I started a Copperplate correspondence course and I'm in the early stages, doing endless drills. I've started doing the foundational strokes and I'm enjoying it but I think I'm doing something wrong. I began with the Hunt 101 nibs but found them a bit too firm. I have to lean on them a bit to get the expressive line. I use a light hand and the switch to a Gillot nib helped a lot. I've come to the realisation that speed is pretty crucial and weeks of producing very wriggly lines has begun to correct itself. One thing I thought would correct itself in time was the catching of the nib on the paper with the upstrokes. I've no trouble with any other form of stroke, but as soon as I move the pen up it catches the paper. I'm using an oblique and I'm only using the weight of the (very, very light) holder pen to make the stroke. Yet still, it seems to want to tear into the paper. I've tried adjusting the angle I hold it at and I've fiddled with the setting of the nib, all to no avail. I think it may be the paper - I'm using Tomoe River with a guide sheet and a few sheets of other paper underneath for cushion. It may be that it is still something that will come in time and perhaps I need to be more proactive in lifting the nib for the upstrokes, but I'm wondering is it the paper. If someone with a little more experience were able to reassure me that my tutor is correct (she thinks it will come in time) or that I must change the paper, that would be great.
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I'm Doing Something Wrong.....
Posted 11 April 2019 - 09:03
I'm surprised that you found the Hunt 101 too firm for you. It's normally quite a flexible nib. The modern Gillotts nibs are certainly very flexible, but also some of the most difficult to manage (try to get vintage 303s if you can find them, much easier to use and plenty flexible enough), and are very prone to catching paper on the upstroke, so no surprise there. I don't think it's the paper: Tomoe River is one of the smoothest papers you can use. You could try Clairefontaine which is very smooth but has a harder surface than the TR.
Many people start flexible nib scripts with Nikko or Zebra G nibs, which are plentiful, reasonably priced and quite forgiving. They won't give the super fine hairlines of a Gillott, but are great to learn with. If you've been using the Gillott 303, try the 404 instead. Not quite as flexible, but probably better to learn with. Other good nibs are the Brause 361 EF "Blue Pumpkin", Brause 66 EF, Leonardt Principal EF (although there have been recent QA issues with these, so check them carefully).
Your comment about being more "proactive" with the upstroke is certainly heading in the right direction: if you're relying on the weight of the pen and holder to draw the upstroke, that would certainly be enough to catch the paper. It does need a lighter touch than that. The tip of the pen needs to barely touch the paper in order to avoid catching, and give you the finest hairlines.
Time and practice certainly helps resolve these things, but sometimes you have to experiment to find what works best for you. Getting used to a range of nibs and paper will only be good for you in the long term.
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