Tools of the Trade

Calligraphy Tools

These are the tools of my work for the last three months, while I completed six formal resolutions for a longtime client. It is very satisfying to return to the simplest form of my craft. Despite the myriad art supplies in my studio, these are what I begin with: pen, ink, paper. The newest indispensable tool for small writing is the magnifier above on the left. Though I initially resisted learning how to use it, it has proved a great boon to the quality of my formal calligraphy. This one is an Optivisor with three interchangeable lenses, very lightweight, allowing me to sit straight. Much better than nose on the paper!

Calligraphy practice notes

When I arrive at the proper-sized sample on my test paper, I cut it out and tape it above the writing line on the final paper. For the body text, I use a computer-printed layout with a font similar to my own writing, folded along each line and also taped above my writing line, to be sure that I fit the entire required copy. Using these layout roughs to work from prevents spacing walkabouts, and also helps prevent letter errors. Not always though; the mind can’t wander too far! This is about as small as I want to write anymore, using the smallest Tape nib (size 1/2).

Calligraphy_Hand Writing

I had to start over again on a few of these, but lining up was fast with the parallel bar, which I wrote about here. After writing upwards of 18,000 characters in the last quarter turn of the solar wheel, I am in a sweet spot with my skill. At the Lammas new moon, I’m looking forward to some spirals and fun for my next project, ready to harvest some creative time in the studio.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • Jane Brenner 07/28/2014, 8:50 am

    Cari, what fun to see another calligrapher working much the same way as I do! I have a light that has a magnifier built in which I got years ago when I did pasteups for publications and books. And now, I use it for close work and the inevitable corrections. This year I’ve done three formal Resolutions; the challenge , I think, is to take often dreadful, formal language and make it look interesting!

    • Cari 07/28/2014, 11:19 am

      So good to hear from you, Jane, sister scribe. I used the magnifier lamp last year for a while, but found there was not enough distance between the glass and the pen holder, so had to move the paper every two letters, which played havoc with the rhythm. So I went back to the Optivisor and finally got the hang of it. I was actually most impressed by my scrap strip of paper with six resolutions’ worth of pen marks on it, made before putting that pen to the final paper!

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