterling. Nothing beats the feel and smell of working with wood, and sterling is so versatile.
MB: What is your favorite piece available in your store?
MD: Although my main product line is the pens, I’m going to go with the pendant Falcon. It’s asymmetric but still balanced, and the bloodstone is so dark you can’t see the red flecks unless you get it under a really bright light. I love a secret!
MB: What is your favorite Rio product?
MD: It’s got to be the sterling – specifically, Rio’s low minimum quantities. I need a lot of different sizes of tube, wire, and sheet stock for my projects, and low minimums mean I can have a wide variety at my fingertips without breaking the bank.