AUGUSTA — Some pens hand-crafted by Roger Madore begin life as burls on exotic trees; others are grounded in resins, acrylics, polymer clay or even antlers.

In the end, they gleam brightly and balance well in the hand that writes.

Madore, 49, of Augusta shows off a case of his roller ball, fountain and ball-point pens, each of them held snugly in place with an elastic band.

One of his Kennebec Pen Works pens is now in the hands of Guoni Thorlacius Johannesson, the president of Iceland. It was presented to him Oct. 13 by Gov. Paul LePage who had traveled to Reykjavik to address the Arctic Circle Assembly about business cooperation between Maine and Iceland.

LePage, who has distributed a number of Madore’s pens to various dignitaries, learned about them when Madore visited his office in the spring of 2015 to present the governor with “Augusta (Postcard History Series),” a book Madore authored in 2015.

When Madore took out his custom gold pen to autograph a copy for LePage, the governor’s eyes lit up.


“It turns out Gov. LePage is a pen guy,” Madore said. “We talked about the fact that I made it, and he said he would have me make some for his (fall 2015) trip to China and Japan. We talked more about the pens than about the book.”

Madore has been collecting historic postcard views of Augusta for 31 years — he was born and raised on Sand Hill — and numbers his collection now at 3,000. “There are 220 postcards in the book,” he said. “I could write volumes 2 and 3 without any trouble,” he added with a laugh.

Micki Mullen, of Hallowell, is one of Madore’s customers and helped arrange the governor’s purchase of the pens when she worked as his executive assistant.

“I was always on the lookout for nice quality Maine-made products that the governor could present to dignitaries and officials when he traveled abroad,” she said.

Mullen was intrigued by the different finishes, and bought one for the governor when she left his office.

“The governor loves his pens,” she said.


That one had various watch parts throughout the finish of the pen, and Mullen said, “Another one I purchased for another boss of mine, (Madore) used shredded dollars in the finish. They are very unusual.”

She herself was given one on her departure. “It’s just beautiful,” she said. “It’s sitting on my desk” at PretiFlaherty, the law firm where she now works.

LePage’s press secretary Julie Rabinowitz said via email Friday the governor has given the pens to “several dignitaries, including a number of consul generals and Canadian officials,” although she did not have a full list of recipients and did not know if the list included President Donald Trump.

Jeanne St. Pierre, of Sidney, a longtime state employee who currently works in the governor’s office, found out about Kennebec Pen Works and Madore from a co-worker looking for professional Maine-made gifts.

“I was able to view his collection and was very, very pleased with the quality and the professional craftsmanship,” she said. “They are just beautiful.”

St. Pierre received one as a gift and went on to purchase three for former co-workers.


“I was looking for something unique and special as a nice remembrance for people I worked with for a long period of time. They loved them.”

She bought the presentation boxes as well.

She also said she owns Madore’s “Augusta” book.

Madore became an author almost by accident.

“I had been in Barnes & Noble and saw books of postcards on Waterville and Gardiner,” he said, and he searched in vain for one of the state capital.

He messaged the Arcadia Publishing and when he learned there was none of Augusta, he offered to supply the postcards if someone wanted to write it.


“They said, ‘We’d like your post cards, but we’d like you to write it,'” Madore said. The next thing he knew, he was signing a contract to do it with Arcadia.

It’s one of his many talents and trades.

He’s a piano player, and played music for PJ’s in Augusta, a club that was owned by his cousin. “Now I just play for my own gratification,” he said.

He does theater as well “when time permits.” He got his start at Lakewood Theater in Madison.

In the summers, he works the festivals and fairs with Ron Veno of Skowhegan on “Deep Fried Sweets,” featuring such confections as Double Stuf Oreos, cheesecakes with strawberries and whipped cream and decadent desserts.

Madore used to be a professional diver, working for the Department of Transportation to check the condition of underwater bridge supports.


Now he works full-time as a senior programmer analyst for the state Office of Information Technology. He’s a part-time stamp dealer as well.

“I’ve been a jack-of-all-trades over the years,” he said. “I have a lot of interests.”

He keeps the books in a room where he also has long blanks of square-cut pegs. To illustrate the pen-making process, he selects a blank of box elder burl, a large, round growth, usually found near the base of the tree. There’s also amboyna burl from Laos and an alligator jawbone encased in resin.

“Then I have to drill it and put in brass tubes,” he said, he puts on 20 layers of finish and sands it so “it’s smoother than a brown paper bag.” He does most of that in a tiny workshop off the kitchen.

He’s been making custom pens for about 11 years, starting it as a hobby and now running it as a business.

Madore handles the finished product with thick cotton gloves to avoid marring the finish on an item that can be priced from about $65 to $300, and quite often goes higher.


“A lot of people will buy them for major life events,” he said. “Other people just love pens.”

They collect them for the comfort, the balance or for the finish.

“Some are particular about the nib for a fountain pen,” he said.

He says about 10 percent of the pens he sells are fountain pens, more are ballpoint pens, but the roller ball pens are the most popular.

Madore purchases the components from domestic and international suppliers and works with other artists in Las Vegas and Tennessee.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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