DeAnn introduced herself and distributed supplies and handouts. The first pointed pen style she will be teaching is Pointed Pen Uncial. The pointed pen Uncial worksheets and exemplars are created by Satomi Wada.
Preparing your supplies for ease of transportation: Dropper bottles of gum Arabic, Best (black Sumi) Ink, and Vermillion (Sumi) ink were distributed. The dropper bottles are leak-proof so bring those to class; if you have ink the original containers, it’s OK to leave those at home. From the dropper bottles, fill one of the ink wells (or “dinky dip”) to at least the ridge-line. You want to be able to dip your pen and cover the nib’s reservoir area (“eye of the needle”) completely.
Preparing the Pen: Put the nib into the oblique pen holder so that the “eye of the needle” (the opening in the nib) points directly upward. The fit may feel tight, but push the nib in at least halfway for a secure hold. Hold the oblique holder as you would normally hold your pen, with the angled nib to the left side. If you have a brand new nib, you’ll need to prepare it by rubbing gum Arabic all around so that the ink will adhere to the nib and not just bead-up and slide off. New nibs usually have a waxy coating and you may have to rub with gum Arabic several times until the ink will stay in the reservoir. NOTE: Vermillion ink will rust your nib, so wash it off with water after you’re done practicing.
Preparing the paper: Make a crease in the cover of the cotton comp paper pad about a half-inch down from the top. Fold this back so that you’ll have a flat writing surface without the cover bunching up to the left. Place the guideline sheet underneath the first sheet.
Prepare your work space: The key to being able to write correctly is to set up your work space correctly and sit in the right position in relation to your paper. Position yourself so that your elbow rests completely on the tabletop, which means you’ll probably have to sit at an angle to the table edge so you’re not twisting your torso. Place the ink well above the paper pad and tape it down to avoid accidental spills. Place your exemplar in front of you, preferably in a stand like a Page-Up, so it's easy to refer to.
If your shoulder is hunching up, then the table is too high; sit on a cushion so that your shoulder stays down. Stretch regularly if you start getting stiff.
Use your left arm to take the weight off your body by placing your left hand above the area where you’re writing. Try to learn NOT to have a heavy writing hand, but practice having a light touch. Putting the pressure on your left hand helps with this. This will help your writing hand from getting sore. REMEMBER to breathe! If you’re having trouble writing the strokes, exhale.
We started out using the Gillot 404 nib and Vermillion ink, using the Pointed Pen Uncial Basic Strokes handout. Place this sheet underneath the first sheet of the cotton comp pad. The cotton comp sheets should be transparent enough to see the worksheet underneath.
Explanation of Guideline sheet: Uncial is an all majuscule alphabet, meaning the letter forms are all capitals, with no lowercase letters. (Minuscule refers to an alphabet which has both capitals and lowercase letters.) So Uncial doesn’t have real ascenders or descenders. The letter height is the x-height, defined by the waist (top edge) and base (bottom edge). We’ll start with an x-height of 10mm. If you look at the worksheets, the individual lines are 1 mm apart, both horizontally and vertically, with the darker blue horizontal lines 5mm apart. The darkest-blue lines are 10 mm apart. On the pink highlighted and non-highlighted guidelines, the black horizontal lines are 5mm apart.
Writing with the nib:
1. Pen should be in the direction of the vertical lines Pointed Pen Uncial is not written on a slant, but at a 90-degree angle, which is perpendicular to the baseline.
2. To create the square top & bottom edges, set – press – pull – stop – release
3. If the nib is sticking into the paper, adjust the angle of how you’re holding the nib. Lowering the angle may help.
Writing the basic strokes: You apply pressure on the down stroke (thick), no pressure on the up stroke (thin). This is how you create thicks & thins. The goal is for all the down strokes to have the same width (i.e. consistent pressure). Look carefully at the handouts, then trace the strokes, paying attention to the thickness of the strokes and the width and height.
NOTE: If your pen nib is not aligned in the correct direction, it will become tweaked over time.
Notes on individual basic strokes:
(thought not numbered on the handout, for easier reference, the basic strokes will be referred to as #1 - #12).
1. To make the I-stroke, set – press – pull – stop – release. Notice that the vertical Uncial stroke is “waisted”, meaning it becomes slightly thinner in the middle. Don’t worry about making this “waist” right now – work on becoming used to writing with the pointed pen and when you’re more comfortable with it, she’ll show how to manipulate it to make the tapered waist.
2. Start at the top, applying pressure as you make the downward curve in a counter-clockwise direction, decrease pressure at the end of the curve.
3. Similar to #2, but after the downward curve, continue the up-stroke to about the same height as the starting point.
4. Looks like the opposite of #2. Start at the top, make the downward curve in a clockwise direction.
5. Start at the lower left, then an up-stroke curving in a clockwise direction. Apply pressure on the down-stroke as you curve downward.
6. Called a carrot, apply pressure as you press, then pull at a 55-degree slant, but release pressure almost immediately.
7. Make a carrot, then place your pen in the carrot and make a wavy line with very little pressure.
8. The opposite of #7, make the thin wavy horizontal line, then make a carrot at the end.
9. Apply slight pressure as you start the stroke, very little pressure during the horizontal stroke, then slightly more pressure as you end on a short downstroke.
10: Start like a carrot, applying pressure on the downstroke, then taper off as you curve upward.
11: Start like #1, but slowly decrease pressure and curve upward
12: S-curve starts at top, apply pressure on the down-stroke and no pressure on small upstroke at the end.
NOTE: If the stroke is thick, then it’s a down-stroke (apply pressure); all up-strokes are thin (no pressure).
DeAnn then went over the Pointed Pen Uncial 1 worksheet handout, which covers letters I, J, H, L, T, K, X, V, Z.
REMEMBER: Don’t get overwhelmed! If you get really anxious, go back to the last step you were comfortable with and practice that.
DeAnn says: in pointed pen, you really have to become the master of your materials.
HOMEWORK: Continue practicing the strokes with the both Vermillion and Best ink and all your nibs. Go on to trace and practice the remaining letters in Pointed Pen Uncial 2 and 3.
Once you feel comfortable, try writing on the guidelines with the x-height highlighted in pink. Intermediate students can then go to the un-highlighted guideline at the 5mm x-height.
Your practice will be more effective if you go slowly and carefully. Study the exemplar; if you’re having trouble with a stroke, try tracing it.
NOTE: On your practice sheets, write the nib, ink type, and date in the lower right corner.
If you turn in homework, DeAnn will then give a thorough critique.