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Messages - Daniel McGill

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Open Flourish | General Discussion / Re: end of word extension
« on: June 25, 2022, 01:25:17 PM »
hello all

I just started to let my child write spencerian month ago, i follow the spencerian script each letter, I fond in the end of word sometimes has extension curve for example on y, g  , s etc... the end of word letter extend the curve up or down on top of bottom the word your wrote.

is this part of the style on spencerian? when to use it? is it when ever i feel like it, or on the end of sentence or paragraph ?

First, let me extended my pride for you teaching your child Spencerian. It warms me to know you have such an admiration of the script.

My thoughts on the ending “flourish” is the same as stated above. It was something that was done by penmen to add a little excitement and personality to an otherwise rigid script. With that in mind, it is by no means mandatory, and is down to how you may feel in the moment.

Something I will say is that, in terms of education, these flourishes should be avoided at all cost, even punished (gently, of course) in their use. The script’s fundamental forms and rhythm must be established and maintained to a proficient level before any of them should be even thought about.

My best!


Personally, I would not use a blank page at her age. Keep with a ruled paper, as this will be the type she will encounter most in her schooling. Once she is of an appropriate age, 10-13, where her spatial awareness has increased and her rational ability to discern a mental straight line, then I would say that a blank page would be good.

For the best hairlines with copperplate, Engrosser’s script, or Roundhand, mixing dry gum Arabic into your ink is the way to go.  That will thicken your ink something wonderful. The late Bill Lilly (master penman, and last Zanerian graduate) thickened his ink to where it was the consistency of thick of honey.

Having such a difficult time with the concept of THICKENING with GA for wispy hairline strokes.

It is all to do with tension. GA is a binder. For ink and paint, it allows more fluid to gather at a single spot without breaking (the cause for feathering and bleeding). As far as it relates to hairlines, that same tension also permits more ink to stay on the nib, ensuring the minimal amount is released onto the surface.

I, too, was skeptical of its mechanism, but after thickening my Higgins eternal ink to the point beyond cream, it has given me results that I could not have dreamed of.

One instrument I would highly advise you to get along with this method, is a good quality, natural sponge. It will soak up any clumps on the nib you do not want, as well as free up the tip of the nib for writing. Make sure you keep that sponge damp too, otherwise small beads of it will stick to the nib.

I hope that this helps with your endeavour.

Tools & Supplies / The sponge!
« on: June 03, 2022, 10:00:37 AM »
Good morning/afternoon/evening to you all!

I have recently watched a documentary about the late William. A. Lilly. Within it I saw a sponge being used beside his desk that he used as a secondary tool after dipping into his ink. I have scoured the internet trying to find a reason for this, but I have, alas, failed to discover the explanation.

Could one of you (or a multitude) give me the reason I desperately crave!

Thank you!

Tools & Supplies / Re: Favorite Practice Paper
« on: June 02, 2022, 03:45:37 AM »
@Daniel McGill I love Triomphe as well. It has such a soft feel. I have not tried Conqueror yet but I will now! Thanks!  :)

For flourishing (particularly with traditional off-hand techniques) Triomphe is unmatched! As for the Conqueror, ensure it is the Wove type of paper, and not laid. Some advice regarding the surface; there is a tiny amount of tooth to the paper (finer than drawing paper) but enough that any sharp nib i.e. LPEF/hunt 101 will catch the tines should a heavy hand and incorrect pressure be applied.

Tools & Supplies / Re: Favorite Practice Paper
« on: May 29, 2022, 05:21:58 AM »
Of all the papers I have used, two have been my go-to. Conqueror wove paper (oyster), and Triomphe by Clairefontaine.

Tools & Supplies / Modifying nibs…
« on: February 10, 2022, 12:36:07 PM »
Esteemed community,

I have a question to put before you. Have any of you modified your nibs?

An example I can give is sharpening the tip for a thinner hairline. I personally do this for my hunt 101’s as they have a blunter tip than other nibs. I have also sharpened (very delicately) a few LPEF’s.

Do you also do this? Has the thought ever come to you?

For the best hairlines with copperplate, Engrosser’s script, or Roundhand, mixing dry gum Arabic into your ink is the way to go.  That will thicken your ink something wonderful. The late Bill Lilly (master penman, and last Zanerian graduate) thickened his ink to where it was the consistency of thick of honey.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Re: Help w hairlines
« on: June 27, 2021, 02:23:02 PM »

I'm headed to the house now to get out all my stuff again.

How about the nib sharpening/narrowing idea?

For sharpening a nib like the LPEF, I would highly suggest you use micro-mesh pads and extremely light movements. Do NOT use lower than the 6000 grit. It will take an extreme amount of trial and error but, with it, you can craft the nib to give finer hairlines than out of the factory (though that is not hard given their QC is bad), and it will give you the opportunity to find that sweet spot. Make sure that you keep the shaving (as that is what you are essentially doing) isolated to the portion in front of the sword hole.

Tools & Supplies / Re: My Favorite Nibs for Pointed Pen
« on: April 19, 2021, 12:48:58 PM »
I never thought of not choosing a favorite.  ;D  I will say though, I rediscovered my vintage Esterbrook 357’s. Dreamy! I do like the thins of the current Leonardt Principal EF but it is rather inconsistent in quality. God Bless Brian Walker (Rest in Peace) for his efforts on our behalf.

I still do all my practice with a Zebra G - very consistent and I like the thicks and thins. It produces a smooth line and rarely snags.
I do hope one of these days one of the go-getters develop a nib that is of the quality of ‘back in the day.’

That would be the dream. I have thought about it many times but the expense of it just doesn’t justify it, not with the way that we all think of it. In order to make a nib of the same quality as the golden age or “principality” age, the nib would need to sold for at least £4 per nib. It would be too far out of anyone’s price range for a disposable item that lasts for hours.

Find a Pen Pal / Re: Pen pal??
« on: April 03, 2021, 05:29:01 AM »
Hi @Daniel McGill,

I'll exchange letters with you! Private message me your address and I will send you mine.


Thank you, I live in the United Kingdom. If it is still feasible for letter exchanges, please do not hesitate to contact

Running hand is a script form completely opposite to Round hand scripts. Running hand is a subtype of handwriting but the pen is not lifted from the page until the sentence is completed. Roundhand is a deliberate style where, in order to be true, the pen MUST be lifted after each stroke or letter to continue with consistency. It is not possible to combine the two without sacrifices to both forms.

After deliberate practice, your next port of call is Applied practice.

What I mean by this is the practice of writing as other have mentioned. Senior Master Penman Bill Lily said that if you write enough, your writing becomes your practice. You most likely didn’t embark of the wonder of Engrosser’s script (copperplate is reserved EXCLUSIVELY for engraving on copper sheets) just to write letters out one after the other.

Erica is completely write is saying that it is best to write a card or a short text. Names are also a great way to practice as they are personal and keep you focused on making the best effort that you can. Try book titles too, or create a certificate for yourself on completing the basics with the best hand that you can.

You will be amazed what you learn when you apply the basics to a project. Just remember, everything has a place and distance between places.

Roundhand is catalyst of American penmanship whereas Copperplate is simply a script that is sent to be engraved on a copper sheet. It is slightly different in structure and composition than that of Roundhand in that the spaces of the majuscules are wider (the D, E, G for example).

It also enables a penman to maintain their most comfortable grip and alter the flange to accommodate their position so they do not compromise comfort and posture, which is inevitable and quite uncontrollable with a straight holder. The oblique holder allows for maintained comfort throughout.

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