The Calligrapher's Life

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5 Things I Wouldn’t Do Before Working with “Real” Paper

Paper Pictures, Images and Photos

When you’ve written on 16 lb. layout bond paper consistently for three years, like I have, it becomes a cowardice habit. After three and half years into this art, I’m still working to muster up enough nerve to dish out the cash on a few sheets of Arches® or Fabriano® brand paper.

But, deep inside the fear sets in. Either I’m worried about starting a project or ruining one. For me, writing on the quality paper means a prime project is on the horizon, but I don’t get seem to get that far.

While fellow artists drive my urge to write on the “good stuff” with their creative pieces, I simply gaze at the buttery, textured paper of their completed work thinking, Next time… I’ll buy that paper for my own creative project.

It hasn’t happened yet. Why? I’m afraid of the past repeating itself.

Blame it on arrogance, ignorance or fatigue, but I’ve completed haphazard work on my fair share of class projects that will never see the light of day again.

But, learning the hard way helped me adopt important rules to live by. Though no artist escapes errors, it’s vital we keep a back-up plan in place, so I’ve noted five areas where the mistakes could have been avoided.

In my beginner’s bliss, I’ve wasted quality paper because I didn’t…

Test a scrap of the finer paper: In my eagerness to complete the project, I saw no reason to test the paper. Well, if I spent about ten minutes stroking the paper with various inks and pain, I’d know which worked better on the paper. Plus, I’d help to know how much pressure could be applied with certain nibs based on the paper’s weight and texture.

Plan a layout on a separate piece: Throughout months of practicing a hand, I never thought about creating an interesting layout for the project. Of course, I made minor sketches to determine a brief visual idea. Normally, I was content if I drew even lines across the page that looked halfway decent.

Again, I simply needed scratch paper with similar dimensions to my final piece. Then, I’d plan a visually pleasing layout to ensure the words matched evenly and centered well on the page.

Cover work with blotter paper: Talk about dotted papers and smeared lines. From the beginning, I disliked working with blotter paper for practice. Unfortunately, I adopted this bad habit and my projects suffered as a result. Believe me; I learned this the hard way— a few times. Now, I work carefully with the blotter paper and my latest projects are working out fabulously.

Tape paper securely on your desk or slant board: In the beginning, I had no idea what drafting paper was exactly. In the past, it’s saved me from making mistakes, but I’ve taken my chances with a few assignments, that I won’t try again.

To ensure the paper has no chance to move unless I want it to, I tape one inch drafting tape pieces to each corner. Securing the edges guarantees even lines, instead of a medley of even and slanted lines.

Prepare for mistakes: Like I said earlier, we all make mistakes. In my last project, the wrong flick of the nib created an error. Having absorbent paper nearby helped soak up excess paint. On another project, using an eraser and X-acto knife assisted to rid a tiny mistake.

Though it’s not possible to avoid all mistakes, it’s good to be prepared just in case.

It’s easy to worry over making errors with the “real” paper, but I’ve learned it’s like anything else in life, it takes practice and patience to overcome my fear to create my own awesome art projects.

What type of paper do you like to work with? Any steps you use to avoid ruining your “good” paper?

Photo credit: Alex Basil/Photobucket


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