The Scriptorium is my work journal; a place for show and tell.

Entries by Kim (168)


My Favorite Things: Vintage Nibs

Hunt #21 Companion Round Point Vintage Nibs

I found this box of vintage nibs in an antique shop in Minocqua, Wisconsin when we were on vacation this summer.  A whole box of nibs in perfect condition!  One-half gross!  For twenty dollars!

I didn't know if I'd like using the nibs (I am a Brause EF66 girl, myself) but I fell in love with the old box and the whole idea of vintage nibs so I had to have them.  And the best thing is that I love these nibs!  They aren't as flexible as the EF66 but so far, the box has got it right; they don't spurt or scratch.  The hairlines are super thin.  The shades aren't as thick as the Brause, but they're perfect for tiny little placecards and small applications.


My Favorite Things: Century Oblique Pen Holder. . .

. . . or more precisely, a 5/8 inch Century Oblique Pen Holder.  Oh, how I love this pen holder!

It's a little fatter than the standard Century Oblique, designed to reduce hand fatigue.  It has been marvelous in reducing the pain of arthritis in my thumb.  [Here you see it with my Ziller Oblique (on right) so you can see the difference]

John Neal Bookseller also has a very thick, fat wooden straight pen holder for broad nib--that's on my wish list.  I'd love to be able to make that one into an oblique holder!


M Favorite Things: Homemade Pen Solution Recipe

Here's an easy solution for cleaning pens.  It's especially good for cleaning acrylic inks from nibs:

3-1/4 cups water
1 cup ammonia
1/4 cup rubbing alcohol
1 tsp. dish washing liquid

I use an ultrasonic cleaner to clean broad nibs, so I go through quite a bit.  It's easy to double or triple the recipe and store it under the drawing board in a washed out milk jug.

For pointed pen nibs, there is another 'homemade' pen cleaner I like to make:

This one still looks fairly presentable because I only just cut the potato in half and wrote a few lines so that I could snap a photo of this tip.  After a day of use, it looks pretty nasty.  I can use the same potato for two or three days. Red potatoes have very thin skin so once the flat cut side gets mushy, you can place it flat side down on a saucer and keep using the potato for a few more days.  Keep an eye on it thought, it might go moldy.

It's great to have a potato at the ready in case the phone rings or someone comes to the door--just stab the tip into the potato and off you go!


When you sit with your pen. . .

“When you sit with your pen every year of your life is right there, wired into the communication between your brain and your writing hand.” 

Ted Hughes

Mr. Hughes was speaking about the creative activity of writing but I think it can be said that when a scribe sits down with her pen, engaged in setting down the thoughts of others, every year of the scribe's life is there, too, and the muscle memory of years of practice and work run along that wire between brain and writing hand, don't you?


My Favorite Things: Moon Palace Sumi Ink

Because I am always curious about tools and materials that are preferred by other calligraphers, I thought I'd do a series about some of my own favorites.

The first thing that popped into my mind was Moon Palace Sumi Ink.  Inky, dense, jet black--it's my all time favorite ink for broad pen.  I also like to use it with pointed pen when I need a rich, deeply black ink.  The hair lines are fine--not as fine as some other inks--but still nice.  It's especially nice for pieces that will be reproduced or copied.

Moon Palace is relatively easy to remove when making corrections.  It tends to lay on top of most papers, so you can carefully, gently scrape it off the surface, sometimes without any further treatment. 

It is said to be waterproof when dry, but I've found that it's reallly more water resistant.  (I'll be sharing my favorite waterproof ink in another post.)  Clean up is easy.  I read somewhere that a 50/50 solution of Simple Green and water is best, but I just use my regular home made ammonia based cleaning solution and it works just fine. 

I store the ink in a small bottle with a dropper to make it easier to decant into a dappen dish--just squeeze out a couple of droppers-full into a dappen dish and you're ready.  When you're done working, if there's any left in the dappen dish, it's a simple thing to suck it back up into the dropper to transfer it back to the bottle--no waste!

Moon Palace has a distinctive, but not unpleasant odor.


Using a Phantom Liner

The Phantom Liner can be a calligrapher's best friend and a true life saver, but it can also be unbelievably frustrating.  Setting it up properly and keeping it set up properly will go a long way toward avoiding a lot of the frustrations.

Here's what I do to make sure my Phantom Liner doesn't shift or shimmy while I'm working:

The first thing I do is tape a large piece of paper onto the surface of my drawing board, then place the assembled Phantom Liner on the paper.  Once you have it adjusted to a position that is comfortable for you to work from, carefully trace around the base of the Phantom Liner.  Next, place the guide sheet that you want to project onto your work surface and tape it securely to the white board which is positioned on the left.

After you've got everything positioned the way you want it, carefully start taping the base of the Phantom Liner to the paper.  Since it's so top heavy, it's really easy to bump the device while you're reaching under there, but since you've traced the footprint of the base on the paper, all you have to do is line it back up and tape away!

Once you've got it all taped down, take a piece of paper cut to the same size as the envelope to be addressed and mark a horizontal line in the middle of the paper.  Lay the paper under the see through/ right side of the Phantom marker and line it up with your guidesheet.  Mark the four corners.

Now just place an envelope under the right side and line it up with the four corners.  Your envelope will be positioned squarely with your guidesheet so you won't have to worry about crooked lines.

That solves the problems of bumping the device or inadvertantly placing the envelopes crookedly. 

I haven't yet come up with a strategy that will help with that 'writing in mid air' feeling, but just knowing that the whole device is stable really cuts down on the frustration!


Master Calligrapher Jeanyee Wong

Calligraphy is so personal. It reveals a lot about you in addition to just being writing.

Jeanyee Wong

Her body of work, created over her remarkable 70 year career, reveals her mastery of calligraphy and her influence upon modern calligraphy.

I wonder what my calligraphy reveals about me.



Keeping Lines Straight

I've learned that rulers are not only great at making straight lines, they can help you keep your lines 'straight' when working from a list of addresses.

It's so easy to pick up a number from the line above or below the one you are working on or begin an envelope 'Mr. and Mrs.' when it should really begin 'Ms.'  This is a great little trick that has helped me eliminate that sort  of error.

Now, if I could just come up with a trick that would help me eliminate transposed letters and numbers. . .


Phantom Liner

I'm addressing wedding invitations this week.  The envelopes are patterned and lined so I can't use my lighted drawing board.  Time to get out the Phantom Liner!

If you're doing copperplate or another slanted hand, be sure to make your slant lines backwards on the guidesheet so they are at the proper angle when reflected on the envelope!


Dictionary Word of the Day:  Majuscule

\MAJ-uh-skyool\ , adjective;
Of letters written either as capitals or uncials.
A large letter, either capital or uncial, used in writing or printing.

Inspired by today's Dictionary Word of the Day, this is my first attempt at broad brush calligraphy.  There's a learning curve so I'm not entirely satisfied but I thoroughly enjoyed playing with this new (to me) technique.