STMABD = Small Things Make a Big Difference

Apr 11, 2022

With my Copperplate Foundations registration opening up around the corner on 4/19, this saying came to mind - "Small things make a big difference". That doesn't just apply to calligraphy but all part of our lives. I find that it's the seemingly small & mundane choices we make (from the food we eat to what we believe to be true in our minds) that will have the biggest impact in our lives. 

This is my 8th year since embarking on this calligraphy journey and if there's any tip I would share to beginners, it would be to choose quality over quantity when it comes to practice times. Being intentional with the 20 minutes you have will be of greater value than spending 2 hours practicing mindlessly, which will lead to bad habits.

One way you can improve your script is to practice your pressure/release! Two things to keep in mind:

  1. We all have a unique hand. Some of us have a naturally light hand and others have a heavy hand. What does that mean? It means that for those who have a naturally light hand, they may have to exert more pressure for the nib tines to separate compared to those who have a naturally heavy hand. So, even though two people write with the same nib, one person's letters may look lighter than another person's letters.
  2. Nibs come in a wide range of flexibility. Some nibs are more rigid while others will have a greater flex. Knowing the nib's flexibility will be helpful as it affects the amount of pressure you will need to exert as you write. For example, Hunt 101 has more flex, which will require less pressure for the tines to open. So I encourage my students to practice not only warm up exercises/drills, but also what I call "Nib Exercises". 

 Nib Exercises you can do:

  • Full Pressure - aim for same width from top to bottom
  • Thin - Thick - gradually add pressure
  • Thick - Thin - gradually release pressure 
  • Thin-Thick-Thin - aim for smooth transitions as you add/release pressure
  • Running Beads - quickly add/release pressure as you go down. This will help you to notice the flexibility of the nib

Doing these nib exercises will give you a greater sense of consistency as you move onto letters. Take a look at the photo below and notice the difference between the first and second row. I personally like how the letters have a lighter and more delicate look to them. 

Hope this motivates you to practice with intention from here on out!



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