Author Topic: French Batarde written with a quill  (Read 2679 times)

Offline Ergative

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French Batarde written with a quill
« on: April 09, 2016, 07:17:42 PM »
One of my first loves of broad nibbed calligraphy was the cursive gothic scripts that proliferated during the 13-15th centuries. David Harris's book THe Art of Calligraphy has a really nice set of pages describing the differences between Bastard Secretary, an English version, and Batarde, a French version. I always quite liked the Batarde, although I was never particularly good at it (except for a brief period of a few months back in college when, shockingly, I worked hard at it and got better). The Bastard Secretary seemed to flow more naturally from my nib, while the Batarde seemed to require a certain command of hairlines that I never could get good at. Harris recommended using a quill for better expressiveness, and last summer I collected from a California beach quite a lot of seagull quills, which seemed big and sturdy. I've been hacking at them with an Exacto knife recently, and today I managed to get a nib on one that seemed to work well, especially when paired with a William Mitchell nib reservoir. Below is my attempt at Batarde.
Clara

Offline InkyFingers

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #1 on: April 09, 2016, 07:42:06 PM »
You gotta be kidding!!  That's just amazing.

Offline evjo

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #2 on: April 09, 2016, 07:43:50 PM »
Oh!  Nice!
Ev

Offline AussieCalligrapherAlex

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #3 on: April 09, 2016, 07:52:34 PM »
 That is the coolest thing I have seen in a while, well done.

Offline randy2

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #4 on: April 09, 2016, 08:46:05 PM »
Very impressive looks like an original manuscript.
How's the seagull feather compared to others? Great idea, especially with the reservoir!

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #5 on: April 09, 2016, 09:04:08 PM »
Wonderful! What was it like writing this with a quill vs. a steel pen?
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Offline Ergative

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #6 on: April 09, 2016, 10:43:10 PM »
Thanks!


Andrew, it actually wasn't great. I didn't have as much control over line thickness unless I consciously turned the quill to use the edge for a hairline. Earlier this week, when I had cut the nib wider, the flow was actually quite dry, so the line thickness behaved well, but I wanted to use a smaller x-height, and after re-trimming the edge I lost crispness. It's quite possible that as I get better at cutting the quill, or if I do things like season it properly in an oven, rather than leaving it in a drawer for eight months, I'll find I can make the line variation obey my will, but for now it's mostly trial and error, and most of the time when I try to re-trim the quill I get splayed tines or an off-center split. Simply having a tip that mostly works is a triumph.


Randy, I can't compare a seagull quill to any others, as it's the only quill I've ever used. As for the reservoir, it certainly seems like a great idea, but in fact it was a necessity. Without it, the ink all just flooded off in a big glop. I don't think the old masters had mass-produced William-Mitchell reservoirs to stick on their nibs, so clearly they were doing something that I'm not doing. I'd really like to be able to mimic that, but for now I think writing with a quill will be a fun novelty, rather than a technique I'd turn to if I'm creating something serious.
Clara

Offline AAAndrew

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #7 on: April 09, 2016, 10:59:16 PM »
I've been curious about trying my hand at cutting a quill, but when I read that even back in the day, the vast majority of people did not cut their own quills, and didn't know how, I expect that I won't be very good at it. From what I've read, most people could do an ok job at mending a worn quill, but most bought theirs already cut, and offices may have someone who's only job was to cut and mend quills.

More jobs which disappeared as progress brought the disposable steel pen. I always wonder what happened to all of the goose farmers who supplied the millions of goose quills.
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Offline Estefa

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #8 on: April 10, 2016, 03:12:34 AM »
I love that!! And I agree about how difficult cutting or trimming a quill are.

Did you use a slanted board? Because that may be a reason for the too heavy ink flow without the reservoir ... If you look at old illustrations, most scribes use a slanted table
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Offline AndyT

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2016, 10:37:43 AM »
Super job, Clara.  :)

As Estefa says, the slanted board makes a huge difference, which puts me in awe of the people who could write decent copperplate with a quill on a flat table.  Almost all of the medieval illustrations of scribes at work, however, show very steeply canted boards, like Jean Mielot's, below.  I've yet to try fitting a reservoir, although they do work well with reeds.


Offline tintenfuchs

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #10 on: April 10, 2016, 12:07:11 PM »
Lovely!
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Offline Linda Y.

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #11 on: April 10, 2016, 06:10:41 PM »
Stunning! Thank you for sharing.

Offline Ergative

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #12 on: April 10, 2016, 06:53:38 PM »
Estefa, Andy, I thought that a slanted board might help, but I didn't have quite the motivation to jury-rig one. Maybe that will be next weekend's project.

Andy, by the way, you get props for posting a picture surrounding by Batarde writing!
Clara

Offline AndyT

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #13 on: April 10, 2016, 08:44:54 PM »
Clara, I picked the small version for the sake of tidiness; there's a bigger image here.  It's well worth researching Mielot, firstly because he's pre-eminent, and secondly because there's a wealth of high resolution digitised material.

Do you have Johnston's big Writing & Illuminating, and Lettering" book?  There's some advice about setting up a slanted board in there, and it's very much a matter of jury rigging.  In fact, on first reading it never occurred to me that Johnners might have actually done it, but there's a photo showing him working at a board propped up on what appears to be a paint tin:


Offline Ergative

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Re: French Batarde written with a quill
« Reply #14 on: April 10, 2016, 08:54:46 PM »
I do have Johnston's book! In fact, although I do not use his special pen knife, his careful glass cutting surface, or the other precise gadgets he recommends for cutting quills (and although I cannot get good quality quills from my local stationers, as he recommends I do), it is the book I first looked at when I decided to start playing with proper quills, and it is his instructions for how to cut them, and no one else's, that I neglect to follow.
Clara