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General Categories => Copperplate, Engrosser's Script, Roundhand Calligraphy => Topic started by: Lyric on May 18, 2021, 09:08:31 PM

Title: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Lyric on May 18, 2021, 09:08:31 PM
Hello Calligrafriends,

I mentioned to some friends that one of my calligraphy goals includes entrance and exit strokes that are so fine, dainty, that they almost look non-existent, LOL.  I am sure you've seen them.

Well, someone told me to put a drop of gum arabic into my ink (at the moment I am practicing with my Higgins Eternal to use it up and go back to my Sumi Moon Palace).  So, of course I did it; THEN, started reading.  What I read via a Google search is that gum arabic thickens things up.  Well, if I am wanting whisper thin entrance and exit strokes I certainly do not need my in thickened.

Thinking I missed something though.  Can someone explain to me 1)  How to get whisper thin entrance/exit strokes; 2)  Is there more to gum arabic that I need to know?

Oh, and re. the strokes, at this point I am making sure I do not have a death grip.  Matter of fact it seems to me if I lightened up any more on my pen my hand would be mid air, LOL.  Seriously, as I am concentrating telling myself to lighten the touch, sometimes my pen leaves the paper.  The more I discuss this the more I am determined to elevate my script to the look of whisper thin strokes.

Thanks in advance for any commentary.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Erica McPhee on May 18, 2021, 10:05:40 PM
This is a great question. Since you already seem to have the grip and pressure down, I would look at which nib you are using. If you have an EF Principal, you will get much thinner hairlines than say a Nikko G. This will make all the difference. A Hunt 22, 56, and few other ones will make a much thinner hairline. The NikkoG and ZebraG will do thin hairlines but then once you compare them to others, it’s like night and day.  ;D
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Erica McPhee on May 18, 2021, 10:11:04 PM
Also drills! Remember this post:  Help with Hairlines (https://theflourishforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=6672.msg77327#msg77327) ?  :P  ;D
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Lyric on May 19, 2021, 06:32:24 AM
This is a great question. Since you already seem to have the grip and pressure down, I would look at which nib you are using. If you have an EF Principal, you will get much thinner hairlines than say a Nikko G. This will make all the difference. A Hunt 22, 56, and few other ones will make a much thinner hairline. The NikkoG and ZebraG will do thin hairlines but then once you compare them to others, it’s like night and day.  ;D

Love affair with my Leonardt Principle EF going on right now.  Guess I'm a cheater 'cause now I wanna see the ones you named.  Gonna write them down.  Humph, I may have them here.  Seems I have so many from last year in my stash.  I settled on Blue Pumpkin, Nikko G and my all time LP.  I pulled out my BP yesterday and gaaaaahhh, terrible.  Put it back and got my LP.  That's another story though.  K, so Hunt it is.  Oh, know what, I have a 101 (I think that's it).  I recall whatever Hunt I have it sure was flexible.

Thanks Erica.  You know I'll have to share the results.  I get a kick out of sharing my "good, bad, and uuugly".
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Lyric on May 19, 2021, 06:33:01 AM
Also drills! Remember this post:  Help with Hairlines (https://theflourishforum.com/forum/index.php?topic=6672.msg77327#msg77327) ?  :P  ;D

I will as soon as I click on it.  Thanks.  I'm out for now to go re-remind myself.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: jeanwilson on May 19, 2021, 07:14:02 AM
I've posted this previously, but it's been a while.
I started with broad edge styles and when I decided to try some pointed nib styles, I did OK - but I wasn't in love with any of it.
Until ----- I signed up for a Spencerian workshop with Mike Sull.
I brought materials from other classes and when he said that we would all get better results with
McCaffrey's ink, Nikko G nibs, and Clairfontaine (or Rhodia) paper - I was not excited to have to buy new materials.
But -- Oh.My.Gosh. 
Within an hour, I was hooked on pointed nibs.
I can get the whisper hairlines with a Nikko G - and Mike agrees, there are other nibs that are better, once you are past the beginner stage.
But to learn the technique of floating onto and off the paper - he recommends the Nikko G and I agree.

There are a lot of us who swear by McCaffrey's ink and it comes in many gorgeous colors.
The white is dreamy.
The gloss black sometimes won't dry on certain papers --

I know there are people who like Higgins and sumi inks for pointed pen work --
Lots of my students showed up with those inks - and wanted to make them work.
Most of the time, when I shared a bottle of my McCaffrey's - they would see immediate results.

Walnut ink will also give you some very nice hairlines.
Another tip for working on your hairlines is to ease off on your shades for a while.
Just do hairlines and a *normal* pressure - and leave out the extra pressure (for shades) until you get the hairlines worked out.
After you are happy with your hairlines, go back to adding your shades.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Lyric on May 19, 2021, 07:42:28 AM
Until ----- I signed up for a Spencerian workshop with Mike Sull.  . . .  he said that we would all get better results with
McCaffrey's ink, Nikko G nibs, and Clairfontaine (or Rhodia) paper - I was not excited to have to buy new materials.

I can get the whisper hairlines with a Nikko G - and Mike agrees, there are other nibs that are better, once you are past the beginner stage.  I know there are people who like Higgins and sumi inks for pointed pen work --

Walnut ink will also give you some very nice hairlines.  Another tip for working on your hairlines is to ease off on your shades for a while.

More added to my JW files of wisdom.  Thanks for chiming in, Ms. Jean (I miss you, btw). 

LOL, I am like you when you were at the buying more supplies point and rolling eyes about it - (you know I quit my job in Dec. - income less than limited for now).  I had/have my bottle of Higgins - been scurrying last few days to use it up.  Looking at my stash wouldn't you know it. McC is the one ink I do not have.  Intrigued now though  ;D.

Ok, I'm on it.   ;D

Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: RoughDiamond on May 19, 2021, 03:59:24 PM
So it looks like you've had some good input here which is great and here's some more tips.

Paper will play a big part in this as well. Always remember that the combination of ink, paper and nib will always come into play. You may well have your ink adjusted to perform well on one paper and then you switch to another paper and it all goes wrong. Start making notes as to which paper, nib and ink combinations work well together.

The g nibs are capable of producing very fine hairlines if the above mix is correct and of course the necessary degree of skill from the penperson.

The speed of the pen over the paper can also be a factor. I guess as you've posted in the copperplate forum that is the discipline you are concerned about. Copperplate is typically written slowly so you may not have the "speed of nib" thing to think about so even more it would come down to ink mix, nib and paper. I mention this as you specifically talked abut entry and exit strokes which would be done rather slowly compared to some areas of flourishing where a bit of speed may be an advantage.

Finally, for hairlines, think in another way. Rather than think about the nib delivering ink to the paper, think in terms of the paper drawing the ink that it needs or can grab as the nib skates over the paper. So keep things moving so the paper doesn't have time to take excess ink. This will involve a very light touch and perhaps think of your nib being like a butterfly with sore feet. As you can imagine, more fibrous papers will absorb (or take) more ink leading to thicker lines and taking that a stage further, potential bleeding and feathering.

As to the question of gum arabic, yes you are right in that it is a thickening medium as much as water is a thinning medium. Again, what you need to add to your ink (if anything) may well depend on the nib and paper you are using so a certain amount of experimentation may well be needed.

In addition to the nibs mentioned previously, you might also consider the Gillott 303 and the Hunt 22B to add to your list.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Lyric on May 19, 2021, 06:49:01 PM
@jeanwilson Ordered the Hunt 22b and McCafferys this morning.


. Thank goodness for P ad I Arts Rewards program.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Erica McPhee on May 20, 2021, 06:38:22 PM
Fantastic advice from @jeanwilson and @RoughDiamond !
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Daniel McGill on July 11, 2021, 01:51:07 PM
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.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: supxor on September 15, 2021, 05:20:17 PM
Mr. McGill, you are correct. Bill would throw two heaping tea spoons of GA into a 1 oz. bottle of Pelican 401 red, his most favorite ink during his later years of scripting. It is the secret to scripting the finest hairlines.  It took me, one of his students, years to handle ink that still. Unlike Bill, I liquify my GA. I take a pound of it, place it in a pan, start with a half-cup of water, and heat it (constantly stirring it) over a low heat on the stove. When the GA is dissolved, I decant it in a Talenti jar (eat and enjoy the Gelato, first). What I want to end up with after it's dissolved is a GA that is thicker than honey. When cooled, I add it to my scripting ink. The result is an ink as thick as Bill's, and you can script with it immediately. Bill would add the GA, then script with it the next day. He liked my idea and found that my ink was just right for him.

To keep the GA from accumulating mold, I add a bit of grain alcohol just to the surface it. It kills the mold, and the alcohol cannot be stirred into the ink: water and alcohol do not mix.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Lyric on September 16, 2021, 01:22:09 PM
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.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: FlowerCityLetters on September 16, 2021, 03:03:59 PM
Watery ink will absorb into the paper more, so that's where the idea of thickening the ink helps. Thicker ink doesn't absorb into the paper as easily when you write.

For scripts like Ornamental Penmanship, fine hairlines are accomplished by faster movement/muscular movement when writing. But with slower written scripts like Copperplate, it seems like the harmony between ink, paper, and nib are even more important.

McCaffrey's and other iron gall inks don't need GA added at all for fine hairlines (in my opinion), but GA helps with fountain pen inks.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Erica McPhee on September 16, 2021, 03:46:12 PM
@supxor I find that so fascinating. Thank you for sharing. I am going to have to try that.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: supxor on September 16, 2021, 04:59:24 PM
Erica,

Ol' Bill did things the old way. When I showed him my method, he was astonished, and wandered why the "boys at the Zanerian" didn't think of that! The longer it sits mixed, the better and stiffer it becomes, Erica. If it should get too stiff, as taffy, add some water, but do so sparingly. When you do add it to your ink or gouache, do so sparingly.

By the way, I mix my own gouaches and always get better results than buying them. The stiffness of the GA, too, keeps the pigments suspended. The hairlines have a great definition. Overall, the stiff GA creates a perfect opacity to the gouaches--and I am very fussy about scripting, as Bill was, with the max. amount of opacity. ...enough of my blather.  I hope you are well.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Erica McPhee on September 17, 2021, 12:42:25 PM
I am so grateful for this information and happy for this post! I am taking Anne Elser’s Pointed Pen Flora class and we mixed our own gouache. While I have done this on occasion, I typically just use commercially prepared inks (Walnut and McCafferey’s). But I love using the colors. While I was successful in mixing them, there is a wide range from color to color in the viscosity of the ink and overall, they do not produce a crisp hairline. I think your solution will be a good one!  :-*
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Ken Fraser on November 28, 2021, 10:39:16 AM
 
Although it may be a very clever exercise, there is no virtue in hairlines which are so fine as to be virtually invisible.
By contrast, this is perfect Copperplate from the hand of an English Writing master in 1736.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Erica McPhee on November 29, 2021, 12:57:28 PM
@Ken Fraser - Although beautiful, I am having trouble deciphering the letter after h. Is it a w? Or an n? Or a v? I have never seen that style before. Thanks!
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: AnasaziWrites on November 29, 2021, 04:08:56 PM
@Ken Fraser - Although beautiful, I am having trouble deciphering the letter after h. Is it a w? Or an n? Or a v? I have never seen that style before. Thanks!
Oh, it's a "w" for sure, possibly from the "Universal Penman", either referencing George Bickham or by his hand, as he was known as the "Surrey and Southwark writing-master" at that time. Who else could both pen and engrave the work of others with such skill? Here is an introduction to his 1833 work entitled "George Bickham's Penmanship made easy (The young Clerk's Assistant)."


Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Ken Fraser on November 29, 2021, 06:17:07 PM
@Ken Fraser - Although beautiful, I am having trouble deciphering the letter after h. Is it a w? Or an n? Or a v? I have never seen that style before. Thanks!

This was a form of w in 18th century England. I think of it as the letter n with the second downstroke overlapped by the first stroke of the letter v. This example was written by Willington Clark - my all-time favourite calligrapher.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: InkyFingers on November 29, 2021, 08:52:59 PM
This "w" style is most popular in italic hand, I think...
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: K-2 on November 30, 2021, 12:23:33 AM
@InkyFingers - historically yes(ish) regarding the italics, but more on the later end of their development.  In particular the Cancelleresca from the mid-late 16th century had a similar w.  It became more stylized in the mid-17th century pointed-pen Italian hand that derived from the corsiva forms, and continued from there into the beautiful 18th century English example that @Ken Fraser displayed.

Alas, my paleographic expertise runs out around the same time italics enter the record in the 1400s, except that I end up reading stuff produced in the Papal Chancery.  And since I don't spend as much time looking at italics or Renaissance or Baroque hands, I'm having trouble remembering if it's as prevalent in other hands, historically.  As far as modern italics go, we don't see that w form in Johnston's, but that's all I know about modern italics!

And I feel that this has gone further off the topic of hairlines and gouache than perhaps intended, but I'm a great fan of thickening up gouache and fountain pen inks with gum arabic in order to produce crisper lines with broad edge work too; I am, however, with Ken in the opinion that particularly etherial hairlines are hard to read.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: AnasaziWrites on November 30, 2021, 09:35:56 AM
@Ken Fraser - Although beautiful, I am having trouble deciphering the letter after h. Is it a w? Or an n? Or a v? I have never seen that style before. Thanks!

This was a form of w in 18th century England. I think of it as the letter n with the second downstroke overlapped by the first stroke of the letter v. This example was written by Willington Clark - my all-time favourite calligrapher.

I should have guessed, knowing your fondness for Clark's work. Southwark from his Round Text Copies, page 90 (of the 1941 Dover reprint of the UP at least). Although not mentioned on the page, "Engrav'd by Bickham himself. This is a wonderful page, if anyone is looking for an exemplar of English Roundhand, you can't go wrong with this one.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Ken Fraser on November 30, 2021, 10:21:15 AM
Well said! ;D
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Ken Fraser on December 01, 2021, 10:25:30 AM
In addition to the above, I can't resist the temptation to post this example of English Roundhand, later known as Copperplate.
Over many years this has been my favourite piece of Calligraphy by my favourite calligrapher, Willington Clark.  It is one of his many contributions to "The Universal Penman" by George Bickham. I don't know enough superlatives to describe this magnificent piece of writing. A framed copy is the only piece of calligraphy hanging in my work room. For years, I had imagined an elderly 18th century scribe at his desk carefully producing this masterpiece. I was astonished to learn recently that in fact he wrote this page before he was 20 years old!  This was written by a teenager!!
Willington Clark died when ne was only 39 years old. He burned brightly and briefly - what a talent!

To return to the topic - note the fine hairlines which balance perfectly with the weight of the downstrokes.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: AnasaziWrites on December 02, 2021, 05:54:52 PM
In addition to the above, I can't resist the temptation to post this example of English Roundhand, later known as Copperplate.
Over many years this has been my favourite piece of Calligraphy by my favourite calligrapher, Willington Clark.  It is one of his many contributions to "The Universal Penman" by George Bickham. I don't know enough superlatives to describe this magnificent piece of writing. A framed copy is the only piece of calligraphy hanging in my work room. For years, I had imagined an elderly 18th century scribe at his desk carefully producing this masterpiece. I was astonished to learn recently that in fact he wrote this page before he was 20 years old!  This was written by a teenager!!
Willington Clark died when ne was only 39 years old. He burned brightly and briefly - what a talent!

To return to the topic - note the fine hairlines which balance perfectly with the weight of the downstrokes.
What a beautiful piece of work.

Clark's life was brief by standards today, but he fortunately did pretty well in early 18th century England. Average male life expectancy in England at his time was about 33 years, although it did dip to as low as 25 in the 1720's. Would that he could have lived as long as say, Ben Franklin.
Title: Re: Fine Entrance and Exit Strokes + Gum Arabic
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 02, 2021, 07:09:11 PM
Fascinating and beautiful! It makes my heart sing to hear your passion for this piece Ken. And it is astonishing that he did the work when he was in his teens. Thank you for the share!