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Time for an oblique dip pen? Opinions?

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I'm pleased to report that I'm nearly at a one-year point in my journey of daily practice to learn Spencerian script! I don't hesitate to add that I am no natural in the art of handwriting, having suffered with a "caveman grip," as my brother once described it, all my writing life.  My regular writing, indeed, looks like perhaps a caveman articulated it with a lump of coal in his fist.  To train out those many years of muscle memory I've endeavored to learn Spencerian using whole arm writing almost exclusively.  I have also been using a fountain pen exclusively up until now.

In this first year, I've finally learned all the letter shapes for both lower case and majuscules.  Although my writing quality has improved measurably from where I've begun, I find that it pales in comparison to many online examples I've found from purported "beginners."  My wife cautions me that "comparison is the thief of joy," but I mention this to help give some context for the question I'm posing to this forum. 

I'm asking for opinions at this stage if it would be more effective to continue with fountain pen practice until I achieve a better consistency and flow in my writing, or might it make sense to move on to oblique dip pen now to begin developing what I expect will be a very new feel and skill?  I can argue it either way: get better with writing before changing things up too much, or, since I hope to move on to dip pen and shading somewhere down the road anyway, start sooner since I'll be wanting those skills to develop and I can continue work on consistency and flow as much with a dip pen as I can with the fountain. Starting sooner would mean more experience and practice with the new tools than starting later.

I appreciate any and all thoughts on this!   Thanks!


Erica McPhee:

Congrats on a great anniversary! I say time to move on to the oblique! You will learn the infinite ways your pressure and movement can change the lines and develop your own rhythm. It is a whole new ball game and I feel quite liberating. I also feel it truly develops and emphasizes the true beauty of Spencerian with the subtle and sparse shades.

Can’t wait to see your work some day!  :)

Thank you, Erica, for the encouragement and "the right answer!"  I look forward to the next stage and when first beginning my journey had a thought, based upon absolutely nothing, that the first year would be learning the letters, and the next years forward, forever, would be dip pen and shadings, flourishing and all the other fancy variations.

Thanking you also for the encouragement about drills practice! Although frustrating at first, I see now how very helpful it ultimately will be, even though I'm really only doing direct and indirect ovals of varying sizes. Over and over and over ... again.

I've had my heart set on a Curv-E ever since learning about it on this forum. What better anniversary gift, correct?

Do I understand correctly that it may be ordered from I couldn't readily find the information in the forum.

I'm still open for other people's experience on this topic  as well as nib recommendations, although I'll definitely look through the tools and supplies information here.

There is a learning curve with any new tool - and if you have already been practicing and have developed some rhythm, you will probably have to slow down a bit when you start working with the oblique. There is no harm in practicing with both the fountain pen as well as an oblique. You might want to try a straight holder as well.

Penmanship is such a personal activity. Hopefully you can enjoy experimenting and trying different tools, inks, nibs and papers and finding the ones that work best for you.

I never enjoyed Spencerian until I tried a Nikko G nib, McCaffrey's ink and Rhodia or Clairfontain paper. It was recommended by Mike Sull as a good combination for beginners and I completely changed my perspective on Spencerian. I know there are better nibs for more advanced students - but you might try that combination. It was very helpful to many of my students.

Erica McPhee:
Yes that is the site to order from and it looks like Edward has some beautiful new varieties from which to choose! How exciting!

I agree with Jean on the NikkoG and Rhodia paper. I would also add either McCaffrey’s ink or Walnut ink. I like the Zebra G as well which I find a bit sharper but has a bit more give.  ;D


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