Monday, March 9, 2009
I don't mean one of those chisel tipped markers from the art store, I mean with an honest-to-goodness nib holder/ metal nib that's dipped in ink then applied to the page.
It's about 5700 times harder than it looks.
Back in 8th grade, my art teacher gave an after school calligraphy class. I never wanted to learn any specific ancient script, I just loved using the pen for my own combination of printed/cursive script. The nibs I learned on were in fact chiseled - they would create a skinny horizontal line and a fat vertical one. Curvy letters like "O" were a glorious combination of the two. I've carried that lesson with me all of these years - writing greeting cards with a chisel-tipped marker and more recently, writing letters using a fountain pen with a cursive italic nib that gives the same effect.
So why go back to an old fashioned dip pen?
Because I'm obviously a masochist.
I've recently been playing with two different calligraphy sets. A beginner set from Cretacolor, and an advances set from Brause. I've found them to both have something in common- my inability to put ink to paper without blobbing it the hell all over the place.
I've tried using fountain pen inks, calligraphy inks, China/India inks and drawing inks on a number of different kinds of paper including; smooth, rough, absorbant, resistant.. Actually pretty much everything except for calligraphy paper.
My results have been quite varied. I can get some nibs to write well with some inks on certain papers, but the results keep coming out inconsistent.
Sennelier China Ink worked really well with the Cretacolor Drawing nib, but the pamphlet with the Brause set said not to use China/India inks with their nibs. (Probably because it's a shellac based ink and impossible to get off the nibs once dry.) It probably worked well for me because it's a thick ink and easier to control than a thin water-based fountain pen ink.
I did learn from the Brause pamphlet (the Cretacolor set didn't include a pamphlet) that you need to wash the nibs in soapy water before you first use them - that may be why I had such a hard time getting the Cretacolor nibs to work my first time around.
Now I understand the general principle to get these nibs to write. Dip the nib into the ink, wipe off the excess, and write. So why the big blobs? I'm still trying to figure that out. I'm wondering if it's possible that I should be using calligraphy paper for just this purpose, but my brain says that I should be able to use other kinds of paper as well.
So I've read the directions from Brause, but they are somewhat limited. I'm typically the kind of person that ignores directions, choosing instead to figure things out for themselves. I think maybe this time I need to drop some of that Capricorn stubbornness and do a little research before completely abandoning this project.
I by no means ever intended to master this art form with a single stroke, but with my previous experience I expected to at least be able to exhibit somewhat of a rudimentary ability...