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Instructions to Veneer Penn State 'SlimLine' Pens and Pencils with Polymer Clay
Text and Photos by Jami Miller

I love making pens! I have had great fun making these pens and teaching other people how to make them. They are refilled with standard Cross™ ink refills or pencil leads from the stationery store, and they make great gifts for men as well as women. This is just one of the ways I cover pens, I hope you enjoy it!

Click on these pictures to see the full-size beauty
of these outstanding pens created by Jami!

Penn State Stuff:

  • SlimLine Pens (#PK-PEN or You-Design-It Equivalents)
    and/or Pencils (PK-PCL or ...)
  • 7mm bushings (#PKM-BUSH3) note: there are 3 bushings in pkg - you only need 2.
  • 10 extra brass tubes (PK-TUBE-7) these will make your work much easier!
  • 5.5mm brass rod from the hobby store and masking tape to cover brass rod (metal-to-metal contact = yucky brass dust in your clay!), or a 6mm brass rod (and be careful not to get brass dust in your work!)
  • sand paper (400 or 600 grit) for sanding brass tubes
  • sand paper for baked clay (600 and 1200 grit)
  • Flecto Varathane and a soft brush to apply
  • chopsticks, or other skewers to hold brass tubes while baking/finishing
  • drill press or hammer, masking tape padded to prevent marring of gold plated parts
  1. Optional: Sand the 2 brass tubes that come in each kit before you start, and some extras if you have any. Some brass tubes will probably have sat around long enough to oxidize. It does not matter if you are using an opaque base.

  2. Cover the 5.5mm rod with a layer of masking tape. The purpose is to keep from having metal-to-metal contact while rolling the tubes and to give you a better fit. The bushings need to fit over the masking tape, as do the 7mm tubes. Don't cover 6mm rod.
Cover The Brass Tubes:
  1. Cover your tubes with a base layer of clay, I use a #6 (#7 being the thinnest) sheet. Work out the air bubbles and smooth the joint.

  2. Lay very thin layers of clay over the base layer, keeping in mind that you are going to roll them flush with the bushings; if you have high spots, they will spread out more than low spots. This technique works best with fresh, flexible canes/clay.

  3. Place a bushing on the rod, place your covered tube on the rod, and place another bushing on the other side of the tube. Roll the rod on the table until the clay on the tubes is the same diameter as the bushings. When you begin, roll gently to press the clay together and smooth the edges. If you roll too quickly or put too much pressure on the rod, the clay will separate from the tube. If this happens, remove tube from rod and gently press clay back down onto the rod.

  4. Trim the excess clay from the ends of each tube.

  5. Place your clay covered tubes on a skewer and bake.

Finish Pens:
  1. Sand and finish as you like.

  2. Assemble pens according to the instructions from Penn State, being VERY CAREFUL to keep everything lined up straight! If you press these pen parts together at an angle the brass WILL bend! Straighten the pen/pencil clip if needed (some have a slight inward bend) before assembling back end of pen to prevent damaging clay.

  3. If you are using a drill press, press the parts together in the order recommended in the instructions. Pay careful attention to the pen extension: it needs to extend far enough to write comfortably but still retract fully.

  4. If you are using a hammer, go lightly and make sure you work on a pad to protect the table beneath your work. Pad your hammer with several layers of masking tape to prevent the gold-plated pen parts from being marred.
Jami Miller
© 1998 Text & Photos

The disclaimer: There are all sorts of pens & pencils, letter openers and other stuff sold by Penn State. This is the line of pens which is the easiest to make - the tubes are interchangeable, and the same tubes are used for both pens and pencils. There are many other products sold in the Penn catalog that work well with polymer, including the keyring kits and perfume atomizers, but each product has its own assembly challenges.

Penn State Industries
Phone: 1-800-377-7297

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