Hints and Tips

Just a few things that might make your calligraphy a little easier.

A simple light table.
There are commercially made light-boxes etc available.
Mine is made from a sheet of toughened glass 18″ x 26″ with ground edges. I am lucky enough to have two pieces so I can double the size if necessary. It sits upon a strip of quadrant screwed to the edge of the desk and rests on the shelf above. The light itself was designed to be used beneath a kitchen cupboard.

You could make a frame to hold the glass and enclose the light for table top use.

In answer to a question that crops up from time to time.I draw as few lines as I can practically get away with. I have a guideline sheet, landscape on A3, marked up with 1/8″ lines, that I slip under the page I am working on. I use multiples of 1/8″ for x height and choose a nib to suit. If I do have to draw lines I still use the same measurements, so rather than draw lines to fit ,two, three, four, etc. nib widths, I will chose a nib to fit within these multiples of 1/8″.
In workshop situations I always tape a 1 metre steel rule to a table. Most people find it simplicity itself to run a large set square down the ruler rather than make dots on the page.


With a ruler gripped or glued to the edge, a set square that runs along the quadrant, A guideline sheet marked with 1/8″ lines, you are ready for any eventuality,  just as long as you are working on paper rather than heavy card or very dark colours. In any case, this is very useful set up if you have to draw lines and have not got a drawing machine.
Now you need to make up templates of your most used formats.
This one is A3 size with 1/8 inch guidelines. It will still come in handy if you can only print it off on A4.
Template A3 double page, img, jpg
Perhaps the regular certificate inscription, envelope, place-card, or Wedding Album. A spiral or two will come in very handy.
With compasses, first make an arc 1/2″ radius to the left of the centre line. Move compass point to the bottom of the arc then open the radius until it joins the top of the arc. Draw the right-hand arc. Move the compass point back to its first position and open the radius until it joins the bottom of the arc. Keep stepping back and forth until the desired size spiral is complete.
If you wish to also put in a guide line for x height, follow the same steps adding the required measurement.
calligraphy templates.combinations.jpg
After sixty years I have worked out a way to find how much space I need to complete a page of text.
The x heights from top to bottom of the page on the left show a gap for ascenders and descenders. Those on the right just one free line for either mingled asc / desc or uncials, capitals etc. Using this method, all you need to do to work out the space needed to complete a project is to write out the longest line of text, then adjust the nib size for each x height. Fit the nib to the x height rather than draw lines to correspond with nib widths.
I made up this template as I had a regular batch of Wedding albums to inscribe.
Even if you are working on dark card, it is a simple matter to fold the page and mark off the points then pencil in the lines.  Much easier than having to measure everything each time.
Blundell Harling A1 Challenge Lightboard
Have fun.  I shall be back soon with some more hints and tips.
Keep watching this space.

8 responses to “Hints and Tips

  1. Great writeup. I am a little baffled about the spirals though – so you end up with a pattern of equidistant arcs that you then use for points for lines?


  2. Ahh, that kind of spiral…… Some days I am a little denser than others and a little too black and white! Love the sample and inspiration. Thanks muchly! Now do you know of any good calligraphy correspondence courses? have a great evening!


  3. Pingback: Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4 | BILL'S SPACE

  4. Pingback: The Misunderstood Child. | BILL'S SPACE

  5. Bill…. Hope you are mending, quickly


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