Sunday 2 June 2013

Inspiration Sunday with Bryce Piper

This week we are having a bit of a change, instead of an inspiring woman, we have a MAN! who-hoo, I would like you to meet Bryce, I think you will be surprised at his special creative talent....

1. Tell us a bit about yourself.... 

Hello! I’m Bryce, an active duty US Marine stationed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. After 18+ years on active duty, including several deployments, my family and I are very happy to be fortunate enough to be together and living in Japan. Hope and Grace are parts of my daughters’ names. They’re 12 and 10 and together with my wife are the impetus for everything in my life. There has always been an artistic side to me, much neglected but periodically shining through over the years. After a short tour in Afghanistan in 2011, I needed a centering hobby and tried my hand at pen turning and haven’t looked back. I see what I create at art first and writing utensils second, hence the slogan, “Handcrafted Art That Writes!”

2. Where do you get your inspiration from? 

When I first started turning pens, I grew envious of the work of other woodcrafters who were doing inlays and patterns and Celtic knots. I’d ask questions and experiment, learning so much in a short time. Sometimes I’m inspired by the wood itself, sometimes I’ll see something in art or life and try to emulate it in wood. It’s not always easy! Sometimes my muse (my wife) will say, “Why don’t you make one that …?” Sometimes a client will come up with a crazy idea and challenge me to recreate it in a pen. There are no laser engravers or laser cutting involved, so I’m not able to create every idea people come up with, but that shortcoming is offset by my pride that everything is done by hand.

3. Tell us about your business...

Hope & Grace Pens offers fine writing instruments and sundry handcrafted wood accoutrements. I specialize in inlays and patterns, creating unique and beautiful pens and pencils from handcrafted wood. Pens make the perfect gift because they’re useful works of art you carry everywhere, and nice pens are not the kind of thing many people buy for themselves. I also partner with other Marine woodcrafters to offer military coin racks and other items like business card displays. I’ve recently “branched” out into rustic, all-natural keepsake boxes and votive candle holders. For us, it’s more about the art than the “business.” We make these things because we enjoy making them. The fact that others enjoy them makes it all the more satisfying.

4. What led you to start your business.... 

I tried pen turning as a DIY project offered here in Iwakuni. That’s all it took. I instantly fell in love with it and began making pen after pen, giving them as gifts to friends and family. I was so proud and flattered when one day my mentor offered to try to sell a pen I’d just finished. I found out later it took him 15 minutes to sell. He laid out several pens for a client who chose mine almost instantly. I realized I was spending a lot of time and money on my hobby, so began selling them to try to offset the cost of my lathe and shop fees and materials. It didn’t take long to realize the inlays and patterns I made were unlike anything my contemporaries were doing. Now I’m looking forward to retirement from active duty in a few years, with pen turning to supplement my retirement income (wow, that sounds strange; I’m not that old!).

5. What does an average day look like for you?

Well, I’m a “fulltime” US Marine, so all my woodcraft gets done when I’m not at work. There is also a lot of “rest time” for each project as glue sets or finish dries, which means I work on up to eight or ten projects at a time. I spend much more time cutting and assembling than actually turning the wood on a lathe (which is the opposite of most penturners). Typically, I’ll check on yesterday’s work, make the next cuts and assemble then set those pieces aside to dry, and HOPEFULLY get to actually turn a pen on the lathe. I also do all the photography, blogging, marketing, packaging/mailing, all of which eats time I’d rather use to create art.

6. What is the one thing about your job that makes your heart sing?

It’s got to be the gasp when someone sees a pen that appeals just to them, like it was made for them all along. They’re pretty online, but in person you can really appreciate the woodgrain and how certain woods play with light. Every now and then someone will look over my pens and I’ll hear that sudden intake of breath and see her hand reach out to pick up whichever one caught her eye. I get an inner smile and elation, knowing that something I created made another person react that way.

7. Share a secret with us that has never been shared online before ...

As a spoiled brat child, I ate only certain foods and made my parents strain the onions out of my gravy. As a parent, I make my children clean their plates!


There’s an active duty Marine called Bryce, who makes fine writing wood pens that are really works of art in wood. He does everything by hand, including inlay, spiral patterns and Celtic knots and more in a variety of woods and settings. Take a minute to peek behind the curtain at Handcrafted Art That Writes!

Byrce is offering you, lovely reader a 10% discount with the coupon code JOJOEBIGETS10

Find Byrce....

All images property of Byrce of HopeAndGracePens except for Inspiration Sunday Banner


  1. wow....I'm very impressed....I had never heard of this craft until now.
    Truly beautiful....

  2. Congratulations on the write-up,Bryce. I've always thought your pens were special.

  3. Thanks, Soveig and sewmehawaii! Much appreciated.


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