Fishbowl for pens // Muji x Pen Display DIY

I’m so happy with how this turned out, so I wanted to share it along with the steps I took to make my own display box for my growing collection of fountain pens. It’s not perfect, but it works exactly as I wanted so I can’t complain! The last time I did one of these DIY activities was for a small notebook hack. Coincidentally, I am using another Muji item – they just work out so well! I got tired of either keeping my pens in their boxes or shoved and clashing in a pen cup. So it’s about time I found a way to properly showcase my pens while also having a nice place to store them.

I actually saw this quite a bit when searching up DIY ways of making pen trays – many of which made use of some form of acrylic drawer case. The Muji one is by no means the cheapest as I think there are many options on Amazon. But I think the quality of this case is very high and can’t really go wrong with it. Ultimately it probably still cost less than a fancier wooden display box. I took a few pictures along the way and am going to list out the steps I took in making my pen trays to hopefully give some inspiration for your own DIY projects!

Step 1:
Collect your materials

  1. Muji Acrylic case 3 rows – $39.90
  2. Coloured Felt – $17 for 18” x 72”
  3. Corrugated cardboard – Amazon shipping box (I got mine from packaging wrapping my Muji case)
  4. 1/8” or 1/4” square (or circular) wooden dowels – 24” length, x3 per tray

Tools: Glue gun, xacto knife, metal cutting edge

Step 2:
Cut your corrugated cardboard to size. Leave a couple mm of space all around, since the felt will add thickness. This is something I didn’t factor in, and had to pry off the felt to fit the trays snugly in the drawer.

Step 3:
Cut your dowels to size – You should need about three 24” dowels total for each tray. Space them out approx. 2cm apart, leaving about 5mm of space on either end. Space out the dowels on the cardboard so you have an idea of what it will look like before committing. You’ll get 11 spaces for pens if you divide it evenly.

Step 4:
Cut slits in your cardboard for where you want to put the dowel dividers. You can use either square or round dowels – I actually used both because it was all I had leftover from my model-making school days.

Step 5:
Glue the dowels in place. If you’re using square dowels, hold and angle it diagonally so that the profile looks like the picture above. It’s not super important, but that’s the look I wanted for the divider. Keep in mind you can use thicker dowels if you like to get more depth in your tray. I just happened to use what I had on hand.

Step 6:
Repeat Step 5 two more times!

Step 7:
Cut a piece of felt to size for the back of each tray and glue in place.

Cut another piece of felt that is an inch or two longer in length and about 1cm longer top and bottom. Starting from one end, glue the longer felt to the side edge and wrap it up to the top. Continue to glue the felt down, attaching to each side of the angled side of the dowel until the entire top is covered. Use your hands to smooth and press down to make sure you don’t have any air pockets. Glue the felt to the remaining side edge and trip as needed. Finally, glue the overlapping edges on top and bottom over the front and back edge of the tray. Trim as needed.

Step 8:
Repeat Step 8 two more times!

Step 9:
Friction fit your trays into the Muji drawers.

Step 10:
Populate your new display box with your pens!

That’s it. Hopefully that was simple and straight forward enough. Having not built models in a while, it was nice to use my hands again to do something crafty, so I had a lot of fun making this! I’m still not satisfied with how I’m organizing the trays. I have a lot more pens than I have room for 33 pens in this display box, but that is all the more reason to curate it 🙂

I think I will save the documentation for a separate ‘state of the collection’ post that will link to all the reviews of pens I’ve done so far. So stay tuned for that. Feel free to ask about any of the pens you see here though if you’re curious! Thanks for reading and please share any projects you’ve worked on to display your pens!



    1. I thought about putting the yellow pens on the yellow felt! But I also like the contrast with the teal 🙂 I’d say chocolate boxes is still better than what I had which was clashing pens in a cup hehe


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