Four Days of Calligraphy
This month I took a break from my regular programming to attend a workshop on Blackletter from the Chicago Calligraphy Collective. Our über-talented instructor was Luca Barcellona from Milan. When I heard he was coming, I signed up immediately for his four-day workshop. He taught us Textura and Fraktur with a little history along the way. We used pilot parallel pens, dip pens, balsa wood nibs, automatic pens, and brushes to make letters. Below you can see Luca breaking down the strokes and angles of a letter n using a broad nib pen. On the right is a shot of his many tools and a demo of large lettering using a brush and gouache paint.
One of the great things about calligraphy is that you can write the same letter many different ways. First we learned the basic alphabet for each hand, and then the many variations of each letter.
After Luca demonstrated writing large, we got a chance to try it out. Below I was using an automatic pen with a 1/2" nib. I'd never used such a large tool for calligraphy. I really like the automatic pen, but contrary to its name, it is not automatic. You have to dip it in ink or brush some ink onto the nib before every few strokes. But it was so exciting to make 5" tall letters!
Above: Using a parallel pen I was practicing Fraktur capitals with Textura lowercase. The Fraktur has more curves, while the Textura is very upright with straight lines. It looks best when it is written with close line spacing so that it creates an overall texture. Mine needs to have less word spacing, but you can't erase ink, so, more practice!
Below: Switching to a paintbrush was challenging. A pen has a set nib width, but a brush changes width as you write based on the pressure, so consistency takes effort. I love color, so I tried a little red on red for this exercise.
Make Haste Slowly
On the last day we worked on compositions. This little practice piece was made with a brush and gouache paint.
I learned so much and enjoyed the time spent with so many great calligraphers in class and over meals. Blackletter has so many forms and variations. I am definitely a blackletter fan. It's not just for metal bands and tequila anymore!