A FB friend had asked me about handmade calligraphy pens. Here are photos of a few, sometimes next to manufactured pens of similar types.
You can make a substitute for the popular "automatic" pens from England with tongue depressors, coffee stirrers, popsicle sticks and almost any other flat sided article with reasonable rigidity and a pencil or dowel rod and some masking tape. Tongue depressors/blades can often be cut with scissors to a flat edge. If scissors don't work, lay the piece on an old phone book and slice it with a heavy duty cutting blade such as a disposable blade carton knife. You may also bevel the edge with the knife by cutting it at a slant instead of straight across. Cut off and narrow the non-business end and tape it to a pencil or piece of dowel rod. You may like to use the entire length of the stirrer or tongue depressor, but I find them a bit uncomfortable to hold without trimming them and gluing them to the pencil or dowel.
The same raw materials can be used to make "Coit"-style pens, except in this instance you would notch the writing end.
If you have a product called "Stimudent" you can make an even cooler multi-line pen. I was unable to find any of the many I've made, and when I searched for Stimudents in the store I couldn't find any. I don't know if they are no longer being made or if my store just didn't carry them. They are a portable toothpick device in a matchbook-style folder. They come with two rows of attached picks and you can tear off one or more at a time. To make a multi-line pen tear off a grouping of three, four or five and tape the bottom end to a pencil. I'm sorry I have no photo to share.
I didn't make this cola pen, although I have made them before. This one is 'the bomb' to use a term kids used to use years ago (meaning 'great'.) What sets this one apart is it's 'stable flexibility' allowing smooth writing, and its fabulous spattering quality. I can get better marks with this pen than with any other ruling pen I have tried. You copy the shape (directions are available via Google searches, I'm sure) flip it over and copy it again. Fold it in the middle and attach it to a pencil with tape. This one has a neat little flap that folds over at its neck. Cola pens mimic ruling pens somewhat.
Below is a pen made from a hollow stick - possibly a thick reed of some kind. It's just been carved away at the end to form a thick 'nib'. The marks you'll get with this pen will be thick and clumsy compared to a manufactured nib, but sometimes you might like the clunky feel of the marks this one makes.
This one is one of my favorite types of pen. It is a very, very good pen that will do as nicely as any automatic pen (see above.) It is getting hard to find the report covers needed to make them, and again I couldn't find mine. Instead I have cut a report cover spine and placed it above a wooden paint brush to imitate the real thing. You cut the spine with scissors to any width you'd like. Hot glue the wider end of the spine to a dowel rod. Once its broken in you will love this pen! If you find any of this type of report cover, buy it! One spine will obviously yield many pens in almost any width you'd like. I probably wouldn't make these more than 3" wide unless I were using a very thick dowel as the pen staff.
One last 'homemade' pen is chopsticks. These wooden ones have a fairly sharp wedge, which will make a nice pen.
Besides these, you can use seashells, pine cones and lots of other natural 'tools'. Pick things up and play with them. See what kinds of marks they will make. If you find some wonderful new 'pen', share in the comments below, please!
The wide pens - especially the report cover ones - are wonderful tools for making manipulated letters like these "Bone" letters: