Harold Lucas has been known to turn deer antlers into ink pens for hunters. The Rock Hill court bailiff crafts wood from the Middle East and South America into pens for secretaries, attorneys and constables, too.
Sometimes, the pens are made from a marble-like material in eye-popping hues of royal blue, vibrant red and hunter green. Not your ordinary pens, to be sure. But Lucas has found a loyal stream of customers for his unconventional shop just steps outside the courtroom.
"People from all over the state of South Carolina use the pens," said Lucas, a nearly seven-year family court bailiff. "Judges come in (for court) and want to see them and buy one."
Lucas started crafting pens nearly three years ago when his son, Gene, purchased a kit to keep his father busy. Lucas continued to buy the various kits, and now the hobby has turned into a labor of love.
"He takes great pride in it," Peggy Lucas said about her husband's craft. "He wants them to work like they're supposed to."
Lucas has at least three of the coveted pens in her purse. Even more sit atop her desk at work, she said.
"He pretends that he's going to charge me for them," Peggy Lucas quipped. "I tell him, 'Charge it to my account.’”
Recently, Harold Lucas worked on three pens in his backyard shop, where he usually hones his skills a couple days each week.
Lucas grabbed two blanks — pieces of Bethlehem wood that will become the upper and lower parts of a pen — and marked them with a pencil and sawed on the lead mark.“Some people like the wood because it’s natural,” Lucas explained.
Next, he put a hole through each blank before gluing the parts together. The glue must dry overnight before Lucas can square the ends so the tips fit the pen just right, he said.
Steps away, Lucas put a blank on a machine and grabbed a metal tool to scrap away the marble-like surface.
“I shape it like I want,” he said as the blank began to resemble a pen.
Once the top and bottom blanks are smoothed just right, Lucas slides a spring into the pen before he presses it together with 24 carat gold accents, including the clip and pen top.
Lastly, he slides an ink cartilage into the bottom of the pen and fastens the top and bottom pieces together. The finished pens go in one of three collector’s cases Lucas keeps and proudly shows off at home and outside the courtroom doors where he works. Lucas sells most of the pens for $22, though some fetch higher prices depending on the materials used.
“Every one is different,” son-in-law William Lucas said about the pens. “The olive wood is my favorite.”
Stacey Coleman, an attorney with the York County Public Defender’s Office, purchased one of Lucas’ pens nearly a year ago.
“He showed us his collection,” she said. “They are beautiful pens.”
Rock Hill attorney John Freeman purchased five pens. He gave one to his mother, Mary Farnsworth, a Department of Juvenile Justice intake supervisor.“The pen is unique,” Farnsworth said. “I’ve never seen anything like it. It’s so special that I hesitate to use it.”
Toya Graham • 329-4062