The Calligrapher's Life

Just another weblog

Archive for the tag “pointed pen”

Why I Dropped My Parallel Pen

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I could write beautifully with a broad-edge nib until recently.

Of course, Parallel Pens gave me the courage to write italics regularly and easily with its stationary broad-edge tip, but I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about lettering with a dip pen and a removable broad-edge nib.

As much as I love Parallel Pens, I’ve become equally smitten with the Brause nibs and growing fond of the Speedball C-series nibs with every use.

But, I wasn’t always this happy practicing with the broad edge nib.

Early in my calligraphy practice, I fumbled recklessly with calligraphy markers and refillable ink pens. I hopelessly tried the Speedball nibs, but loss interest quickly because I had no idea what I was doing.

Throughout the pain and frustration of creating horribly designed letters, I missed out on opportunities to practice a larger variety of broad lettering styles other than traditional italics, like Gothicized italics or Blackletter.

Naturally, I chickened out and stuck with the basics for nearly a year.

In the interim, something exciting happened in my calligraphy discovery. I realized how much my lettering improved with pointed pen nibs. After the initial struggle with learning how to properly adjust the amount of ink for the dip pen, I felt comfortable enough to tackle nibs such as: Hunt 22, Esterbrook 356 and Nikko G.

With my new found skill, it only seemed fair to give the Speedball nibs another try, and to my surprise, it ended with a delightful result.

Recently, when I practiced Gothicized italics for the first time, I pulled out my trusty Parallel Pen for lettering with less hassle. Then, I noticed a classmate lettering with the dip pen and nib, which encouraged me to desert my pen for a moment and test the Speedball nib again.

Immediately, I noticed how easily this nib achieved a traditional letter with extreme thick to thin lines adding an elegant flair to capital and lower case letters that’s significant for the Gothicized italic hand.

Although it’s easy to love broad edge pens for italic lettering, the detachable dip pen nib offered a greater writing versatility than the Parallel Pens could accomplish for this letter, so I found a good reason to drop my dependency on the Parallel Pen.

Now I work easily between the two style pens (as needed) which makes calligraphy much more fun!


6 Simple Ways to Care for Your Calligraphy Nibs

I’m guilty. Yes, guilty of being a lazy artist and ruining more calligraphy nibs than I can count. At first, I gave myself the benefit of the doubt because of ignorance, but shortly after receiving advice on how to care for my calligraphy nibs, I no longer had an excuse.

Like anything I start, the nibs received special care with proper cleaning and storage. Then laziness set in. With every project, I began with good intentions to return to my desk to complete it, only to leave my nibs resting overnight with dried ink or paint.

After allowing a few nibs to dry this way, I discovered that my nibs were no longer the same and my lettering became inadequate with each stroke. That’s when I decided to change my naughty habits.

Several months of experience and a few pointers from my calligraphy classmates helped me save a few nibs. If you’d like to avoid replacing nibs on a regular basis, check out the advice below for ways to protect your calligraphy nibs with everyday household items.

Save your old toothbrushes. These are great tools for cleaning your nibs gently and getting in between the crevices.

Locate your baking soda. For a low cost, natural cleanser, mix about a teaspoon of baking soda and ½ teaspoon of distilled water to clean your nibs. If you have a small tube of toothpaste with baking soda and peroxide, it works well for cleaning the nibs without the hassle of mixing.

Rinse and dry your nibs completely. After each use, it’s imperative that you rinse your nibs with soft water or distilled water to protect them from drying mediums. To avoid rusting, dry the nibs well with a soft lint free cloth.

Store your nibs separately. Choose a plastic container for your nibs or make sure they have their own special slot to avoid contact with heavier tools and supplies in your art box.

Cover your nibs. If you’re working on a large job or project don’t hassle with removing the nib from the penholder every time. Just clean as usual and cover them with cut up drinking straws. Cut one drinking straw about an inch to an inch and half to cover the entire nib, which protects it from dust, bending from a fall, or contact with another item.

Use recommended paint and ink only. Check with your art store or calligraphy instructor if you plan to use a medium other than usual standard calligraphy ink, gouache or watercolors. Some inks or paints might be too harsh or heavy for your nibs and cause the medium to flow poorly.

Take good care of your nibs and they’ll take good care of you and your project. You’ll constantly create smooth letters without having to spend a fortune on replacing nibs unless you want to.

Spencerian – Fancy Pointed Pen for Beginners

Thinking about trying a flourished and fancy writing style to challenge your inner calligrapher? Have you tried any of the pointed pen styles? Well, there’s no need to freeze and panic like I did when I first started. If you’re excited about trying a formal style, like Spencerian or Copperplate, I’d suggest Spencerian. Once you begin this hand, you’ll discover Spencerian is not the easiest pointed pen style to learn, but if you’re a beginner looking for something fancy, I recommend it.

Before calligraphy class, I assumed Copperplate and Spencerian were the same, but they are very different. While writing in the Spencerian hand, the calligrapher must write gracefully holding the pointed pen light enough to show ink on the page. A heavy pen stroke throughout the word could confuse the style with Copperplate. The lowercase letters flow easy with a light touch, but the uppercase letters are a different matter. They demand more concentration with thin and thick lines similar to Copperplate, but with very different styling to characterize the hand.

The Spencerian hand originated in America in 1848 by Platt Rogers Spencer. He created a writing style that would be easier to use, faster to write, and more legible for business and education. Before the invention of typewriters in the early 20th century, students learned Spencerian as normal handwriting similar to the cursive writing that our school children learn today.

With the invention of the word processor, it seems like words are created at nearly the speed of light, so handwriting with a pen to paper shows care for its recipient. This is possibly why calligraphy has experienced a rise in popularity for formal occasions, like weddings and other exclusive engagements.

At first sight, the Spencerian hand looks intimidating with swirls and curls delicately surrounded with soft handwritten words. But, believe me; it’s easier to write than you think. If you practice the basics first, you’ll get the chance to improve your skill and dress up words with wildly ornate flourishes.

Spencerian is a beautiful hand to write, but I had a tough time trying to complete the uppercase letters. Uppercase lettering is important to learn because it provides the starting point to creating fabulous flourishes, but they require the most practice time compared to lowercase letters.

In my opinion, Spencerian is not a hand you want to learn alone. Of course, the lowercase letters are a snap to grasp, if cursive writing came easy as a child. But, the uppercase letters alone are worth spending time and money. In class, you receive instructor assistance and classmate encouragement, which helped me tremendously during my first practice hours.

For calligraphers who’ve practiced other pointed pen styles, working solo with an instructional video or book on how to write in Spencerian hand should be simple.

Now, stop reading, grab your pen and ink and give the Spencerian hand a try. If you’ve tried before, start practicing. You’ll fall in love with it all over again. And, for the beginner, once you’ve practiced for a week, you’ll see exactly what I mean.

Have you tried this hand before or one similar? Feel free to share your work. I’d like to see it.

Post Navigation