I did a small commission last week for a very nice customer, commemorating the ringing of the quarters (church bells) for a couple's Ruby Wedding Anniversary.
Although everything else is hand done, the crest is printed on the paper, so I chose a paper that would give me the best image I could get from my printer. It's not one I usually use for calligraphy, but a bit of testing suggested it was fine for lettering too.
So I merrily created the piece and sent it on its way.
A couple of days later the customer contacted me to say the piece was smudged. I was puzzled - perhaps as it was so small he felt the lettering was insufficiently sharp? Of course I said I'd do it again, and asked if he's be so kind as to send a photo of the smudging just to see what it was I needed to correct.
Oh my goodness - it looked terrible! On the plus side, I knew I'd not sent it out in that state, but what had happened? I knew I had wrapped the piece loosely in a protective sheet of paper before it went in the envelope, so I had a little play. Even allowing the ink (black gouache) a couple of days to dry, it didn't "set" so the movement in the post of the piece, rubbing against the protective paper, created the mess.
I've done the piece again (with my nibs even sharper, to get better letters in the first place) on a paper type that I know and trust (Saunders Waterford), and I've sent it taped face down to a protective piece of card - so hopefully it'll arrive in the same state as it left here.
So there's a couple of learnings - package the piece up so it's got no opportunity to move around, and if I'm using unfamiliar paper, maybe test whether the paint ever "sets".
I'm Janet Smith, a calligrapher who loves to experiment with lettering and calligraphy.