November 7, 2011 – Pointed Pen Variations Class #5 at Sinai Temple

Today DeAnn had us write on different papers with different nibs and different inks. She also demonstrated Jane Shibata’s numbers exemplar.

Detail of Sabina’s samples.

Homework by Satomi:


Capitals by Satomi

Homework by Sabina:

Flower names by Sabina

Review:  Vermillion ink doesn’t mix well with all black inks. Most sumi inks don’t work well. Higgins Eternal works best.  Start with Vermillion in your inkwell and add a few drops of Higgins Eternal. Stir with the other end of the pen holder.

TIP:  When mixing colors, always start with the lighter color and the darker color a little at a time. This way you can control the shade and amount of the color you create.

Carin working on her sampler – note her setup.

DeAnn had us write on each type of paper with all the nibs using different inks. The papers were in different colors, textures, and weights.  Guidelines weren’t used because most of the papers are too thick to see through. The goal of this exercise was to observe how the different nibs behaved on the different papers using the different inks. Label nib and ink on each writing sample and record observations. For example, shiny paper may need a sharp nib.

Close-up of Carin’s sampler


The following inks were used:
1. Vermillion ink.
2. Sepia ink: Vermillion mixed with a little of Higgins Eternal black ink.
3. DeAnn’s “Best Ink”, a Japanese sumi ink in a brown bottle. She had dropper bottles of it for sale ($5 + tax).

Writing exercise observation:  One of the papers used is tracing paper. It’s hard to get thicks and thins on it. It’ll be difficult to achieve thin hairlines on any paper that is really smooth. Another drawback is that once the ink is dry, you can scrape it off. DeAnn has addressed vellum envelopes in the past where the ink got scraped off when they went through the mail system.

Morgan’s sampler setup

Student Questions:
Why is too much ink coming out of the pen when I write?
Too much ink may be on the nib; wipe the nib on the edge of the inkwell after dipping to remove excess. Look at the backside of the nib; often ink will build up there, so wipe it off in that case.
The ink may not be sticking to the nib well enough, especially when the nib is new or the nib is a Hiro 40 or Hunt 101. In this case, try treating the nib with gum Arabic or in extreme cases, run it over a lit match.
Finally, the ink itself may not have enough gum Arabic in it and therefore not suitable for pointed pen work. (This is not the case in class, since DeAnn provides inks that work with pointed pen nibs)

Why is the pen pricking into the paper?
The paper may be too textured to be used with a pointed pen. Try a nib that’s not very sharp. For example, you can write on watercolor paper with the Hiro 41.
If the paper is not too textured, you may be pressing too hard or using uneven pressure. Try for a lighter touch.

Pointed Pen Numbers:  study the exemplar carefully for the stroke sequence and alternates that Jane Shibata has provided.

Notes on specific numbers:

1:  DeAnn’s alternate – start with an upstroke.

2:  DeAnn’s alternate – looped like an “L”

7:  Another variation is to add a crossbar at the waistline, like the Europeans do.

5:  DeAnn will pull the horizontal stroke toward the body of the 5 than away to achieve a thicker line.

9:  Note that it’s made with two down-strokes (see exemplar).

Class Project:  start thinking about what poem you want to use for the class project. It should be about 50 words. Even if the poem is much longer, you can use an excerpt. DeAnn will talk more about it next week. We’ll be writing it on special paper (not our practice sheets).

DeAnn’s recommended papers:
Canson Ingres

Sample of Canson Ingres colors

Canson Mi-Tientes

Sample of Canson Mi-Tientes colors

Strathmore Charcoal

Sample of Stratchmore Charcoal colors

DeAnn will bring in some samples, but if you want to go to an art store (see the Suppliers page ) and get some to bring to class, feel free. All the papers come in different colors. They’re typically sold by the sheet, 19” x 25” in size. We’ll be cutting the paper down to a size appropriate for the project and lining it (more on that next time). Keep in mind that it’s more difficult to work on darker papers, so if this is your first project, you may want to choose a lighter color.

OMEWORK:  Continue practicing at the smaller guidelines size. Finish trying all the nibs on the different papers if you weren’t able to in class. Look for a poem (or song lyrics) for the project. If you find one, practice writing it out.

NEXT WEEK:  DeAnn will demonstrate flourishing. She’ll also show us how to line the paper. Students who’ve taken classes with DeAnn before should bring the C-thru 2” x 18” plastic ruler with the 8×8 grid on it. But DeAnn will also provide them to use.