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story.lead_photo.caption Sean Clancy, Paper Trails columnist

PINSONMANSHIP Most Saturdays, 16-year-old Grayson Pinson can be found at his table near the produce-selling vendors in the farmers market at the Little Rock River Market.

Grayson, founder and sole employee of Porcupine Pens, makes wooden and acrylic pens.

"I made my first pen about two or three years ago," the Little Rock native says on a recent Saturday morning as a few looky-loo shoppers investigate his wares.

Some of his pens are crafted from Arkansas-sourced wood -- crepe myrtle, cedar, etc. Others come from wood he buys online that is dyed with striped patterns of bright colors. Lately he's branched out with a series of acrylic models. Prices are $15 for wood and $30 for acrylic.

"My favorite is a pen I made out of birch from a tree right next to my house," says Grayson, whose parents are James and Tanya Pinson. "The one I like to work with the most is olive because that's a really smooth, nice wood."

Part of the fun, he says, is taking raw material and quickly creating something functional.

"You can take wood from any tree and make it look the way you want it to look. I made my first pen in about an hour. It's one of the more easier things to start off with in wood turning."

Grayson uses a lathe and sands his pens to a smooth finish before applying a couple of coats of wax. The acrylic pens are worked to a nice sheen and then coated with polish to make them scratch-resistant. He offers six choices of metal fittings -- gold, chrome, black, copper, pearl white and satin gold. Engraving is available on some pens.

He was inspired by his mentor, Ken Leslie, who also makes pens.

"I'd always seen his and thought they were cool. He taught me how to make them, and then I made some for my family for Christmas."

It was also through Leslie that Grayson became involved with teaching pen making at the Eugene Towbin Veterans Healthcare Center in North Little Rock.

"There's a youth volunteer program there. I go on Tuesdays and help in the morning with whatever they need. In the afternoon I help with the pen program."

Along with his stand in the River Market, Grayson sells online through his Etsy shop -- -- where his wooden pens sell for $16 and acrylics are $31.

Examples of his work can also be seen on Instagram under @porcupinepens.


Sunday on 07/14/2019

Print Headline: PAPER TRAILS: Pen maker turns wood into wares


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