Here's a job I've been putting off for a ridiculously long time. My steel pens are my everyday tools - if they're not doing a good job, then I can't either.
Over the last few months (many months!) I've ended up with a mixture of good nibs, nibs that needed a bit of TLC, and nibs that were beyond rescue.
All muddled in together, it was frustrating picking up a pen only to find that it didn't write well, and then having to change to a different nib.
Well yesterday I worked my way through them all, cleaned them, sorted them, and I now have a full set of pens ready for action.
(I should really credit BT for this work - our broadband was down all day yesterday so that huge time-thief that is the internet was unavailable to me.)
If, like me, you've found the everyday tools for your chosen activities have got in a bit of a mess, I can highly recommend a spot of time sorting them all out.
I'm perhaps a little obsessive about this, but I think a piece of calligraphy (or indeed any art) is spoiled if the paper it is written on has unwanted creases in it. Unfortunately paper is very unforgiving - very easy to accidentally dint it, but pretty much impossible to "un-dint"! It's for this reason that I choose a heavyweight paper (at least 200gsm) for any pieces that I feel will be moved around my studio a great deal - every move on and off the drawing board is a potential time for bruising the paper.
I'm also careful not to press the paper against the edges of my drawing board - if I'm really concerned about this, with a piece that will hang over the bottom of the board while I'm working in it, I may pad the edges of the board.
(The foam insulation for plumbing pipes is perfect for this - just slide a piece onto the bottom of your board.
The family tree I've just been adding to has, in the past, been quite badly creased, which is a shame as such a lot of work went into creating the piece. I thought about trying to remove some of them, but decided that I risked making matters worse, and as the customer hadn't mentioned them, I might just be drawing attention to something she wasn't concerned about!
(Keep your obsessions to yourself, Janet!)
Most of the family trees I've worked on have been a complete project starting with a blank sheet of paper.
This one is different - the tree was created for my customer some years ago, and as her children marry and have children she has wanted to have their details added. We're fortunate that the original calligrapher left plenty of space - and I'm pleased to say used good quality paper.
It's an interesting challenge adding to a tree - matching the style of the original calligrapher and adding the names but keeping the piece looking balanced.
I've never been in print as a calligrapher before, so below is my inaugural article!
I'll be honest - I'd not heard of Paper Crafter - but they approached me, and as paper is one of my key crafty obsessions (what am I talking about - it's my number 1 crafty obsession!) I thought - why not?
If it persuades just one person that they'd like to give calligraphy a go, then it will have been worth it.
The magazine is available in supermarkets as well as newsagents, and the lovely people at Paper Crafter are at www.papercraftermagazine.co.uk
I've spent this rather warm week making big changes to my website, and I'm now hoping to be able to make some more noise about what I can offer!
Do please have a look around - there's a few areas still under construction, but I felt the need to get to the point of making it all live, otherwise I'd be tempted to keep everything under wraps for weeks!
I am now selling from my site, and for the first time anyone wanting to enrol for online learning can do so directly, plus I've added all sorts of other information.
The online learning has had video added to all the beginner lessons, making it much easier to understand how to form the letters.
I consider my blog readers to be my pals, so if you find anything that doesn't appear to be working correctly, do please let me know.
Not really related, but love this image that seems to catch how it's feeling today!
A piece of calligraphy usually takes a while to be created. And you'd hope that the person it's for is going to enjoy it for a long time too.
Something that can be overlooked is that not all products (papers, paints, inks) are lightfast 0 indeed there are some colours that will change if left in the light for only 24 hours (some fibre tip pens, and what we knew at school as sugar paper, for example).
I'm trying to get more disciplined with knowing which materials will last - and share some of that above.
Each of the strips of colour were cut in 2, half were kept in the dark, and the other half were hung in a south facing window which gets sun for much of the day - they were left for 5 months.
I was impressed with how lightfast the coloured pencils are, even when washed with water - a few surprises where the arrows are on the picture - especially the orange Verithin pencil because it has vanished so entirely I thought perhaps I'd missed it off by mistake (I hadn't) and because there's almost no change in the other Verithins.
Most pleasing are the Ecoline watercolour inks - I tend to use these for fun, and guessed that they would fade very quickly - but they've done very well!
I'd really recommend doing this with any materials that you know you rely on - it's quick and easy (apart from waiting for a few months of sunshine!) and might just save you from relying on a product that would fade.
Last Saturday a happy group gathered in Bunny village hall for a workshop on using a pointed pen.
The morning was spent working only with pencil, to grow confidence and skills.
Then after lunch everyone discovered that they could write interesting and beautiful letters with a pointed pen - on paper of every colour, in many sizes and styles.
I thought the results were excellent - and people worked really hard - hope they all had fun too!
Here's some of the work created on the day....
The Fosse Centre in Farndon is a new venue for learning something new!
It's right next door to the Hardys Farm Shop, just off the old A46 in Farndon.
Gill Groom is the lady in charge, and she's keen that everyone knows the sort of things on offer - so here's a FREE taster day. If you fancy one or more of the sessions, why not drop Gill a note?
(Yes, there's a calligraphy taster - I'm hoping to be able to run a course there from September too!)
One of the things I will achieve soon is the creation of some good video footage to include in my online learning - because it's so helpful to SEE the letters being formed.
Today has included a great deal of experimentation with lighting, tripods, cameras etc. to start on that journey. I hope the video below will give you some idea of the lengths I'll go to in order to get some well lit video!
(hee hee - I realise that as I post this, 2 amazing tennis players are playing the Wimbledon singles final in similar temp
After a long break from Gothic lettering I'm going to be teaching it again soon - always nice to dust down a hand that's been "rested"!
I enjoy teaching it because it's less complicated that people imagine, and they get the look of the lettering quite quickly.
I found a great image of the Malmesbury bible HERE and did some proper analysis of the hand, before having a play.
At the moment I'm just using a Pilot Parallel pen, which is fine but misses all the beautiful finesses of letters that the scribe created (many are only possible with a quill).
It's not perfect but it's got me enthused - just the one spelling mistake - Shallott should only have one L - doh!
Here it is again with an ordinary pencil on the page - is the lettering bigger than you thought?
It's an A2 piece of paper, and the letters are 30mm high. Easier to see all that is wrong!!
I'm Janet Smith, a calligrapher who loves to experiment with lettering and calligraphy.