January 31, 2011 – Beverly Hills Adult School Uncial Class #3

Beverly Hills Adult School Uncial Class #3:  The warm-up was writing alphabet sentences with the Speedball B5 ½ or B6 nib at an x-height of ½-inch, using either black ink or watercolor. DeAnn discussed spacing for Uncial and also demonstrated writing with watercolor.

Satomi’s homework sampler using B1 and B6 nibs.

Nametags, assignment from last week:

Spacing:  Uncial has “pearl necklace” spacing. Two curved letters, such as “OO”, can be very closely spaced. A straight and curved letter, such as “IO”, has more space between between them. Two straight letters, such as “IL”, are spaced apart the farthest. Think of the space between “T” and another letter, like “TH” – the area between the 2 vertical strokes is the amount of space that should be between 2 straight letters.

With Uncial, you have to think about the spacing of the word as a whole, not just focus on specific 2 letters. Because you have to look at the whole picture, you may end up writing out the word and then find the trouble spots.

For example, QUICKLY:  because of the large counterspace (white space) of C and E, they can be very close to the next letter. L and Y can’t be too close together, but their combined whitespace will make the space between them look large.

Another example, GAVE:  treat the space between A and V like the “TH” space.

Spacing between words:  Put just enough space between words so that you can see that it’s a new word. If words are spaced too far apart, a sentence will look like a list of words rather than a real sentence.

Sequence of Practice:
B1 nib at x-height = 1-inch, on full sheet of grid paper
B6 nib at x-height = 1/2-inch, on half sheet (cut full sheet in half)
B6 nib at x-height = 1/4–inch, on quarter-sheet (cut half-sheet in half)

Demonstration of Writing with Watercolors:  You can write letters where the colors blend into each other using the Prang watercolors to feed your pen. For feeding your nib with watercolor, DeAnn uses a bristle brush which can simultaneously clean the nib while loading it with ink.

First, set up your workspace for watercolors with 2 water containers, one for dirty, one for clean. Always rinse brush in the dirty container first, then rinse again in the clean container.

Soften the colors you’ll be using with a couple drops of water, then put the colors you want to use in a clean palette space and add drops of water to thin the watercolor to an ink consistency

Place the watercolors on your left if you’re writing with your right-hand. You’ll be holding the watercolor brush in your left hand and feeding your nib over the palette to avoid dripping or splattering the paper. Use the lids of the Prang watercolor set as your palette.

Load your pen nib by pulling the brush against the reservoir. For the first time only, brush across the inside of the nib and tip. Write as usual. Hold the brush upside-down and press the end against the paper to steady it.

Before you run out of color, rinse your brush and load it with another color to add to your nib. The colors will naturally blend in the reservoir and you should begin to see the color changing within the next couple letters.

Illuminated Manuscript project:  Start thinking about what text you want to use for your project. It should be about 50 words, but can always be edited to be longer or shorter as necessary. DeAnn says “The look is more important than the words” so don’t worry too much about finding text that is the exact length. Possible text choices:  poems, quotes, song lyrics, excerpt from a longer work.

Satomi’s Uncial project from a previous semester.

For inspiration, see Judith’s projects from four previous semesters. Clockwise from top right: Fraktur, Copperplate, Carolingian, Gothic Textura.

HOMEWORK:  Practice the sequence of sizes mentioned above and try to have a sampler in each size. You can create a sampler in either black ink or watercolor that includes all 3 sizes in one sheet.