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The sense of Calligraphy


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As many of the aficionados of the Montblanc forum will certainly have seen, on the pages of another thread dedicated to the 149 Calligraphy we had many exchanges of views as to the combinations of inks and papers that are best suited to this special nib. In recent times we have made various experiments with Amalfi papers, other hand-made papers and an interesting Fabriano paper called Unica, trying them with various permanent and non-permanent inks, both for calligraphic use and for everyday writing.

All this made me want to write a reflection on the meaning of calligraphy and on the relationship that for the past year and a half binds me in a special way to my Calligraphy pen, and to do it by making use of what many friends have learned on these pages, using my Calligraphy with some chosen paper and ink.

The result is a small calligraphic work that I made first on the Unica paper, using the Calligraphy with Coffe Sunburst ink by Diamine, and then the same pen with Montblanc's Black Permanent on an Amalfi paper by Amatruda.


For the title, written in Roman capital letters, I used Mahatma Gandhi ink in the first version, used for intinction with an old Omas Lucens. I drew the outline of the letters and then filled them with ink with the Omas thin nib. However, apart from the fact that the title seemed a bit too big to me, I was sorry not to have also written it "calligraphically”. The Unica paper performed very well, with all the nibs and all the inks. The almost complete lack of surface texture makes it a little "impersonal", and for this reason I decided to do a second test on a more textured paper. I chose Amatruda paper for inkjet printers, which is a hand-made, laid paper in the A3 format. It has a large filigree with the name of the paper mill on the lower right part of the sheet.l  


I did some experimentation with different nibs and inks, using both pointed and cut nibs. In the end, it seemed to me that the best result was that of the stub nib of my Montegrappa Extra 19230 Bamboo Black, but not with the Alt Goldgrün ink it was loaded with, but rather with Diamine's Golden Brown. I washed the pen, loaded it with brown, and wrote the title in the Roman square capital "straight away”.


With a title in brown, it seemed to me that the main text should not also be in a brown color, so I emptied and washed the Calligraphy and loaded it with Black Permanent.


And here is the result, which I photographed together with the two pens that made it. The text has many, too many adjectives, but I like it for its simple design. With pointed handwriting, the hard part is resisting the temptation to overdo it with flourishes …






In the following photograph you can observe the "experiments" of Roman capital made with different nibs and inks, as well as the first version of the work, with the title written with the Gandhi ink.




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  • fpupulin


  • NoType


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fpupulin, what an amazingly informative and entertaining post you have gifted us with this weekend, an absolute pleasure to read and reread, the perfect sort of infotainment for those like myself eschewing other, lesser forms through radio, television, and internet.


I must respectfully take slight issue with your self-criticism: I found the text actually perfect in the amount of adjectives, the sentence gracefully composed and beautifully constructed.  I cannot think of an editorial change that could improve the structure or enhance the impact of your art.  Because make no mistake, your two efforts are art works of compelling beauty.


Your doubled reflection on calligraphy in these two versions is pleasing both aesthetically and descriptively, from the differences in font between the top line, the title, the body, and the valediction, to the colours and dimensions chosen for these four parts.  


I found the Mahatma Gandhi colour for the first version’s title to be light enough in tone and elegant enough in hue to carry off its extra large size.  I especially like the frisson created by the juxtaposition of the delicate top line “The sense of” with the bold title “Calligraphy,” heightened by the colours chosen in the first version.


The second version trades high drama for almost a Vitruvian-inspired sense of correct and pleasing proportions, where the texture of the paper lends a quiet enhancement to the composition.


Both versions are sublime in their own ways, and satisfyingly exhibit the comeliness of the pointed calligraphy, the depth of your talent and achievement in the art of this beautiful writing.  Thank you for sharing your extremely successful experiment with the forum, enriching our days and making us indeed fortunate.

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On 9/11/2021 at 12:10 PM, NoType said:

fpupulin, what an amazingly informative and entertaining post you have gifted us with this weekend, an absolute pleasure to read and reread, the perfect sort of infotainment for those like myself eschewing other, lesser forms through radio, television, and internet. [...]



Dear pen pal, your chosen and beautiful words have more merit in my eyes than my writings ...


I really like using my pen to write, as I usually do, what is going through my head, but taking advantage of her calligraphic skills to do it in a more eye-catching way. It is the power of calligraphy, that of extracting words from their zone of uniformity and making them somehow shine for the eye as if they were new and high-sounding ...


In the harmony of the calligraphic expression the phrases take on a melodic and sung and enchanted aspect.


I made a third version of the writing, engrossing the descending strokes more to give the text a body of greater weight, in an English cursive more in the style of Percossi than in the more delicate one of Mediavilla.




More balanced with the title, which maintains the design and proportions of version II, this last proof is perhaps my favorite. As you can see, in order to visually fill in the empty spaces next to the title, I made some light flourishings, which complement and complete the rectangular shape of the work.



Here you can see the three versions all together, on my desk.





Thank you again for your observations.

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fpupulin, you are much too modest — surely the pleasure you provide us with your calligraphy exercises must far exceed any humble thanks or observations on your experiments that we may proffer in return, hardly in my eyes a fair exchange.  This “trade imbalance,” as it were, seems fated to continue and grow ever larger, and so in lieu of furnishing answering calligraphic responses to your contributions whilst I practise and take heart from your efforts until I feel comfortable sharing my output, I am reduced to these delighted acknowledgements upon which you so generously and undeservedly remark, to my (embarrassed) appreciation. 


I too find the third version’s weightier style the most pleasing, and the most harmonious with the title’s overall proportions, the latter greatly benefitting from the added flanking flourish.  The body’s vigorous cursive and the title’s ornament are inspired improvements to an already quite lovely pair of works, but if I may be so brash, my only wish is for slightly bolder lettering in the title, the writing modified to perhaps halfway between the current weight of the (second and) third version and that of the first version.  It seems to me that slightly weightier title lettering might better stand up to the increased impact of the body’s robust style, as well as create an even greater contrast with the delicate informality of the script of the top line (“The sense of”).  I freely admit that this change may not result in as great an enhancement as you have wrought with the more vivid body, but, at best, rather a more incremental refinement.


Thank you, fpupulin, for continuing to ignite and galvanise our imagination.  

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