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Attempting A Roundhand With A Dip Pen



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I've mainly been using a dip pen for sketching, to ensure that my strokes are surer when I sketch and that I get more comfortable with long strokes, curved strokes, etc.

 

However, since I joined FPN, I've been itching to try my hand at calligraphy. A friend gifted me an old nib from their stash of different unused, it turned out to be a William Mitchell Round Hand 3.

 

Here is my very first attempt at a Round Hand script,

 

post-119102-0-85589400-1421783455_thumb.jpg

 

And here is the nib,

 

post-119102-0-46314000-1421783488_thumb.jpg

 

I plan to,

- Practice with either graph paper or ruled sheets as an aid

- Figure out if I can work with cursive in this script

- Look up IAMPETH and Zanerian to print out a reference script

 

Any suggestions about how I could improve the script (apart from regular practice)?

 

A few questions about the nib,

- I also noticed some green deposits on the nib, which I'm guessing is rust. Does anyone know how I can get rid of it without ruining the nib? I'm in India, and unsure of sourcing materials that might be sold off the shelf elsewhere, so homemade or self made solutions/ideas would be a plus.

- As you can see from th holder, the cork is quite stained (it has blue and black inks in them) because I am currently dipping it straight into a small mouthed/necked bottle and do not always know when to stop dipping. Any ideas how to clean the cork?

- I'm currently using a stock dye based black fountain pen ink (Bril), I've read that adding arabic gum to this will help when using dip pens. Will this affect the nib in any way?

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Once ink is in the cork, because of all the pores in the cork, it is there to STAY.

You might get some out by soaking the holder, but that could cause the metal clutch to rust. So soaking is not a good idea.

 

The only options that I can think of are:

1 - Use a bottle with a larger mouth, so you can see the ink level and control how far into the bottle you dip the pen.

2 - Fill the bottle to a depth such that only about 3/4 of the exposed nib will go into the ink before you hit the bottom of the bottle. That way the nib holder cannot get into the ink.

San Francisco Pen Show - August 28-30, 2020 - Redwood City, California

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Yep, that's the classic Round-Hand nib. Works great, gives beautiful lines. The nib and holder looks like the one on my desk but is missing one thing: There is a brass holder that slips onto the nib to allow picking up more ink when you dip the pen. Do you have ink holders? Can you get one for your pen? Will substantially improve your control over the ink.

 

Dipping is great and works well. Most professional calligraphers I know use a small artist's brush to fill the nib with ink. Gives more control and ensures one doesn't soil the cork with ink. Most common brush is a No. 8 Round or a 1/4-inch bristle Square. The Square is used to fill and remove ink that crusts up as one writes. Also, an eyedropper may be used to fill a pen as well.

 

Best of luck to you, enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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Once ink is in the cork, because of all the pores in the cork, it is there to STAY.

You might get some out by soaking the holder, but that could cause the metal clutch to rust. So soaking is not a good idea.

 

The only options that I can think of are:

1 - Use a bottle with a larger mouth, so you can see the ink level and control how far into the bottle you dip the pen.

2 - Fill the bottle to a depth such that only about 3/4 of the exposed nib will go into the ink before you hit the bottom of the bottle. That way the nib holder cannot get into the ink.

 

Thanks, I plan to try and use a small cup/empty syrup bottle for now as a temporary ink pot.

 

Yep, that's the classic Round-Hand nib. Works great, gives beautiful lines. The nib and holder looks like the one on my desk but is missing one thing: There is a brass holder that slips onto the nib to allow picking up more ink when you dip the pen. Do you have ink holders? Can you get one for your pen? Will substantially improve your control over the ink.

 

Dipping is great and works well. Most professional calligraphers I know use a small artist's brush to fill the nib with ink. Gives more control and ensures one doesn't soil the cork with ink. Most common brush is a No. 8 Round or a 1/4-inch bristle Square. The Square is used to fill and remove ink that crusts up as one writes. Also, an eyedropper may be used to fill a pen as well.

 

Best of luck to you, enjoy,

 

A quick questions, could you please elaborate a bit more about what you mean by the brass holder? I'll try using an eydropper tonight to check if this helps.

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Sorry, flummoxed, my vocabulary slipped. The Mitchell reservoir is what I was referring to. Pictures can be found on the John Neal Bookseller website, showing the reservoir. Cost is $0.62. Just a small bit of shaped brass that slips onto the bottom of the dip pen to allow more ink and better control of the ink. In a pinch, I have used scissors and pliers to create one of my own from a Coke can. The aluminium in such a can is almost too thin but it does work.

 

Almost indispensable with broad-edged pens, the reservoir is not used with pointed pens at all. Tape nibs also use a reservoir, put on top of the nib. Pictures of the Tape nibs are also on the John Neal Bookseller website. Also, there are several old threads on FPN that show and discuss a variety of ways to make and install a hand-made reservoir.

 

Best of luck,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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Sorry, flummoxed, my vocabulary slipped. The Mitchell reservoir is what I was referring to. Pictures can be found on the John Neal Bookseller website, showing the reservoir. Cost is $0.62. Just a small bit of shaped brass that slips onto the bottom of the dip pen to allow more ink and better control of the ink. In a pinch, I have used scissors and pliers to create one of my own from a Coke can. The aluminium in such a can is almost too thin but it does work.

 

Almost indispensable with broad-edged pens, the reservoir is not used with pointed pens at all. Tape nibs also use a reservoir, put on top of the nib. Pictures of the Tape nibs are also on the John Neal Bookseller website. Also, there are several old threads on FPN that show and discuss a variety of ways to make and install a hand-made reservoir.

 

Best of luck,

 

 

Thank you for the clarification Randal! I did find more details about then here on FPN and on whole host of other calligraphy sits. Unfortunately, I don't think shipping these reservoirs to India makes sense at all, I'll have ot make them on my own until I travel the next time or until someone comes here.

 

Many the guides also seem to suggest that I should use an oblique holder if I try calligraphy. What are your preferences?

 

I tried to do this today,

 

post-119102-0-71468500-1421870989_thumb.jpg

 

I definitely need better paper as this paper gets caught in the nib and there is some feathering. Also, thanks to Randal and Ac12 for the suggestion on using an eyedropper to fill ink, it worked really well. There was a bit of a startign problem with it, but once it started, this was much cleaner.

Edited by flummoxed
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Glad to know we helped you a bit, flummoxed. The oblique holder is a valuable tool when writing Spenserian or Copperplate. With an oblique holder, and turning the paper about 50 degrees counterclockwise, the pointed pen could flex easily on the downstrokes. This creates a wider, tapered stroke that is the basis of Copperplate and used (less but still a part of the alphabet) in Spenserian. Very useful for these two styles. IAMPETH (www.iampeth.com) has many tutorials and books on writing variants of Copperplate and Spenserian, not to mention several other American cursive hands. Not really an accurate name, but the one that is normally used since the flex pen was the tool of choice of many American writing masters in the 1800's.

 

Round Hand is not really part of the pointed pen alphabets. Normally, the broad-edged pen is used for italic, Roman, gothic, and other historical Latin alphabets. So the straight nib, held at 45 degrees to the writing line, is the standard nib for writing these hands. Many great writing books that teach these hans are on the Internet. Perhaps my favorite is Edward Johnston's Writing and Illuminating and Lettering. Take a look at some of the resources and this may become a lot clearer.

 

Looking at your latest writing, feel that you are doing well and need only to study and practice a bit to achieve your goals. Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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I'm using IAMPETH for some of the style guides and found a few videos and other resources to learn a little more about strikes and styles. I'll look up Edward Johnston too.

I see what you mean by the angle and pressure needed with an oblique holder. However, I'm a little confused by your second paragraph, do you mean that Round Hand is not generally written with this nib or that this nib is not used for Copperplate and Spencerian.

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I see what you mean by the angle and pressure needed with an oblique holder. However, I'm a little confused by your second paragraph, do you mean that Round Hand is not generally written with this nib or that this nib is not used for Copperplate and Spencerian.

Copperplate and spencerian is written with a pointed pen that flexes to give the swells and hairlines. The thickness can be controlled by the pressure during your downstroke and you can vary the thickness along a downstroke by varying the pressure (therefore opening the tines more or less).

 

The Flat nib that you are using will give you a standard thickness on the downstroke unless you twist the nib to change the contact angle of nib to paper. Technically you can use this to write a form of copperplate, but the pointed nib is the most suited for it.

 

You can try this link for guidelines for roundhand. It lets you adjust the size of the x height, number of lines for ascender and descender and angle of slant too. You can also adjust the darkness of the guide lines to either have light lines printed directly on your practice sheet, or dark lines to use under your practice sheet.

 

http://shipbrook.net/guidelines/

 

For a beginner, the most forgiving nib is the G nibs by Nikko, Zebra or Tachikawa.

 

For paper- Get the 85gsm Bilt Royal Executive Bond. You can get this in any stationery shop.

 

Gum Arabic will make a big difference to your writing since you are using Bril ink. The Bril is very thin and the Gum arabic will give it a good flow.

Get it from here. This is the cheapest I could find online

http://creativehands.in/daler-rowney-gum-arabic-solution-75-ml.html#.VMG1EoepUlk

 

Add a few drops of it to the ink (sample quantity) and try it and keep adding more till you get the consistency you want.

 

One more option for the eyedropper, that I use, is eyedropper bottles itself. They can be filled with ink, drops can be delivered to the nib and they can be sealed back for ease of carry.

 

http://i.imgur.com/Q25aHPN.jpg

 

 

http://i.imgur.com/xnEBHh4.jpg?1

 

 

For the rust, Try gently rubbing the nib with an old toothbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol, you can try the hand sanitizer or can even try it with any white toothpast(not gel type). I found the Colgate salt works well in preparing the nib.

 

I know the calligraphers here will kill me for saying this :) , but if the rust is very stubborn try using a small piece of 1500 grit waterproof polishing paper. gently rub the rust spot. This will expose the nib surface and degrade the nib a little, but the rust has already done that to the nib.

 

-Prasad

Edited by prasadvenkat
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Oh, I just knew we would get into this. The sad truth is that Round Hand means different things to different penmen. So, it becomes quite confusing. The William Mitchell # 3 nib you are using is a broad-edged nib and is generally used for italic, Roman, German gothic hands, and many more. Your writing shows pleasing thicks and thins. I would classify it as a cursive round hand, produced with an italic, or broad-edged, nib. Other penmen would call it by other names. Mostly the Mitchell Round Hand nibs are not used to write Round Hands. But they may be. They are called Round Hand nibs because they are made in England and associated with English Round Hand. English and French Round Hand are particular scripts that only vaguely resemble Copperplate or Spenserian.

 

Copperplate and Spenserian are written with pointed, flexible nibs and evolved out of English Round Hand. Have many names, among them Engraver's Script, Engrosser's Script, American Cursive, etc. The American penmen started using oblique holders to get better, faster strokes. Many English penmen still use straight holders or flexible fountain pens to write these hands.

 

But, while it is usual to use pointed nibs, it is not necessary to use pointed nibs to write Copperplate and its variants. So you may use what you have available in whatever way will achieve your goals. Knowledge and practice are the determinants of what a penman can achieve. Would recommend searching the threads on FPN and reading a lot.

 

Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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Hey, Prasad,

 

We won't kill anyone for usings sandpaper. (Maybe a bit of maiming, but not in your writing hand.) As you say, sometimes extreme measures are needful to achieve one's goals. And rust cannot be tolerated on a pen.

 

Enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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Hey, Prasad,

 

We won't kill anyone for usings sandpaper. (Maybe a bit of maiming, but not in your writing hand.)

 

Enjoy,

Breathes a sigh of relief.. as long as it isn't my writing hand :)

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do you mean that Round Hand is not generally written with this nib or that this nib is not used for Copperplate and Spencerian.

 

Oh, I just knew we would get into this.

 

Copperplate and Spenserian are written with pointed, flexible nibs and evolved out of English Round Hand. Have many names, among them Engraver's Script, Engrosser's Script, American Cursive, etc. The American penmen started using oblique holders to get better, faster strokes. Many English penmen still use straight holders or flexible fountain pens to write these hands.

@ Flummoxed

Send me your postal address by PM and I will send you a couple of G nibs you can try. Get a feel for it and they decide what you like.

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I've been on many forums, but FPN continues to amaze me by the environment created by the community. You guys have tonnes of patience and thanks for sharing all those details.

 

@Randal: Aha! It is the British and the Americans at it again. Sigh! These Americans and their innovations (mostly their anti-Brit drives :P). After your response, I went and looked at some of the origins of broad and pointed nibs uses and it gave me more clarity.

 

@Prasad: You are generous! I'll PM you the details. I have Arabic gum from my mom's stash (she used them for her Gesso work in Mysore art paintings), once I figure out the consistencies I'll order from CreativeHands. They seem to be the cheapest online resource for supplies in India. I've been using what is marketed as sketching ink (it seems to have the same consistency as off the shelf Indian ink). The shipbrook link was really useful, I'll print some sheets to use as guides for practice.

 

It is sad that IAMPETH redid their website so drastically, all links from most posts/disucssions are broken and I had to dig up a few links by digging around their site.

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Have you tried the pointed pen for roundhand and Engrosser's script type of lettering?

 

I just received a bunch of pointed nibs from Prasad and I tried my own version of a Roundhand again.

 

@Prasad: Thank you for the generous gift!

 

fpn_1422555924__thankyounote.jpg

 

Maybe it is too soon, but I now seem to understand why an oblique holder will be usefull when using pointed nibs. I do need to use proper ink and start practicing the angles.

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Please don't give up on IAMPETH. Even though it is hard to navigate and find what you are looking for, the tutorials and books are so valuable that it is worth it. Your version of Round Hand shows a lot of promise.

 

The Joe Vitolo videos on Copperplate were especially valuable to my study of that script. To see the letters being constructed contributed a lot to my understanding of the hand.

 

For Italic, the lessons on YouTube by Lloyd Reynolds are very good and as valuable as the Vitolo videos. The best book I know of for italic beginners is The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting by Fred Eager.

 

Another book that is well worth acquiring is Eleanor Winters' Italic and Copperplate Calligraphy. It shows the advantages of each script, how to do it, and compares the two scripts in detail.

 

Best of luck, enjoy,

Yours,
Randal

From a person's actions, we may infer attitudes, beliefs, --- and values. We do not know these characteristics outright. The human dichotomies of trust and distrust, honor and duplicity, love and hate --- all depend on internal states we cannot directly experience. Isn't this what adds zest to our life?

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Great job there.

Mix up the walnut ink and write with that. You will see an immediate difference in the writing. Just as the nibs and paper make a difference, so does the ink. Specially for calligraphy.

 

Like Randal said, use IAMPETH. GO to the site and click on the lessons. Most are pdf's and just go through the lessons from the first to last. The first few lessons are a goldmine of information on nibs, holders, inks and styles.

 

If you have an iPad, Joe Vitolo has a great ebook for roundhand with videos next to text on how to practice.

 

Happy writing

-Prasad

 

Edit - forgot to mention- DON'T use the walnut ink in a FP.

Edited by prasadvenkat
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@Randal: No, I haven't given ip on IAMPETH, I find it difficult to navigate their current listings. I do plan to pick up the Winter's book the next time I go the store, in the meantime I'm practicing with a Speedball book I found in my cupboard.

 

@Prasad: I tried the ink over the weekend and it works like a charm, will post pictures soon. I'm using the http://shipbrook.net/guidelines/ link to generate the guidesheets for practice but there seems to be a bit of a difference between it and IAMPETH. Not to nitpick but they seem to differ with the 55 and 52 degree angles for Copperplate, I've noticed that the thinner lines look slightly different when using these two as the angle of the nib (both with the pointed and otherwise) does not correspond with them. Do I need to hold them differently when the angled lines are at 55 vs 52? I know it might not be much of a difference, but just want to understand things and not really follow the book to the "T".

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@Prasad: I tried the ink over the weekend and it works like a charm, will post pictures soon. I'm using the http://shipbrook.net/guidelines/ link to generate the guidesheets for practice but there seems to be a bit of a difference between it and IAMPETH. Not to nitpick but they seem to differ with the 55 and 52 degree angles for Copperplate, I've noticed that the thinner lines look slightly different when using these two as the angle of the nib (both with the pointed and otherwise) does not correspond with them. Do I need to hold them differently when the angled lines are at 55 vs 52? I know it might not be much of a difference, but just want to understand things and not really follow the book to the "T".

 

Select the 55 degree for copperplate. The 52 degree slant is if you are writing spencerian.

 

To maintain the angle,

First hold the pen as you normally would and keep the paper with guidelines straight ahead of you. The Guides should be parallel to the desk edge and your body.

Now touch the nib to the paper and turn the paper anti-clockwise, without moving the pen, till the split line on the nib matches the slant line.

This is one of the ways to maintain good slant when writing.

 

When you perform a downstroke, your hand should be moving just up and down and your tines should be opening equally on both sides of a slant line. Do this with a dry nib, so that you can see the opening. Once you get a feel for it, ink it up and try.

 

Another good habit is to print out the guides (you can select the darkness in the bottom- set it to 25 %)

on your paper and write directly on it. Use a pencil first, till you get a feel for the movement and then progress to the nib.

 

If you are just starting copperplate, select the x height to about 3 lines per inch or even 2 lines per inch. (this option is available when you select "custom" in the x height box.)

 

Ascenders - 2 x

Space - no overlap

Angled - 55 degree

Every - (choose mm ) and mention a figure that is half the x height.

 

5 lines per inch is about 5mm x height. So the Every option will be 3 mm

3 lines is about 8mm - Every option 4 mm

and 2 lines is about 13 mm - every option 6 mm

 

This is helpful in the forming of width of the letters and spacing.

The width of a letter should be half the height and the space between alphabets should be half height in most cases.

 

Happy writing

Prasad

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