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Topics - Estefa

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Ok, it does feel weird to announce my own workshop – but here it is: I'll be teaching an introductory

Copperplate Workshop on April 23 and 24!

Day one for basics and minuscules, day 2 for majuscules and a bit more fancy techniques. Please check the details on my website :). Thanks!



General How To's & Projects / Making Medieval Manuscripts
« on: February 16, 2016, 03:27:58 AM »
Just found this on the site of the Fitzwilliam Museum – it shows in little animations and short movies the making of medieval manuscripts.

You need to click on the little pic on the left to start the animation.

Does anyone one know if there is a scanned version of the "Spieghel der schrijfkonste" to be found somewhere, or an (affordable) faksimile version? I only see ever bits and pieces of this book, and I would really love to get my hands on a complete copy!! It would great if someone could help here …

… can be found on this site by English calligrapher Patricia Lovett:

She covers stuff from the most basic to sharpening your nibs etc.

I also bought her book on illumination where you can learn how to make your own gesso (won't do that, because of the white lead, but anyway …) and shell gold from your leftover gold flakes, and much more!

I am happy to announce that Giuseppe Salerno will be teaching a one day workshop – Cancellaresca / Italic in Berlin! More info can be found here:

I took already a Copperplate capitals workshop with him (2 years ago), which was actually sort of my get-going workshop for pointed pen calligraphy – he's a wonderful teacher!

Check out his work on Instagram

and here

I found these quite useful tips online – they are advertising for a whole styling course in fact :). But I find these little hints quite interesting in themselves already.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Death grip in 1552
« on: March 21, 2015, 05:55:37 AM »
As questions about recommended pen holds seem to pop up all the time, I wanted to share with you this: I found it in the wonderful Schreibmeisterbuch (Master Scribe's Book) by Wolfgang Fugger:

About 200 pages that I haven't really watched all yet, about 'A useful and well formed exemplar of various beautiful scripts with German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew letters together with information how each should be used and learned' :).

In the very beginning he explains first how to choose, prepare and cut a quill and then how to hold it. Interestingly, at first he shows not to hold it, like this:

In very old fashioned German the text says: 'A clumsy hold of the quill, together with an evil putting the arm on the table which makes a slow scribe'. Obviously speed was a goal even with the hands that we regard as slow today ;).

Here you can see the recommended hand / pen grip for a 'gutte Fassung unnd Fuerung der Federn, samt einer gutten Ausstreckung und rechter Zusammenhaltung der Finger' = 'Good grip and movement of the quill, together with a fine extension and correct position of the fingers':

He goes on explaining in the text that the arm should glide on the paper to make writing with speed, ease and rhythm possible.

Isn't it fascinating how this looks more like the arm of a blacksmith than of a scribe??

Not sure if this is right in this section of the Forum, so Erica please move it if you want to :). This is a wonderful, maybe not very hands-on but very thorough video about the whole process of the making of medieval books, from the producing of the actual parchment to the final step of book binding. I loved watching it, as I am at the moment very interested in medieval illuminated initials :):

The Making Of Medieval Illuminated Manuscripts - Dr Sally Dormer

I found this on Harvest's site and asked her permission to post it – this is extremely helpful as she explains in detail how to apply the size (the Instacoll) and the gold leaf! Can't wait to try it once I get my Instacoll ;).

It's the second video on the site. The introduction to Pointed Pen is also great!

Tools & Supplies / Gilding – which size do you use and why?
« on: March 10, 2015, 04:07:29 PM »
Ok, I really want to try gilding now. I have been reading and watching videos and 3 sizes keep coming up: Instacoll, Kφlner Miniatum and Kφlner Miniatum Ink. I also researched on the manufacturer's website and he says that Instacoll is meant more for objects (like statues, objects made of wood etc.), also to be applied for outdoors use, while Miniatum is recommended specifically for use with calligraphy on paper or parchment (the result being flexible without danger of breaking or fissures etc.). The ink is recommended for the same, just that they say it can be used with a dip nib or even a fountain pen (!!) for very fine, delicate lines, whereas the 'normal' Miniatum is better for bigger areas.

So it sounds like the latter two seem to be the logical choice for what I want to do (enhance some calligraphic elements with gilding). BUT:

Why do some calligraphers like to use Instacoll instead? It sounds like there is at least a little risk that the gilding will not last so long because the size is not flexible.

Is it easier to use? Or is it because the Miniatum has a bit of a health issue (at least they warn to use it only in a well aired workspace …)?

I'd be really curious to hear some opinion on that … thank you :).

The guys who organized last year the workshop with Barbara Calzolari I took part in start now a new series of workshops about lettering, typography and calligraphy. The most interesting one at the moment for me is the brush lettering workshop with one of my lettering artist heroes Sergey Shapiro ('From brush pen to logotype')!! Check him out on IG, he's fantastic.

Here is a quick overview over the new book by Barbara Calzolari!! I didn't find the original thread where we talked about it, but I hope those who are interested will find it here.

The book comes in a nice little box, it's a paperback and there are some nice goodies also in the box: a brush pen, a fineliner from Pentel, a sketch booklet made of Kraft paper, and some info / advertising from Pentel.

The book itself contains of three parts: one historical information chapter, several chapters with practical introduction and pointed pen exemplars, then comes a third part about 'calligraphy of the world' – outstanding contemporary calligraphers.

I can't say much about the historical and the third chapter, my Italian simply is not good enough and as I have fairly lots of knowledge and information about script history already, that was not the reason I bought the book.

The practical section is why I really love the book. This is only about pointed pen, and that means not only nib, but also pencil, fineliner and brush. She teaches such different hands as

- a Grotesk Capitals Alphabet (based on Roman Majuscules), written with pencil,

- then a Cursive that is a charming and to my knowledge unique mixture of Italic and Spencerian / American Business Hand – less slanted than Spencerian, but a real running hand with ligatures (other than classical Italic), with two sets of capitals, one based on Italic, the other on Spencerian. This is shown as monoline written with fineliner.

- Copperplate (Corsivo inglese) written with nib and oblique holder. Beautiful.

- Last comes what for me is most interesting because I don't have any book about that already, the chapter about brush script. She shows two different exemplars, one that looks to me like a typical brush script style, the other is based on Copperplate forms. Also, amazing …

Every practical chapter comes with drills / exercises, letter variants, and explanations about hand posture etc. Because of the fact that my Italian is basic at best (I could order an espresso, but to understand calligraphy lingo is something else …), I can't say a lot about these, although luckily some handwritten information is actually in English! I don't want to complain about the fact that it is Italian, I just think that this book would get an even bigger audience if it had been maybe bilingual … so that is the only downside about the book, for those who don't speak Italian.

On the other hand the pictures are big and well made, so they speak for themselves. Throughout the book are some illustrative pages with the gorgeous, highly aesthetic and sometimes even funny calligraphy by Barbara.

I bought the book on for 17,00 €, they ship internationally (not too expensive from Germany), at the moment it is even on sale for about 15,00 €.

I'm really happy and can't wait to start brush lettering!!

Tools & Supplies / Rare or not so well known vintage nibs
« on: September 12, 2014, 03:35:42 AM »
Ok, I am a terrible nib horder, once I found out that old nibs are, well, limited. As there is little chance to get the famous nibs for an affordable price in larger quantities, I sometimes check E-bay for vintage nibs and bid for nibs that sound vaguely promising. Usually I set myself a limit ;). So recently I found these, and from their form they looked promisingly flexible, but I already guessed that they would not be superfine. So here they are, Brandauer Times Pen No. 531 – 'These pens neither scratch nor spurt, the points being rounded by a new process' – wow! Just had to bid for these!!

So, you can see the box is nearly full, the nibs are rather big, and there is a little original leaflet in the box! How cute is that!

The whole sortiment! It doesn't say from what year, which is a pity. Only on the side of the box it is mentioned that they got a Honorable Mention at the International Exhibition in London in 1862 … I guess they wouldn't advertise with that if it was 3o years later? So maybe they are really from around 1865 to 1875. I find this strangely touching. Who might have opened this box … why were the nibs not used exept for a few … why is it called Times pen, does it have something to do with the Newspaper? I guess it must have existed back then. Maybe it was a nib designed for journalists, who had to write fastly and without much fuss? Because they are not very flexible, but really write very nicely and smooth, without being very fine. So no great hairlines with these, but I don't care. I don't need great hairlines always.

So, here is the nib:

You can see how big it is in comparison to the Spencerian no. 1! It doesn't work with a regular oblique holder – the nib extends much to far to the right.

So, that's it for now, when I have time I will add a writing sample!

What about you? Did you also find some not so well known nibs that are still nice and useful? I'd be curious!

Here are two writing samples , the first on Original Crown Mill 100% Cotton paper (which is rather toothy): I was tired and used no guidelines, but you can see that the acrylic ink works somehow better than the iron gall ink (on top). Where it says Brause 76 of course I used on, so you have a comparison. I wrote automatically bigger with the Brandauer – it feels more natural. As you can see, there is flex, but you also can write monoline without a problem. The second sample is with Dr. Martin's Bleedproof White on kraft paper I used for a big (over size A4 envelope). I could even write on the tape, and on the eneven parts without problems. Again, the writing is a bit fast and not very orderly, I don't like the caps for the country, but I thought I'd post it anyway so you can see what this nib does ;).

Tools & Supplies / Buying Finetec palettes in Europe
« on: June 16, 2014, 03:42:40 AM »
So, I e-mailed the company that produces the Finetec colours (it's in Germany, but until now you couldn't buy them here!!), and they just recently have an online shop where you can buy them and hopefully don't have to wait 4 weeks for them to arrive ;D!

Here it is:

I can't wait to buy the palette with the gold colour tones!

Tools & Supplies / Silver ink, any idea which is good?
« on: June 13, 2014, 04:13:42 AM »
So, has anyone a good suggestion for silver ink?? The ones I tested turned out quite disastrous unfortunately. I have tried so far:

Windsor & Newton Silver – nice shine but doesn't work very well with pointed pen and STINKS

Rohrer & Klingner Drawing and Calligraphy Ink Silver – more like mother of pearl than silver, also is too thick imho.

The only one that is quite ok is from Kallipos, the Polar Blau, it's a blue-ish silver that writes quite nicely. The only issue I have with that is that it's feathering with not so great papers …

I'd be happy for suggestions! Thank you in advance,


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