Learning a New Script – Book of Kells

I thought it might be fun to walk everyone (crickets) through how I go about learning a new script – specifically a historical one from a specific source. In this case, it was the famous Book of Kells, an Irish manuscript of the four Gospels, currently located in Trinity College Dublin.

Now, one option is to get your tactical black turtleneck on, put your infiltration gear together and break into the College library. I would recommend the west skylights – they haven’t replaced the wiring for the alarms for quite a while and they’re unreliable at best. Rappel down quietly – quietly – and use your mirror array to deflect the lasers surrounding the Kells display. At this point, your diversion should happen – a small dry ice and water explosion set off by one of the neighborhood teens that you paid off in weed and beer, perhaps – which will allow you to break the case and take the book. Remember to carefully replace it with a bag of sand that you brought with you, so as not to set off the weight detectors.

I leave the escape from the building as an exercise for the reader.

Or, if that’s too much trouble, you can go to the Trinity College website, where they have the whole thing digitized in high resolution. If you’re lazy, that is. Here’s the page I eventually ended up working from:

Book of Kells - Page 292v

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Ink Drop for March 2016

Okay, I need to get less lazy about these, or this’ll just be an Ink Drop blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with that…

The Ink Drop from our good friends at Goulet Pens this month was “Monarch Madness,” which I’m given to understand is some kind of sports reference. That aside, however, it’s a set of five royal inks, all blues and purples that should serve you well. So let’s look at ’em!

2016.03 Ink Drop

Man, that got real feathery, didn’t it? It was done on paper meant for manga art, so maybe that doesn’t sit well with fountain pen inks. We learn a new thing every day.

Most of this is Diamine, which has been on a nice streak of inks recently. I’m going to a fountain pen show tomorrow, and will probably have my scanners set for Diamine so that I can buy more inks that I technically do not need. Huzzah!

Tyrian Purple is an interesting light purple, probably not one that I would use in an everyday fountain pen. That’s mostly because I don’t really want to write in purple, but your preferences may vary. Anyway, this is a very reddish-purple that is reminiscent of the ancient purple that got made from snails. Not a bad pedigree, so you might want to use it for that alone.

Imperial Purple is closer to what I think of as Purple – closer to blue than red, and something of the color of Grimace or grape soda. If purple ink is your thing, I’d say this is the way to go.

Of the three blues, I would use any of them in an everyday pen. Regency Blue is quite dark, but still blue enough to be classy and distinct. Majestic Blue is a little lighter, but still within the realm of respectability as a blue ink, and Noodler’s Kung Te-Cheng is the kind of faded blue that you would see on your classier type of Chinese porcelain. Any of these three will do you if you’re a blue ink writer.

So, overall a nice set of inks this month. Not sure which ones are going to get used in calligraphy – probably all of them at some point – but I do know I have to use better paper.

Thanks for stopping by!

Ink Drop for February 2016

It’s the middle of the month, which means that it’s time for another Ink Drop! Once again, I’m referring to my list of fictional companies. It adds a new dimension of entertainment for me, and I hope for you as well.

2016.02 Ink Drop

The Pelikan Edelstein Sapphire and the Iroshizuku Ajisai are fairly indistinguishable from each other, with the Sapphire being ever so slightly more purple than blue. That’s fine, though, seeing as how they’re both fine blues to write with. The Ajisai, given its name, beautifully reflects the color of hydrangeas, if that’s your thing.

The Burgundy and Bordeaux are also very close pairs and, as per their names, quite reminiscent of wine. The Burgundy is a little bit darker, but if you’re looking for something in a nice pinkish-red to write with, these will do nicely.

As for the Private Reserve, I have to confess a bias against brown inks. Most of them, with the usual exception of walnut ink, tend to strike me as unpleasantly… fecal. There are often undertones of yellow and green that just rub me the wrong way. That said, they don’t come out too strongly in this ink, at least not when written normally. As per the name, it has a chocolaty darkness that makes it almost black but not quite. If I were in the market for a brown ink, I’d probably go with this one.

So there they are – this month’s inks, all flowers, wine and chocolate. Enjoy it!

What’re your thoughts? Put ’em in the comments!

This week’s work

Here we are again – I’ve got some free time on my hands and some work that’s been scanned, so let’s see what I’ve been up to this week, shall we? You know you want to.

Marcus Aurelius

I’ve always loved Marcus Aurelius and reread Meditations on a fairly regular basis. The wisdom contained therein is just as useful now as it was back in the day.

This one is one of my favorites, especially in this day and age when opinions are basically a dime a dozen. Just because you have an opinion, that doesn’t mean you need to put it out there. At the same time, if your opinion is something that is vital to you, you need to be sure you can support it and defend it.

I’m pretty sure Marcus Aurelius would be very upset with the way we treat our opinions today.

Lily Tomlin

This comes back to me every time an election season comes around. Just watching the campaigns and the primaries and all the arguing about Bernie or Trump or Hillary just makes me tired.

Neil Gaiman

As always, Neil Gaiman is a great place to go for some inspiration, and The Graveyard Book never disappoints. One of my students actually used this for her final English thesis, so I might see if she wants this one.

Mat Cauthon

This comes from the Wheel of Time series, which I haven’t read since the final book came out a few years ago. Still, this line was always one of my favorites. In the “Old Tongue” of the series, it means, “I am lost in my own mind.” It’s a feeling I’ve identified with plenty of times.

Garrison Keillor

Finally, a good one from Garrison Keillor. At first, it looks like he’s taking a dig at cats, but upon closer reflection, the paradox becomes evident – the purpose of cats is to show that not everything has a purpose. Perhaps it is not the cats that are without purpose, but rather we…

So those are a few things that have kept me busy. Any questions? Put ’em in the comments!

Things I’ve Been Up To

Hello again, all. I bet you’ve been on the edges of your seats, wondering what I’ve been putting out recently. Well relax! Unclench! The time has come to find out…

I’ve been keeping myself busy with a few found lines and some foreign languages just to mix things up. Here are a few of my favorites.

Head Boy

The Head Boy of our student council actually said this out loud. It made sense in context – he was talking to a history teacher about Stalin’s practices in Soviet Russia, but still… I had to write it down.

Ray Bradbury

Another student of ours came across this line quite a while ago, and I resolved to write it out. I did it once before, but the result was mixed. Nice text, terrible-looking attribution. She’s about to graduate, so I thought I’d make it look nice. Bradbury is popular in our program, so it’s great to see a student appreciate him.

Ovid

My very-nearly-second year lit class is reading Ovid’s “Metamorphoses” right now, and we had a couple of lessons on the story of Phaethon. Like a lot of the stories in that book, there are lessons that we still need today. In this case, be careful with dad’s car. Out of curiosity, I looked up the original Latin and decided to write it out. In Romans, of course. If it had been Biblical Latin, however, I would have used Uncial. Why? Because.

One translation of the epitaph is:

Here Phaethon lies who in the sun-god’s chariot fared.
And though greatly he failed, more greatly he dared.

Franklin Roosevelt

It was FDR’s birthday the other day, so I thought I’d finally do the line that everyone has on their list somewhere. I like how it turned out.

However, it always reminds me of a discussion I had a while ago with a friend who hates FDR thanks to Japanese internment in World War 2. I wanted to reply with, “Yes, but…” and then I thought about it. How the hell do you “Yes, but” Japanese internment? Simple – you can’t. But I can accept that Roosevelt was flawed, and that his good parts were really good.

Okay, one more:

Mark Twain

I love Mark Twain. I mean, he has a point, right? He certainly does.

Anyway, that’s a few of the things I’ve been working on. Hope you’re enjoying yourselves!

Remembrances in Writing

As we all know, 2016 has been off to a rough start, with the deaths of two people who have affected a lot of us more than we might be able to acknowledge. It certainly didn’t help that no one saw either one coming.

Alan Rickman and David Bowie both carved out places for themselves in their arts, and as I look back at the movies and music that helped to make me who I am, I see both of them. So when they passed, I knew I had to do something.

So I did.

I’m a little too old for Rickman’s Snape to have lodged himself in my psyche, but that one word – “Always” – as his past and his history were revealed to us carried so much power and meaning that I couldn’t leave it out. The line from GalaxyQuest is one of my favorites from the whole movie. Not just because of what is said, but because of what is not said – the struggle for this actor to not just collapse in a pile of self-loathing is visible with every muscle on Rickman’s face:

As for the line from Dogma, he was able to make Metatron go from flippant to deep within moments, and seemed to really enjoy the portrayal of someone so utterly human, despite being an angel.

The first one I did was the line from “Space Oddity,” and that was probably because – like many other people online – it was one of the first to pop into my mind. I used FineTec blue to write it, and that’s stuff that I’m still getting the hang of. I may do that line again at some point. In the same way, I think I may re-do the line from “Memory of a Free Festival” – the “The” is just kind of… there. It might look better if I include it with “Sun Machine”, which I think turned out really well. And that’s it, really – the rest of it makes me happy. Good colors, good scripts. I can make it work.

The line from “Let’s Dance” was done quickly, but it worked out. Quite a dark vibe that song has, I think.

Finally, the “Starman” refrain took a few days and several tries to get right. This is another that was being passed around the internet (and the Instagram calligraphy circles) pretty quickly after Bowie died, so I wanted to make sure it looked the way I wanted it to. And, in the end, it did. I tried to make the blue an Electric Blue, in honor of “Sound and Vision,” but I don’t know that the gouache available to me was going to make that possible. The Starman itself is a mix of yellow and gold gouaches, and looks very nice in person. As for the dots along the bottom, they’re for the “morse code” that comes before the chorus in the song. I knew I wanted to represent that, but it took some puzzling out to figure out how.

And that’s all I can really do. It’s hard to explain, sometimes, why the deaths of people you had never met and never really known can have an impact like this. All I can say is that they were, through no choice of their own, part of my life. Because of that, I feel like I can’t let their passing go unnoticed and their influence go unacknowledged. This is what I can do, and so it is done.

Ink Drop for January 2016

Hello and welcome to another Ink Drop, thanks to our friends at Goulet Pens. I actually have a decision to make regarding this program – thanks to the USPS, the price of an international subscription is going up, so they’re giving a chance to opt-in to a $5 increase. The price doesn’t bother me, but it would be a chance to stem the growing tide of tiny little sample bottles that threaten to overrun my desktop… On the other hand, I would miss getting mail and doing this, so I’ll probably keep my subscription going.

Anyway, here are the inks we got in January:

2016.01 Ink Drop

As you can see, it’s a fairly muted selection this time around. They all write nicely, though – no wild feathering like last time – and there are subtle differences in the inks that take a bit of looking to detect.

De Atramentis’ Jane Austin and Edgar Allan Poe are two really, really similar green inks. Poe is a bit lighter than Austin, which is weird since Poe has never really been considered lighter than anyone. But as greens go, they’r both serviceable and gave me no trouble.

Gray Flannel is a pale, gray-blue color that might be a nice option if you’re one of those people who likes blue, but doesn’t want a BLUE-blue, like Iroshizuku’s Kon-Peki or Private Reserve’s DC Supershow or something like that. This is a blue that won’t draw too much attention to itself, which is useful at times.

The other two follow the same pattern as the cool-colored inks. De Atramentis’ William Shakespeare is a dark, wine-red ink that, like Gray Flannel, is good if you want red, but not High School English Teacher red. And J Herbin’s Cafe de Iles is a brown, almost orange color that turns out brighter than you might expect. It’s not exactly glowing, but there’s good warmth to that ink. Not sure when I’d use it, though. For calligraphy, I tend to default to walnut ink if I want a brown.

Anyway, that’s all for now. Happy writing!