How To Sharpen Your Broad-Edge Calligraphy Nib

Does your metal broad-edge pen nib give your calligraphy hairline strokes? Or does it have a burr that hangs up on the paper? Don’t throw it away. Sharpen it.  Nibs aren’t sharp like knives. But sharper nibs give narrower strokes. You want a slope or bevel on your nib edge to reduce the amount of metal that touches the paper. But if it’s too narrow it dulls easily or burrs.  To sharpen my nibs I use the flat side of a hard small white Arkansas stone. I also don’t use it with oil.  You want to create a bevel that is about 45° for larger nibs, less the for the smaller nibs we use in the SCA. The smaller angel for narrow nibs is to retain the edge’s strength. Strength is more important than extreme thinness.  I’ve also done this to my cartridge pen nibs. Even my Rotring. Works wonders for me. In my opinion, this video “Calligraphy – sharpening nibs”  by Patricia Lovett, published on YouTube Aug 19, 2013, is the best current video showing nib sharpening. This will help your calligraphy; it did mine. Tip: If you’re having trouble getting your nib to start writing, give the nib’s back a few strokes to restore its lost crisp edge. It’s easy. You’ll be able to make hairline strokes that are cat’s-whisker-thin. Related Prior Post: 17 Scribal Insights Of Patricia Lovett 10 Top Calligraphy And Illumination Artists

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Why Are Vellum And Parchment So Expensive?

Vellum or parchment is made from animal skins processed until they are smooth and thin enough for light to pass through. It’s been used for book-pages longer than has paper.  You can find one of the oldest surviving books in the British Library, the Codex Sinaiticus. It was written on parchment in the fourth century and is over 1600 years old. With that longevity and tradition, of course, SCA scribes want to work on animal skin. It’s the ultimate scroll surface. But is it ever expensive. When I can afford it, I usually buy my animal skin, from Talas. Their non-calligraphy types cost about $100 for a size suitable for a Peer’s scroll. The calligrapher’s quality costs even more.  So, why are vellum and parchment so expensive? You can get an idea watching this Dirty Jobs YouTube video in which Mike Rowe makes vellum. This is why I now use pergamenata for my scrolls. I even prefer it to smooth Bristol board, which I used back in the day before SCA scribes discovered perg. Even with these costs, you’ll want to use vellum or parchment sometime. It’s a wonderful scribal experience. You’ll be enthused and feel emotionally connected to medieval manuscript creation.  Related Prior Post:  Untangling Your Scribal Paper Purchasing Puzzle

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How-to Paint And Pen Straight Lines

M. Giraude’s laurel scroll showing interlinear and filigree lines. For years I’ve fussed over painting straight lines on a scroll. I keep coming back to starting with a ruler and light pencil lines then painting over those lines. The problem is when you use light intensity paints like pink, white, or yellow you see the pencil line through the paint making them seem […]

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