Show Posts

This section allows you to view all posts made by this member. Note that you can only see posts made in areas you currently have access to.

Topics - Elisabeth_M

Pages: [1] 2 3
Open Flourish | General Discussion / Calligra-blessings
« on: July 28, 2017, 11:39:38 AM »
Two of your calligraphy friends have decided to tie the knot.  They met about a year and a half ago when you and your calligraphy friends and a rival calligraphy gang accidentally ran into each other at a bar.  They managed to slip away just before the shin kicking started and have been joined at the hip ever since.  The match left you all shaking your heads since they fall on opposite sides of *that* argument, but “a rose by any other name…” etc., etc.

Their wedding rapidly became the calligraphy event of the year, second only maybe IAMPETH.  The invitation design process almost caused the happy couple to stop speaking to each other, but every relationship has its challenges.  As with many couples, they wanted their special day to reflect their tastes and interests and so the reception is like some sort of crazy tribute to calligraphy with each table named after a different style of script (with the place cards reflecting the table names), the favors are a dip pen, two nibs, and a small vial of walnut ink crystals, and the guestbook signatures are so over the top, guests are taking pictures of them.  To avoid arguments, the calligraphers are all sitting at tables with typewritten place cards, except for @Scarlet Blue  whose place card is in uncial because the newlyweds have a twisted sense of humor.

There is also a beautifully done sign at the bar declaring, “No Shots for Calligraphers,” causing the calligraphers to look a bit sheepish and change the subject quickly when someone asks them about it.

The couple registered for calligraphy supplies of all things (because who needs more dishes when you could have a bespoke dip pen?).  Of course, nothing but a handmade card would do for such an occasion and you have put a lot of time and effort into designing The Perfect Card complete with a blessing for the happy couple.  With such a wedding, and such a card, the blessing is, of course, related to calligraphy.


What do you write for the calligra-blessing for your card?

May your hands always be steady,
Your nibs never rust,
Your bleedproof white never grow mold,
And may you always be willing to donate spit to each other
(On your nibs, get your minds out of the gutter)

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Italic Exemplar Favorites
« on: July 23, 2017, 10:18:30 AM »
So, Italic.... Sheila Waters italic alphabet has a certain degree of pen manipulation (changing the angle on some of the strokes for some miniscule letters like w, v, and y in order avoid having very thin diagonal strokes) while Fred Eager does none of that.  I like the look of Sheila Waters' alphabet which is a bit more rounded on certain letters, but I hate the pen manipulation. It feels like cheating not to do it if I'm using her exemplar, though.  I can't decide if I should just give up on her exemplar and use Fred Eager's (which is is what I started with when I started learning italic, and does feel a bit more natural to me) or just leave off the pen manipulation or suck it up and do the pen manipulation.  Or maybe keep digging for the perfect exemplar?

ETA:  Links to the exemplars mentioned in the replies below

Bernadino Cataneo
Ken Fraser
Tom Gourdie (I could not find an exemplar of his style so I have linked to his book on Amazon) (See Ken Fraser's post #09 below)
John Stevens
Sheila Waters

Coffee & Nib-bles / Curse you English language
« on: July 22, 2017, 05:03:06 PM »
My daughter will be in kindergarten next year and we have been working on letters and sounds and spelling simple words.  Generally, she has little interest in the subject unless it leads to something immediately applicable (she only started reliably recognizing X and the sound it makes when I pointed out Exit signs on doors, which has led to me never being able to go in an exit ever again because, "that's the exit, mommy!").  She definitely prefers to mess around with numbers over letters.  Sometimes she gets excited over letters and she recently got excited about spelling numbers and brought to my attention the fact that, "Four starts with F and so does five!"  I encouraged her to consider if other numbers started with F which led her to exclaim, "Two starts with T!  Six starts with S!" and I was getting really excited over her excitement until...

"One starts with Y!"


With heavy heart, I had to explain that the number one does not start with Y (or even W, and we had to have a review which sounds Y and W make) and that was the end of her enthusiasm for the subject and I reflected that this sort of thing wouldn't happen if we spoke something sensible, like Italian or Spanish.  *sigh*

Coffee & Nib-bles / Yoga
« on: July 17, 2017, 11:09:42 AM »
Dear Beginner Yoga video,

You and I have different definitions of "beginner".


A Very Inflexible Calligrapher

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Calligraphy bar brawls
« on: July 11, 2017, 09:52:19 AM »
Because I am a big science geek and former research scientist, I sometimes amuse myself by thinking of topics of controversy among scientists that might (if scientists were not generally introverts and not prone to be unathletic and nonviolent) lead to a all out down and dirty fight in a bar if everyone was drunk enough and someone got belligerent about whether or not viruses could be considered living things (for example). (I am maybe easily amused)

Recently, I turned my thoughts toward calligraphy and imagined the following scenario:

You and a group of calligraphy friends are having a friendly get together at your local dive bar.  You are all chatting, comparing ink stains on your fingers, discussing how to get sumi ink out of carpeting and what methods you use to keep your cats from walking all over your latest work when in walks a posse of rival calligraphers.  They sit at a table close enough to catch bits of their conversation, but not close enough that you bump chairs or have to walk directly past them on the way to the bathroom.  Mostly your two groups ignore each other. 

The evening progresses, several pitchers of cheap beer have been consumed, more calligraphers have joined each group and now your  groups are so large that members of each group are bumping chairs and getting in each other's way when going to the restroom which is happening more and more frequently as more and more cheap beer is consumed.  This causes some tension, but not much and everyone is still pretty friendly.  But then, it happens:  someone suggests doing shots.  Nobody is really sure who exactly suggested it, but both groups heard it and think it was someone from their pack who suggested shots and so both groups are now doing rounds of shots.  Tensions are rising.  People are becoming belligerent.  The bartender is starting look a little anxiously toward your tables and wondering if he should be taking bottles off the shelf and storing them under the bar for safety.  He's already cut all of you off after an ill-advised round of Jagermeister shots for both tables had both of your groups demanding to see the bottles of liquor so you could examine the typography.  Then, right at the point where both groups intersect, voices are raised.  It's not noticeable at first, but in less than a minute everyone in the bar can hear their argument and two or three of their nearest neighbors have joined the fray.  You look nervously at your friends and wonder if there is some way to diffuse the situation when one of the participants shouts something at the other and everyone's eyes meet and you all collectively think, "Them's fighting words."  As the combatants all rise to kick each other's shins (because nobody wants to hurt their hands by throwing punches), the bartender puts in a call to the local police and thinks, "That's the last time I serve shots to calligraphers."


What was the cause of the argument?  What causes calligraphers to get their underwear in a bunch?

Two things that I can think of:  straight vs oblique and diluting ink with distilled water vs tap water.

What else?

(Note:  I am NOT trying to start any arguments or even discuss the merits of either side of the many and varied opposing viewpoints on techniques.  Rather, I mean only to draw some attention to and poke gentle fun at some of the mild controversies within the calligraphy community.)

Coffee & Nib-bles / Back to calligraphy
« on: June 24, 2017, 10:09:51 AM »
Well, it's been awhile, but I think I'm back in the forum to stay.  After my grandma died last fall, I went into hermit mode and spent a lot of time just trying to deal with everyday life.   At the time, I was doing broad pen work (italic) and it was starting to stress me out.  Being so tense and sad was having an effect on how well I could make the letterforms and that was making me more tense and upset and it just kept getting worse and worse until I just stopped doing calligraphy altogether. 

When I finally picked up a pen again, it was an oblique and I was using a pointed nib.  I hadn't wanted to start pointed pen work until I felt really good with my italic, but I needed a change.  I also didn't want to do anything that was too rigid because I didn't want to get myself back in the same predicament I had with italic.  So, worked on improving my own cursive script, written at a 55 degree slant with shading on the downstrokes.  Serendipitously, I ended up with something approximating the running hand from Bickham's The Universal Penman. 

I've finally gotten back to italic, too.  My husband's cousin's daughter graduated high school a few weeks back and I volunteered to address the envelopes for her graduation announcements.  They turned out fairly well, actually, and it felt good to have that calligraphy victory.

So, I think I'm back to stay.  I've missed the forum and talking to calligraphy friends.

Coffee & Nib-bles / Unintentional hiatus
« on: October 22, 2016, 11:16:56 AM »
I'm sorry to have disappeared from the forum for awhile.  First my mother came to visit and then, right before my mom went back to Iowa, my grandma (who also lives in Iowa), who had been ill with something that seemed minor, took a nasty turn for the worse and we were just praying that Mom would get back to see Grandma before she died.  Mom did make it back, fortunately, and my grandma died the next day.

It has been hard since then, first there was the funeral to make it through and then there was the reality of life without Grandma to get used to.  We were very close and since she lived far away and had been in assisted living for a couple of years and in a nursing home since Feb., more often than not, when I calligraphed an envelope it was for a letter or a card for her.  She was also the recipient of all of my large, finished calligraphy pieces.  In fact, the last thing I made for her was a scripture verse to be placed in the coffin and buried with her.  I haven't felt like practicing calligraphy much since then (in the latter part of Sept.).  When I did sit down to practice, I would cry.   :-\  (Crying is not conducive to making good letterforms, in case you were wondering.)

My grandmother and I were very close and her death has left me somewhat depressed.  She was the only person I could truly count on for unconditional support my entire life (my parents were often not supportive of my choices) and before she moved to assisted living a couple of years ago, her house was the one place I could go--no questions asked--if everything went to hell and I needed to get away.  I have had other friends I could depend on and I have my husband of course, but she was the only one who had been constant throughout my life.

So, it's been hard.  But, I have started getting back into calligraphy practice little by little (it's amazing how downhill your script can go if you haven't done any of it for several weeks) and I can manage not to cry when I practice (most of the time).  When I couldn't focus enough to practice calligraphy, I practiced my best "school" cursive (that is, the cursive I learned in school with some slight variations) and that has gotten pretty good, actually.  I expect I'll be back on the forum more, now, too, but I make no promises.

Coffee & Nib-bles / Name that tune
« on: September 08, 2016, 10:10:48 AM »
Pretty rusty--haven't had much time to practice lately.  Listened to Pandora and did a few warm-up sentences this morning before doing some serious practice.  To make it interesting, rather than doing the usual "Quick brown fox" warm-up, I took inspiration from the songs playing while I wrote.  Can you name these tunes?

(Hint for young-un's:  I'm a child of the 80s  ::))

Open Flourish | General Discussion / I'm sure we've all been there...
« on: July 13, 2016, 08:47:27 PM »
Just saw a cartoon on the Unvirtuous Abbey Facebook feed that I thought people here might appreciate:

I have been having trouble making my letterforms based on "a" consistent.  So, I came up with these practice sentences so I could work on that group of letters.  I thought they might be useful to others, so I am posting them here.  If I come up with sentences for other groups of similar letters (n, m, h; b, p; o, e, c; etc.) then I will post them on the board as well. About half of the sentences are rather prosaic, the rest are....not.   ::)


  • "Egad," gasped Gandalf, "Nazgul have invaded Bag End!"
  • The gaggle of eggheads declared the abundance of deranged candidates fatiguing.
  • Agatha craved a daiquiri.
  • Antiquated language made Brandon appear ignorant.
  • The gallant passenger gave his seat to the elderly lady.
  • The hero laughed at the villain's weapon's meager flow of magma.
  • The parade passed the large grandstand
  • The inadequate candidate can't handle a barrage of inquiries.
  • Nagging rarely does any good.
  • Early Americans migrated over a land bridge near Alaska
  • The class learned that salamanders are amphibians.
  • Adequate signage was not in abundance
  • The lab manager lauded the handling of the hazardous waste. (This is only funny if you have experience in a lab.  For a glimpse of reality, check out this Piled Higher and Deeper comic).
  • Great big globs of greasy grimy gopher guts. (I can't take credit for that one, it was the opening of a song I learned at camp when I was a kid.)
  • The Big Dipper appears as a ladle made of stars
  • Alexander was glad he had hidden the cabbage in the garbage.

Tools & Supplies / Precautionary measures for mold growth
« on: June 03, 2016, 12:32:30 PM »
tl;dr version:

A lab sterile technique that is simple to do at home:  everytime you open your ink bottle and dip a pen in, you are risking contaminating for mold.  Therefore, if you often have bottles of ink that go bad before you finish them, divide that ink into four (or five or six or ten) containers.  This is best done the very first time you open the bottle, but better late than never.  Then, if one container starts growing mold, you throw out that container of ink and you still have the other containers of ink that are (hopefully) still clean (though you probably want to keep an eye on them just in case).  I hope it goes without saying that your containers must be very clean before you pour the ink into them!  If you want to get fanatical about it, you can buy presterilized sample tubes and bottles from amazon.  Or, you can boil the glass ones with metal lids.  Or, just run them through the dishwashing machine. Also, an open bottle of distilled water is not sterile (even if it was prior to opening) so don't think you're going to inhibit mold growth just because you use distilled water.

Longer version:

I've seen several posts talking about mold growth in ink and gum arabic, so I thought I would mention a few techniques that may help prevent having to throw out whole bottles of ink.  As many of you know, I went to school for cell biology so I know a bit about sterile lab technique when handling liquids that microbes just love to grow in.

The first thing to understand is that some microbes (molds, yeasts, fungi) can make spores which are basically inert forms of the microbe.  These spores are everywhere--on surfaces and in the air (not to make you paranoid or anything!)--and are just waiting for their chance to land in some nice environment that will allow them to grow.  That means that every time you open the lid to your ink bottle (or gum arabic), you are exposing the contents to mold spores that are just itching to get in there and growEvery time you dip your pen in the bottle, you are sticking spores right into your ink.

In lab, we would never put any non-sterile object into a liquid.  However, it's impractical to sterilize all of your pens prior to dipping them in the ink (and the process may very well ruin your nibs, depending on how you sterilized them).  And, there is still the problem of the spores that fall in the minute you open the lid.  BUT nothing says you have to keep all of your ink in one bottle!  It was common practice in lab to have many small bottles of growth liquid rather than keep it all in one big bottle (ie 10 bottles of 10 mL each rather than 1 bottle of 100mL).  That way, if one bottle becomes contaminated, you throw it out and you still have 90 mL of clean liquid.  If it was all in one bottle, you'd have to throw out the whole 100mL.

You could certainly do the same at home.  Just get some squeaky clean containers (tubes, bottles, whatever) and when you open a new bottle of ink, divide it into four or five or whatever bottles (ie pour a quarter of it into each of 3 bottles and then leave the last quarter in the original container).  *From then on, work out of just one of those bottles until it is gone or becomes contaminated.  If it becomes contaminated, toss it, and grab one of the clean bottles to use.  Repeat from * until you run out of ink, then buy a new bottle of ink, divide it up, etc.

Other considerations:

*Most microbes like hot, damp places in which to grow.  So, keep the clean bottles somewhere cool and dry.  You could even keep them in your fridge, although that would make your ink pretty viscous when you first take it out and you would need to wait until it warmed up before using.  Freezing would be even better to inhibit growth but it might do some strange things to your ink and it might not be useable after it thawed.

*Inks made from organic material (plants, animals) are more likely to grow mold, although mold can grow on/in most things

*Molds come in many delightful colors and textures, including a translucent, colorless gel kind of thing that frequently saw in lab (it would just sort of be suspended in the middle of a bottle of liquid).  Just because you can't see the mold, doesn't mean it isn't there. 

*Distilled water is not sterile.  I repeat, distilled water is not sterile!  You can buy bottles of distilled water that have been sterilized, but as soon as you open it up, it's no more sterile than your bottle of ink.  If you live in a place were you do not have to boil the water before drinking it, there is very little difference between an open bottle of distilled water and tap water in terms of sterility.

Coffee & Nib-bles / Back for now
« on: April 23, 2016, 11:39:07 AM »
It's been a rough couple of months in my family for my maternal grandma has been ill for most of March and April. :(  It all started when she fell in early March which led to her having difficulty walking.  This led to a hospital stay then transfer from assisted living to a nursing home where they discovered a foot infection.  Back to the hospital she went with "dry" gangrene.  One angioplasty/stent on a leg artery later (she had no blood flow at all below mid-calf), she had all of her toes amputated and now we're all praying that will be enough.  I flew to Iowa with my daughter (4 years old) on April 1 and didn't get back until earlier this week.  I spent most of my time in the hospital with Grandma and trying to keep my daughter from going stir crazy.  Fortunately, I was able to find people to watch my daughter for a lot of the time so that she wasn't constantly terrorizing the hospital floor on which Grandma was staying.  The whole thing was physically exhausting (driving the 30-45 minutes back and forth to Des Moines in the early morning and late at night--remind me to never get a job where I have to commute by car; sleeping on a futon for nearly 20 days in a row didn't help either) and emotionally exhausting and I'm still not recuperated.  I was hoping to help get Grandma settled back in the nursing home, but she hadn't left the hospital by the time I flew back home.

I brought some calligraphy supplies with me, but did very little of it.  A hospital room is not an ideal place for that sort of thing.  I probably should have bought a lap desk or one of those clipboard boxes Jean has recommended.  I managed to do a little watercolor sketching in a small journal with a water brush and that's about it.  Finally got out my dip pen and walnut ink last night.  Haven't felt up to it before now.  Sometimes, life is just too complicated and your soul is too exhausted for calligraphy.  But, I think I'm on an upswing now. Hopefully, it will continue.

It's probably no surprise that I am behind on my exchanges.  If I owe you one, I'm sorry.  However, I should be able to get it out soon!

Coffee & Nib-bles / Has anyone heard from Sybille?
« on: March 22, 2016, 07:39:54 AM »
I just woke up and saw the news about the bombings in Brussels and that made me think of sybillevz. Has anyone heard from her?  I hope she is safe!

Kind Critique / Italic practice 3-21-2016
« on: March 21, 2016, 05:18:17 PM »
I have this little hangup that if I can see problems with my work, then I don't ask for critique because I already have an idea of what I need to work on.  In an effort to move past that problem, I am posting a quote that I wrote for practice today despite the fact that I have noted several problems with it.  I'm starting to use the exemplar in Sheila Water's book which is not the exemplar I originally learned Italic from.  I'm not sure if it's okay to post the exemplar here because that would involve scanning in the published page.  So, I'll just post my work for now, and I'll ask Erica about posting the exemplar from the book to see if it's okay to do and if so, I'll post it.

This was written on Clairfontaine paper with a Mitchell Roundhand nib and generic fountain pen ink.

Coffee & Nib-bles / Podcasts?
« on: March 05, 2016, 10:01:16 AM »
Does anyone have any calligraphy/lettering-related podcasts that they enjoy listening to?  I've been watching some periscopes, but that's sort of hard to do while writing at the same time.  (Although, I will say that after watching a few periscopes, I think Joi and Moya would make great podcasts because I have fun watching them, especially when they are just working and saying whatever is on the top of their heads.  ;D )

Pages: [1] 2 3