Fountain Pen Holder

Made by Olivia Xu

Created: October 13th, 2017



I've always been drawn to Chinese Shan Shui (山水; "Mountains and Water")'s ideology and painting style. Here's a short Shan Shui style animation that conveys it (without any dialogue). 

經典古琴水墨動畫片《山水情》 Feeling from Mountain and Water
Zhan Hu -

I own a lot of fountain pens that I love dearly and I want something that serves more as a display case than an organizer. And the linearity of the scenes of mountains and water can be nicely integrated with an desk-organizer-type plate. Here's my sketch. The half-circle cuts are for pens.



One of my favorite pieces of art is A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains (千里江山图) by Wang Ximeng. A notable style choice in this painting is that the mountains are colored in vibrant green and blue.

Here's a section of A Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains


I came across this organizer on the web shop of Suzhou Museum and fell in love. It's inspired by the museum's exhibition, "Sheet" Shan Shui (sheets of rocks to represent mountains; the background in this pic), designed by the lead architect Ieoh Ming Pei. But I wasn't impressed by the idea of having pre-cut holes that wouldn't fit each customer's needs, and it seems like a bad idea to have fountain pens (relatively expensive) to be jammed in like that.


My project is able to integrate characteristics of usual fountain pen display cases and tiny mountains.



My project's goal is to integrate "pieces" of mountains with a pen display. I made shapes out of straight lines to give them a rocky look. I thought simple singular sheets in the shape of a mountain would be too boring for this display, so I made more layers for each "mountain" to give it a bit of 3D feel. One design challenge was that these mountain pieces do block the view of some pens, so they are spread out and kept at a reasonable height.

Here's my fusion model.


My 3D printed fountain pen display and its base.



Software: Fusion360


Tools: 3D Printer

I used Fusion to make the 3D body, exported as STL, and sent that to the 3D printer queue (5% infill, with support base).

Here's a video of the print.


My pen display from different angels



The end product is even better than I expected. I might continue to do a series of mountain-themed organizers. 

From this project I got to learn hands-on knowledge about the creation of a 3D printer project. Some issues were slots being just a little too small or too big for a pen, and the texture of the print made it impossible to add color gracefully. Next time I will make slots of different diameters, and I might try to find ways to make a print at higher resolution (or find good tools to sand it).

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Digital Tooling (DigiTool) provides a platform for any CMU student to learn Digital Fabrication processes; all of which are very hands-on. Like these processes, this class is also very hands-on. I...more