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.

Messages - K-2

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 20
@Chessie - This is my favorite tool for using with the glass-topped light-table that I work on.  It is a translucent sh*tajiki printed with a 5mm grid:*tajiki-Writing-Board-A4/pd/13000. It cushions and provides guidelines all at the same time - but you have to use it with the light table to see the guidelines.

If you're getting railroading with the regular Mitchell nibs, you're probably pressing too hard - the split nib action is with the Witch pens, which are designed to split. If you over-flex the regular ones, they'll wear out faster - but they're not expensive, so it's not that big of a deal.

Thank you for your kind thoughts about that painting, Chessie & Mike.

My grandfather was a highly regarded calligrapher, and did tiger, horse, pine, and bamboo paintings. My dad was a bird & flower guy, and landscapes too, but he wasn't a calligrapher. I wonder if my boys will ever want to pick up art as a hobby later in life, even though they didn't have the training early (despite my best efforts to get them interested).

@Chessie - Don't worry about the ink grinding technique. I always suspected my dad was just being kind of extra about it (although many of my Korean. Chinese, and Japanese colleagues of a similar age to me have similar memories of their childhood calligraphy practice). As long as you're going in circles rather than back and forth, you're doing fine - especially for loading onto a broad edge nib for western style calligraphy.  Having the pigment ground very very finely and evenly is more of an issue when you're painting or doing calligraphy with a brush.

@AnasaziWrites - The writing block to the right is a classical Chinese poem about leaving home; the block to the left is a message to my father and his youngest brother (the only two of the seven siblings to live to adulthood) about them coming to America.

I'll put my "ponytail" picture from Inktober here - because I did it with bottled sumi, and the ghosts of my ancestors are probably really upset about it. It is a moderately successful painting though, because I didn't learn nothing, after all.

@Chessie - you'll find another ink stick enthusiast in @jeanwilson for whom they are a real "desert island" ink (per our thread about our favorite inks some time ago:, and the great Donald Jackson and his team used vintage ink sticks for their work on the Saint John's Bible. I agree that for control, there's nothing like it. @Zivio - you should try it sometime! (and if you don't use it much - well, it won't go bad or anything; I have a few ink sticks from my dad's stash that are well over 50 years old).

Your post brought me right back to my childhood, sitting in my dad's workshop for endless hours, grinding the ink. I remember the day he thought I was worthy to grind the ink (because my basic sketch work was finally good enough). But then I spent months and months just grinding the ink, before he thought I was ready to use any of it or that any of it was good enough to use. He actually threw away most of the ink I prepared, because it wasn't up to his standards - and I'd get a smack on the back of the hands with a stick, if he caught me grinding in the wrong direction!

My grandfather never let me grind the ink for him, but he made let me watch him while he prepared it for this piece. My recollections is that he painted it in the mid-1970s as a present to my father; I eventually inherited it.

Alas, that my kids never took up the craft (breaking with a family tradition spanning generations, going back to the 12th century) - although my oldest is now in an introductory art/drawing class (a general education requirement at his university!), and he is starting to appreciate what he missed out on.

Hi, @Chessie - Yes, guidelines! Whenever possible I use a light table with printed or drawn guidelines under the writing surface to avoid the potential for smudging when erasing guidelines. I have a whole stack of printed guidelines for various scripts, grids and spirals, but if it's a more complicated layout, I'll draw the layout with guidelines on tracing paper to use as the under-drawing.

Of course, you can't do that on a writing surface that is dark or opaque, so then I draw the guidelines with a chalk marker (like the kind for dressmaking) or non-photo blue pencil.

Here's a better look at the split nib effect you can get with a Mitchell Witch Pen (which I felt bad for hyping and then not showing) - Ink: Diamine Gold Star (2019 Inkvent) with a bit of gum arabic, on a scrap of watercolor paper. Not terribly well done, I'm afraid - I'm dealing with an elbow injury from shoveling snow (trying to heave it up to the top of the 5-ft snowbanks still lining the walks and the drive). But friends, the Northern Lights gave us such a show the other night, I don't regret the six months of solid winter we've had. Seriously, it started snowing in October this year - our @Erica McPhee expressed dismay about it during Inktober. I got in a drawing of our annual dog sled race with Aurora Borealis in the background for Inkvent. And still more snow to come this week.

Chessie - is it still snowy in your part of Wisconsin?

Oh my, @AnasaziWrites - what a generous gesture! I'll make you something with them! (will also post to the Forum, in the public interest)

In the meantime, here's a piece I just did with a Mitchell Witch Pen (4mm nib - they have numbers, but mine wore off) and Diamine's "Winter Miracle" ink (from the 2019 Inkvent set) - on kind of cheap, low-quality watercolor paper. I made it this past weekend for a colleague who wanted it as part of an elaborate prank on another colleague, so it's not super refined work. Yes, academics have strange senses of humor.  It gives a tiny hint of the split-nib effects you can pull out with it, and it's a good demo of the sharp line quality.

Cool vintage set, @AnasaziWrites - I've never used broad edge Gillott nibs before, only the pointed pens (which I really like).  I'm seeing that the #1.5 and #2 look to be oblique cut, which I'm not a huge fan of, except for modern italics.  I wonder how they compare with the Mitchells; they have a very similar shape to the Mitchells (except for the oblique cut); I wonder how the metal compares.  I'll have to look for some of those on the vintage market to try out!

Tools & Supplies / Re: The Victorian Pen Wiper
« on: March 20, 2023, 03:49:18 PM »
@Chessie - I glued a toothbrush head to the inside of a water cup for exactly this purpose. It's very similar! The trick is to affix it right at the usual waterline, so you don't get more of the nib/holder wet than you have to.

--yours, K

Introductions / Re: Greetings from Wisconsin
« on: March 19, 2023, 07:13:16 PM »
Hello from Minnesota, @Chessie - your neighbor to the west!

I wish there were a knife sharpener near me (in Duluth); I have to sharpen my knives and tools on my own.

Beautiful lettering! I do broad edge calligraphy too - and study the history of it.
--yours truly, K

Glad to have another broad edge aficionado on the Forum, @Chessie

Here's my 2Ę on broad edge nibs. Okay, I won't lie - I have a lot of feels about broad edge nibs, and I'm a teacher, and well... you asked.

Every broad edge nib (including fountain pen models) has some virtues and some drawbacks - I usually make the choice based on a variety of factors.  I use them all from time to time for different projects.  I'm going to focus on the ones you and @Erica McPhee mentioned, with a word about broad edge fountain pens too.

Speedballs are fine - they're good for beginners, because they hold a lot of ink and they're easy to start. But they don't make super crisp lines.  Also, the way the reservoirs are attached (and not practical to remove) makes them really hard to clean and dry thoroughly (which, er. I get it. I'm a little extra about cleaning & drying my nibs), so they tend to rust out faster.

Tachikawa (I assume you're talking about the C nibs) have chrome plating, so they stand up to sumi (and other highly lacquered and/or more corrosive inks) a lot better, but once that coating gets breached, it's all over. The under+over reservoirs really help you get some mileage with the very wide nibs (I don't really use the small ones), and you can feed different color inks into them to get some ombre blending. I know a lot of Manga artists that use them for lettering and for drawing, and when I use them, it's almost always for drawing, rather than for lettering. They can be hard to start.

Brause are oblique cut and pretty stiff - like Speedballs, they're good for beginners, the reservoirs help them hold a lot of ink, come off easy for cleaning, and they're pretty easy to start when they're new.

Hiro Tape Nibs (Leonardt) are not quite as stiff as Brause, but not nearly as flexy as Mitchell; also oblique cut. They're my first choice for beginners (except for lefties); they're easy to start without much nib prep. The reservoirs hold a lot of ink, meter out thinner inks well, and also come off easily for cleaning. They don't last long in certain types of sumi ink no matter how well you clean them though. I actually really like these for Italics (not so much for blackletter though).

Mitchell to me (and a lot of other broad edge calligraphers) are the gold standard - quite flexible and square cut (I prefer square cut), they feel and behave more like feather quills than any other metal nib on the market. Super sharp lines (and you can gently sharpen them as well), but a little hard to start. I hate the reservoirs and don't use them; they impair the flexiness, and make the starts even harder.

Mitchell Witch Pens! (which you didn't mention, but which I like a lot) - If you've never seen them, google it; it's easier than me trying to describe them. I'll wait. ( Super flexy broad edge nibs. And with these, the railroading is a feature, not a bug! A little pressure, and you have a split nib. Hairlines from the corners. Big reservoir built in. My go-to for making fancy blackletter capitals, versals, etc.

Parallel (fountain pen) - fantastically fun to use! I have them in all the sizes and all the mods (except for the oblique cuts). You can mix the inks by touching the nibs together or touching the nib to a drop of ink. Great for ombre effects, for inks with shimmer and sheen and duo-tone properties. You can refill the empty cartridges with a blunt syringe or mod the nibs into an Opus 88 body. Easy to mod, easy to use, easy to clean. SO easy to clean that you can use practically any ink/paint in them. even bleed proof white. even gouache. even Dr Martin's shimmers, as long as you pull the nib unit out and clean them out right away. Yeah - they'll never make a line as sharp as a Mitchell, but they do so many cool and fun things, and when you're working at a large enough scale, those hairlines need to be proportional anyway. Yeah, they look & feel like toys - I don't care; I stan Pilot Parallels. Fite me.

But you know - I also like those Manuscript italic/broad edge calligraphy fountain pens, and the Sailor Compass HighAce Neo fountain pens. They don't make as crisp and elegant a line, but when I'm doing layout and I just want to know my word/line count and get things drawn out, I don't want to be dipping all the time. Also, you can put fountain pen ink into them!  We are living in a golden age for fountain pen ink, and the special features of contemporary fountain pen inks show off best in broad edge calligraphy.

--yours, K

Hi, @Chessie

You have excellent advice from @TeresaS and @Erica McPhee -- There is no one true perfect way in any calligraphic script; there are only (and have ever only been) many variations with respect to purpose and pleasure. And thank goodness for that, or my already difficult paleography job differentiating the work of long-dead utterly self-effacing medieval scribes would be even more ridiculous.

Here are a few practical notes about broad edge calligraphy (which is mostly what I do along with paleography and some painting). I prefer Mitchell nibs to the Brause ones, and I avoid the clip-on reservoirs. If you're having trouble getting the ink started, give the nib a little side to side wiggle on the paper to get it going. I also really like Parallel pens. I think 32# HP premium paper can sometimes get overwhelmed by the amount of ink broad edge nibs lay down, especially if you're using sumi (liquid or ink sticks). Walnut ink is my go-to for drafting layout on 32#HP, but if I'm going to be working on letterforms, I use Rhodia dot or graph paper for better ink control; 90lb watercolor paper if I really need to be serious about control during practice sessions (and even the cheap versions of 90lb watercolor paper are good enough). I usually use walnut ink for practice & layout, because it's less expensive (especially the crystals, which also travel well), and it's gentler on metal nibs than sumi, which can be kind of corrosive if it's lacquered.

I'm flagging the rest of this for pedantry, in case you just want to stop reading now, and just soak in Teresa & Erica's terrific advice to follow your heart, your eyes, and your goals for using the script.  Like seriously - there is no calligraphy police who are going to take you to calligraphy jail for not following a particular exemplar rigorously enough, except with regard to getting certified by IAMPETH or some such, as TeresaS says. But if you're just starting to explore the whole broad edge dip pen experience, you're probably a little ways from that - and really, if you get good at using the tools, you'll be able to learn whatever script you like to whatever exactitude time and practice permit.

I'm also tagging @Zivio - because pedantry! (Hello, Friend!)

If you really want to get to the foundations of Foundational, you could check out Edward Johnston's own book, Writing & Illuminating & Lettering (1906):, where he publishes the first exemplar of what would come to be called "Foundational".

If you're using David Harris's Calligrapher's Bible, you're seeing Harris's version of Johnston's z on p.249 of W&I&L. Here Johnston shows how Foundational, which he calls "slanted pen" is devised from Roman and half-uncial forms. When he starts calling it "Foundational" he references Caroline minuscule from a 10th-century English exemplar, the Ramsey Psalter (

Johnston is remembered for his contributions to typeface design as well as calligraphy, and he was hugely influential -- he designed the iconic modern, san serif font of the London Underground! his students founded the venerable Society of Scribes and Illuminators! But if even the actual inventor of Foundational changed his mind about how it should look, as he adapted medieval exemplars for modern usage, I don't see that we need to treat even the great Sheila Waters's exemplars as infallible gospel, whether or not we agree with her very austere aesthetic. /pedantry

You do you! Paleographers 500 years from now will be really happy about it.

--yours truly, K

Show & Tell / Re: Cover Art
« on: February 25, 2023, 11:48:41 AM »
@Zivio - you make me blush.  What a compliment.  Thank you too, @tiffany.c.a @Cyril Jayant @Erica McPhee for your latest shows of support.  Here's another portrait in the series - Harry Oden (BA 1964; MEd 1980) - Hall of Famer, Educator, Humanitarian: the first African American basketball player ever recruited at the University of Minnesota; the first black starter on any UMN team.;
* drawing from a 1965 photo - and I'm pleased to say that Harry was tickled by his portrait when we shared it with him.

Show & Tell / Re: Cover Art
« on: February 21, 2023, 11:23:34 AM »
Thanks for your good thoughts, everyone!  Here's another drawing from the University of Minnesota Black History Month series: Josie Johnson (b.1930), a ferocious advocate for equity in housing, education, and voting rights, became the first African American Regent of the University of Minnesota in 1971.

Show & Tell / Re: Cover Art
« on: February 19, 2023, 02:58:25 PM »
Thanks so much for your kind thoughts, @AnasaziWrites @Erica McPhee @Zivio @TeresaS @darrin1200 @Gary -- I'm always a little self-conscious posting random drawings to the forum, since it's supposed to focus on calligraphy.  So here's a look at the the ink, which is actually formulated and marketed as a fountain pen ink: Wearingeul's "Queen of Hearts" from the Alice in Wonderland line.  Here's my swatch card, plus some writing samples and a close-up of the beautiful gold shimmer.  I bought specifically because it features the University of Minnesota colors, maroon & gold.  The blackletter texts are done at x=10mm with a Pilot Parallel 3mm fountain pen nib; the italics are done with a No.1 Mitchell witch pen. Text on Rhodia dot-grid paper. Swatch on Col-O-Ring paper.

Show & Tell / Cover Art
« on: February 15, 2023, 10:08:57 PM »
The University of Minnesota Duluth Alumni Office just published my drawing of Andrew F. Hilyer on the cover of the February Newsletter celebrating Black History Month!

"Andrew Hilyer was born into slavery in Georgia in 1858. Hilyer arrived in Minneapolis and enrolled at the University of Minnesota in 1878, graduated in four years with a B.A., and in doing so became the universityís first Black alumnus. His lifeís distinguished journey led him to the nationís capital to earn a law degree from Howard University, serve the federal government, found the Union League of the District of Columbia, and invent a hot-air register which was a mainstay of the time."

This image is drawn from a photograph of Hilyer published in 1902.

Tools & Supplies / Re: Diamine Inkvent 2022
« on: February 11, 2023, 04:26:50 PM »
Gosh, @Erica McPhee - what a compliment! I'm honored by your esteem! I've seen your watercolor florals and figurative flourishing though, and you've got really enviable skills too.  :)

Inkventors - @AnasaziWrites @Aries M and everyone following along - Now that we're all the way through, I'm curious about which inks rose to the top of the collection for you? The last two Inkvent collections eventually came out individually in 50ml bottles. Anyone tempted?

I'm personally interested in a big bottle of "Spiced Apple" and "Olive Swirl" for calligraphy purposes; maybe "Three Kings" for drawing (but it's probably redundant in my really too-large collection of ink). Maybe "Flame" just because I like orange so much.

(and I swear that I am not working for Diamine to promo their products - but Diamine, if you like my ink drawings, I'm for hire!)
--yours, K

Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 20