Cursive ‘a’

Thank you, thank you, thank you Rachel Hazel (aka thetravellingbookbinder) for your latest inspiration.  It is just what I needed today. I had hit a slump and didn’t know what to do with myself, until I recalled Rachel’s blog post from a few days ago on making an alphabet sketchbook.

This is such an uncomplicated project that it almost seems too easy … and yet it is just the thing to jog you out of a malaise. The idea is to take your book and some ink and just start writing the same letter across the page. Rachel suggests using a stick and some ink, which I duly did. I used two products: Ecoline Liquid Watercolour by Royal Talens, in Deep Grey; and Noodlers Ink in Squeteague. The stick I picked up in our garden.

Two liquid media that I used for my alphabet book.

I am working into a Japanese accordion book which has just been waiting for such a project. I think that I bought it nearly 10 years ago.

The process of writing is quite absorbing. After a while it is hard to recognise the letter, the shape instead comes to the fore. It feels a bit like that thing you do when you repeat a common word over and over until it ceases to mean anything and dissolves into a jumble of sounds.

This is my favourite page so far. I made a whole lot of random marks on the page and only let it partially dry before working back into it.

As you can see from my photos I didn’t stop at one page. At my current rate expect that this will probably end up as the book of ‘cursive a’.

Only part way through and I can’t see it stopping anytime soon.

I suggest that you take a look at the fantastic images on Rachel’s blog. She at least has managed to get past the letter ‘a’ and shares some very beautiful pages and a short flip through of her book as well.

Fountain pen fever, it’s contagious!

I think I’m succumbing to the early stages of a sadly common sketching phenomenon, the urge to collect fountain pens. It started innocently enough. I saw some drawings I liked made using a fountain pen and before I thought about it there was my first black Lamy Safari. It was lovely to draw with and soon became indispensable. Then I lost it! A desperate trip to the local pen shop and I was able to secure a bright yellow replacement – all the harder to lose – so I hope.

Then came the inks, you know what happened. Not content with what came with the pen I started researching what inks other people were using. Noodlers Bulletproof was the ink I kept hearing about, particularly the Bulletproof black which is considered to be the one waterproof pigment ink that can be used in my fountain pen, without clogging it up irreparably. One problem, apparently the Australian supplier isn’t supplying anymore, so I had to check out online suppliers from overseas. So now here I am with three bottles of Noodlers inks.

Noodler's inks testing, Black, the just about unpronounceable Squeteague and La Reine Mauve

Noodler’s inks testing, Black, the just about unpronounceable Squeteague and La Reine Mauve

Now I was a bit surprised and not a bit disappointed that the Black and the Squeteague did show some bleeding when I washed some water over them. La Reine Mauve, which was the ‘freshest’ at the time of testing, did no such thing (good breeding will out!).

Hooray! my Black Lamy Safari pen has been found hiding in a dark crevice under some books. Now I have two fountain pens going at the same time. I filled the second pen with La Reine Mauve, as I thought it would be a more ‘useable’ colour than the jade-green Squeteague. You’d think that would be enough, but then I began reading blogs about pens with ‘fude’ or bent nibs. Before I knew it I had purchased a Duke 209 stainless steel pen with the ‘fude’ nib. It’s OK I say, it’s not at all expensive on E-bay.

Now the Duke pen comes with its own blue ink which shades towards a deep violet.  A bit odd but not too bad, if I was going to write with it. So next time I’m at the art supply shop I just have a cruise past the ink display and the next thing I know I’m heading out the door with two more bottles of ink. This time it’s Windsor and Newton Calligraphy ink in Indian Red and Sepia. Both of these colours have the advantage of being ones that I use in my watercolour palette, so I’m sure I’ll be more comfortable drawing with them.

Windsor and Newton calligraphy inks, Indian Red and Sepia and the Duke 209 fude nib using the blue ink cartridge it comes with

Windsor and Newton calligraphy inks, Indian Red and Sepia and the Duke 209 fude nib using the blue ink cartridge it comes with

So now I have three fountain pens to play with. I plan to stop there for a while and spend some time getting to know and use what I have already. Fingers crossed!