I grew up in Raleigh at a time when the nuns taught at Our Lady Of Lourdes. They lived out back of the school and wore those imposing yet Holy Habits that commanded your adoration, attention, and, quite frankly, your fear. So, when they asked you to "sit up straight" with your "feet flat on the floor" and compose your letters properly according to the Palmer Method of Handwriting, you did just that! I believe it was at that impressionable age that I became infatuated with the formation of letters. When I was introduced to calligraphy in 1978, it was no wonder I fell in love with this beautiful art form. My first taste of the calligraphic world lasted no longer than one hour. The instructor turned a piece of chalk on its edge to form calligraphic works of art from A to Z on the chalkboard. That was that! But it was all I needed to fire the embers that had been sparked in elementary school. Watching the slow, rhythmical shaping of those letters was like listening to classical music. It was not until 1997 that I enrolled in my first formal calligraphy class. Boy, were my eyes opened! I knew I had a lifelong road of learning ahead of me. It's been 38 years since that white piece of chalk was laid on its side. I am still learning. Come learn with me!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Lettering with a Cola Pen

What you see is a "Cola Pen." Yes, it is made out of a Coca Cola can, some tape, and a dowel.

Once a week, the Triangle Calligraphers' Guild meets here in Raleigh. We have a 2-hour teaching session on either something we might already know or something we have never experienced. It all depends on your skill level, but nevertheless there is usually something shared that you've not heard before.

And in walks a Folded Pen made by hand out of Coca Cola cans!

Harriet, a member of this Guild, had been wanting to know how to use a Folded Pen for quite some time. She had even made one of the Cola Pens a few years ago, as had I. Like me, she had rarely, if ever, used it. So, she studied up on it and then shared what she learned at our last Guild Meeting.

This first page is me, trying to figure out how to use that Cola Pen I had made a few years ago. I used Higgins Eternal black ink. Dipped the pen into the bottle, gave it a little shake (while still in the bottle), and then started lettering. The big, dark strokes are my first stab at endeavoring to do Italic by laying the edge of the curved part of the pen on its side and pulling downwards. The thin cursive was done by just using the tip point of the pen.

Here I am getting a little better with the Cola Pen, still laying the curved edged on its side and pulling down to make the thick downstrokes. To get the thin upstrokes, I manipulated the pen up on its tip, never lifting the pen from the paper. 

At the upper end of the Cola nib, where it is taped to the dowel, there is an opening. In this opening I dropped in 1 or 2 drops of blue FW acrylic ink on top of the Higgins Eternal that was already on the nib. As I pulled down on the pen, the blue mixed in with the black to make interesting strokes.

In this pic, you can see I am getting more and more confident and more creative with the strokes and mixtures of inks. I am really starting to like what I am seeing.

Now I have switched to a "real" Folded Pen, one you can buy at John Neal Booksellers. Here's the link (N30 Folded Ruling Pen): http://www.johnnealbooks.com/prod_detail_list/s?keyword=ruling+pen . I used this pen in a more upright position to pull the downstrokes and upstrokes. The strokes are thinner and less ragged. 

This was a really fun session, and I think I will try to employ the Cola Pen in some of my pieces! So many things to experiment with!!

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