Lisa Parks uses tools that would scare most women — and even men.
She admits she loves creating pens so much that she’s be out in the workshop behind her Newport home past 10 o’clock most nights running a lathe and a miter saw and a drill press.
"It’s just the solitude. It’s just me and that. It clears my mind and I don’t have to worry about anything," Parks said.
Parks makes specialty pens turned from exotic hardwood and uniquely colored acrylic blanks.
Parks had been noticing the appealing shapes and colors of high quality crafted pens in stores while working with her husband, Shawn Parks, of W.S. Parks Contracting, and that led to the creation of a business called Pens by Lisa.
"I had them on the shelves and I just fell in love with them, and after about four years of him listening to me say how much I liked them, he bought me the tools and got me started," Parks said.
Her husband, who builds furniture as a hobby, had to show her a few pointers about the power tools.
"She wasn’t ignorant by any means," Shawn Parks said. "She had the basics down and I just gave her a little guidance. She’s worked beside me on the job for over 20 years now, so she’s been around me long enough to know how to deal with tools and how to handle them. Once I gave her some of the insight on the first few basic techniques, she’s been off and running on her own. It’s pretty well a standard to her now."
Lisa Parks uses local and more exotic hardwoods for her pens. Some of the woods come from South America and Africa.
They include black walnut, oak, cocobolo, bacote, laminated woods, cedar, sassafras, tulip wood, sapele and marble wood.
"I prefer the harder woods," she said. "They are easier to turn for me. They make a more durable pen."
Each pen starts with a block of wood or acrylic that is drilled precisely for the pen tube, then gouged down to a unique shape while turning at high speed on a lathe. The parts are then pressed together and joined with a center clip, twist mechanism, ink refill, cap, tips and clip to form the whole body of the pen.
She said her unique business is tied to the uniqueness of each pen she creates.
"They may be the same pen kit but the blank is turned different," she said. "They’re hardly ever two identical."
Lately she has been adding clips with crystals, rifles, medical insignias, fish, golf clubs, baseball bats or anything to make it unique for the purchaser. Marine Corps and other service emblems are popular as well, she said.
New items she has added are 50-caliber bullet pens made from actual spent shells.
She has branched out a bit with her woodworking skills to make lathe-turned salt and paper shakers, paper cutters, ice cream scoops, trivets, perfume applicators and key chains.
"I want to stay with small. I don’t want to go with big items," she said. "The salt and pepper grinders are about as big as I want to go. I’ll leave the big woodworking to my husband."
Her focus is still the pens, matching the colors and hues of the woods and acrylics she turns.
"I try to put them together with the color of the pen and the blank to try to make a good color combination," she said. "Sometimes they look beautiful and other times you wish you hadn’t put that color combination together. But what I don’t like, somebody else loves. It’s a win-win situation."
Over the course of the last year, she made more than 100 pens that range in price from $22 to $50. She has sold them mostly at special events, such as craft fairs in Morehead City and New Bern, and even at Annunciation Catholic School’s Scoogefest in Havelock.
"I’ll go wherever I can take them," she said.
To purchase a pen or other unique items, call Lisa Parks at 659-2033, email her at email@example.com or go to her Facebook page called Pens by Lisa.