For one local youngster, a simple piece of wood can become a magnificent pen when crafted with just the right touch.
"I started about four weeks ago," said Stephen Ray, a Harlem Middle School eighth-grader who learned the art of pen making from his grandfather, Nelson Ray Sr. "My uncle has been doing it since he was about 15 and he taught his son - my cousin - who taught my grandfather. My grandfather has been making bowls and plates out of different kinds of wood for about two years and picked up on pens about a year ago."
The art of pen making involves several steps. First, you have to hunt for the perfect supplies: wood, acrylic or any other type of material to be used as the pen casing. Then the crafter has to manipulate, sand and buff the material to perfection before taking a pen kit and inserting it into the barrel.
"It can take from 30 minutes to two hours to make a pen, depending on the different materials used and the detail involved," said Stephen, the son of Nelson and Glenda Ray, of Pumpkin Center community.
"Stephen has found a hobby that is totally awesome," said Alda Wilmoth, the director of bands at Harlem Middle where Stephen plays the steel drums. "They are absolutely beautiful!"
The Rays will be among vendors at this year's annual Oliver Hardy Festival on Saturday, Oct. 6. The grandfather, father and son have already crafted about 50 pens to sell at the event, which will be their first foray into the festival venue. The Rays previously set up a booth at the Barnyard Flea Market and had numerous inquiries.
The pens sell for $20 to $30, depending on the amount of detail in the casing, Stephen said.
"I wanted something to do with my spare time instead of sitting around, plus I can make a lot of money," he said.
"He and his dad do this as a hobby," Ms. Wilmoth said. "But I can foresee it being a career."
"Me and my dad and my grandpa are working out of a small shop right now," said Stephen, 14. "When we get bigger and move to a bigger shop, we might start making furniture."
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