The pen

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I should have posted this I while ago but somehow I’ve forgoten

Every thursday we are going to do a whole day of caligraphy. Pointed nib in the morning and broad nib in the afternoon. I didn’t expect caligraphy to be so physicaly exhausting. By the end of the day your whole body aces. But the frustrating thing is that the results on paper are so poor. It looks like you’ve been writing with your left hand. Well actually I am left handed so for me it would be the right hand then. Do you still follow me?

So the pointed nib, as the name indicates, is the pointy one. When you make horizontal and upward strokes the pen makes thin strokes but if you press on the nib as you make a downward stroke the nid opens up and you get a thick stroke. As a result you get very high contrast and vertical axis letters. One could say that you get Bodoni or “Didot” looking letters. If you refer the Noordzij’s theory of writing in his book “the stroke”, the type of contrast you make with the pointed pen is the result of the “expension” properties of that nib. It’s not the direction of the nib that defines the thick and thin parts of the letters but rather the pressure you apply on the nib.

Now lets talk about the broad nib pen. For this lesson we didn’t actualy use a pen but instead we used a brush. The reason is that with the broad nib pen you should only make downward strokes. Thecnicaly you can make upward strokes with a pen but you can’t with a brush. So with the brush we wont be able to cheat. We didn’t go as far as making real letters yet. We learned to hold the pen at a 30% angle by making horizontal and vertical strokes. By the end of the lesson your back is broken and you’ve only covered two sheets of paper with wobbly lines. In theory when making letters with the braod nib pen the contrast is the result of the “translation” properties of that nib. It’s not the pressure you apply on the pen that defines the thick and thin parts of the letter but rather the direction you give to the nib.

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