By Melanie Petrucci, Senior Community Reporter
Northborough – Some people go out and purchase sportscars when they hit a certain age. For Clem Lanza of Northborough, he makes pens inspired by a sportscar. He rediscovered a passion for woodworking midlife and hasn’t looked back.
Originally from Leominster, Lanza developed an interest in “turning wood” while in high school and he turned bowls and things of that nature. However, he fell away from the art while in college.
Lanza, now 67, lives in Northborough with his wife Joan and is semi-retired. He works part time driving for Tri-State Truck delivering parts, but the role he most enjoys is that of being a grandfather.
“I was at a woodworking show a few years ago and I was asked to turn a pen, so I turned one and it brought back the enjoyment, so I gave it to Joannie for a gift, and then I turned another one for our anniversary, a different style and she liked it and she showed it to some people and they kind of liked it. I had an opportunity to buy a used lathe and I’ve gone from there,” explained Lanza.
His specialty is making custom-designed ink pens. His handcrafted pens are made with the customer in mind and can be tailored to almost any interest or hobby. He isn’t associated with any woodworking group and his sales are by word of mouth. Prices range from $30 to $60 apiece, depending on the materials and intricacies of the design.
Lanza’s current creations include pens that resemble a fishing rod, a sportscar gear shift, and a sportsman rifle. He has even designed a Thin Blue Line pen that honors policemen and a Thin Red Line pen for firefighters.
He uses wood that he has either salvaged or purchased from a craft store, splits it to find the natural grains that he wishes to showcase and then he “turns” the wood on a lathe. He will use a specific type of wood depending on the project. For instance, if he is making a pen to resemble a sportsman’s rifle, which is made out of walnut, he will use walnut for the pen. In addition to wood, he has also used bamboo and acrylics which also can be turned on a lathe.
He purchases the pen mechanism separately. After he turns the pen frame, he finesses the shape by sanding it down by hand. He then applies lacquer or oil to make it shine, assembles the mechanism with the wood or acrylic frame, and installs a ballpoint ink cartridge which can be found at any office supply store.
Lanza just really enjoys working with his hands. When not turning pens, he can be found fly fishing and making lures which he also sells. For more information, he can be reached at 508-393-7452.