Ray Pitman

When I first met Ray I knew right away that I wanted to photograph him. He was working in a woodshed that he helped to set up in the basement of the retirement home that he was living in. Together with a couple other residents, they had set up a shop with enough tools that you could build just about anything you wanted. However, Ray like to work on something very specific. Pens. He would work with thin layers of wood, glue them together utilizing the different colors or grains to create a pattern, and then set them up on his lathe. He'd shape them into cylinders and hollow them out to insert the cartridge and points. Sometimes he would inlay small stones for decoration. They were gorgeous. And the fact that he was still doing this well into his eighties was equally impressive.

During the shoot we talked a bit. He told me about how he worked as a business mentor after retiring. How as a young man during World War II he would follow the Marines onto the beaches in the Pacific to build airstrips. I asked him if he ever sold any of his pens. "No," he said. "I make them just for the enjoyment of it."