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pen play…

February 16, 2012

I am thoroughly enjoying Joanne Sharpe’s Letter Love class. In two recent sessions she introduced us to Pilot’s Parallel Pen and also the Noodler’s Flex Nib fountain pens. This has been both interesting and challenging.


Because I’m left-handed.

When I took calligraphy in high school my teacher was good about trying to teach me techniques to compensate but I don’t even hold my regular pen the way a leftie “should”. So instead I just made do and kept blotting paper close by. The side of my left hand was often stained and I had to re-do quite a bit of work. I can get away with calligraphy markers because the felt nibs are forgiving of my nontraditional hand position.

So today I broke out an old copperplate nib and barrel as well as a parallel pen and fountain pen.


It’s been a number of years and I think it shows. I had a hard time mixing the gouache to a good consistency and I didn’t line my paper so my letters are dancing quite a bit.



If you’re a real calligrapher you might want to look away because you will shudder at the way I hold the poor parallel pen.



Then I played with an inexpensive Plumix fountain pen from Pilot (the only thing I could find locally). I like it, the ink flows well but it isn’t a pointed pen, which I prefer, instead it is an italic (or flat) nib. It writes well but not as fine as I would want (so I’ll be ordering a Noodler’s).


I can’t wait to see what she has in store for us next… hopefully my Amazon gift cards can handle it. 😉

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Laurie permalink
    February 16, 2012 11:05 PM

    You are incredible, your work is incredible.

  2. February 16, 2012 11:14 PM

    I am a lefty too…and until the conversation came up today on facebook about lefties and calligraphy and fountain pens, I never even THOUGHT I was doing something wrong or any difficulty I was having was because of my hand.

    Now, I am trying to figure out how I hold various pens to see HOW different it is from a right handed or “normal” lefty (who has issues with writing with nibs) Infact, when I was younger I preferred a fountain pen to a ball point because they never skipped.

  3. February 17, 2012 12:40 AM

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. My youngest daughter is left handed and hates writing. This post helped me remember how difficult it might be for her sometimes. BTW you have beautiful handwriting.

  4. February 17, 2012 2:02 AM

    I’m also a lefty. I’m not sure what the “normal” way to hold the pen is for a lefty, but what I do is turn the paper 1/4 turn to the right, so I’m writing top to bottom rather than left to right… looks strange probably, but it works for me, and a bonus is that I don’t get ink on my hand!

    Your copperplate script is lovely 🙂

  5. Julie permalink
    February 18, 2012 6:49 PM

    Oh bless you left-handed ones!!! I have been thinking about calligraphy for a looooooong time and I also took Joanne Sharpe’s class. Which made me miserable. My handwriting is decent but calligraphy seems darn near impossible. how did you get started? Any particular book you could point me to???

    • February 19, 2012 12:04 AM

      Thank you so much. I was first really taught calligraphy in high school by a professional calligrapher, before that I just copied what I could from books. There is something about learning from someone sitting there with you that’s just different. Joanne’s lessons have been great guidance for stylized lettering and there are definitely tips to use towards calligraphy skills, but her focus is certainly more on whimsical styles and developing your own signature lettering (which I’m absolutely loving). A book I’d recommend for a great look at calligraphy techniques is “The Art & Craft of Hand Lettering” by Annie Cicale. It is both beautiful and instructive.

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