The Great Nib Test 2015

Yes, every test has to be Great. Why do you ask?

Inspired by an exchange I had over on Reddit about improvements I could make on my Copperplate, I thought it was high time to do a pointed nib test. The purpose of this was severalfold:

  1. To see if I could make those square cutoffs that are so important to making pretty Copperplate.
  2. To see how far I could take a loaded-up nib.
  3. To practice using my whole arm to pull the nib back, rather than just my hand.
  4. To give me something to entertain myself on a Sunday afternoon.

Each test was done on a small Rhodia pad, with walnut ink reconstituted from crystals, and each line came from a fully-loaded nib. The oblique penholder is from Unique Obliques. Terribly scientific, I know.

Let’s get to the results!

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That Bwessed Awwangement

“That dweam… wivvin a dweam.”

Indeed it does. #calligraphy #lovewins #marriageequality #SCOTUS #PrincessBride

A post shared by Chris Gladis (@mshades01) on


One of the nice things about doing calligraphy as a hobby is that you can create something fairly quickly, while The Moment is still reasonably fresh in your mind. With the announcement of Marriage Equality in the US, I suddenly heard Peter Cook’s voice echoing through my mind and knew I had to get this down.

I don’t usually do calligraphy at 5:00 in the morning (which should be evident – look at that d in “today”), but I felt this was something I had to get done before The Moment passed.

What to do, what to do…

One of the occasional stumbling blocks of working on calligraphy is the issue of source material. Now if you’re a naturally poetic person, you can come up with all your own words – and gods love you if you do. But some of us need help, so here are a few places to go if you need things to write down.

I’ll start on Reddit, because I get so much material from there. First of all, if you’re not on /r/calligraphy then you should most certainly join. It’s a good place to meet others at a variety of skill levels and there is a regular Word of the Day and Quote of the Week for you to use as practice material. If you need more to practice with, I usually go to either /r/logophilia or /r/wordoftheday and start plowing through the listings. Off that site, you can go to places like Luciferous Logolepsy or The Phrontistery and take some interesting words from there.

If quotations are your thing, Wikiquote is an endless source of material to work from, as are Brainyquote and Goodreads.

Pinterest also has a lot of good inspiration for calligraphy projects that you might be able to be inspired by. Want to practice your envelopes? Go to a fake name generator and go to town. Behind the Name has a wonderful random name generator if you want to work on your ornamental penmanship.

The point is that there is no end to the amount of resources available to you for inspiration when you need to practice. The doldrums can be unpleasant, so switch up what you’re doing – try a new script or a new resource and see what kind of creativity bubbles up.

As a bonus, here are a few of my resources for you:

Have great sites or other resources of your own to share? Let us know in the comments!

Calligraphy in the Public Eye

Recently, there has been some notice about the resurgence of calligraphy, or at least its recent rise here on the Internet. With more and more outlets to show our art (most notably Instagram and DeviantArt) as well as places to just get together and learn from each other (such as Reddit), there have been an increasing number of calligraphers who have decided to put not only their finished works but their process and practice out for the world to see.

Here are a couple of high-profile articles that have helped draw attention to calligraphy online:

The New Yorker: The Calligraphy Stars of Instagram

The BBC: How Video Saved the Calligraphy Star

I hope that this trend continues, if only so that more people can get into this hobby. It’s creative, doesn’t require a huge investment to start, and while it’s easy to get the hang of, it’s something you can spend a lifetime refining and mastering. With more and more excellent examples to learn from, I hope to see more and more people taking up the pen and writing words that make them happy.

Project: Mitchweek

Some Instagram calligraphers and I – @theulzo, @openinkstand, @gourmetcetera, and @dearondine – decided to do a week-long tribute the the late, great Mitch Hedberg. If you’re not familiar with his comedy, go over to YouTube and check him out.

In celebration of his work, I present my choices from this week:

Instagram - Mitch Hedberg 01

2015-06-08 15.17.40-1

2015-06-08 20.58.09

2015-06-09 17.10.01

2015-06-10 21.02.12

2015-06-11 20.14.59

2015-06-12 09.38.34

2015-06-13 10.53.03

It was a fun theme week, and nice to collaborate with other calligraphers on Instagram. Thanks, all!

Ink Drop Limerick for June 2015

Honestly, I’m surprised I haven’t put this up here yet. Talk about a guaranteed blog topic…

A little backstory: Over at Goulet Pens, they have a service called the Ink Drop. Once a month for $15 ($10 if you’re in the US), they’ll ship you five samples of inks chosen from their vast, inky collection. They’re usually themed in some way, but it’s a little something to look forward to every month if you’re a fountain pen writer or a calligrapher, or someone who plays with inks in his or her own way.

Of course, you want to test them out when you get them, but how? Well, I thought that doing calligraphy with them would be a good way to do it, and with five colors every month, the most obvious vehicle for my testing would be a limerick.

Thus, the Ink Drop Limerick was born. You can see previous months’ on my DeviantArt page, but let’s go over this month’s inks together, shall we?

Ink Drop Limerick 13


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