Handmade pens from the workshop of Neil Sperry
I have been turning pens since 1996, and it's been an exciting and enriching experience. That's partly because of the treasure hunt of finding historic, rare and beautiful woods. It's also because of the people that I've met.
Substance abuse crops up in many families, and people who are steadfast in their recovery have my utmost respect. It's even better when it's youth who are trying to right their lives and get things back on track.
In that light, I'm proud to pledge 100 percent of the proceeds from the sale of my pens to Serenity High in McKinney (through the not-for-profit McKinney Education Foundation).
Serenity High in McKinney opened as a part of the McKinney I.S.D. in 1999. It is, we are told, the longest-running sober high school (public or private) in America, and we believe it is still the only public recovery high school in the U.S.
Each of the pens that I turn takes approximately 2 hours to prepare, turn and assemble. I use only the finest mechanisms available, and the pens accept Cross ballpoint and roller ball refills. I will repair or replace any pen in the unlikely event of any problem.
I normally have my pens with me when I am making public appearances. They can also be ordered from my magazine office. To do so, or for any questions, please call or e-mail Nancy Progelhof at (800) 752-4769 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
I currently have more than 400 woods in my inventory, including those in the list below. I typically bring all of the best-selling woods with me to my pen sales, including the various historic and university woods. If you are interested in one of the other woods, you probably should contact Nancy at my office to be sure I will have it with me (see contact info above).
It might be helpful if I were to explain some of the terms you will see:
"Stabilized" wood has been impregnated with an acrylic resin under vacuum pressure. I turn only stabilized woods, to ensure the durability and permanent good looks of my pens.
"Spalted" refers to wood that has begun to decay. Black-line spalting is the very first step in that process, giving those woods incredible detail. Once I have those woods stabilized, they are even more durable than standard wood.
"Burl" is a growth of trunk tissue that develops with wildly erratic grain. It is the most revered wood for exquisite projects, from furniture inlay and jewelry boxes to fine automobile accessories.
Partial List of Woods:
Dyed box elder burl, various colors
The Century Oak, Texas A&M University (Very limited supply currently.)
The Treaty Oak, Austin
Ancient Kauri, New Zealand (30,000 years old)
Battle Oaks from University of Texas
White oak, Texas State Capitol
Live oak, The Alamo
Walnut and oak, Gettysburg National Monument
Baylor University, Old Main Oak, also spalted pecan from Fountain Place
Olive burl, Bethlehem
Oak from The Ohio State University campus
(salvaged from an old book cart from the main library)
Live oak, TCU
Huon pine from Australia (4000 years old)
Sears, Texas red pine
Fir, Mt. Ranier ash field (5000 years old)
Cypress rail, Ft. Sam Houston
Cuban red mahogany, Batista
Minneapolis Lakers maple flooring
Byron Nelson mahogany
Suwanee River sinker cypress
Gov. Hogg pecan, Texas State Capitol grounds
Ponce de Leon lighthouse pine, Florida
Ameriquest Field/Ballpark Oak (post oak)
Plano Bicentennial bur oak
Curly 'Natchez' crape myrtle, Dallas County
Goose Island live oak (largest live oak in Texas)
Western yellow cedar burl
Boxelder root burl
Walnut from Brasstown, N.Car.
Chinquapin oak burl
Texas mountain laurel
Mahogany, Lloyds of London
Bois d’arc, 100-year-old fence post from Chestnut Square, McKinney
Redbud burl, McKinney
Cherry burl, North Carolina
Cherry burl, Pennsylvania
Oregon madrone burl
Irish "sinker" oak from loch
Spalted burford holly
Cottonwood burl, McKinney
Paela burl, Mexico
Spalted hackberry, McKinney
Desert ironwood (Arizona)
Redwood from California's Tall Trees
Texas mesquite burl
National Champion mesquite (from Texas)
Texas ebony (Brownsville)
Thuya burl (North Africa)
Flame cottonwood (California)
Curly pink ivory (Africa)
Flooring from Studebaker Plant
Black ash burl
Arizona cypress burl
(Note: Some of these woods are of very limited supply. Although I normally carry more than 100 pens to store appearances, no guarantee can be made as to whether each type will always be available.)