Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - Chessie

Pages: [1]
Tools & Supplies / Screaming About Inks
« on: May 25, 2023, 04:44:09 PM »
I need to vent, briefly, about some of the various inks I've tried lately because...AHHHHH.  Please take all of this as my badly informed, only been doing calligraphy for 6 months feelings and opinions.  Also feel free to tell me I'm wrong, because having people point out how I'm wrong has been very helpful.  P.S. all of these were tested on 32 lbs HP paper and Clairfontaine Triomph, mostly with a Mitchell nib sans reservoir.

Speedball India Ink - I can't tell exactly what this is for, but 'not for calligraphy' appears to be the short answer.  On a Mitchell nib without a reservoir it dribbles and flows unpredictably even with a drafting table at 45 degrees.  With a reservoir it fusses and clogs.  Add even a drop of water?  Sploosh. A bit of gum arabic?  Solid mass.  Gum Sandarac powder?  A messy nib tip and uneven distribution.

Pilot Black Refills in a Parallel Pen - Why is this stuff so thin? It feels like using a laser-pointer to write on all but the roughest papers.  Pilot Parallel's are great for practice, but the refills I picked up from Michael's feel just plain *weird*.  The one that came with the original pen wasn't like this.  Maybe I just got a bum batch?

Walnut Ink - I have stained every surface near me and cannot figure out what to clean them with.  My family thinks I have been part of a strange genetic experience to cross-breed a person with a dalmatian. 

Etsy Chinese grinding ink - I genuinely thought I'd been delivered a sexual aid by mistake when I opened the box.  It's *enormous*.  My ink stone was barely big enough to make this worth using and it is rooough ink.  When I say rough, grinding it looks like there's dandruff floating on top. 

Kuretake Saiboku colored inks - I adore this set of inks, but goodness they're expensive for some very, very small ink-sticks.  That said - the sumi-inks included with this set are super, super smooth.  No notes, just wish it was bigger and cheaper...kinda like my ex boyfriend.

Hukaiwen off Amazon - This has become my 'go-to' ink.  It's not expensive.  It's not super smooth.  It's not perfectly easy to grind.  It just works very consistently and I never get a stick that's cracked half-way up or flaking when it arrives. 

Ranjyatai - From John Neal Books.  This is, far and away, the best ink I've used so far.  It's bizarre how good this stuff is.  It flows smoothly, grinds easily, smells great, and if memory serves it's *painfully* expensive.  Like 'Ow, my wallet, ow' type expensive.

Shanghai 101 - You ever get a tool and realize suddenly that you are way under-qualified to use it?  That was my immediate sensation from Shanghai 101.  This stuff feels like some kind of high precision instrument and I'm going to carefully put it back in its box and put it somewhere I can't touch it until I'm a much, much better calligrapher. 

I'm still an extremely new calligrapher and I feel like I've managed to progress to a place where I'm comfortable with the Foundational hand miniscules.  I'm starting on Roman capitals, more or less going back to where I was starting out - daily practice, start in similar letter groups, move to words, write a line and try to improve that line on the next line, practice individual strokes where necessary, etc. 

How many fonts do most calligraphers have available that they've fully practiced and prepared and maintain the skills to recreate on the spot?  Is it a matter of being able to do *any* font upon request if you've got an example of it?  Is it having a healthy collection and offering just those?  Should I just be able to use the 'hand finder' in the Calligraphy Bible and whip off any of them?

Tools & Supplies / How long are dip pen nibs meant to last?
« on: April 16, 2023, 06:11:39 PM »
I felt certain someone must have answered this before me, but I couldn't find the specific question anywhere. 

In the months I've been learning (about four months), I've gone through about six metal dip pen nibs.  They've become too warped to use, rusted, bent out of shape, or ended up with one tine that wouldn't quite collect ink properly.  While that is really only about $6 worth of nibs, it feels like I shouldn't be damaging quite so many with just daily practice.  A few hours a day isn't that much mileage, right?  Am I being silly and worrying about nothing?  I've just dobbed another one into the bin after the left tine ended up slightly higher than the right and I couldn't fix it.

I'm using Mitchell round-hand nibs sans reservoir, incidentally. 

Show & Tell / Beginning the process of illuminating an I
« on: April 07, 2023, 10:22:22 PM »
I've just begun work on my very first illumination.  As you can see from the slightly shiny white spot in the middle, I immediately touched it with ink on the tip of one finger and had to do a correction with white ink.  This is very, very satisfying work for also being incredibly fiddly.  The actual image is beneath this one (this is what I hope will be a finished product once it's done) and being illumined onto the page by a light-box. 

The medium is Chinese fresh ground ink from ink sticks in various colors (Kuretake Saiboku Shimbi from Amazon) with pointed pen nibs for the fine detail work on Clairefontaine Triomph paper. 

Any criticism or ideas would be helpful.  Just doing this I've had a few ideas for how to improve the next letter, but it's good practice for a first attempt.

Tools & Supplies / Can you store ground Chinese ink?
« on: April 03, 2023, 11:11:09 PM »
I've got some dinky dips that have nice screw-on plastic caps. 

I grind Chinese ink for my calligraphy each day and...frankly, it feels like I waste a lot of ink because I have to pour out a bit at the end of each day, then regrind it at the start of the next day.  Don't get me wrong - I love grinding ink, but this does feel a bit of a waste if I ground a BUNCH.

 I know the general philosophy on ink is that you can't store wet ink in a covered ink-stone for more than a day, but those are porous.  Can you store wet ink in a plastic dinky dip and still use it for a few days in a row or is it going to separate terribly? 

Kind Critique / A smaller nib is so much harder
« on: April 03, 2023, 11:48:42 AM »
I'm used to using a 2mm nib and decided today to give a shot to a 1mm nib since some came in an order which I hadn't actually asked for but it seemed a shame to shove them in a drawer without at least giving it a go.  This is my first attempt with my current practice letters.  Advice and critique would be very helpful here because this feels VERY difficult. 

Broad Edge Pen Calligraphy / Cleaning up mistakes
« on: March 31, 2023, 09:25:32 AM »
There's a tiny part of me that is a little frightened to start a big calligraphy project because I have a propensity to dribble, drip, and splash ink from time to time and ruining my expensive paper/having to start over sounds rather unpleasant.  I'm using flexible Mitchell nibs without a reservoir and a bit of paper to protect the sheet has helped, but I feel like I'm missing something about corrections on projects.  Is it just a matter of drafting over and over until you get it right?  Is there a product to use to remove ground ink (soot based Chinese/Japanese ink)?

Open Flourish | General Discussion / The Absurd Joy Of Grinding Ink
« on: March 25, 2023, 11:23:23 PM »
How on Earth did I get here? 

I truly don't know.  One of my partners pointed out to me the other day that I'd been grinding an ink stick for a solid hour in slow circles on my favorite ink stone, listening to the Ramones having existential angst about 70s Britain.  He wandered in, sniffed at the air, and asked what I'd been doing since I took out the garbage. 

The clock had moved.  Why hadn't I?  Had it really been so pleasant to just sit there slowly moving a stick of sooty glue in a circle on what is more or less a rock?

I've had a suspicion for awhile that there are just some things we do as human beings that're more or less essential to being human.  You can't get a whole bunch these things from sitting in an office or working in a shopping mall.  You get them from the tiniest of actions and when they appear it's almost shocking to find yourself reconnected with what it means to be a person after a day of slightly grim activities in pursuit of enough money to pay rent and eat dinner.  Grinding ink is a 3000 year old activity and maybe one that's more valuable than most people in the West suspect.

Grinding ink is beautiful. 

Nice, perfumed Japanese or Chinese inks can fill a room with a subtle scent of sandalwood or herbs or burning spices.  There's a whole universe in sitting to fill your ink well and prepare for your practice.  You might find yourself in prayer or meditation, just listening to your own heart-beat beside the sensation of the ink stick scratching at the bottom of your stone.  Even the satisfaction of the ink forming, like a black pool of hypnotic not-quite-water that seems to move slower than everything around it feels like a sacrament.

If you haven't had the chance to grind ink for calligraphy, yet, I heartily encourage it. There are the practical reasons, of course ; you get to determine how dark, light, thick, or thin you want your letters to be.  At the same time, you also get to see a glimpse into a quiet, gentle world where time trickles by like droplets of rain coursing slowly down a window pane as a cat sits purring on your lap. 

Tools & Supplies / The Victorian Pen Wiper
« on: March 20, 2023, 10:47:42 AM »
This might be a strange question, but does anyone use a historical pen wiper for their dip pen nibs? 

My practice has tended to prefer things that last a long time and aren't disposed of in the garbage when possible.  Microfiber cloths are fine, of course, but in doing 18th century woodworking and calligraphy there's a trend towards 'going back' to doing things the way we used to before one could just throw something away and get another one.  Many of the older methods were actually in place for good reasons, namely that they were efficient and useful.  Many were only replaced by an industrial process because the industrial process could churn out a lot of things very cheaply for easy replacement when something broke which led to an expectation that everything would break.

There are two classes of antique pen wiper that I've found - cloth and brushed.  The cloth ones are pretty much microfibers made of wool - well and good.  The *brushed* variety are the one that interest me. 

I use a lot of ground inks (soot and animal glue) along with dip pens.  At the advice of a few members of the forum I'm going to re-try the Mitchell broad edge nibs without futzing with the reservoirs.  I'm genuinely excited to give that a go.  In doing that, it's offered an interesting opportunity to try out a pen wiper (with no reservoir in the way) to keep ink flowing cleanly. 

Has anyone made use of these?  Would modern, plastic bristled brushes be able to replicate the historical function (being as the antiques are extremely expensive)?  I could see getting a few bottle cleaners and cannibalizing them for parts to build something similar. 

I've been trying to find a nib that 'suits' me for dip-pen use and it's proving a bit of a conundrum.  I do most of my practice on 32 lbs HP Premium paper, but that won't reflect on eventual projects very much.  Has anyone done or seen a review of the various brands of nib?  I picked up the John Neal Books sampler and these are my impressions:

Speedball - it's sort of 'the default'.  Cheap, easy to use, but it feels cheap and requires more set-up than Tape or Brause.  I couldn't get my head around the Mitchell reservoir, though that's probably me being a tad thick.  If there's a set-up video somewhere for that, it might help.  Brause seems very stiff and aggressive.  Tape is lovely, but the slanted edge seems to take some mental adjustment every time I pick it up.

I cannot fathom the Tachikawa nibs.  A reservoir and pressure from the bottom?  Hrmph.

If anyone has any feelings or opinions on nib brands, some deeper examination from people who use them regularly would be very helpful. 

Introductions / Greetings from Wisconsin
« on: March 18, 2023, 08:32:06 PM »
Well goodness, I just now noticed the 'introductions' threads and decided to pop by, it being my first week on the forums.

My name is Chessie.  I'm a knife sharpener and took an interest in calligraphy more or less out of nowhere.  I couldn't tell you why even if I tried.  It's meditative, beautiful, and requires manual dexterity, maybe?  Certainly something in common with knife sharpening, but I'm not sure.  Whatever the reason, I find it deeply satisfying.

I'm interested in historical illumination and modern, crafted illuminated works as an art form using modern subjects.  Right now, I'm learning the Foundational Hand (per Edward Johnston's method) and trying to figure out precisely which fonts I want to invest myself in. 

I used broad-edged dip pens with ground inksticks (at the moment the Brause nibs, though at the advice of one of the members I may switch to Mitchell.  If anyone has any feelings on that, I'd love to hear them) and can best be described as 'extremely novice'.  I've only been at regular, focused practice for about two months.  Fortunately, one of the other members pointed me at a lovely online course that sounds like just the thing to improve.

I'm always open to advice and the thoughts of other calligraphers.  I've attached a small sample of my recent work. 

I'm a relatively new broad-edge dip-pen user (I prefer the Brause tips) and I've been having a problem with my various exemplars of the Foundational Hand.  I can't post them since I believe they're probably copy-written material, but I'll describe the issue.

Sheila Waters does an excellent exemplar of Foundational Hand, but I can't seem to consistently replicate it using a dip pen.  I do grind my own ink + sometimes use bottled sumi-e ink, but in large part it hasn't been an issue except on specific letters, namely 'x', 'e', and 'z'.  Digging into other exemplars, in Sheila Water's book 'Foundations of Calligraphy', she has some *extremely pointed* opinions on other exemplars of Foundational Hand (including Irene Wellington's).  She doesn't call them out by name, but there's an entire section on 'doing it wrong'.

In the Speedball Textbook, 25th Anniversary edition, the page shows both Sheila *and* Irene's exemplars but they're fundamentally opposites when you dig into the elemental pieces of them both.  Sheila thinks hooked Xs look silly.  Irene's all about them.  Sheila uses a 0 degree pen angle to put the cross bar on a 'Z'.  I CANNOT make that work with a dip pen on 32 lbs HP Premium paper, even with thick ink.  Irene uses a 30 degree angle for the whole thing, but Sheila is very particular about calling that out as wrong.  Sheila's 'e' minuscule appears to involve skating the pen to finish the letter for the second stroke, but it's the only letter in her exemplar that seems to require that. 

Worse, the Calligraphy Bible has a section on Foundational Hand that is...odd.  The z looks wonky and the f is just floating there.  The e seems to be a cursive? 

How does one go about deciding which of these exemplars to use?  If I mix exemplars am I going to end up with negative consequences later in my practice or do you just create your own version of the foundational and use that? 

Pages: [1]