Not too long ago, back in the days when no one had thought of putting the words "inter" and "net" together and the letter "e" was not yet affixed to the word "mail", people wrote each other notes and sent each other letters. Now in those days, owning a fine writing instrument was the equivalent of having an iPad. A well-made pen, whose ink flowed smooth and was not given to blotting was much coveted and anyone who was anyone carried the finest.
It is, therefore, a wonderful discovery to learn that the art of making handturned pens has not disappeared altogether. Scott Zrubek, owner of the shop with the quirky name of Mad Moravian on Artfire, has not let this craft die.
pens he has made from different kinds of wood. All of these are well-crafted and Scott makes sure that the personality of the raw materials shine through.
He was introduced to the lathe while taking some woodworking classes with his wife and has been woodturning for about six years now. Scott also makes bottle stoppers and wands aside from the pens and has moved on to more complex designs after taking a few short classes to add to his knowledge.
The idea of selling his pieces came to him while he was running an art show at a science fiction convention. Seeing all the artists' work -- images and form that were products of their hands and minds -- he had asked himself which one of his talents could he make use of so that he could create items of beauty and function so that other people would benefit from them. His quick answer -- his skill and talent at woodworking. At the next art show he ran, he put in some of his pieces and and was happy to note that that response to them was quite good. He started selling online in December 2009 and although his day job (which he enjoys and has not considered giving up) is in the line of computer programming, he says that his foray into online selling has proven to be quite interesting and educational.
It is the discovery of the hidden shapes and patterns that lie within the wood and its grain that delights Scott and it is what keeps him creating. His color palette is mostly in the blue range but he is gradually moving toward colors that are not in his current "crayon box" (like orange - a much disliked color in the past that he is slowly getting to know).
"Each piece of wood has a different story to tell. Some tell their story pleasantly. Some tell theirs explosively, refusing to be captured in a pen or bottle stopper", he says.
I am certain that he tells their stories well -- looking at the pens and bottle stoppers he has made, one cannot but notice the care and attention to detail he put in every piece. Even the metal pieces used to accessorize each pen or stopper are chosen carefully and used to compliment, never overwhelm, the graceful lines of each piece.
As for where his muse resides, he has this to say: "The wood often determines what happens".
If you are interested to see Scott's work, just visit his studio on Artfire. You can also find him at the science fiction convention (Armadillocon, in Austin) and at his first craft fair on the 4th of July week-end in Friendswood, Texas.
Now, write that down so you don't forget.