Breakthrough with Copperplate calligraphy

This year, I intended to take a break from practicing pointed pen. I was going to pick it up later in the year or sometime next year. I decided to write something with I pointed pen because it was the appropriate tool. Little did I know, it would result in a breakthrough in my understanding of pointed pen calligraphy.

Since I had been practicing French cursive, I decided to write French cursive in pointed pen. I was not sure how it was going to turn out, or if it was going to work. Since there is not an angle or slant in French cursive, I used a straight pen holder.

It actually turned out pretty good. There are a few places where the straight strokes are not consistently straight. But I think it works, especially since I did not use a pointed pen for a few months. I wrote this with a straight holder because the strokes are straight and not slanted. Not having to maintain the letters at an angle really calmed me down. I felt I was really able to write with the pointed pen.

Even thought I wrote with a straight holder, I still felt that the nib was too stiff. I was using a Tachiwara G nib. I picked through a collection of nibs to find one that works. I needed something that was flexible enough so I would not have to put too much pressure on the pen. The Hunt 22 seemed to work well for me. It placed the right amount of ink when I wanted thick strokes. It also felt really smooth.

Since I found the right nib for the straight pen, I decided to try it on the oblique pen. The nib felt really good in the oblique pen. And since I was not so focused on the amount of pressure I needed to create thick strokes, I was finally able to take a good look at the pen and paper in front of me. I figured out the alignment of the front of the pen staff and the lines on the paper. If I kept the front of the pen staff parallel to the lines on the paper, the nib would always be at the angle of the flange. This way the movement of the pen will always create angled shapes. I finally figured out how to create and maintain a slant for Copperplate!

Once I was no longer having fatigue in my hand due to the nib, I noticed that I was becoming less comfortable with the grip on the pen holder. I make a point to not grip tightly. But I noticed that the small diameter of the pen holder caused my hands to cramp. I had the same feeling a few weeks ago with a slim fountain pen. I decided to try carrot pen holders, which are thicker in grip diameter. The carrot pen holder felt much better in my hand. My hand may fatigue due to holding the pen for a long time, but it did not cramp.

While trying the carrot holder, I also tried a few more nibs. I found out I really do not like to break in a nib, but would rather use a nib with which I can start writing. I really like the feel of the Hiro/ Leonardt 40 nib. It does not take a lot of pressure for the tines to open, but it also does not feel too delicate. A similar nib is the Brause Steno 361, which I also tried. The Brause Steno 361 is much stiffer than the Hiro/ Leonardt 40 and was too stiff for me. I will continue to use the Hiro/ Leonardt 40 nib.

It feels really good to finally have pointed pen tools that work for me. My hand still gets a little sore from practicing, but not as bad as before. I really still need to practice my shapes and letters. I find it funny that I now understand pointed pen more when I wanted to step away from it compared to when I was trying really hard working on it. At the same time, it shows that my decision to focus on French cursive (and then potentially revisit Copperplate) was the right decision. I was able to focus on the familiar and use it to associate with the unfamiliar. Now I feel like I’m prepared for this Copperplate calligraphy adventure!


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