About The Artist: Bryce Piper

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Bryce is an active-duty U.S. Marine currently stationed at Quantico, Virginia (formerly at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni Japan). He's also a husband and father. Hope and Grace are parts of his daughters' names.

He took a pen-turning class and got hooked. He specializes in designs and inlays, almost always of wood and other natural materials but has been known to incorporate aluminum and vinyl to get just the right look. He takes every pen as a work of art first and a writing instrument second, giving each a meticulous attention to detail in design and execution.

Bryce works with several other active and former service members to bring you the best in handcrafted wood products. Robert Rudolf specializes in military coin racks customized to your specifications. John Redfield does all the intricate wood burning for the shop. He and J.J. Griffin also make pens of amazing quality. Contact us directly to have your product custom-made at HopeAndGracePens@gmail.com.

You can read more about the feats and foibles of Hope and Grace pens at our blog: http://hopeandgracepens.blogspot.jp/

Or watch our videos here: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCdNJeppmmeeLYX-T6qVtV4w/about

What's that poem in the background of some of your pictures?

It's the first few lines of Sir Edmond Spencer's Sonnet #30

My love is like to ice, and I to fire:
How comes it then that this her cold so great
Is not dissolved through my so hot desire,
But harder grows the more I her entreat?
Or how comes it that my exceeding heat
Is not allayed by her heart-frozen cold,
But that I burn much more in boiling sweat,
And feel my flames augmented manifold?
What more miraculous thing may be told,
That fire, which all things melts, should harden ice,
And ice, which is congeal's with senseless cold,
Should kindle fire by wonderful device?
Such is the power of love in gentle mind,
That it can alter all the course of kind.

Marine Finds Solace in Craftsmanship

A U.S. Marine returned from Afghanistan and within three months received orders and flew with the wife and two kids to a new duty station in Japan. Sum this up in two words: culture shock.

Shortly after settling in, he decided to try out a pen-making class offered at the local woodshop. It didn't take long. After producing only a few handcrafted pens, he was hooked.

"It's such a cathartic exercise," said Bryce Piper, artisan and curator of Hope & Grace Pens. "To just be there, with all your attention focused on what you're doing, blocking out all the stress and what's going on at work and home, creating something that's both beautiful and useful -- that's why I do it."

Starting with the basics, a bare-bones wood pen with no frills, Piper quickly branched out into ever-increasingly difficult and intricate pen designs.

"I would see all these incredible pens," said Piper, "that the guys around me would produce, the guys who'd been there for a while, some of them were breathtaking. Inlays and special cuts, swoops and swirls, checkerboard designs -- all with a gloss coat so smooth they looked wet. ... I guess it was part envy and part determination to do better myself that I began experimenting."

"There was one guy, Adam, who particularly took me under his wing. And after I began learning our relationship became mutually beneficial. Sometimes he'd tell me his design idea and I'd make an offhand suggestion and you could see the light bulb come on in his eyes. So we really fed this creativity off each other. We even collaborated on a few pens with each of us doing parts."

Adam McCambridge, a base civilian employee and former active duty Marine himself, taught Piper most of the techniques that became the base of Piper's work, he said. But it wasn't easy. Piper said he's left many a destroyed pen on the woodshop floor.

"Learning was pretty cool," Piper related. "Just when I'd think I had something assembled to produce an effect, I'd put it on the lathe and when it was done be completely surprised by what turned out. But every time that happened, I had a new technique under my belt. I could repeat this new effect and add it to my repertoire. And I'm still learning, every time."

"Maybe I'm not the first to do a particular design," he continued. "But many of the things I do now came up entirely through experimentation, things I taught myself. Like the layered Celtic knot. I know there's other guys out there who make them, but I'd never seen one before I decided to fuse three inlays together and then use them as the knot inlay. It was only after I started doing this that I'd see other penmakers doing similar designs. I'm not saying I created anything. But I am saying everything I make comes from an internal inspiration and a passion for this art."

You can follow the feats and foibles of Hope & Grace Pens at their randomly-populated blog: hopeandgracepens.blogspot.jp

They also are on Facebook: facebook.com/HopeAndGracePens

and YouTube: youtube.com/user/HopeAndGracePens

Other members:

John Redfield is a formerly-active-duty Marine who lives in Iwakuni city with his Japanese wife and their children. John works aboard station and makes some of the highest-quality pens offered at our store. John also does all kinds of woodworking, projects large and small, and is a resource for woodworkers on base. John does almost all of Hope & Grace Pens' handcrafted woodburning.

Robert Rudolf recently retired from the Marines after 24 years' faithful service. Robert also lives in Iwakuni city with his Japanese wife and their children, where he specializes in military challenge coin racks, dabbling in many other projects as well.

Other products:

The boys have ventured into a number of other products, from hollow book safes to keepsake ring boxes, several of which they are honored to say have graced the wedding ceremonies of happy couples. While they generally focus on office and home products, they refuse to be constrained by limitations on what they'll make. They have only two criteria: the product must be both useful and beautiful.