Andrew Hamilton keeps a faded 1943 photo of his grandfather, Herbert H. Hamilton, from the elder man’s days serving as an Army chaplain during World War II. Andrew cherishes the picture and other family heirlooms, and when his father, now also deceased, passed along Herbert’s cane, Andrew was determined to use it for something special.
He was just the guy to do it.
Andrew fashions custom writing instruments from wood and other materials, and sells them to folks who wish to preserve memories of people and places. His most recent project involves wood discarded during Highland Park ISD’s teardown (and rebuilding) of Hyer, Armstrong, University Park and Bradfield elementary schools.
“It’s been a really fun project,” says Andrew, who sold pens to reminiscent alums of the school and parents of current students. “No two are exactly the same, even if they are made from the same source.”
One woman who purchased a pen crafted from Bradfield Elementary’s basketball planks called him this year after her childhood home was sold. The house had been torn down, but wood from different spots throughout had been preserved. Andrew created 30 pens from the hardwood floors, library shelves and stairway handrail, and the woman distributed them to friends and family.
“Everyone who visited that house walked on those floors and touched that handrail,” says Andrew. “There was something special there. This is wood with a story.”
Learning the art of pen-making, says Andrew, was a lark.
“I saw a post on my buddy Jon Farrer’s Facebook page and thought, ‘That looks cool. That would be fun.’ I went out to his place in Glen Rose and he taught me to do it. I’ve always liked pens, even as a little kid. When I started making pens from stadiums, I thought, ‘Yeah, I could make some money from this.’”
Andrew has used wood from Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, the basketball court at the University of North Carolina and the football stadiums of Michigan and Ohio State.
“I make everything by hand,” says Andrew. “As cheesy as it sounds, I like making something useful. I start with something simple – you just never know what can become of that. Everybody needs a nice pen.”
One of Andrew’s favorites is a pen made from the oak tree at the end of the movie “Shawshank Redemption.”
“I saw a news report that said the tree in Ohio was damaged by storms. It took a little creative sleuthing, but I found the owner and purchase the wood.”
If you’d like a custom pen from artifacts or material special to you, or you want to purchase an HPISD elementary pen, you may email Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org or give him a call at 214-716-9005. Pen prices vary but run about $40.