Tag Archives: lettering

The Making of the Winner’s Namedoodle

The winner of the Competition, Fernando Lembo di Pino , himself a very gifted and accomplished scribe has asked that the doodle should consist simply of his name Fernando.  So, hoping I can make something worthy of his skill, here we go.

It has been a long time since the competition and due to much busy-ness and business I have only now been able to bend my mind to what should really be a mindless excercise, ie a doodle, though I must say I have been giving it quite a bit of thought lately.

As promised, I have tried to document the making of a Namedoodle and the thought processes that make it what it is.

So a sheet of A4 scrap paper first with some double pencils and doodle doodle doo, we begin.



Then having started with OE Black-letter and a bit of italic, I can see some of the ideas coming through.  The extended cross stroke on the F and the enclosure of the whole, enclosed within a cartouche composed of the tail of the same letter.



More mindless doodling. Fernando, Fernando, etc.


This is more or less the layout I had in mind, so, time to stop playing and put it into practice.



Usually my Namedoodles are completed on size A4. Here, I must admit, I cheated a little bit and switched to a sheet of A3 paper.  Having decided that I should change the script to an uncial type rather than Black-letter and to keep it all within the cartouche, I felt I needed a bit more room to swing around the curves.  It seemed only natural to break up the flow of the line to correspond to that of the ascenders, and to continue the line of the cross stroke round to join with the closure of the cartouche.  At this point I found it helpful to use a set-square to make sure the horizontals were in fact horizontal. I was not too sure what to do with the tail of the R. Do I finish the stroke at the upturn, join it to the cartouche, or bend it round to become part of the closure? By the way, the x height of the letters is 1″, about 3 1/2 nibwidths.



At this point I have not made my mind up about the R, but have decided to change the Ns and the A.  Don’t ask me why.  I suppose you could say it makes it look a bit more grown up.



Now traced off onto a fresh sheet of A3 with the R problem resolved, (still not sure about this),  then printed onto A4 and traced onto a nice piece of matte board, it is time to put this working drawing into action.



Using a pretty firm pointed nib and Schminke gold gouache, first making sure that the nib is capable of holding enough of the medium to draw a line without having to stop too often for replenishment, and checking that the heel of my hand is able to actually slide around the curves, a deep breath and off we go. Something less than an hour later, having added a silver star and my wbg chop, I sit and pull it all to pieces in my mind.  This is not quite right, should I not have done so and so? Should I, in fact, tear it up and do it again? Heheh! Experience has taught me though, that no matter how many times I start all over again, I shall never be completely satisfied.  Even now I am thinking, perhaps a wash of white or pale-ish blue within the lines.  Why not add a border………………………..?

It is on that note that I shall once again thank all my readers and visitors for coming to see what is happening at Bill’s Space.  Thanks again to those of you who entered this competition, I am sure there will be more to come.  And three cheers for the winner.  Fernando, you are indeed, a star.


Keep watching this space.



Just a little Thank You

I would like to take this opportunity to thank all my friends and visitors new and old, for their support over the years, and for the many Birthday greetings received over the last few days.   Please feel free to download this little effort, trace off, add your own colour / decoration and use as you would like.

You might like to know, H2 Pencil traced onto A4 card-stock from the original, which was roughly drawn with double pencil:  x height 1″.  Gap between lines: 1/2″ .  I was about to add a Celtic  border, but then thought, why should I do all the work?  So, over to you.  Enjoy!

A couple of tips.  Remember to use the whole arm from the shoulder, and have another sheet of paper under your writing hand. This will stop your hand from sticking and smudging, and help you to slide round the curves and down the whole length of the ascenders / descenders.

As usual, after publication, I see a number of things that could be improved.  Nothing new in that!  One is never satisfied. If you do trace this off though, it might be a good idea just to drop the writing lines by about 1/4″ or 3/8″ to help balance the whole page.

Thanks again.   Cheers.

The Font of All Wisdom?

Seeing the Bamburgh Research Project blog yesterday brought back memories from my dim and distant past. I thought you might be interested to hear this.

The article reminded me of a clay tablet that was found on an archaeological dig. I might have read this  c. 1953, in the family Arthur Mee encyclopaedia. I have searched the web but unfortunately there don’t seem to be any photos.  I do still have the scrap of paper on which I copied these intriguing words, but being the scribe that I am, I have tried here to render this as faithfully to the original, as described and illustrated in the article which was titled The Font Of All Wisdom.

I have never been able to work out the exact meaning of these words or even in which language they were first written. It does remind me though of  the Roman palindrome.

If you can throw some light on this, I would be very pleased to hear it, and I am sure it will make us all the wiser.  Thanks.

My thanks to  The Bamburgh Research Project For giving me the inspiration to do this piece.  Have a look at their site especially if you are hoping to spend some time at a dig during this season, There are places available.

Look for their group on Facebook

And the YouTube video channel.


Thanks to Gill for coming up with the title.

Keep watching this space.

The Foundational or Roundhand Alphabet. With thanks to Richard Crookes.

You will remember that some time ago Richard allowed me to use his italic worksheets at Bill’s Space. They have proved very popular. Over 1000 views, so far, with many people clicking through to download the zip file.  If you missed them, don’t worry they are still available at his website.

I was interested to hear that Richard has set up a series of very well attended calligraphy classes in Thailand, and has a blog, “Calligraphy Classes in Bangkok“, here on WordPress.

He made this ‘g’ during one of the classes and says, “that ‘g’ was about 4 feet high on a white board. It’s great fun working that large”.

He has completed some brilliant worksheets on the Foundational Hand, and has once again given me the go ahead to show them.  I think, however it would be in your own interest to have a look at his blog and a thorough root through his website where among loads of other goodies you will find some copies you can download for yourself.


Thanks Richard.

Don’t forget to then come back and see what is going on at our first lesson,  TIME TO GET TO WORK

Keep watching this space.


Welcome to Bill’s Space.

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Bill’s Space is aimed  at  anyone who has a love of calligraphy, or lettering. Especially beginners and those who  are  having trouble getting started.  Featuring videos and worksheets, links and articles, all with a bias toward art, calligraphy, lettering, and teacher’s resources, and updated as new material comes to my notice.

A Jack of All Trades. Always aspiring to become a master of lettering, I learned a basic italic hand at school, and became a regular at the local library calligraphy section. It took some years to find a local evening class but once there I found myself able to help fellow students with their struggles. Shortly after this I became a tutor myself at evening classes and also started a local church group.

Back in the eighties my work was exhibited in Luton Library.

For 6 years I was privileged to lead a Calligraphy Workshop/Retreat at Belmont Abbey, Hereford.
Any scribe will tell you that people wrongly assume that if you can put letters on paper you will be able to paint them onto almost anything. Brushwork, though, is a completely different technique to master. Luckily I was able to join a 1 year full-time C&G signwriting course and then worked for some time as a signwriter, but I never lost my love of penmanship.
I hope I can help you on your journey.

Bill’s Space was originally set up to promote good lettering. It has now metamorphosed into an all round meeting point for artists, calligraphers and teachers, worldwide, to relax while they search for that little something different to put in their resources locker. Recently a new group, CALLIGRAPHY at Bill’s Space Mk II, has been set up on Facebook to run alongside the original site. Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience come and join in the fun. The more experienced scribe is encouraged to give help and assistance where needed.

A click on this image will take you to a comprehensive catalogue of tools and materials

I recommend that beginners go straight to Getting Started in Calligraphy where you will find a comprehensive guide on what you need to get started and links to the various lessons.

If you are looking for inspiration a browse through the links pages might just give you the nudge you need.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me through the contact box here-under.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit. Please come again and tell your friends.

For embedded links to all my pictures, prices for commissions etc.,  don’t forget to visit my website, Calligraphy by Bill Grant .

Keep watching this space.


If you would like to donate a few pennies to help with the upkeep of Bill’s Space, please click on the button to link with Paypal.  Many thanks.

Getting Started in Calligraphy

Calligraphy. Getting started. The Scribe's nightmare.

The Scribe’s Nightmare.

I strongly suggest that beginners read this post first and then click on Lesson One. Familiarise yourself first with the Roundhand alphabet. I am sure it will save a lot of heartache later.

Firstly, there are so many products on sale, all purported to be the must have for the budding scribe. For the time being, my advice is to forget all that. Keep it simple. Buy or make only that which you need to get through the next stage in your journey. All the pens and brushes in the whole wide world are of no use if you have no idea what to do with them.

If you follow the Calligradoodles videos and use the worksheets that go with them, you will notice that all the elements are made up of pencil marks on paper. So, all we need to get started, is a sheet of ordinary copy paper, a ruler and two pencils joined together with elastic bands. ( Better than tape when it comes to sharpening ). A board of some description propped at an angle of about 20 degrees on your table, or even on your knees ( Not good for the back! ), will be enough for the first few sessions.

So, now you are able to construct a half decent Roundhand and Roman alphabet and are ready to progress. You will need a pen and some ink, and once again there are so many products out there that confusion can easily set in, so simplicity is best.

A fountain pen set with 4 – 6 nib sizes and a good supply of cartridges or ink is a good addition to your tool-box at this point. A couple of pen holders and some broad nibs plus a bottle of black calligraphy ink ( not waterproof, this will easily clog your nib ).

Here I shall make no apologies for directing you to Bill’s Art and Calligraphy Supplies  I do earn a small commission from Amazon on any sales, But please don’t feel that you have to buy here. The main reason for setting up this A Shop was to illustrate the mind boggling choices we have just in this one discipline. The Book Section is mind blowing! If I can raise a few pennies to offset expenses, thanks for your custom.

The Technik Art Layout Pad  A/3  is a handy addition right now. Only 50 gsm means you can make one guideline sheet and lay it under each page. A good tip at this point is to rule lines at 1/8″intervals from top to bottom of that page. If you do this in landscape format it will be much more versatile. When laid under the actual working page it is easy to mark an X over 1,2,3, or however many lines it takes to make up the x height needed for the particular nib size you are using. This will stand you in good stead for the rest of your life. If you do have to draw lines, always draw them in multiples of 1/8″ according to nib size. More on this as you progress.

The Brause assortment calligraphy set or William Mitchell right hand italic set. ( There are left hand versions available, and you will find a really good book for Lefthanders in the book department ).  ( See also The Left-handed Calligrapher, here at Bill’s Space, and for more support and info try the Facebook group, Calligraphy for the Left  Handed ) .
The Manuscript Leonardt Calligraphy dip pen nibs – Italic and Poster set, is particularly good value.  A bottle of black Manuscript ink or set of three, black, gold, red, W & N inks will keep you busy for a while.
A better quality paper is now needed to show off your new skills so a pad of Daler Rowney A/3 might be your next choice. Why A/3?  Simply, this size gives more scope for layouts. If you need a smaller format, it is no problem to cut a page.
For line drawing, a Rowney or any of the many boards or drawing machines available will make life a bit easier, but I find a set square running along a 2 foot ruler taped to my board is quite sufficient. Incidentally, I use a home made    light -table whenever possible. If you try this, PLEASE USE ONLY TOUGHENED GLASS.There is a commercially made Artograph box in Bill’s Art and calligraphy supplies.   A “T”-square is a handy addition and perhaps a few basic drawing instruments next. You see. Your collection is building up already. But only with stuff you use. Not just stuff!
Scribblers have kindly issued 50 calligraphy tips You might find these useful.
By the way, when conducting a workshop, I usually ask participants to bring with them the following articles if at all possible.
A drawing board, approximately 18” x 24”. MDF or something similar will do, Something to prop it up to make a writing slope, i.e., a piece of wood 4” x 4” or perhaps a brick wrapped in a carrier bag.
A ruler , preferably 2 foot, and a set square.
A set of roundhand nibs with penholder and reservoirs.
A calligraphy fountain pen is a handy addition for practice work. (Any left-handers will benefit by choosing left hand oblique nibs).
Calligraphy ink. NOT WATERPROOF. Avoid Indian ink whether waterproof or not.
Gouache or watercolours. Coeruleum Blue, and Vermilion. Winsor & Newton Gold ink. (Optional but very handy.)
2, HB and I, 2H pencil. A 00 paint brush. A cheap brush for mixing. A palette or saucer. A jar for water and a kitchen roll.
An A3 Layout pad or even a cheap sketch book. If you have some, a nice HP watercolour paper for your finished work
If you have problems obtaining any commercially marketed equipment, You might try going back to basics and making your own. It is a good idea anyway to experiment with quills, reeds, bamboo, tin cans etc.
My take on the Cola pen. The RED STRIPE Pen. To my mind, much more fun emptying the can.  A chisel cut pencil to dip.  A needlepoint and 6mm with film reservoir.  Bamboo, and a 2mm Reed.
Make sure mummy and daddy are supervising.  Heheh. We don’t want any cut fingers! With scissors, cut top and bottom from the can, making sure you have first downed the contents.  (Adults, it might be best to leave this stage ’til tomorrow, depending on the strength of the aforesaid).
Carefully, (The cut tin can will be very sharp).  Open up and then fold down the length of the metal. Cut whatever shape you are looking for for the nib…then continue down the length,making sure to leave enough for the handle. This is rolled and then taped tightly. Perhaps strengthening by rolling the handle round a pencil. You could make a much prettier job by soldering.Just make sure that all bare edges are covered or blunted.  ‘speriment and enjoy.
You might like to note that I have been experimenting with various materials to use as reservoirs. The best so far is old fashioned film or even negatives. Used flat it can be cut and pushed into a slit formed in the quill, reed, bamboo or whatever, or rolled into a spring and pushed into the aperture.
Some other examples…………..
Now may I suggest that you join Lesson One. If you have any problems, questions, advice, etc., do not hesitate to use the comment boxes throughout this site.
If I don’t know the answer, I’m sure to know someone who does.
I hope you get as much enjoyment as I do from making good letters.
Keep watching this space.

A Calligraphy Workshop at Jewels.

Last month I noted my first impressions of the Jewels Calligraphy Group.  Tutor Julie has done a great job. Not only teaching this little band of scribes, but with her friendly, relaxed manner,  keeping them together for a number of years.

When my offer of conducting a workshop was taken up, I was really pleased but as it is at least two years since I stood in front of a class of adults there was a tinge of trepidation.  So, rather than relying on the old adage: ” Teaching is like riding a bike “, I decided to do a bit of preparation. The subject, which is very close to my heart, the roundhand alphabet.  Not only writing with, but also showing the versatility of  double pencil when planning a layout.

Bearing in mind I had quite a large space at Jewels to work in, my idea was to write ” Jewels ” as large as possible on a roll of paper 30″ wide and then superimpose, in italics, ” Arts & Crafts Centre ” across the centre.

After a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours this is what I ended up with.  Two clicks will magnify this to a huge image.  (Original 24″ x  84″).

 This is the result of stitching three photos together. The x height of the lower case ” Jewels ” is 12″. The almost hidden, ” Art & Craft Centre “, 5” .  All written very quickly with double markers on a roll of decorators lining paper…………..

…………….3″  and 1″ nib width, then roughly filled with some old inks that needed to be used up. So roughly filled, with automatic pens,  a goodly amount was deposited in places where no ink was supposed to be.  Never mind. This is just a trial run. Enjoy, and go with the flow! Having run out of a decent yellow, I even splashed on some Turmeric.  Heheh.   Perhaps I should call this piece ” Jewels after Shahed “.  A reference to a friend who has an album named Spilling, Splashing, Scribbling.

Then the little matter of an example or two of the script we were going to be working on…………………………..

First my double pencil version.

Then a piece from my archives.

Another with a guide to spacing

And a historical piece from the British Museum manuscript collection.

Then to the Workshop itself. Time to fill :- two hours.  Drying up a couple of times due to old age / lack of practice, I briefly tried to conjour up the image of the court of Charlemagne, Alcuin’s friendship with the King and, among other reforms, their long-term aim of unifying the script of the age and how this then evolved into the humanist hand seen above, and eventually into the font we are reading now.

Guide-lines already marked on my roll of poster paper, we then got down to the nitty-gritty of adding the writing which fitted just like magic.  There was even enough room for each participant to add their own contribution.

I could then sit back with my feet up and let everyone get on with it. And, I am pleased to say, get on with it they did, even to the extent of letting their tea get cold.  ( Have I mentioned the TEA? )

Gill and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with and enjoying the company of the group.  So much so, that we are now members also and looking forward to some good times together.

Hoping I might be asked to continue with a workshop perhaps on Roman Capitals next, I say thanks for having us.  See you again next week.

Don’t forget.  If you want more on the roundhand alphabet, have a look at Lesson One

Keep watching this space.