Calligraphy: My Beginner Journey

I have almost given up on this hobby when I realized that my hand is not as trusty as it was before. All those times I've been typing everyday at work definitely made my hand not cooperating with my wants especially in the writing department. But for some reason I've gone back to it, being the lazy sh*t that I am, just dedicated using my dining table and nothing else. I leave all the papers and inks, nibs, pen cleaner all laid out there, which made practice even easier. I even forgo cleaning my practice nib & holder JUST SO I won't be discouraged in cleaning up for later. It is a bad habit, I know. But it's the only way I wouldn't choose coloring over calligraphy before I go to sleep.

When we went to Alessa's workshop, she imparted to us a lot of knowledge that I only began to appreciate when I stopped fooling around with my calligraphy and stopped being too frustrated. Here are a few Beginner's tips you always hear but do not believe on it yet. Hopefully by the end of this blog, you will get to value them too.

NIKKO G is best for beginners

At first I blame the nibs for it so I tried different types that I own. I ended up using (and going back to) NIKKO G. Later on I realized, it wasn't the nibs that were the problem, it was my hand all along. More on that in a bit.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="923"] you're a dirty dirty nib!![/caption]


The Paper Tilt

For seasoned calligraphers, you might have noticed their ridiculous paper tilts. Back at the workshop, I was shocked that my paper was adjusted 90 degrees, which I was told was according to how I write. I followed this for a while until I have enough practice for my arms to have their own muscle memory of sorts. I am now able to write both normally at 40 degrees and just a little adjustment to achieve the italics. Also, the paper tilt for me is necessary because it complements how nibs release their inks. If you think your ink is not being released as fluid as possible and ruled out nib related issues, simply tilt your paper and see magic happen.

Practice Drills

Smugness aside, I know I have good penmanship. This makes me all the more frustrated that the tool I use is not cooperating according to my bidding. I have almost given up on this hobby until I found this tutorial that amazed the hell out of me. He showed perfect up and down strokes even with a simple pencil.  Since then, I brought myself a pencil at the office where I practice the strokes on pieces of paper while I wait for my query to be over or was on the phone on hold. After a few tries I was able to get it. Here's a sample (even though it's not perfect, this was weeks ago):

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="1204"] not perfect, but you get what I mean[/caption]

If you're trying calligraphy, I could not encourage you enough to start with this! Here are 3 good reasons why:

  1. Hand Pressure - If you can achieve downstrokes and upstrokes with a mere pencil, it's almost impossible not to achieve it with nibs. You will surprise yourself in the long run because then you will be able to achieve those fat strokes modern calligraphy is popular for.

  2. Consistency - As you can see, one of the most important things you need to practice is consistency. You wouldn't like uneven letters and most of the time there are no mid lines to aid you with. The only way for your calligraphy to work is to make it as consistent as possible.

  3. Spacing - Again, while you can pencil in lines for you to follow, it is a waste of time if you also do horizontal lines to space your letters. You need to spot them with your eye and hand. Doing this drill will aid you when it's best to put in the next line, and eventually where your letter will come in next. Too close or too far apart is bad practice and makes your words uneven.


Paper

We were told to use PaperOne 100GSM (around 500-600php one ream) because inks don't bleed out with this. It is effective that even at my first times not knowing how to work with inks yet I have not bored a single paper. It is a bit expensive, but it is a good 'investment' even just for practice. Just use both sides (even though this is not super recommended because the inks on both sides somewhat compromises the integrity of the paper).

Ink

I stopped using the inks from our workshop because they're the good expensive kind (Dr. Martin's) so I just used the china ink that came with craft central's boxed kit. I almost finished the entire bottle when I tried walnut ink and was hooked. One of the problems I had with china ink is how temperamental it was (or so I believe) because I still get that influx of ink even though I believed I've dipped it correct. I tried writing lyrics with it but was only able to do a few sentences until one letter gets a blot for some reason. In all honesty, the walnut ink was amazing and so far I have never encountered such issues as it is much diluted. I also loved the shades while I write with it, it's like my nib is pouring with magical ink!

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="960"] can't think of anything to write so I just googled for something to do. i love that I can write this long with no obvious problems :-)[/caption]

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