Author Topic: Best nib for engrosser's script  (Read 462 times)

Offline matteherr

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Best nib for engrosser's script
« on: July 21, 2019, 12:30:46 PM »
I've been using Hunt 101 with Sumi ink for my engrosser's script. I also tried the Zebra G but found it too stiff and the Brause Rose but couldn't  control it. What nib do you guys favor for engrosser's  and possibly  Spencerian?

Offline D B Holtz

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #1 on: July 21, 2019, 04:55:50 PM »
I took Bill Kemp's Engrosser's Script class at the IAMPETH conference last week.  He did all his demonstrations with a Nickko G nib, which is one I like but I think it is a little stiffer than the Zebra G.  After I finally developed a light enough touch to use it, I have been using a Leonardt EF Principal to good effect.  That one would be _my_ suggestion; I'm sure that other people will have equally good recommendations for you.

Offline K-2

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2019, 04:13:00 PM »
It seems to me that there isn't a "best" nib, but rather a "better nib for the size, ink, gouache, surface" - so it kind of depends on the project, the scale, the media involved, and of course personal preference.

I'd recommend getting one of the "Copperplate Sampler" packs from John Neal or Paper & Ink Arts and seeing which ones you like better with different inks/gouache & papers.  And then don't feel like you're doing it wrong if you end up preferring a different nib from the one someone else likes best (even if they're more "expert" at calligraphy; anyway, I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in using a whole bunch of different nibs to get different effects in different circumstances).  You can play around with different inks or gouache or even different brands of sumi to see which ones work better for you on the different nibs.

Very generally speaking, I kind of prefer the "bowl shaped" nibs (like the Brause Arrow or the Blue Pumpkin) for writing with gouache or Finetec, but then I like the straight sided nibs for writing with registrars or walnut or some thinner ink, and I use different brands of sumi depending on whether I'm using pointed pen or broad edge.  But YMMV.  In the end (or the beginning, as in your case), is there really anything wrong with that Hunt 101 you're using?  I use that one a lot too, and also the Leonardt Principal that DB Holtz likes. And also the Gillott 303 and 404 that get a lot of mentions.

Also, if the thing you're getting hung up on with engrossers is the squared-off tops of letters, you might try adjusting the angle of your flange (assuming you're a right-hander using an oblique) or trying a different nib holder, if the flange on yours isn't adjustable.  I personally spent a rather embarrassing amount of time wondering why I'd ever need more than one oblique holder (especially if it's a "nice" one that adjusts to hold all the different sizes), but then I got a cheaper one for traveling (so that I wouldn't lose the nice one) and found it worked better for me for some of the nibs that I didn't think I liked very much in the other holder.  (btw, the Gillott 303 in my cheap plastic holder with the little travel compartment in it makes lovely, crisp, square tops on letters for me; it was a revelation! Now the 303 is a favorite -- but only in the cheap holder)

Finally - that Brause Rose: most of the folks I know have a sort of troubled relationship with it, even if they ultimately like them a lot, so it's not just you.  I only use it if I need to letter something kind of large.  like x=2cm.  But I also use it like a tiny stiff brush to apply tiny details when I'm doing illustrated or illuminated capitals.  Anyway, it's okay to not like things too (even if other calligraphers like them).

You know, I come to calligraphy from a background in painting & drawing (where I use a lot of dip pens & fountain pens with flex nibs), and I've always sort of thought of the pointed flex nibs like tiny metal brushes.  You wouldn't use the same brush for everything - different brushes work better with different types of paint, and we use different sizes and shapes for different effects.  Maybe think of your nibs like that?  After all, we usually talk about "drawing" letters in calligraphy, rather than "writing" them.

Hope you find a few nibs that give you joy and encourage you to try new ideas/media/techniques!

--yours, K

Offline matteherr

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2019, 08:21:47 PM »
Thank you both! I appreciate your suggestions!

Offline lizt2

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2019, 07:38:53 AM »
Hi Matt - I'm grateful for your question and for the people who answered because I'm looking for something other than the Hunt 101, too.   I'm also using Sumi - I water it down a tiny bit.  Part of my problem with it is that it runs out of ink quickly.  I can only get 4 large strokes out of it and then I have to re-ink.  That seems like a lot of re-inking when you're doing a large page of single strokes.

Offline K-2

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2019, 10:28:47 PM »
Matt & Lizt - I'm going to stand by my suggestion to get a Copperplate sampler, but given that you're both interested in exploring nibs from the perspective of the Hunt 101 and maybe you also don't want to buy 15 nibs in one go, I thought I'd give a little more detail. It also occurred to me that my last post might have been more generally encouraging than strictly practically helpful.  Mind you, I'm not as much of a copperplate expert as some folks around here, but I'm a teacher by trade, so this information is pedagogically oriented and intended to respond to your specific queries about trying something OTHER than the Hunt 101, and I'll say again: there isn't such a thing as "best" - only "better for particular context/activity/project," and there's nothing wrong with the Hunt 101 (except that I personally think it's kind of a difficult nib to learn on, because it's SO sharp and flexible, people get frustrated).

The Leonardt Principal is quite similar to the Hunt 101/Imperial (and I find that it lasts a bit longer for me than the 101/Imperial before wearing out).  If you're looking for something a little firmer, the Hunt 99 feels less fidgety, is slightly less sharp, and might help you in developing confidence, especially with hairlines & flourishing.

Two very popular "bowl-shaped" nibs, the Brause Arrow/EF66 and the Blue Pumpkin, hold a little more ink than the straight sided nibs like the Hunt 101 & Leonardt Principal, so they might give you a longer run before re-dipping (but it also might be that you're over-flexing the nib for those swells or that you haven't gotten all the factory oils off the nibs).  The Blue Pumpkin/Steno is also a little stiffer than the Hunt 101, and less sharp, so it gives less dramatic hairline to swell variation; but if you're maybe over-flexing your nib, causing it to dump its ink in a few strokes and/or railroad, then that might be a feature.  It's also a nib that helped me get more confident in my flourishing, because its very slightly rounded point doesn't catch on the paper fibers quite as readily as the really sharp ones.  The Hiro 40 with its leaf shape is also a little stiffer and less sharp.

For another extremely popular, and stiffer, option, you might try the Nikko or Zebra G nib.  They are sharp (seriously, I accidentally stabbed myself with one and got a tiny tattoo from it this week), but the stiffness gives you more control.  Work at getting all the oils off, or they won't hold onto the ink.  I use them with sumi ink to correct and add details to broad edge calligraphy, and can say that they can hold a very good amount of ink, if that's the priority for you.

If you want things MORE sharp, try the Gillott 303 or 404.  They're smaller, so they hold less ink, and don't produce swells quite as wide, but you get the most delicate hairlines.  It's very easy to snag them on a paper fiber though, so I'd say, at first, only use them on the smoothest paper.

I hope this is more like the practical perspective you were looking for!
--yours, K

Offline InkyFingers

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #6 on: August 01, 2019, 10:40:36 AM »
perhaps you already like the 101 and rather stick with it...

have you consider an ink reservoir?  someone suggested a tape on the underside of the nib, while others like a spring ink cage.  i prefer dilution with water and/or gum to achieve a likeable ink.

Offline matteherr

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #7 on: August 01, 2019, 03:25:48 PM »
Perhaps I should clarify my original post. I am happy  with the Hunt 101 and my personal improvement will come only with better practice. Out of curiosity,  I was just wondering if others have a nib they favor more than others while writing. However, having said that, I thank you all for the responses.  I got  better answers  than what I was originally looking for!

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Best nib for engrosser's script
« Reply #8 on: August 02, 2019, 07:36:58 AM »
@matteherr I'm a huge fan of the Brause EF 66.  I return to it over and over again.  I do like to experiment with nibs, but I find that I never leave the Brause nib for long.  I do prefer the ink cage version, which is available at Paper Ink Arts & John Neal Bookseller.  It really does hold an enormous amount of ink compared to the original nib.  I've found that nibs are very much a personal preference, with some fitting your hand better than others.  I have a very light hand & I cannot get good, thick "shades" with either the Nikko Gs or Zebra Gs.  But, all of this is dependent upon YOUR hand, so experiment with a wide range of nibs, to determine what is best for you!

Happy lettering!

Janis