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Artisan Carves Writing Tools From “Pieces” of Texas

Jim Sutton working at latheIt’s been said that the pen is mightier than the sword, but for psychologist Jim Sutton, making pens out of native Texas plants is more therapeutic than a session on the couch.

“Turning pens on a lathe is relaxing to me, but I wanted to create something that was truly unique,” says Jim. “The ‘Taking Texas with Me’(TM) pens are that. In Texas, especially in the southern part of the state where I live, mesquite and cactus abound. From them, I get to make something useful and functional, and it’s actually made from ‘pieces’ of Texas. So these pens are made in Texas, from Texas, and by a native Texan.”

While the Houston native has perfected his craft, there’s much more to it than meets the eye. “Although I harvest my own mesquite, it has to cure and be seasoned before it can be turned on a lathe and worked into one of these pens,” Jim says. “Processing raw cactus into a durable form is a tricky step. If I don’t make it just right, it’s either a worthless chunk of goo or so brittle it shatters like glass when you touch it with a lathe tool. We’re also turning pens using liveoak wood and whitetail deer antler.”

Once the natural materials have been turned and finished to a luster, they’re fitted with gold or bright chrome pen parts, and then placed in a black velour pouch along with a Certificate of Authenticity verifying the uniqueness of the pen and its “roots.”

Jim was surprised and thrilled when the Texas State Department of Agriculture designated his pens as a GO TEXAN product because they are made from materials that grow in the state. “That’s a big marketing boost,” he says.

The pens have become especially popular with Texas business and professional associations as the perfect gift for conference speakers, special guests or outgoing officers. “A pen is something that will be used, and it’s functional as well as attractive,” says Jim.

Looking ahead, Jim says he may develop presentation sets that come in boxes that can be engraved. “My big focus, however, is to have the capacity to meet the demand. I have some help now, and it has made a big difference.”

So what is Jim Sutton most proud of? “That the uniqueness of my product has been verified and reinforced by others, and that it keeps me, a psychologist, sane!”

Purchasing information and additional images of the mesquite wood pens at