Tom Westerich reveals the intricate skills of pen making

Tom Westerich reveals the intricate skills of pen making

A film by Matt Russell

To say that Tom Westerich makes pens somehow doesn’t seem quite adequate. Rather, his creations are made strictly according to the vintage methods of pen making and using only historic materials

like celluloid and hard rubber instead of acrylic and other forms of injection-molded plastics.‘This of course requires a constant research for old techniques as well as experimentation by trial and error as so many essential pen-making skills have been mislaid with the rise of the ballpoint in the 1950s,’ he adds.

Having grown up in a family that had run a stationery store for many generations, Westerich says, ‘I was weaned, as it were, on modern pens and all manner of related products’. After selling pens in the family shop – beginning in 1977 as a schoolboy – he eventually became the CEO of five shops by 1989.

But he soon found that he preferred the more creative jobs like developing new products with suppliers. Having discovered vintage pens – first just as a marketing tool to promote modern pens – he left the firm in 1993 to devote himself to this new passion. Motivated by ‘the elusive pleasure of hunting vintage pens in the wild’, he soon began restoring them, and selling them once they were fully repaired and in working order.

‘While restoring pens at ever increasing complexity of skill levels, in the end I realised I had remade every single part of a pen,’ he says. ‘The next question was, “Why not create my own pen?” Looking back, the decision to leave my daily job in the shops set me free from a traditional 9-to-5 schedule, allowed me to travel, and made my life in a beautiful part of rural Italy a reality.’

Contact Tom Westerich at: twesterich@penboard.de