Today DeAnn reviewed ratio and demonstrated connecting the lowercase letters to form words and sentences. The handout was the project template.
For warm-up, we practiced writing the letters (not words). Use the large guidelines, use a different nib, and use black or sepia ink. Don’t write the same letter 20 times. Write a letter once, then study the Exemplar and compare them. If you find something to improve, write it once or twice more. Then move on to the next letter. It’s more helpful to study the Exemplar & your written letter than just writing it many times without any observation.
If the ink beads off and rolls right off the nib, rub more gum Arabic onto the nib. Really rub it in using your fingers. Don’t worry about getting gum Arabic on your hands, it’s non-toxic and will wash off.
The Gillot 1068 nib is made of thinner metal than the others so it may be loose in your pen holder. Flatten it slightly (be careful not to flatten it too much!) just at the very end (NOT the tip!) with small needle-nose pliers.
What is Ratio: In Copperplate, pen width doesn’t determine x-height (height of the letter “x”) like it does for chisel-point nibs. Instead, the ascender and descender length depends on the ratio and x-height being used. On the Large 1/4” Guideline sheet that we’re currently using, note the “(3 : 2 : 3)”. 1/4” is the x-height and the ratio shows that the ascender is 1 1/2 times the x-height (3 : 2 : 3 = 1.5 : 1 : 1.5). So if the x-height is 1/4” (= 2/8”), then the ascender is 3/8” from the waist and the descender is 3/8” from the base.
If you’ve taken DeAnn’s class before and are familiar with boxes in the 8x8 grid paper, think of the ratio as boxes. 3 : 2 : 3 means that the x-height is two boxes tall, the space from the waist to the ascender is 3 boxes, and from the base to the descender is 3 boxes. So the ratio of 2 : 1 : 2 means that if the x-height is 2 boxes, then the ascender is 4 boxes and so is the descender (2 : 1 : 2 is the same as 4 : 2 : 4).
The ratio of 3 : 2 : 3 is normal. DeAnn addresses envelopes in this ratio. 2 : 1 : 2 is elegant. This ratio leaves more room for flourishing if you’re creating an invitation or writing a poem. 1 : 1 : 1 is simple. This is like writing in a spiral bound notebook.
Practice with all nibs and with the different inks. If a particular nib isn’t working for you, try another one. As DeAnn says “Work the problem.” The purpose of working with different nibs and inks is to become aware of which nibs work better with which inks in certain situations. Vermillion is great to work with, but not a very practical color to use for actual projects in real life. In a later class, DeAnn will bring in a variety of papers for us to try so we can see how different nibs and inks react to these papers.
Nib Identification Chart: As you try the different nibs, write down your observations on the Nib Identification Chart. If the Gillot 404 is medium sharp and medium flexible, rate the sharpness and flexibility of the other nibs in comparison. Also make any other notes that make a particular nib different from the others.
Notes on individual nibs:
Gillot 404: medium sharp, medium flexible
Gillot 1068: medium sharp, stiff
Gillot 303: very sharp, very flexible
Hiro 40: sharp, flexible. Known as the “blue pumpkin”. You may have to rub gum Arabic on this many times as it doesn’t want to hold on to ink. DeAnn has also heated it with a match and sanded it. It her writes best on paper that isn’t textured.
Hiro 40: dull, stiff. On smooth paper it doesn’t make thin hairlines or thick downstrokes, but it works very well on watercolor paper.
Brause Steno: medium sharp, medium flexible. This is DeAnn’s favorite for most papers. Its tip is less square edged than the Gillot 404 so it doesn’t get hung up in the paper. It doesn’t make as thin hairlines, but works well in addressing envelopes.
Brause EF66: sharp, very very flexible. This is best for big writing because its flexibility can create thick downstrokes.
Connecting letters into words: start with the sentence “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.” Don’t worry about capitals yet. To connect the individual letters, the last stroke becomes the entry stroke for the next letter. For “the”, only the “t” has an actual #7 stroke. The #3 stroke of the “t” becomes the #7 for “h”, the #4 stroke of the “h” becomes the #7 for the “e”. Leave a little space between the exit strokes and the #7 entry strokes, just enough to separate the words. The sentence shouldn’t look like a list of words but a sentence.
Start thinking about what text you want to use in your project. It could be a poem or song or a quote, like an excerpt from something longer. It should be about 50 words.
1. Large guidelines
2. medium guidelines
3. use all nibs (don’t forget to label your paper & nib ID chart)
4. use black, sepia, vermillion
5. write alphabet sentences (no capitals)