Here Come the Tautograms!

No, it’s not some kind of new-wave European boy band – although perhaps it should be. A tautogram is a sentence where each word starts with the same letter. Think of it as extreme alliteration, if you like.

While these may not have a lot of practical use, they’re certainly good for calligraphy practice. During the HandwrittenABC challenge over on Instagram, I used them to practice the various letter forms. Some of them turned out well, others… not so much. Here’s a few of my favorites, in a variety of scripts:

Damn you, aardvarks!
Damn you, aardvarks!

Continue reading

Ten Days of Firefly

I can always use a good project to do, and so I set myself the task of doing ten days of quotes from Firefly. It was good fun, and a little more challenging than I expected. Some characters – Mal, Jayne, Wash – have lots of great one-liners. Others, like Inara and Zoe, are pretty much the straight men and set up others’s great lines. River, Simon, and Book generally require more context.

It was good fun, though, and I got some good ones done. Take a look!

Continue reading

Ink Drop Limerick for July 2015

It’s that time again, to play with new inks! Thanks, as usual to the fine people at Goulet Pens for such an entertaining and slightly addictive service.

This month’s limerick is timely, as there’s currently a typhoon running roughshod over western Japan. The winds seem to have died down, but it’s still raining to beat the devil.

Ink Drop Limerick 14


So, let’s see – the Roher & Klinger Helianthus is a nice light orange that seems like it should be a lot lighter than it is. I don’t know how it would work in a pen, but for calligraphy it seems to be okay. Unluckily enough, I spilled a large amount of the ink sample on my desk. Such is life.

The next three – Noodler’s Habanero, Diamine Blaze Orange, and Noodler’s Cayenne all match up nicely. The Habanero seems to shade well, which I always like in an ink, while the other two seem to be pretty stable light and dark oranges. Go nuts with those.

Noodler’s Hellfire is a very pink pink, which stands out pretty conspicuously in this mix, but if you need a pink, this may well be the pinkest pink I’ve got in my collection at the moment. While I don’t usually write in pink, it’s nice to know I could if I wanted to.

As an interesting aside, this is not the first time I’ve done this limerick. Last time a big one blew through here in August of ’14 I did the same one, in rather primitive italics:

Ink Drop Limerick 03


Oof. Let this be a lesson to you all – consistent, diligent practice will get you far.

Bring the Funny

There are a variety of places I like to go when I need practice material, as I mentioned a while back, but one that I really need to do more of is jokes.


They’re easy to find and fun to do.


And some of them make you look smart.


Or ones that show off your international nature.


But be careful of using a joke that is too dangerous…


In the end, jokes are fun, short things to write out, and if you’re a fan of puns and groaners – like I am – you can enjoy the cognitive dissonance that comes with seeing a really bad joke written in pretty words.

For the comments, finish this joke:

How many calligraphers does it take to change a lightbulb?

Calligraphy Bootcamp

Over on Instagram, the calligrapher Judy G has started hosting the Calligraphy Boot Camp – a chance to go back to basics and revisit the fundamentals of Copperplate. It stretches over a week and is a really nice way to make sure you know what you’re doing.

Day 1 – m. n. i. u

Calligraphy Bootcamp - u Calligraphy Bootcamp - i Calligraphy Bootcamp - m Calligraphy Bootcamp - n

These are the letters you need for that magic calligraphy word, minimum. Fairly simple, to the point. These aren’t bad, although the cutoffs could be squarer.

Day 2 – w, v, r, x

Calligraphy Bootcamp - r Calligraphy Bootcamp - v Calligraphy Bootcamp - w Calligraphy Bootcamp - x 1 Calligraphy Bootcamp - x 2

I did x a couple of times, as there are a couple of ways to do it. The Copperplate version (the one that looks like two cs stuck back to back) versus the Spencerian version is a tough choice do make.

Day 3 – c, e, o, a, s

Calligraphy Bootcamp - s Calligraphy Bootcamp - a Calligraphy Bootcamp - c Calligraphy Bootcamp - e Calligraphy Bootcamp - o

Oh, the ovals – the ovals! Ovals are so very important, and I’ll need to do more practice with them.

Day 4 – d, t, p

Calligraphy Bootcamp - t Calligraphy Bootcamp - d Calligraphy Bootcamp - p

This was not my best day. The t was too low and the d was too high. The p seemed okay, though.

Day 5 – l, b, h, k, f

Calligraphy Bootcamp - h Calligraphy Bootcamp - k Calligraphy Bootcamp - l Calligraphy Bootcamp - b Calligraphy Bootcamp - f

Oh, those upper loops – those upper loops! The light touch on the upstroke is tough to maintain, as is the long stroke downwards. Everything, basically.

Day 6 – j, y, g, q, z

Calligraphy Bootcamp - y Calligraphy Bootcamp - z Calligraphy Bootcamp - g Calligraphy Bootcamp - j Calligraphy Bootcamp - q

Finally, on the last day, I think I’m getting the hang of it. It might have helped that I was using a Zebra G nib, which is a little more forgiving of my heavy-handed ways, than a Leonardt EF Principle, which, well, isn’t.

Anyway, that was the Copperplate Calligraphy Boot Camp, illustrating one of the fundamental truths of any creative hobby: sometimes you have to go back to basics, just so you remember how it’s all done. Next up will probably be Copperplate Capitals, which will be an interesting adventure all in itself. See you then!