Dip Pens and Calligraphy (My Version)

It snowed yesterday and we had sleet and rain overnight. This morning when I woke up it was a chilly 28 degrees. Our neighborhood roads were “crunchy” as I could hear our neighbors driving out. You know it’s bad when Hubby could not open the doors on his truck.

Yes. I’m having a late start this morning. Or I should say early afternoon right now.

I spent a few minutes this morning with my dip pen and Nikko G nib. Practicing my calligraphy or my style of writing. The last time I had a practice session was four (4) months ago. Needless to say, I was a bit rusty. This morning. I just went with the flow.

Here’s my writing sample from this morning:

My practice session from this morning and a few quotes

It was a quick practice session lasting about 15 minutes. I have to say it’s like riding a bike. My muscle memory was a bit rusty and my hand was a bit tired towards the 10 minute mark. Looking at the previous picture, I can see I have to work on spacing and writing straight.

Here’s a slide showing my previous writing session four months ago and the current writing sample:

I used the same dip pen and nib in both writing samples. You will notice that I used fountain pen ink. My practice sessions are more enjoyable when I’m writing with colored inks. Yes, I was bored with the black Sumi ink I used when I first started into this Calligraphy rabbit hole. For me, this is a great way to use up my bottles of ink.

Here are the brands I’ve been using so far and have had really good results.

I pour the ink into glass or plastic jars with wide mouths. I will then use these jars for dipping my nibs into the ink. That way I’m not contaminating the original bottles of ink.

I pour my ink into glass or plastic jars with wide mouths.

I keep mentioning jars with wide mouths. That’s because the dip pens I use are obliques. They have a brass angular nib holder:

Here’s a few empty jars I have on hand. Note the width/distance of my brass nib holder and the grip of my pen holder.

There are times where I can’t my nib into the ink. I will tilt my jar a bit just enough to get the ink to cover the nib and the breather hole.

Here’s a few of my dip pens that I use:

An assortment of dip pens that I use. Can you tell? I prefer chunky grips.

I originally started with a straight pen holder (white grip) like the one you see in the middle of the previous picture. After a few rough starts with calligraphy, I started to use the oblique holders. I found it was easier to control the pen. There’s also a slight spring or bounce when writing with an oblique. That has helped with my “rhythm” as I write.

I have tried out several different nibs. I’m still poking my paper with the finer and fancier nibs and hope to graduate to these nibs later. For now, it’s the “G” nibs.

These are the three popular “G” nibs (top to bottom): Nikko G, Tachikawa G, and the most popular Zebra G.

I started out with the Zebra Gs and found the nib did not hold a lot of ink. I was constantly dipping. Constantly stopping during my practice session. I did some research and found out there were two other popular “G” nibs available that hold more ink: Nikko G and Tachikawa G.

If you look in the previous picture, you will see the top two nibs (Nikko & Tachikawa) have ridges along the tip of the nib. The Zebra G at bottom is smooth at the tip. The ridges hold more ink on the nib.

For my practice sessions, I use my Rhodia Reverse Book. The paper in this book has a dot grid format. I found that regular grid lines in the other Rhodia pads were distracting to me. The “Reverse” in this book means I can use this book with the spiral on the side or rotate the book to use with the spiral on the top. I enjoy using this with the spiral on the top where it doesn’t interfere while I’m writing.

To keep track of my dip pens and nibs, I store them in a Sterlite plastic case. As you can see I can store a lot of pens in this case.

I know I covered a lot of areas and did not go into great detail. That will be for future posts. Just wanted to give you the basics and things to think about for your own use or further research.

Tips:

The “G” nibs are wonderful nibs for those who want to start learning Calligraphy.

Not limited to black ink. Colored inks are wonderful to use and brighten up writing samples.

I limit my practice session to 10-15 minutes in the morning and if I have time another 10-15 minute session in the afternoon. I personally have found that at the 10 minute mark, my hand will get tired as well as my fingers from holding the dip pen. My writing will also get sloppy. The shorter practice sessions are easier to carve out during a busy day. I like doing this first thing in the morning (after coffee) as the best time for me. I am alert and ready to start my day.

Practice lower case first. Develop muscle memory in forming each letter. Later learn to join the letters to create words.

Practice the alphabet. Practice writing favorite quotes, songs, etc.

I still have a ways to go. The important thing for me is to enjoy my practice sessions and my writing adventures.

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