Soaking Quills: The first step in making a quill pen is to trim the shaft down to a manageable size and strip the barbs from it, at least as far as they would get in the way of the hand. Next, the tip of the quill is removed to allow water inside the shaft, and the quills are soaked overnight in water to soften them up. I used primary feathers from a peacock, compliments of Professor Linda Bowers. Typically the left wing feathers, which curve to the right, are best suited to a right-handed writer, but I had very few of these.