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Talent into business venture

Creative teenager, Tye James, displays his recent work. Reminder Publications photo by Danielle Paine
By Danielle Paine, Reminder Assistant Editor

LONGMEADOW Teenager Tye James has spent the past year and a half turning blocks of wood into unique pens that have recently turned a big profit for this young entrepreneur.

It was two and a half years ago that Tye's father, Corey, a carpenter, taught his son to use a lathe machine. After many hours of practice, Tye said he became pretty good at sculpting wooden and acrylic blocks into his trademark writing tools.

Many now know the 14-year-old as Tye of Tyez Pens, his budding small business that appeared for the second time in the junior crafters section of this year's Long Meddowe Days.

"We first went to Long Meddowe Days after my mom suggested we do it because we were making so many as gifts," Tye said. "The days are kind of long because you have to get there really early in the morning to set-up but it's pretty fun once you're there."

After seeing the high quality craftsmanship, displayed beautifully within professional wooden cases, many fair-goers are surprised that a teenager can lay claim to such an extraordinary talent.

"Most of the people are really surprised that I make them," Tye said. "They all ask how it's actually done and where the wood comes from."

The bulk of the wood is ordered out of catalogs from South America, Africa, Asia and some local warehouses. Although sometimes the James family will wander through the nearby forest in search of interesting pieces from which they can sculpt a masterpiece.

"Once, a couple gave them an apple tree branch from their old home and they turned it into four pens which the couple gave to their family as gifts," explained Sherie, Tye's mother.

In response to being asked about his creative process so often, James created a display board to illustrate each part of the pen making process which can last between 30 and 90 minutes per project.

It begins with a rectangle block of wood or acrylic, James explained. First, you drill a hole into the center and insert a brass tube down the middle and glue the tube to the inside. Next you place it on a lathe. You can use tools to spin it to whatever shape you want. Then, insert an inkwell.

Although his business truly began to boom last year on the Longmeadow Town Green, James and his father are vendors at the Wilbraham Peach Festival in August, Rehab Resources of Sturbridge in October, the North Quabbin Garlic Festival in September and hopefully this year's Monson Art Festival in November.

"These kids in the junior crafter section of Long Meddowe Days are amazing and it teaches them so much about business and selling," Sherie James said. "If is wasn't for Long Meddowe Days, I don't know, it kind of inspired him to continue because he realized that he could make money from his talent."

James uses time off of classes and homework from Glenbrook Middle School to spin pens year round to sell at local craft fairs. He was even commissioned recently to create the handles for a line of custom cheese forks and knives for the J.P. Glass Design company.

James' current collection for sale includes slim lines, cigar pens, european twist pens, acrylic pens, european twist pens and wine bottle stoppers. Prices range between $20 and $50. Custom orders are welcome.

For more information on Tyez Pens, call 567-3242 or email