[Scriptoris] Calligraphy Questions

Elaine Crittenden eshc at earthlink.net
Sun Sep 26 18:42:40 PDT 2010

M. Asiya,

For broad-edge pen work you may have already heard the following information. If not, I hope it proves helpful.

When you use a cartridge pen,be sure the ink is not an acrylic. It will dry out and you will then have to hunt some hard-to-find solution to dissolve it. The best thing to do is to cultivate the habit of washing the pen off and out with distilled water the minute you finish your lettering.

The next style of pen point is a dip-pen,one that fits into a staff. There are reservoirs that are attached and are virtually impossible to adjust to fit the viscosity (thickness, flow) of your ink, an example's being the Speedball series. There are others that clip on and are marvelous, but aren't available in the DFW region and can be ordered from such national suppliers as John Neal, Bookseller. 

My old stand-by points are made in England by William-Mitchell. My recommended reservoir from them is the #2. It is a bottom loader (clips on the bottom of the nib) and can be bent toward the under-slit of the nib to slow down the ink flow. If you are using a pigmented ink or, say, one that has "gold" particles in it, you can pull the tip of the reservoir a little away from the under-slit of the nib to avoid a dam's forming and stopping the flow of ink/pigment.

One thing about the W-M nibs....the "green bottle sumi" will eat your nibs like it owned stock in the company. I even tried soaking the nibs in a homemade nib cleaner I make up. No go. The acrylic is just fine, provided you still rinse and wipe the nib. The reservoir doesn't seem to be affected by either. If there are any ink globs on the brass reservoir, I just scrape them off with an xacto.

The only reason I would use the green bottle sumi would be if I knew the framing would keep the recipient from handling the work with damp fingers, since water WIll smear work done with green bottle sumi, and if I wanted to yield to my obsession of having the thinnest hair lines for the thin part of lettering and flourishes, so the work looks eloquent as well as elegant.

The Michael's Art Store double ended felt-tip pens are great for practice, but the letters have to be large, too. The pen-nib width of the smallest requires lower case letters to be 5/8" (.9cm)high.

Just as an aside, you can spot an amateur (untrained student's) work by a too-wide pen nib's being used for too short a letter and vice-versa.)Work with the accepted ratio of pen nib width to the style and size of lettering needed. Carolingian, for example, is 3 1/2 to 4 nib widths high, Italic is 5, and most gothics are 6 for the lower case letters. Imperial Roman, an all caps hand, is 8 to 10 high. Etc. There are lots of books that can help you with the proper height for the hand chosen.

Best of luck.
HL Lete Bithespring


-----Original Message-----
>From: Vickie <asiya_bint_mikhail at yahoo.com>
>Sent: Sep 26, 2010 5:33 PM
>To: scriptoris at lists.ansteorra.org
>Subject: [Scriptoris] Calligraphy Questions
>I am trying to get started doing calligraphy and was wonder what kind of pen you 
>recommend using.  I currently have a cartridge style calligraphy pen right now 
>but I am having problems with the ink flow being steady.  Not sure if that means 
>I am doing something wrong or not.  I was wondering if the pens you dip in the 
>ink are a better option?  
>I am try Arabic calligraphy and I know that it is normally done with a reed pen, 
>but I was thinking that using a normal pen to while I was learning might be 
>Any help or direction you can give me would be greatly appreciated.
>Mistress Asiya (formerly Arastya)
>Vickie Bratcher
>Scriptoris mailing list
>Scriptoris at lists.ansteorra.org

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