February 11, 2013 – Class #4 at Sinai Temple

DeAnn demonstrated writing with the Brause 5mm chisel point nib. She explained pen angle and how it affects the thickness of the strokes.

Satomi’s Italic monoline homework

Italic with the chisel point nib:  To start, we’ll be using the Brause 5mm nib (largest one). If you have the Brause holder that’s flat on one side, insert it toward the right side (when holding it) of the wooden nib holder. If you’re looking at the holder head-on, the nib will be toward the left edge.

Pen angle:  The Brause is a chisel-point pen, able to create thicks & thins within one stroke, based on the angle of the pen. Using a protractor as the reference, a pen angle of 0-degrees equates to holding the pen so that the nib is parallel to the horizontal lines of the grid paper.  A vertical stroke at this pen angle is the thickest; a horizontal stroke is the thinnest. If the pen angle is 90-degrees, then a vertical stroke is the thinnest and a horizontal stroke is the thickest. For a 45-degree pen angle, use a box as a reference and place the pen so that you’re placing it on the diagonal of the box. At this angle, both a vertical stroke and a horizontal stroke should be the same thickness.

x-height: is the height between the waist and base. Each hand has a specific x-height measured in pen-widths. At a pen angle of 90-degrees, draw short horizontal strokes to measure by pen widths.

Italic has a pen angle of 45-degrees and an x-height of 5 pen widths, which equals 8 boxes or 1-inch on the 8×8 grid paper. The 5mm nib should fit one box corner-to-corner.

the 5mm Brause nib has an x-height of 1-inch

In class we practiced writing downstrokes & cross-strokes at 0 and 90 degrees, at an inch in height. Dip the pen so the reservoir is 3/4 full. Wipe the nib on the edge of the ink well to take off any excess. We need to get fully familiar with this chisel point nib. Practice making straight lines with the nib. You need even pressure on both sides of the nib. Not a lot of pressure, just even pressure. The ink will flow better to begin with if you give a little side-to-side “rub” (like an ice-skate) with the nib. Or touch the tip to some wet ink on a previous stroke. As you draw the stroke down the page, EXHALE. This helps give a more controlled stroke. Also, set your opposite hand near the work so you can give slight pressure as you start down. These tips will help you have success quicker. At this large size, ink will puddle at the end of the downstrokes; don’t worry about it now, it’s natural & expected.

Writing vertical strokes at a 45-degree pen angle:  set your nib corner-to-corner and don’t move until you achieve that angle. Watch the left side of your nib and pull straight down. Keep the angle steady and constant; don’t turn the pen holder in your fingers. The angle at the top of the stroke should be the same at the bottom; look at the triangle shapes – they should be the same.

The chisel point pen doesn’t push well, especially at the larger sizes like 5mm. So you can make a “pull” stroke at the end of the “b”, for example (similar to top of the “a”).

To achieve the thicks and thins with the chisel point nib, you must keep it at the same angle. Don’t turn the pen-holder in your fingers as you make a curved stroke.

When practicing the lowercase letters from Satomi’s exemplar, write a letter about 3 times, then move on. Compare your letter to the exemplar and really look at the shapes.

Satomi’s exemplar is the sans serif (i.e. “no serif) Italic lowercase. Once  you’re comfortable with writing the sans serif letters, try adding serifs to the letters. Because DeAnn recommends rubbing back and forth slightly to start, the letters already have a slight entrance serif. To add an exit serif, continue the downstroke instead of stopping and exit upward with a hairline. Don’t flick the stroke.


close-up of the exit serifs on t and h

Remember:  write with even pressure, not too hard. Then less pressure on the upstrokes.

Cleaning the Brause chisel point nib:  Usually, wiping off the nib is enough between practice sessions. But if it has become crusty with dried ink, then it should be rinsed in water. To remove the nib from the holder, hold the nib in a rag – the sharp metal of the nib can cut your finger – and pull it out of the holder. Still holding the nib in the rag, then pull the reservoir off of the nib. Don’t let the reservoir wash down the drain! Put it aside. Wash the nib under running water and dry it off. Use an old soft toothbrush if you need to scrub it some more.

Putting the nib back together:  Make sure the nib and reservoir are dry; then put the reservoir on your finger (flat side down). Place the nib into it and hold onto the reservoir with your thumb and first finger as you push the nib back in.

If you do lose a reservoir, the reservoir from any other Brause chisel point nib will fit.

Homework:  Practice the spacing words and alphabet sentences with the 5mm nib. Once you’re comfortable, go down to the 2.5 mm nib (it says “2 ½ mm” on the nib). The x-height will be 4 boxes or ½-inch. Be sure to line your paper with the proper x-height.