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Confession Of A Sinister Sider

left handed nib grinding angles

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#1 Chmara

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 10:47

I confess not only to being left-handed having illegible handwriting and horrible printing for the last 70 years, since kindergarten, but also to using mild dyslexia and lack of coordination as an excusefor using typewriters and computers in the intervening years.

 

Now in impecunious retirement, I have decided it is time to learn calligraphy.  Note, I do not say "try to learn"  -- I say learn.

 

My first foray has been into using Pilot Parallel pens and  basic and supposedly easy unembellished Gothic as seen on You-Tube.  I also have discovered that I use over, under and side writing as a matter oc course, switching with what my eye and wrist need to complete a stroke.  Very uncomfortable and less than fruitful on thick/thin relationships requiring re-angling the pen.

 

I have seen left handed calligraphy nib sets, and also found the Neil has someone grind ing Parallel Pens to left handed usability. But, being broke, allegedly retired, and owning a Dremel tool, as well as some fine grit finish emory paper, AND knowing that each left-hander may have need of a different cut angle because of grip and wrist I have decided to take matters into my own hands and head.

 

I can see that as an apprentice grinding my own Parallels might be affordable, however,  I just do not know where to start. At which angle to put slant that would fit many lefties, including myself is the first question.  I have the tools already paid for and can afford about one $10 a month pen to work on.  Neil charges about $15 a pen plus shipping so I would otherwise have to go about 2 months between trying pens.

 

Can anyone suggest a starting angle and where to cut the Parallel Pens so I do the least damage and can cut deeper if needed?

 

And for the younger folks out there regarding the headline here - -- sinister was an old term for left handed people -- who were considered irregular, out of step and probably criminal in Olden Times. Those were the days before they learned about southpaw pitchers in the major leagues.

 

Gregg Chmara -- Looking for a perfect signature G.

 

 



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#2 Bo Bo Olson

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 11:30

Congratulations.....I a right hander have been threatening to learn to 'write' for the last decade...I majored in Procrastination.

Can't help you with the left had angle.

Do read Richard Binder's com........takes about 3 days.


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#3 inkstainedruth

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 18:00

I'm not a leftie, but a friend of mine used to teach calligraphy to lefties.  And there are two tricks I remember he said.

The first is of course how the paper is angled on your desk.   If you have the paper turned correctly for your style of writing (i.e., being an "overwriter" vs. an "underwriter") it will be much easier. 

The second (which I thought was quite interesting) is that you're not writing the individual letters so much as *drawing* them.  I think that he was maybe having people do all "pull" strokes, rather than doing any "push" strokes (mind you, he was teaching medieval hands such as blackletter and uncial -- not stuff like copperplate).

I would think that there should be zero reason to regrind the Parallel nibs if you do stuff correctly.  But I'm afraid that I can't help you beyond that.

I once had to teach net making to someone who was a leftie, and she ended up sitting across from me and doing mirror image of what I was doing.

Ruth Morrisson aka inkstainedruth

 

ETA: I got curious and did a quick Google search.  There's actually a lot of websites that deal with calligraphy instruction for lefties, but I thought I'd give you a shout out for this one in particular: 

https://www.iampeth....t-handed-scribe

 

A lot of the calligraphers here recommend the IAMPETH site just in general.


Edited by inkstainedruth, 04 December 2017 - 18:04.

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#4 sidthecat

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Posted 04 December 2017 - 19:11

I ran across this useful little picture, and I find its a good position for pulling lines with the left hand. It looks nuts but it makes your lettering very pretty.
fpn_1509217573__flourishing_hand.jpg

#5 ehemem

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 22:23

I ran across this useful little picture, and I find its a good position for pulling lines with the left hand. It looks nuts but it makes your lettering very pretty.
fpn_1509217573__flourishing_hand.jpg

 

 

Uh, the hand holding the pen looks like a right hand to me... :mellow:



#6 Drawing61

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Posted 05 December 2017 - 23:31

Try holding the pen between your index and middle finger, supporting it with your thumb. It might not work for you but it enabled me to relax enough to begin practicing. By the way, my husband was born left handed but forced to be right handed. Ignorant and cruel treatment but now he has the advantage of being ambidextrous. 


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#7 pen2paper

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 03:43

a little aside, from a Dexter (heraldry directional term), just read a recent study that observed hand use for preference (or not & there was)  in-utero, continued observing preference after birth, with logical outcome, very early preference.

 

Please do share what you find works for you.  



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#8 woleizihan

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 05:47

The simplest and safest way to figure out what's the best angle for you is forgetting about the dremel, get a 4000 grit sandpaper and write on the sand paper slowly with minimal pressure. Try the pen on a normal paper once a while and stop until you find the pen comfortable. Do only the "vertical" strokes first, which don't have to be vertical but is really how you normally write from top to bottom. Then once the pen has adapted to your writing angle, you can start off polishing out the sharp corners on the sides just like you normally tune nibs. Then finally you use higher grit sandpaper to polish the whole nib.

I have done this to all of my stubs/ cursive italics and it works for me every single time. Even for nibs that are ground by nibmeisters, slightly adjust the angle will make it adapt to my hand better. The problem is everyone has a different angle and probably even yourself cannot measure it precisely enough but you hand will always choose the most comfortable one. If you are doing this for the first time, I will suggest you to use a higher grit paper, probably 8000 or 10000, because it will take down the nib much slower, and check very frequently on writing paper to see the progress.

The keys to this method are slowly because you don't want to ruin the nib, no pressure because you don't want to push the times out of position, write on real paper regularly and finally, trust the ability of your hand to find out the most comfortable position for itself.

#9 PAKMAN

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Posted 06 December 2017 - 16:44

My wife who is a lefty but writes under hand has beautiful handwriting, you can do this!


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#10 Torrilin

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 02:06

If you’ve got links to the Gothic instruction you’ve looked at, I can take a crack at it. Lefty over writer. I write a fairish Italic hand, and have for the last 20some years. I got exasperated with being unable to read my own writing at age 14. There’s several schools of thought on how to name hands, and Gothic can be several different things. Some stuff that gets named Gothic is easy to learn, other stuff not so much. And easy partly depends on the letterforms you already use, and on the look you want.

The iampeth lefty stuff linked above doesn’t look too bad. I’d have to poke at it with a pen in hand for more details, but it’s not as obviously wrong as was current when I taught myself.

I have a Pilot 2.3mm parallel pen, and it seems ok. I got it for drawing, and the ink flow feels a bit low. I’m still trying to write out the first cartridge since I don’t have a spare pilot converter to feed to it. So it’s using Pilot black. It probably wants an ink with amazing flow. Most edged nibs do. I’ll try it out with my usual favorite for fixing up pens when the time comes. But I won’t have a solid assessment for another few mL.

What I’d actually suggest for learning is a chisel/italic tip felt tip pen. A nice fat one, at least 2mm tip size, bigger is better. Don’t pitch your parallel, just save it for now while you write out the felt tip. By the time it’s running out of ink, you should have a lighter touch on the pen and a decent start on a hand of some sort. Then you break out the parallel and write out a cartridge or three. Don’t bother to try regrinding the nib until you’ve killed at least one cartridge. Specialty nibs are just that, and while we’re all special and unique snowflakes you’re probably not going to need fancy. You can cross the bridge for fancy when you know more.

I suggest the felt tip because they hate basically every paper. But they tend not to bleed so much that your hair lines get destroyed. Whatever paper you try for practice first will be one sided. But you’ll wind up trying at least a few papers while using it up. And papers that handle a felt tip less badly will handle a fountain pen well by comparison. Paper is a big deal for calligraphy, just like any other art. If the paper is bad, use it for other stuff. You’ll go through a lot of paper learning. But it’s usually doable to find 20lb or so copy paper that is good enough.

#11 Chmara

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 06:20

I wish to thank those with advice so far -- and all take patience and perseverance. And let me encourage those with more to say, variations and techniques that may even be slightly different to add to this compilation.

 

Now at age 76 I should have more P&P and more than enough skill to figure this out.  The investment in time, being retired, is not a major factor, but cost of materials, pens, etc. is.  The frustration of not being able to place my left hand, wrist or fingers so as to NOT need to put an angle on the flat Parallel Pens to see what I am creating while getting the variable widths needed  is aging me more than time itself.

 

It would seem that reshaping the flat surface on a slight angle would allow more visible control and less pen lifting and ugly joints where strokes meet.

 

Slowly using the papers suggested by Wolzeheim above, while tedious, but looks like the only affordable, practical solution so far.

 

So -- again, AND in advance -- Thank you sincerely for the advice and tips.



#12 sidthecat

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Posted 07 December 2017 - 16:42

Well-observed, ehemem. Let me suggest you reverse the image, physically or digitally, to get more more accurate finger placement.

#13 Chmara

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Posted 14 December 2017 - 02:40

I find that trying to mirror image righties -- as pointed out just above -- leads me to complications.  I am forcing myself to be an underwriter, but the effort it is hindered by not seeing though my somewhat fleshy hand and arm.  Smudging to follow.

 

With the parallel flat blades, I am coming to understand that righties, by slightly cocking their wrist, can affect the nib angle . But at least for me -- my left wrist does not move the way a righty does, and adjusting my grip puts the butt of my hand into the newly applied and now smeared ink. I am thinking I need a way of a way to rotate the pen holder itself to change the blade angle, but do not have the micro-motor skills too be accurate in changing the angle consistently other than for 90 degrees.

 

Any suggestions? Or, just practice, practice, practice. 



#14 sidthecat

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Posted 17 December 2017 - 18:18

I ran across the information recently that most cats are left-handed.

Draw your own conclusions.

#15 Torrilin

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Posted 09 January 2018 - 05:00

I find that trying to mirror image righties -- as pointed out just above -- leads me to complications.  I am forcing myself to be an underwriter, but the effort it is hindered by not seeing though my somewhat fleshy hand and arm.  Smudging to follow.
 
With the parallel flat blades, I am coming to understand that righties, by slightly cocking their wrist, can affect the nib angle . But at least for me -- my left wrist does not move the way a righty does, and adjusting my grip puts the butt of my hand into the newly applied and now smeared ink. I am thinking I need a way of a way to rotate the pen holder itself to change the blade angle, but do not have the micro-motor skills too be accurate in changing the angle consistently other than for 90 degrees.
 
Any suggestions? Or, just practice, practice, practice.


Sorry, I’d missed this.

Honestly, it was literally 3 months of daily drill of at least 3 pages a day to get the basics of a single hand down enough to be useful. Do a page of a letter. Mark 3 that I liked. Do the next page. Repeat. It was stunningly boring. I had to get very in the zone to make any progress. It was another 12 months worth of daily drill to get reliable results every time. I couldn’t get nice results with a 1.1mm nib until near the end of the 16 months.

If you’ve got a smear problem you’re probably doing the lefty overwriter thing. There’s a reason lefty ink reviews tend to be obsessive about dry time. Most inks will be a little ill behaved at 1.9mm or larger. Inks that have poor dry time in an xf nib tho can be absolute nightmares. I haven’t thoroughly tested all of pilot’s inks, but I haven’t been impressed so far. A different ink will change things around. (Hopefully you’ve run out the included cartridges by now) What I’d suggest for now is pick up a sample pack of inks and a blunt syringe to refill your cartridges. Doesn’t matter if it’s custom or a store designed package really. Just get some different inks. I like colors for drill, and I like shading. But we all have different tastes, and there’s about a zillion different inks to try. A 2mL sample should refill a Pilot cartridge twice, which will give you a start on whether you want a second sample of that ink. I wouldn’t suggest buying a bottle til you’ve used up a second sample for now. Really I’d suggest waiting to buy a bottle until you’ve got a second nib size in use, because it’s really hard to judge an ink in just one nib.

Us lefties can also adjust the nib angle. I don’t currently have anything inked with an italic nib but my parallel, and due to the nature of the body of the pen it’s probably going to be hard to demonstrate. A Lamy Safari has a weird grip section, so it should be easier to see/feel what it’s doing. (This is not a recommendation, this is a comment on how I’d stage illustrative photos) And I may need a second set of hands for images. If you’re still struggling, I can see about kidnapping someone to press the shutter button for me. The more you can tell me about what you’ve tried, what exemplars you’re using, and show samples the easier it will be to get you help tho.

#16 Chmara

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Posted 10 January 2018 - 04:00

Mint, thanks for the tips --

 

It indeed is the parallel I am thinking of how to regrind to allow me to overcome the lack of wrist action available to righties.  I have not had the patience you have inb thre pages of one letter at a time -- but have used the idea in shorter bursts.  my handwrigin is now up from 5th grade deliiquent to seventh grade neighborhood bully who has yet to turn in a complete essay.

 

As an leftie underwriter I have few smear problems and use Heart of Darkness, Bay State Blue and Diamine Ancient Copper.  Will be trying noodler's X-Feather soon.  I acqiired the blint syringe habit early as cartridge prices are not for the elderly on Social Security.

 

I know you are correct in your prescription for drill and practice -- and have to (at this advanced age) still learn the discipline to regulary do it to completion. I have not yet found a script alphabet for daily use I like and I remain incompetent in approaching spencerian or copperplate with any legibility or finesse.

 

Suggestions, though, for alphabets that are easier for lefties to accomplish without major nib grinding or breakoing of bines would be appreciated......as well as any ongoing advise we can devlope here or the benefit of we 10 percenters (left handed.)



#17 Torrilin

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Posted 11 January 2018 - 20:54

The only alphabet I have down perfectly is Italic. And it wasn’t 3 pages of a single letter, “just” one. So I’d start with A, B, and C, then the next day would be B, C and D and so forth. Between that and the fact that italic uses both upper and lowercase, 3 months went by surprisingly quickly. And since I was using a huge chisel tip marker, it was not all that much per page. And one sided. I don’t think I really found much paper good for double sided use until I was at least half though the first year.

I’m not talking about regrinding a nib, just adjusting my grip so I get the right shape. If you’ve written much with a pencil, you’ll have a habit of turning your pen almost imperceptibly while you write. Not a problem with a ball nib, but flat nibs hate it. And that habit is the source of the nib feeling funny most of the time. A lot of learning calligraphy is learning to catch that habit. It affects righties too. This is why so many pen reviews harp on the “sweet spot”.

I haven’t messed about with the sort of hands that most of IAMPETH’s instruction focuses on. They’re not to my taste, and many of them weren’t intended for use with a pen anyway. I know they’re what most people think of with calligraphy, and they’re attainable by lefties, but mostly the work that was done lefty was done with a burin for engraving and was done mirrored.

My favorite ink is Platinum Carbon Black, but it’s a pigment ink and not really cheap. Lamy Black is much cheaper and I’ve yet to run into a Lamy ink that misbehaves and has bad hairlines. Just the color choices are rather slim. Pelikan Black has a good reputation and shouldn’t be too expensive. But really the ink thing is very variable, and almost every lefty here has different taste. And about half the dedicated ink reviewers are lefty. Pilot sells huge and quite cheap bottles of their ink, but as I said upthread I don’t like their black. Diamine I think offers large bottles for some colors, and J Herbin for their black (which I do like). Noodler’s is cheapish in theory, but they have a huge selection of inks with awful dry time. If you find a black you like, a huge bottle is worth it.



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