Signed. . Light Table Troubles

Dear Arrighi,

It is often suggested to use several sheets of newspaper, under the writing sheet, as a cushion. What kind of cushion material can I use on top of a light table? I’ve tried celluloids and other see-through plastics but they are too hard and firm, with little “give”. Tissue paper is a bit softer but it’s difficult to see through several thicknesses. So, what can I use?


Light Table Troubles

Dear Light Table Troubles,

Your question is an interesting problem and since I’m not sure what level you are at, I will address the whole issue of padding your artwork and using a light table.

When you are writing on a piece of paper it is beneficial to put something under it to give it some cushioning so the edges of the nib can come in full contact with the paper. When doing Roman Capitals I find it helpful to put a thin piece of felt and a nother piece of paper under my work sheet. (I think newsprint is a better choice than newspaper. I don’t want any print to rub off onto my working sheet or my hands). But in general 2 or 3 sheets of newsprint or bond or any other paper that’s not too hard is helpful.

Now, the light table is another thing. When you are using a light table it is generally for tracing something or paste-ups, addressing envelopes, and usually you already have a guideline sheet under the working sheet, so I’m not sure what the problem is. If you are using the light table to do your regular “good” calligraphy on, with guidelines, I’d advise against it. This is not a very accurate way to do your writing. The light from the table is tiring to your eyes, and the lines are distorted when it is seen through the working sheet. The only thing that is really accurate is to line up your paper properly with a SHARP pencil, a god ruler, and a T-square. It doesn’t take any longer to line accurate than inaccurately. With practice it won’t take very much time. Let’s face it, when you’re going to do calligraphy, it takes a lot of time, so when it’s finished you want it to be good. You hate to spend that kind of time and the finished piece has crooked lines, or the x-height gets bigger or smaller because the lines were off. My light table has plexiglass as the surface and I can see through with one sheet of bond paper under my working sheet and t seems to be enough padding. It is helpful to turn the lights off around you or at least turn them down so youc an see through the paper better.