A quill is a small writing instrument made of a soft moulted flight feathers of a larger bird. Quill pens were first used for handwriting with ink from centuries ago until the introduction of the quill Pen, a small metal-filled pen, engraved with decorative designs, which became popular in the eighteenth century. It is now primarily used as an ornament on quilts, making the quill the most decorated ornamental member of an American quilt.
The quill feathers have usually been dyed to acquire a bright color. In the past, quills could be made by pressing individual feathers of one bird together by hand or by a machine, but with advances in technology, quills are now made by sewing individual feathers into a fabric backing. Modern quill designs usually feature a narrow bone or bar at the base of the feather. This serves to catch and hold the quill in place while it is being crafted. Quills also contain ink that can be black, blue or brown depending on the dominant color of the bird whose feather is used. Some quill designs have tiny feathers that are made into decorations.
A quill holder is an attachment that holds a quill. Since quill holders do not come cheap, it is important to make sure that you choose a holder that looks good. There are quill holders in the style of letter boxes, called “pail,” which also have small openings so that you can put several quill feathers in the holder.
You can buy a quill holder in many retail outlets. Quill holder designs vary widely, though there are some basics that remain consistent among them. Some holders have a single opening, while others have two or even three, different opening for different quill types. There is also a style called “gutters” that has a small depression in the middle of the quill holder. This piece of hardware is designed to catch any falling feathers and keep them from damaging the quill itself. Most gutter holders have a metal plate attached to the front of the holder that goes through the hole in the middle of the quill, catching any falling debris as it lands.
Quill holders come in all kinds of colors. There are some very basic quill holders that feature black metal plates and black colored holders with brown and blue markings. There are more elaborate designs that have colorful plates, silver or gold-colored holders and even colorful designs with gold, silver or black lettering on them. Quill collectors can find these in any style they want to match their quilts or other projects.
Since a quill holder does not actually contain the quill, you will have to keep it clean if you wish to use it again. You can clean the holder with water and soap, or even baby shampoo. Be careful with the soap, as you do not want to remove any of the feathers that may be attached to the quill holder, so you should only use a mild cleanser. You can also wash the holder with a quill cleaner. After cleaning the holder thoroughly, you will need to let it dry, tightly wrap it in a soft cloth and then store it back in its box.
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