Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Rained In with Calligraphy Nibs

10/28/14 Sailor Jentle Doyou ink, Sailor pen,
Stillman & Birn Alpha sketchbook
Yesterday I stayed in all day, partly to work but mostly because the rain that Seattle is so famous for is back (after an unusually dry summer and early fall) with a vengeance.

To distract myself from tedious tasks such as earning a living, I started thinking about the calligraphy-shaped “nib” I had crudely tried to carve on the ends of my sketching twigs. That made me remember the actual calligraphy nibs I had purchased quite a while ago for my Lamy pens. My intention at the time – long before I discovered the Sailor bent-nib pen – was to see if I could get a variable line width from the calligraphy nibs. I’m not a calligrapher by any means, so I wasn’t sure how to hold the nibs properly, and my lack of ability to manipulate the thick and thin strokes discouraged me. I took the nibs off the pens and forgot about them – until now.

Yesterday I dug out the 1.5mm and 1.9mm nibs again and put them back onto a couple of Lamys. (See, this is why I maintain such a large collection of pens that I don’t use much anymore for sketching – you never know when you’ll need some spares for impulsive ideas on a rainy day.) Through my studio window I can see a very tall, unattractive, particularly lopsided tree silhouetted against the sky. It would make a good subject for sketching with a twig, so I decided to try it with the calligraphy nibs. I also sketched it with my trusty Sailor (as sort of a “control” in my completely scientific experiment, above).

Of the three, the Sailor definitely moves the most freely and fluidly. But interestingly, the two calligraphy nibs remind me quite a bit of sketching with the twig – difficult to maneuver, unpredictable, somewhat haphazard – and entirely fun! While even the 1.9mm nib can’t make the bold strokes that twigs can, both calligraphy nibs have one advantage over the twigs: Ink flows easily. (With twigs, ink “flow” is more like ink blop.)

10/28/14 Diamine Eclipse ink, 1.5mm calligraphy
nib, S&B Alpha sketchbook
10/28/14 Diamine Sapphire ink, 1.9mm calligraphy
nib, S&B Alpha sketchbook

Nothing like having a new toy on a rainy day! And it's a good thing, because here's what I have to look forward to this week.


  1. One of PNW Sketchbook Skool klassmates is offering a workshop day on calligraphy (she's a professional calligrapher). It's in events on the PNW SBS Facebook page. Or, I could help a little as I've done some calligraphy in the past.

  2. Fun sketches with the different nibs. I'm making progress...I found my twigs and did a small jar with India ink and gauze...but I've been too busy lately to get any sketching done!!! I know if I have time to comment here I should have time to sketch. lol


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