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Messages - Ergative

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Open Flourish | General Discussion / Re: Getting edgy...
« on: December 14, 2016, 07:30:58 PM »
I like the William Mitchell nibs and the Brause nibs. The WM nibs are flexible-ish and I find that the ink flows more easily from them. The Brause nibs give you a crisper thick/thin contrast.

Coffee & Nib-bles / Re: Alternative addressing
« on: December 12, 2016, 12:53:09 PM »
That's an awesome idea for postal delivery but it's not going to replace regular directions.

A. "Hey, you should come over tonight for games!"

B. "Yeah, that'd be fun. Where do you live?"

A. "I'm at turkey gallbladder nylon."

Unless everyone has a smart phone and can look up where turkey gallbladder nylon is, it's not going to replace "Go south on Lafayette past the library, turn right on Friar St. and it's three buildings down on the left, apartment 5."

Introductions / Re: Hello from Scotland
« on: December 08, 2016, 07:20:22 AM »
Linda! Welcome! I'm originally from Berkeley, CA, but I will be moving to Glasgow this month for a new job, so it's great to hear there will be another expat calligrapher in the vicinity. Welcome to the forum! Perhaps we'll see each other at some workshops in the next few months/years.

Tools & Supplies / Re: Colored ink suggestions?
« on: November 29, 2016, 01:02:45 PM »

Another thing I forgot to mention about gouache (having tried it again this weekend about a long, dry spell) is that it does smudge as you write (not just during drying as you rightly point out), which is, frankly, quite annoying when you cross T's or X's or any simple flourish for that matter.  (I don't know if GA would alleviate this.)

I was also a bit disappointed with the hairlines too (using a Nikko G).  My memory doesn't serve me well because I can't recall which magic nib I used to work with gouache.  Oh well I'll find it sooner or later.

I recall having some difficulty getting the hairlines to work, but I think that's usually just a matter of the consistency of the gouache, not an inherent flaw. Add some more water so it will flow, and the hairlines come out fine. The real difficulty is hitting that magic balance between not too thick (or hairlines don't flow) and not too runny (or the color gets washed out, and not too much GA (or it never dries and flows too thick) and not too little GA (or you have smudgy gouache). These days I just use walnut ink and call it done unless I have a project that really, truly, calls for color.

Tools & Supplies / Re: Colored ink suggestions?
« on: November 25, 2016, 11:17:36 AM »
@ericp!  Have you ever tried adding gum Arabic to your gouache?  That adds a nice shine...although, it can extend the drying time (in my experience).
Yes I am aware of the GA trick, thanks for mentioning that.  I agree that the shine does make a difference.

I've also found that GA helps with smudging once it does dry. Somehow I couldn't avoid smudging the gouache when I erased lines until I started adding GA.

Broad Edge Pen Calligraphy / Re: Going Gothic
« on: November 15, 2016, 03:22:15 PM »
I strongly dispute that learning is not corrupted by time. My learning of French, for example, has been so corrupted by my time since college that it should be impeached and removed from office.

By, InkyFingers, if ever I had to read text that I disagree with, that beautiful cursivey-gothicky is how I want to read it. Beautiful examples; thank you for sharing.

There have certainly been some discussions about that in the past. I suspect that the posture and so on is largely about your own comfort, rather than the quality of the work. In other words, sure, you sit all cramped and do beautiful stuff (I think our own Schin has confessed to doing her own work on the couch), but at the end of a session your neck and back might hurt in the way that they wouldn't at a proper desk.

I think a greater danger of compensating as you've been doing is that for ten years you've been teaching yourself to sit and work one way, and then when things work out and you get yourself the little studio, you'll have to unlearn all the habits you've been forced to develop. I myself have never been able to (make myself) relearn a proper pen grip, and perhaps as a result of this I get hand cramps after more than an hour or so that force me to stop.

Tools & Supplies / Re: Best price for Midori MD notebook in UK?
« on: October 19, 2016, 07:09:36 AM »
I think CultPens are trying to milk it.

I don't know.  Cultpens' prices are generally very competitive in the UK online market, probably because they're one of the biggest players.  The ruinous expense of importing Tomoe River paper has been discussed for years, and with the pound in freefall, Customs and Revenue wanting their cut and then VAT on top it's never going to be a cheap item.  You could always have a word with Nanami to see how much they'd charge to ship a ream or whatever - in fact I'd be quite interested to hear what the real cost worked out as.  I'd just buy a ream of Conqueror and have done with it.  ;)

As for those big ticket fountain pens, Cultpens are nowhere near the worst offenders.  My opinion on that subject is, I rather think, well known!

I just looked at Nanami. They have reams of cream Tomoe River for sale right now for about $40, which is a much better price, but shipping just to the US is an extra $20 on top of that. I shudder to think what it would be to the UK.

Broad Edge Pen Calligraphy / Re: My affair with Gentle Gothics
« on: September 07, 2016, 12:45:11 PM »
Psst--your ductus is showing!

No, really, that's exquisite, and the color variation is both beautiful and of service to those of us who'd like to study exactly how you did it.

Tools & Supplies / Re: Nibs similar to Gillot 303
« on: August 01, 2016, 07:27:09 PM »
You might also consider which paper you're using when making your choice. I found that the Hunt 101 did not give as beautiful fine thins as the Gillott 303, but it was smoother and caught less on rough paper. For very rough paper I would turn to the Nikko G or Zebra G, although recently I've found that it is so much less flexible than the G303 that I don't actually like using it much for copperplate. I do use it, however, for practicing my flourishes, for exactly the reasons you mention.

The ink concern is definitely not just you. Sheaffer skrip ink is designed for fountain pens, which require a much thinner, runnier ink than dip nibs simply because of their internal mechanics. That by itself will cause your hairlines to suffer, and you'll lose the distinction between thick and thin. I'd recommend starting out with a walnut ink, as Erica recommends, or something like Higgins eternal.

There's a huge difference between fountain pen inks and dip pen inks. Although it's never dangerous to use fountain pen inks with dip pens, and some fountain pen inks I've heard actually behave well, you might not like the results with others ( as you've found with the Skrip, which is too runny or bleedy). By contrast, if you try to use dip pen inks in fountain pens, you can seriously damage the internal mechanisms. I don't know if you have fountain pens already, or if you simply went out and bought some Skrip. If the former, be sure you only use fountain pen ink with it. If the latter, go out again and buy a dip pen ink. You'll like the results a  lot better right away.

Broad Edge Pen Calligraphy / Re: Interesting reads.
« on: June 25, 2016, 04:24:58 PM »
I also read it not too long ago. I was really charmed by his attitude that computers and typing do not spell the death of anything, but simply a new form in how we communicate. It's rare to read a celebration of the past that does not end in a lament that the present has ended it.

I was also fascinated by the bit about how people in the ancient world could not read to themselves, so any kind of reading had to be done aloud, which meant that the writer was basically taking over your body and controlling your voice by having you read his text. So generally it was slaves who read, because it was better for the ghost of some ancient writer to take over your slave's body than for him to take over yours. Such a cool way to think about writing, which I'm extremely glad is no longer accepted!

I love the envelope in the grade 1-4 category that spelled the city "Whashington." Do you folks remember thinking that way, when you were learning to write -- "Well, I'm not certain how to spell it, but often there's an "h" after "w," so I'll put it in just in case." When I was in first grade Miss Doyle told us that we could always tell when there was an "h" after a "w" because if we put our hand in front of our mouths we'd feel a puff of air. In retrospect, I realize she must have been one of those people who made a distinction between "witch" and "which," but I wasn't, so no matter how much I put my hand in front of my mouth and said the word under my breath during the spelling test I couldn't tell whether "wheel" had an "h" or not.

Now that I an grown up and work as a linguist I know that the w/wh distinction is pretty much gone everywhere but Texas, and Miss Doyle was one of the last generation of non-Texans to still make that distinction.

Kind Critique / Re: Seeking critiques on my first (shy) copperplate
« on: May 19, 2016, 04:10:06 AM »
That looks terrific! Very disciplined, good eye for slant and spacing. I think you're absolutely ready to move on to the dip nib. Here are some things to be aware of when you do.

First, you'll want to start out with some of the beginning exercises to get a sense for how to create the shades evenly and smoothly, and transition nicely between thicks and thins. This will almost certainly require adjusting your grip and the way you hold the pen to align with the slant, because a monoline fountain pen can create nice letters  no matter what angle the nib is with respect to the slant, while a flex/dip nib really does need to have the nib aligned parallel to the slant, so the tines split evenly for shades. Make sure you practice how this works, rather than just picking up a dip nib and trying to write with it.

When you do move onto the letters, you'll want to adjust your spacing, because shaded strokes are thicker than monoline strokes. The nice, evenly space letters that you produced with the fountain pen will look cramped if all the downstrokes are thickened. Also, the loops in your ascenders and descenders will need to be widened, for the same reason.

Finally, a few comments on the individual letter shapes, which you can fix just as easily, or more easily, when you are using the real dip nib:

-The final stroke of your n and m and p can be too curvy, concave rather than straight down and a final ending downturn. In "attempt" this is pretty clear with both "m" and "p", as well as the "n" in "watching". Your "p" is better in "pen" and your "n" is good in "strong".

-Similar to above, try to keep your straight strokes truly straight. In "a" sometimes the stem can get a big curved inward, as in the second "a" in "actually."  This is something that gets more pronounced to the end of the page, because in the first two lines your "a"s are all pretty good, with nice straight stems.

-Remember to watch the slant! You're really, really good at this already -- better than me, certainly -- but sometimes you diverge a bit, as with the "h" in "watching".

-Try to make the connecting strokes join up with the next letter at the same height every time. Sometimes the join is at the top of the minim, as between your two "p"s in "copperplate" and sometimes it's much closer to the bottom, as with the "rp" in "copperplate". If they're at a constant height between all the letters you get this lovely sequence of pointy triangles in the counters along the baseline of your letters. If you cover up the top half of the minim line it looks like waves on an ocean when you do it right -- as you've got in the "actual" of actually.

-Even with the monoline nib your spacing can get cramped. For example, "this" on the second-to-last line, and "strong" on the last line.

In any case, carry on! Things may get more uneven when you add the new complexity of dip nib, and it might seem like you're regressing, but don't be discouraged. You have an excellent understanding of the letter forms already, and I think you'll be producing lovely copperplate before too long.

I haven't! I shall put it on my list, though.

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