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Copperplate Handwriting & English Roundhand


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67 replies to this topic

#41 kenfraser

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 10:53

....that issue of Letter Arts Review (as well as all the other back issues) is available at John Neal Bookseller on this page.

Sorry to go briefly off-topic, but this periodical has an interesting history. It started in the early 1980s as "Calligraphy Idea Exchange". After a few years, there were some complaints that there was, in fact, very little exchange of ideas, and the title was changed to "Calligraphy Review". I'm not sure when it changed to "Letter Arts Review" as I stopped my subscription when the calligraphic content began to lessen,(IMO) in the early 1990s. I expect that this was the reason for the second change of title. I still have my collection of twenty-six of the early editions, and I still refer to them, often. They were, and probably still are, produced to the highest standard on beautiful paper.

Ken

Edited by caliken, 28 November 2012 - 11:23.


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#42 kenfraser

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Posted 28 November 2012 - 23:14

This is my first attempt at the "new" technique.

Actually, that's not strictly true. This is my 23rd attempt over a two-hour period. :mellow:

I started with a right-oblique quill, but I found the narrow, curved shaft difficult to control with the required pen hold. A dip nib would have been the next logical choice, but, as the main advantage of being able to write with an ordinary straight pen is its portability, I decided to go straight to the fountain pen. I ground a fine nib in a Manuscript pen to about the same angle as that depicted in the De Beaulieu example posted by Columba Livia, and then struggled for almnost two hours before achieving the lettering, below.
My main problem is with the hairlines. Sometimes the ink dries up completely and at other times a hairline upstroke is inexplicably thickened. I know that this is just lack of familiarity with the technique, but so far, I've found it to be far from easy! Also, it feels very odd to be writing at a slope with the paper positioned straight ahead of me. Two immediate advantages are the automatic consistency of the downstrokes as this is determined by the width of the edged nib, and the square cut-off at the top and bottom of the straight strokes which is again created automatically be placing the edge of the nib directly on the line before creating the downstroke. The penhold feels most peculiar - I have the shape of the letters firmly in my mind but it feels as though someone else is writing it!

I think that it would be very valuable if others could share their experiences of learning this very different technique.

Ken

Posted Image

Edited by caliken, 29 November 2012 - 09:33.


#43 smk

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 19:44

That is beautifully done Ken. I wasn't too comfortable with a quill so went with modifying a Mitchell nib, which too didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I prepared a bamboo pen yesterday but have not had a chance to give it a workout yet - I expect it to do better on the hairlines.

I can't get the hang of the first part of the compound curve (the top part) - it comes out too thick too quick. Any advice on how you achieve it will be great.

I'll scan in some attempts to share by tomorrow.

Salman

Edited by smk, 29 November 2012 - 19:47.


#44 Mickey

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Posted 29 November 2012 - 20:21

I've been playing around with an Esterbrook 414 Probate nib, which began life as a slightly flexible L-oblique, reground to R-oblique. I am not, unlike you gentlemen, trying to replicate Copperplate so much as accepting whatever I can get out this sort of nib, writing more in the Spencerian style. One thing I've noticed, which might be useful to you, is that once I've establish ink flow by soling the edge, I can continue using just the left corner for as long as I like, provided I don't lift the pen. This is particularly useful with Spencerian styles, as the edge naturally aligns with the 30 degree left to right entry / exit stroke.

Edited by Mickey, 29 November 2012 - 20:22.

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#45 kenfraser

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 00:11

....once I've establish ink flow by soling the edge, I can continue using just the left corner for as long as I like, provided I don't lift the pen.

This sounds particularly useful, but I don't understand the technique as I don't know what "soling" means (please excuse my ignorance).

Ken

#46 Mickey

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 00:48

....once I've establish ink flow by soling the edge, I can continue using just the left corner for as long as I like, provided I don't lift the pen.

This sounds particularly useful, but I don't understand the technique as I don't know what "soling" means (please excuse my ignorance).

Ken


I'd hesitate calling you ignorant. Soling is a term I've heard used and use to describe putting the edge of an edged pen on the page, akin to soling a club in golf, something you're not allowed to do in a hazard. Nothing more exciting than that.

I'd be curious if there is another, more universally used term for describing this.

Edited by Mickey, 30 November 2012 - 00:51.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#47 kenfraser

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:26

Soling is a term I've heard used and use to describe putting the edge of an edged pen on the page, akin to soling a club in golf, something you're not allowed to do in a hazard. Nothing more exciting than that.

I'd be curious if there is another, more universally used term for describing this.


Thanks! I learn something new, every day.

#48 kenfraser

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 10:47

That is beautifully done Ken. I wasn't too comfortable with a quill so went with modifying a Mitchell nib, which too didn't work out as well as I had hoped. I prepared a bamboo pen yesterday but have not had a chance to give it a workout yet - I expect it to do better on the hairlines.

I can't get the hang of the first part of the compound curve (the top part) - it comes out too thick too quick. Any advice on how you achieve it will be great.

I'll scan in some attempts to share by tomorrow.

Salman

I probably gave the wrong impression with my post of "calligraphy".

That was the best of many, many abortive attempts. I have particular trouble retaining enough ink on the hairline upstrokes. I do the stroke you described, by keeping just the left point of the nib on the peper and after the turn at the top, without stopping, I turn the pen slightly to the right to produce the full-width downstroke. I probably haven't got the technique right yet, as nine times out of ten, I get the result you describe. I wrote the word "calligraphy" to prove to myself that I could do it, but it's so hit and miss that it's not of much practical use to me, at the moment. I think that I'll have to study the technique, a lot more.

You may have noticed that I wrote the word "calligraphy" without a capital C. I find the ornate capitals quite impossible, at the moment. Later in the book, Bickham shows a couple of pages of ornate capitals. Goodness knows how he managed to produce hairlines of such length with an edged nib. I don't want to post his page in case I run into copyright problems, so this is a page of my own writing of similar complexity with a pointed flexible nib. Does anyone have any ideas as to how this could be achieved with a right-oblique edged nib? I keep running out of ink on the hairlines and it makes no difference if I'm using a dip or fountain pen or a quill.
Posted Image
Ken

Edited by caliken, 30 November 2012 - 16:23.


#49 thang1thang2

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 19:06

In many gothic scripts, they do their hairlines by turning the edge of the pen onto its side so only the point of the pen is touching the paper. Maybe this is also the case? He could write the entire letter in a monoline and then "flesh" it out as needed later. At least, that's the method I would've used; I can't imagine doing it any other way, far too easy to do it wrong.

#50 smk

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Posted 30 November 2012 - 19:17

I get the most 'hairline mileage' out of a bamboo pen with a brass reservoir, a quill is next, followed by a Mitchell dip pen and the FP last. The length of the hairline also depends on the ink+paper combination - papers that don't absorb ink readily allow for longer hairlines.

I'm not sure all the ornamentation was done in one go - I can pick up a hairline with the bamboo pen quite seamlessly when the ink runs out.

Salman

Edited by smk, 30 November 2012 - 19:17.


#51 kenfraser

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:42

Maybe this is also the case? He could write the entire letter in a monoline and then "flesh" it out as needed later. At least, that's the method I would've used; I can't imagine doing it any other way, far too easy to do it wrong.

The only time I would ever use this technique is with capital letters where the width of stroke was greater than is possible with a flexible nib. To produce simulated swelled letters by filling out a monoline by drawing them in, is very tedious and is rarely accurate. All of the above capitals were written in one stroke.

Ken

#52 kenfraser

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 08:55

I get the most 'hairline mileage' out of a bamboo pen with a brass reservoir, a quill is next, followed by a Mitchell dip pen and the FP last. The length of the hairline also depends on the ink+paper combination - papers that don't absorb ink readily allow for longer hairlines.

I'm not sure all the ornamentation was done in one go - I can pick up a hairline with the bamboo pen quite seamlessly when the ink runs out.

Salman

Your point about the ink+paper combination is interesting. Also, I must try a bamboo pen with a reservoir, sometime.

Again, you're probably right about the "joined-up" hairline technique. For those attempting to emulate the engraved copy books, it must have been quite a relief when the flexible, pointed nibs were adopted.

I'm particularly interested in Copperplate as a form of handwriting as opposed to the drawn version, and I use continuous, unbroken movement, wherever possible....of course, this is with flexible, pointed nibs!

Ken

#53 WestLothian

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 11:03

Perhaps the left side of the pen had an additional small split added for feeding the longer hairlines.
Again referring to Alais de Beaulieu, L'Art d'écrire, par Alais. 1680.and his pen with two beaks...

Posted Image

La plume à deux becs sert grandement a reconnoître les effets generaux, c'est pourquoi je conseille le curieux de s'en servir en ces exercise particulières.

The pen with two tips serves greatly to cope with the majority of effects, which is why I advise the curious to use this pen in these particular exercises.


I decided to chop into a rather boring ball-shaped medium nib on my "charity shop" Parker 51. This seems to feed some fairly long lines.

Parker 51.jpg

Edited by WestLothian, 01 December 2012 - 11:54.


#54 kenfraser

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 13:16

Perhaps the left side of the pen had an additional small split added for feeding the longer hairlines.
Again referring to Alais de Beaulieu, L'Art d'écrire, par Alais. 1680.and his pen with two beaks...

Posted Image

La plume à deux becs sert grandement a reconnoître les effets generaux, c'est pourquoi je conseille le curieux de s'en servir en ces exercise particulières.

The pen with two tips serves greatly to cope with the majority of effects, which is why I advise the curious to use this pen in these particular exercises.

This is interesting.

Is it possible to show an enlarged, clearer picture of the pen with "two beaks"?

Ken

#55 WestLothian

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 14:16

The original library scan quality is quite limited and the engraving may not have been much more detailed.
This is at 100% limit of the pixels captured:
Snap A.jpg

Edited by WestLothian, 01 December 2012 - 14:17.


#56 smk

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 18:19

The double beaked pen is worth a shot.

I do get long hairlines with a bamboo pen but the strokes are not very well defined. I'd like to have better control with a metal nib which gives the best results in terms of sharpness on the paper I used (Daler Rowney Marker Pad).

Here's a scan with some examples:

Posted Image

The whole piece in longhand is written with the edge of the bamboo nib (with reservoir) after dipping it. The whole of the piece in Higgins Eternal until 'almost finished now!' is written with one dip of the pen. The last line is done with a different bamboo pen without a reservoir that needed to be dipped 3 (maybe 4) times.

I'm happy to report that I think I have figured out a way to do the compound curve - I get it right about once in 5 attempts. I believe the speed of execution with an edged nib will be faster than with a pointed pen.

Salman

#57 Mickey

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 18:37

I believe fine-tuning the ink may be more important for doing extended hairlines with edged pens than with pointed pens. I know I've been compensating for evaporation from my ink pot much more often since I started trying this technique.

Addendum: I just performed a little experiment using my Xmas card ink for this year, Herbin 1670 (red) doctored with a healthy dose of gum Arabic. Once I established flow (got the line started), I was able to continue writing using just the corner until the nib was nearly dry. The line wasn't particularly fine, but I suspect thinning the ink might help that.

Edited by Mickey, 01 December 2012 - 18:51.

The liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications, and not in freedom from censure for criminal matter when published. Every freeman has an undoubted right to lay what sentiments he pleases before the public; to forbid this, is to destroy the freedom of the press; but if he publishes what is improper, mischievous or illegal, he must take the consequence of his own temerity. (4 Bl. Com. 151, 152.) Blackstone's Commentaries


#58 WestLothian

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 18:58

I believe fine-tuning the ink may be more important for doing extended hairlines with edged pens than with pointed pens. I know I've been compensating for evaporation from my ink pot much more often since I started trying this technique.

Addendum: I just performed a little experiment using my Xmas card ink for this year, Herbin 1670 (red) doctored with a healthy dose of gum Arabic. Once I established flow (got the line started), I was able to continue writing using just the corner until the nib was nearly dry. The line wasn't particularly fine, but I suspect thinning the ink might help that.


Let's see?
I have the 1670 but it NEVER dries. Even after a day I can still smear it from a page of writing.

#59 kenfraser

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 21:17

The original library scan quality is quite limited and the engraving may not have been much more detailed.
This is at 100% limit of the pixels captured:
Snap A.jpg

Thanks for posting. It's now sufficiently clear to see how it's formed.

#60 kenfraser

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Posted 01 December 2012 - 21:58

The double beaked pen is worth a shot.
I do get long hairlines with a bamboo pen but the strokes are not very well defined.


Your results with a bamboo pen are impressive.

Talking about a double-beaked pen, reminded me of this nib. It's a Mitchell's "Scroll Writer" nib. It produces double, parallel-stroked writing, which is different from the usual square edged, and quite attractive. You can see that both points are two-tined.

Posted Image

I remember reading somewhere that there is no such thing as a "one-hair brush" as a minimum of two hairs is required to hold and transport paint or ink. This is borne out by my metal pointed nibs. Writing on the corner of my oblique, edged nib is difficult because the corner rapidly runs out of ink and a I can barely get a full upstoke from one letter to another. On the other hand, my finest pointed stiff nib with two tines, can write a very, very long hairline until the ink runs out.

The left point of this "Scroll Nib" can produce very fine, long upstroke hairlines without any problem. I'm thinking of experimenting by trying to close up the gap between the points by bending the nib, and then grinding it to a right oblique. If I get it right, I'll post the results!

Any comments, advice or opinions?

Ken






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