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Messages - AHemlocksLie

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Tools & Supplies / Making inks more damage resistant?
« on: September 07, 2016, 06:43:09 PM »
I'd like to preface this by saying my primary concern here is sumi stick inks, although I'm also interested in other inks. While I am generally careful in protecting finished projects, it's always nice to have the piece of mind in knowing that it's vulnerable to a few less forms of damage.

Is there anything I can do to make non-waterproof inks resistant to water or, better yet, waterproof? Maybe something I can add without much effect on the ink's color? I'm planning to do some backpacking, and I'd like to bring some inks. Stick ink seems preferable since it stores dry, and it's supposed to be quite long lasting so long as it's properly protected. It is, however, susceptible to water, and I would like to give it some resistance at least. Bonus points if any additives can be stored dry, as well, although it's not a necessity.

While stick ink is my primary concern at this moment, I would also be curious about things I could do to other inks, both for calligraphy and fountain pens. I use dip pens primarily for calligraphic work, but I enjoy using a fountain pen for more mundane work. All of my current inks have been selected with permanence against exposure to water, light, etc. in mind. I've passed up some nice looking inks because I like to know what I make has a good chance of lasting so long as I'm not sacrificing too much in color quality. It would be nice to know I could work more freely with other inks if I simply did a little something with them when I used them.

Tools & Supplies / Black and colored ink sticks
« on: June 01, 2016, 02:38:47 AM »
I've been working with pointed pen calligraphy and dabbling in using my pens for drawing, and I'm evaluating ink options. I'm particularly interested in ink sticks because they're interesting to me and seem like they'd be better suited to travel. I've been trying to do some research on them, but information seems rather sparse online. I'm interested in using them for calligraphy and drawing primarily, and I'm considering using them a little to sort of paint if they will work well for that.

Mainly, I'm worried about how well they'll hold up on their own, in combination with other media, and when exposed to harsh conditions and time. I've been looking at John Neal's offerings (but am definitely open to others), and those are marked light-fast, but I don't see much about other damage resistance. How well does stick ink handle water? The water used in the grinding process doesn't bode well, but I know some inks can bind to paper. Can it generally resist other solvents like alcohol? Anything known to be oddly or particularly harsh on it? Is it considered archival grade? None of it is strictly necessary, but I like to know the medium as well as possible before investing in it. What works well with it, what ruins it, what to protect it from over time, etc.

Also, for traveling, it's going to be a backpacking trip, so I worry about heat and humidity. Bumping and grinding together while moist is obviously bad, so some humidity control with a desiccant would be necessary. I worry about how well it can handle heat, though. What if I left it in, say, a hot car all day? Will it be prone to melting into an amorphous rainbow blob if packaged together? If so, how much leeway do I have with hot environments?

Also, how do the colored sticks compared to other dry media like watercolor? I've heard watercolor can be more convenient, but if it doesn't negatively affect the end product, I always prefer to use materials that are as resilient as possible. If colored sticks are more durable for the same color quality, it's definitely worth the hassle.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Re: When Calligraphers Move
« on: January 20, 2016, 01:48:06 AM »
I could pick up almost every bit of calligraphy gear in one hand if I had to move today. I got a tackle box a bunch of tiny compartments and a few long, narrow ones that I find to be absolutely perfect for storing nibs, holders, brushes for ink loading, toothbrush for cleaning nibs after use, and containers of ink. I'd prefer to get some small containers I know will stay 100% sealed even during travel before I put ink in it, though, just in case. My Higgins eternal black, for example, comes in a soft plastic bottle that will let air out if I squeeze it firmly, not even hard. Just about the only things that won't fit in there are a ruler for making guidelines and pads of paper, and as soon as I get my hands on a Dremel, I'm gonna cut a slot to squeeze in the ruler.

If I was only going on a trip, say for vacation, I'd probably take just part of it. It has one fixed container the size of an entire side of the box, whereas the other side has two half sized removable containers I mainly store nibs in. With a bit of modification, though, I could make everything but the paper fit in it pretty easily. Fortunately, the tools for the trade are small enough that I can fit just about everything I'd ever need in just one of them. I tend to spread out among all the compartments, though, for the sake of more detailed organization.

I do the vast majority of my practice on loose sheets. However, I do try to keep a journal, in which I try to write in Spencerian, since that's the script I'm learning. So far, the journal thing isn't working out that great, though. I really ought to go back to that...

But back to the point, the loose sheets are easier to work with. They're just easier to turn, move over, etc. as needed as I work, and they have the added bonus of not having to worry too much about bleeding if I accidentally drop a ton of ink on paper not high enough quality to take it.

The journal, however, is nice because it provides a consolidated record of my progress. I don't do any flourishing, and I use a fountain pen rather than the dip pen I practice with, so no flex shading, either, but I can see how my letter shapes and spacing are evolving.

Well, let me preface this by saying that I've spent maybe two months total practicing semi-consistently, so I'm FAR from an expert. That said, I do have a decent eye for detail, regardless of the skill involved, so if you can post a sample, I or any of the significantly more knowledgeable people around here might be able to see what your problem areas are. The best way to advance a new skill, for me at least, is to identify my worst areas and address those first. We are sometimes blind to our own shortcomings, though, so an outside perspective can prove very beneficial.

Also, what learning materials are you using? You can certainly succeed with just what you can find for free on the internet, but I have the Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship theory and practice books, and they've been utterly invaluable. If you're learning the same script, I'd recommend picking up a set. If not, maybe try to find something comparable. I find the books so useful because they provide a very detailed analysis of each and every letter and number in the script. It breaks down the script into its core components, the spacing, the strokes that make up the letters, etc. It is a not so hidden secret that I would have easily missed without the books that very few letters, if any, contain a truly unique stroke of the pen. It's all the same strokes, reorganized into different letters, and that makes the writing very consistent, which is crucial to making it look truly beautiful. Even scripts that don't "look" consistent tend to have some consistency you probably don't realize. The practice books are a nice addition to the theory books because they seem designed to emphasize certain things. One page, for example, might focus heavily on letters and combinations of letters that depend on the same strokes or strokes that seem awkward next to each other at first.

Spencerian Script / Re: Practicing?
« on: January 20, 2016, 12:41:27 AM »
I don't know how to format this yet, like quoting, replying, etc. But I do know I would like to accomplish, at least, the lower case alphabet of Spencerian by April. I was thinking with balancing school and everything to practice at least 30 minutes a day, however, that might be too little. I do wish to achieve the elegance of the style I fell in love with. Thank you for all of your help, and I will definitely try to buy those books you mentioned AHemlocksLie! Thank you! And wish me luck!

I think learning the lowercase letters by April is a pretty manageable feat. I don't think learning the letters is terribly difficult. You can learn the rough shape of all the letters in a few days, maybe a week or two, if learning every letter is your goal. It's mastering the letters that's the real challenge. With my theory book in hand, I can produce any capital or lowercase letter you ask of me, and it'll be... fairly close to how it should look. And that's enough to look halfway decent. What really makes your writing look beautiful, though, is that consistency that makes people second guess if it was done by hand.

But I'd say you can be very impressed with your results by April if you're even moderately dedicated to it. You won't be a master, but if you saw my handwriting to start and then saw what I can produce after just a month of real practice, you'd have trouble believing the same guy wrote both. I find it kind of amazing because I don't know that I've ever learned a new skill by sheer practice. It's usually just doing it to accomplish goals and learning as I go. It's so satisfying to sit down for no reason other than to practice and develop my skills, and then see my writing progress not just over the course of weeks, but sometimes even in a single day when I tackle a new area I've never been in.

Introductions / DFW, Texas reporting in o7
« on: January 19, 2016, 07:39:56 PM »
Hello, everyone! I've been dabbling very lightly in calligraphy for the last year, but it was only in the last month or two that I started to take things more seriously and really work on it. I started with a fountain pen way back when, decided I wanted to do some work on my handwriting, and when I decided I wanted to get fancy, I got a theory book on Spencerian with some practice books last year. A couple months ago, I moved up to dip pens since I knew shading would come in due time.

I've dabbled in italic scripts, but the bulk of my practice has been in Spencerian. With probably somewhere between 20-30 hours of real practice, I'm starting to get almost kind of decent. I still have a very long way to go, but it's nice to already be able to look back at where I've come from.

Spencerian Script / Re: Practicing?
« on: January 19, 2016, 03:57:41 PM »
I'm just getting into calligraphy, and I started with HORRIBLE handwriting. Like, have to be careful so I can read it myself later bad. I can tell you I've spent... Oh, well over a dozen hours, probably close to two dozen hours if not a bit more, and my Spencerian is... Well, it's starting to look nice, but there's still definitely a lot of room for improvement. My slant is becoming regular, but it's still not totally consistent. My letters aren't the exact size they should be every time, but the margin of error is definitely shrinking. I'm getting familiar with my nibs and how they flex, which is making the letters look nicer, but I'm not as consistent as I could be, and I think I'm shading a little to heavily for Spencerian. The spacing between letters and words still varies more than I like, but again, consistency is improving significantly. All in all, I'd say all the work I've put into practicing is really starting to show in a way noticeable to anyone, regardless of skill. Am I good? No. Competent? Not yet. Decent? Eh, almost.

I got this set of books. (Click to see on Amazon.)

It contains a theory book, which breaks down every last stroke involved in every single letter and number, including things like slant angle, size ratios, spacing, etc., and five practice books. The practice books are numbered so you can go through them in order and work your way from the fundamentals of the script to the more intricate and/or ornate elements of it. The first book starts with the most hand holding, with lots and lots of lines to indicate spacing to help you build that consistency, and eventually, those lines get more and more sparse until you're having to depend on the skills you already built in the earlier ones.

You can probably get by without the books, but I can't recommend them strongly enough. You may not need this exact set, but you really do want to get something like it. I won't lie, it's kind of boring to work through at first. I'm barely into the second book myself. The first book is just page after page of just letters. Not even words. Just individual letters and, later, letter combinations that emphasize developing certain strokes and combinations. But it has been amazingly helpful in developing the consistency that is so crucial to quality calligraphy. And the theory book has been extremely valuable because I've developed enough to do some minor practice in real applications like addressing envelopes, so I can look up exactly how to make any letter I haven't extensively practiced already, or examine a letter I'm just beginning to practice in much greater depth before I begin actually writing it.

All in all, I'd say for myself, it took only an hour or two to begin to see changes in my skill, which was a great source of almost immediate gratification to encourage me to continue. It took 15-20, though, before I felt like I had anything I could take real pride in and want to kind of show off what I'd learned a bit.

I'd post an example, but all I have on hand is letter addressing practice, and I don't want to post my friends' names and addresses on some forum they've never heard of before.

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