January 30, 2012 – Copperplate Class #3 at Sinai Temple

Today DeAnn demonstrated connecting Copperplate letters to form words. The handout was her list of words to use for spacing.

To warm-up, DeAnn had us write letters using the Large guideline.

Satomi’s Copperplate pieces: Satomi made a perpetual calendar (all by hand!).

Close-up of Day and Month cards

Student Question: What’s wrong when the nib won’t write on the up-stroke?
It could be due to the angle of the nib to the paper. Be aware of the pen angle at which you’re writing. If you’re holding the pen at too high of an angle, then pressurizing the nib won’t give you good downstrokes. If you’re holding the pen at too low on an angle, your downstrokes may be too thick.

The pen should be held so that the nib is in line with the slant-lines on the guideline sheet.

As a last resort, the nib may be bad. Not writing with the pen in line with the slant-lines can cause the nib to become tweaked. In this case, you need to get another nib and throw the bad one out.

Connecting letters to form words: DeAnn started with the first word from the spacing list, minimum (don’t worry about capitals yet). To connect the individual letters, the last stroke becomes the entry stroke for the next letter. The #4 stroke of the “m” becomes the #7 for the “i”. The #3 stroke of the “i” transitions into the first #2 stroke of the “n”. Don’t stop between letters if the stroke should continue smoothly, like the transition from the “i” to “n” or “i” to “m”.

In general, the #7 entrance stroke will only be used for the initial letter of a word. In between letters of a word, the exit stroke of a letter will become the entrance stroke of the next letter.

Stroke #9 exit: for the letters o, b, v, and w, the initial dot should be on the inside of the previous stroke. Try to exit at 3:00 to make a smooth connection to the next letter. All the #9s should be at the same level within the word and sentence.

Space the letters so that the whitespaces are all equivalent. The whitespace is the space within the strokes. The downstrokes should all be at the same slant, the same width and the same distance apart so that it looks like true picket fence spacing. The loops of the #5 and #6 strokes should be similar. Be careful of the p’s and f’s; DeAnn tends to press too hard on the downstrokes and they end up thicker than the other letters.

Special cases: for the “f” in a word like “off”, start the #9 stroke a little above the base line in its usual place; don’t worry that it doesn’t cross the #7 stroke. For double “t”s, cross both in one stroke.

Writing sentences (see Alphabet Sentences by Satomi handout):
Leave a little space between the exit strokes and the #7 entry strokes, just enough to separate the words. The sentence shouldn’t look like a list of words but a sentence. Don’t worry about Capital letters for now (DeAnn will demonstrate those next week).

NOTE: some instructors/books teach Copperplate with a smaller space for the initial stroke of letters like “m” or “n” (for example, the initial #2 stroke is thinner in width than the second #2 stroke that become the “body” of the m). But DeAnn wants all the strokes to be the same width and have similar whitespaces. Learn the rhythm first before deciding to change it.

Importance of picket-fence spacing: DeAnn envisions the letter strokes as the foundation for flourishing, like the picket fence in a garden with vines and flowers growing around it. When the foundation (i.e. the “picket fence”) is even and steady, then you can really “go to town” with the flourishing and it’ll look beautiful. But if the letters are unevenly spaced with differing slant-angles, then the addition of flourishing will make it look even messier.

1. Practice the spacing words on its own sheet.
2. Write the alphabet sentences on another sheet

Remember to put your name and date in the lower right-hand corner. Label your writing with the nib used.

Spacing words written by Satomi

Next Week: Capitals.