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Messages - AAAndrew

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Introductions / Re: Hello from Coastal North Carolina
« on: July 06, 2020, 07:53:22 PM »
Welcome from the Piedmont! Nice intro script!

As some of you know, I've been researching the history of steel pens and writing implements in general in the 19th-century.

One thing that confused me when I first started was the term "oblique" when referring to a nib. I came from the fountain pen world, where an "oblique nib" is a type of stub that is cut at an angle. I've always kind of wondered about the difference between fountain pen and dip pen usage of the same term.

I recently wrote a short article for the Pennant, the magazine of the Pen Collectors of America (the US equivalent of the WES in the UK) on this topic. It's more of an introduction for those, like me when I first started, who have only heard of it related to fountain pen nibs. It's coming out later this month and I received a low-res version.

I thought some here might find it interesting, though I'm sure little of it will be new to you. If nothing else, Christopher Yoke was kind enough to donate some images both from his collection of antique oblique holders, as well as some of his recent creations.

The magazine is quite well done, and worth the membership dues required to receive it. The PCA also has an impressive library of materials available for your perusal.

Full disclosure, I've also been publishing my histories of early US steel pen makers in the Pennant. My latest, on Myer Phineas in NYC c. 1840's-50's, is also in this same issue.


Show & Tell / Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« on: June 18, 2020, 09:38:39 AM »
I didn't have a good, matte ruler, so that's what a did. I printed a ruler on thick, white paper. It's a "square", so the ruler goes across and up. I got it here.  Just make sure you print it at 100% scale, and not let your computer or printer scale-to-size.

To use this and the spun jeweler's cotton, I'd have a make a bed of it large enough to support the printed ruler, or create a bed of solid material with an opening for the "cotton." (I think it's actually polyester) I need the ruler and the pen to be on the same level to get an accurate measurement.

One advantage I found for the spun material is for barrel pens. They don't roll around and so you can just place them there without worrying about it rolling, like it does on a hard surface.

It's all about continuous experimentation and improvement. Right? If we got it perfect the first time, maybe it wouldn't be so much fun.  ;D

Show & Tell / Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« on: June 16, 2020, 11:44:37 AM »
Interesting. I've also used the spun "cotton" that comes in boxes for storing jewelry and it both keeps the nibs elevated as well as is difficult to see in the background. But I haven't figured out how to apply a scale to this soft surface.

I know you sent me a Pansy, but I couldn't remember if it was English, sorry. It could very well have been. It's not in my inventory list because I've been so behind in my cataloging, but I'm working on it during quarantine. Home a few more months and I may well be near caught up.

Show & Tell / Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« on: June 15, 2020, 09:27:36 PM »
Interesting. I've not seen an English Pansy. The Pansy is not a common pen.

Interesting they have a curve. What are you using for a black background, fabric? Solid surface? It's nice and non-reflective.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Re: Time to write a Letter?
« on: June 14, 2020, 05:05:45 PM »
I suspect it was Covid related. Some countries were more shut down than others.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Re: Time to write a Letter?
« on: June 14, 2020, 09:26:38 AM »
I had a letter rejected in Israel. I was trying to send a letter to Tel Aviv and it came back with USPS stickers saying it was not accepted, and to come to my nearest post office to get a refund on my postage. It was a first for me.

Show & Tell / Re: Figuring out my camera setup
« on: June 13, 2020, 05:01:52 PM »
Yes, they are mm and cm. I have another scale in inches, but it only shows down to 1/8" and that's not very small, so metric it is!

Here's my setup. I found this great copy stand that's the right size for this closeup work. I can get right in there, as well as pull back if needed.

I purchased a couple of inexpensive LED lights that can stay plugged in via USB. They can also be mounted on a small tripod if I need some kind of awkward positioning. Mostly they stay flat and help illuminate the imprinted letters. I also have an inexpensive ring light on the end of the lens.

The stand has a mat on which magnetic strips can hold the paper. (they came with the stand)  I printed out a scale ruler, cut it to size and hold it down with the magnetic strips. .

The camera is a Nikon D7100, lens is a Micro Nikkor 40 mm f/2.8. It has a very close focusing distance. 

Because one of the major difficulties is depth of field on these small, rounded items, I need a very small aperture.
I use a timer (my remote is not working at the moment)
Aperture Priority
ISO 250 (Auto, with all of the lights)
I bump up the exposure by +1 on the bronze pens as they tend to be underexposed if I don't. I've tried different colored backgrounds to compensate for this, but white just works best all around.

Because the lens is getting close to a fisheye, on long pens I need to compensate for a very slight curve. I can do this in Lightroom. I first do lens correction, then use Transform/Guided, and draw lines along the horizontal and vertical ruler lines in the picture. This gets me the tiny bit of correction I need.  Most people wouldn't even notice it, but now that I see it, I can't un-see it.

Ideally, I'd have a longer macro lens and zoom in, but this is the one macro lens I have.

Hope that was enough detail for you.  ;)


Show & Tell / Figuring out my camera setup
« on: June 12, 2020, 10:08:37 PM »
I think I'm getting close to a standard setup for photographing my vintage steel pens. I think adding the scale really helps.

@AnasaziWrites  the first one is for you.

She's also tweeted out some of the recipes in the book, including a gold paint with sparkles made of nothing more than salt, sal ammoniac, green vitriol and alum (and barley??). It starts clear but turns golden with sparkles as it dries.

Homemade oil lamp for carbon black production

Medieval correction fluid

Clear-to-golden sparkly ink

Pumice eraser

She just added photos of her WIP on the cover and the table of contents. And in case it's bothering you, she did post later and say she caught the kerning issue on the cover and is fixing it. Not something I noticed, but almost all of you are much better at this than I am.

I recently tried to send a letter to Israel, and it was sent back as not accepted. It seems they had stopped accepting paper mail from the US. There was even a sticker on it from the USPS telling me how to get a refund for the stamps used.

Very strange.

Hopefully this is ok. I though some of you would be interested in a book that is coming out.

I pre-ordered one myself as it looks fascinating. Inks & Paints of the Middle-East by Joumana Medlej. The author is a calligrapher and scholar of traditional methods and materials for Middle Eastern manuscript creation. The book will include recipes!

Her store also includes some other books, including a fascinating series of books on how to create the geometric patterns, inscribed circles and tracery seen in Islamic art. Much of this was also carried back from the crusades and shows up in European design as well.

And she sells her own pigments, inks and pens, but I think she only ships within Britain or maybe Europe. Check with her before ordering. (want a real verdigris green, made with saffron and vinegar? Or a real malachite mineral pigment?)

I have no connection with the author and artist other than a fan. I thought some of you all might also find her work fascinating, and perhaps even useful. I've attached a sample page on making Verdigris.


@Estefa I did see the other lists. There's also the pdf to download with all of them. I figured the all-capital lists were not as realistic for most calligraphers, unless you do Roman incised or something like that.

This article prompted me to look up to find more pangrams and found this German one, I'm sure you're already familiar with, that uses all of the umlauts as well.  :D

Victor jagt zwölf Boxkämpfer quer über den großen Sylter Deich

Word of the Day / Professionally chosen words to test combinations
« on: May 19, 2020, 05:01:58 PM »
An interesting post by a typographer who wanted to create a better set of words than a traditional panagram. It's a list of words with the whole range of letters, letter combinations, round against square, etc... Worth reading the whole post to understand just how much thought went into this list.

The list of words.

Angel Adept Blind Bodice Clique Coast Dunce Docile Enact Eosin Furlong Focal Gnome Gondola Human Hoist Inlet Iodine Justin Jocose Knoll Koala Linden Loads Milliner Modal Number Nodule Onset Oddball Pneumo Poncho Quanta Qophs Rhone Roman Snout Sodium Tundra Tocsin Uncle Udder Vulcan Vocal Whale Woman Xmas Xenon Yunnan Young Zloty Zodiac. Angel angel adept for the nuance loads of the arena cocoa and quaalude. Blind blind bodice for the submit oboe of the club snob and abbot. Clique clique coast for the pouch loco of the franc assoc and accede. Dunce dunce docile for the loudness mastodon of the loud statehood and huddle. Enact enact eosin for the quench coed of the pique canoe and bleep. Furlong furlong focal for the genuflect profound of the motif aloof and offers. Gnome gnome gondola for the impugn logos of the unplug analog and smuggle. Human human hoist for the buddhist alcohol of the riyadh caliph and bathhouse. Inlet inlet iodine for the quince champion of the ennui scampi and shiite. Justin justin jocose for the djibouti sojourn of the oranj raj and hajjis. Knoll knoll koala for the banknote lookout of the dybbuk outlook and trekked. Linden linden loads for the ulna monolog of the consul menthol and shallot. Milliner milliner modal for the alumna solomon of the album custom and summon. Number number nodule for the unmade economic of the shotgun bison and tunnel. Onset onset oddball for the abandon podium of the antiquo tempo and moonlit. Pneumo pneumo poncho for the dauphin opossum of the holdup bishop and supplies. Quanta quanta qophs for the inquest sheqel of the cinq coq and suqqu. Rhone rhone roman for the burnt porous of the lemur clamor and carrot. Snout snout sodium for the ensnare bosom of the genus pathos and missing. Tundra tundra tocsin for the nutmeg isotope of the peasant ingot and ottoman. Uncle uncle udder for the dunes cloud of the hindu thou and continuum. Vulcan vulcan vocal for the alluvial ovoid of the yugoslav chekhov and revved. Whale whale woman for the meanwhile blowout of the forepaw meadow and glowworm. Xmas xmas xenon for the bauxite doxology of the tableaux equinox and exxon. Yunnan yunnan young for the dynamo coyote of the obloquy employ and sayyid. Zloty zloty zodiac for the gizmo ozone of the franz laissez and buzzing.

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