A truly foundational bookhand

I’m teaching a calligraphy class this summer in Bozeman. The subject: bookhand. I didn’t want to teach the standard Johnstonian bookhand, which seems dated and, well, English. So I’m teaching a pared-down bookhand which uses the same proportions of Johnston’s foundational hand and Humanist bookhand, but has no serifs to speak of.

I’ve assigned homework, but of course I must do the homework myself so I can talk about the problems and pitfalls of the hand as well as the problems and pitfalls of practicing. I’m learning / remembering.

An 18" x 24" page of pared-down bookhand written with a #3 Mitchell nib and walnut ink.
An 18″ x 24″ page of pared-down bookhand written with a #3 Mitchell nib and walnut ink.

Calculating a 4 pen-widths x-height with a #3 nib … that comes to 6mm (4 x 1.5mm manufacturing spec). But my nib must have been customized as some point, because 4 pen-widths actually came to 5mm. So that’s what I used.

Daily lettering: preparation for the Big Sky Scribes spring workshop

Bookhand practice - day 1
Bookhand practice – day 1

I’ve been doing some blackletter work recently, and I’ve been doing some Hebrew lettering. (This latter is more a labor of love than of skill, so I doubt you’ll be seeing any of it here.)

But the spring workshop sponsored by the Big Sky Scribes guild is coming up soon. I’m really looking forward to the workshop, which Christopher Haanes will be teaching. Today Amity Parks posted a practice sheet that she had just completed in preparation for the workshop and I realized hey, I need to be getting ready too! After today’s daily lettering session, picture here, it’s even more clear that hey, I need to be getting ready!

This is Moon Palace sumi ink, a Mitchell #2.5 nib, and Strathmore Drawing 400 heavyweight paper. Smartphone photo in poor light.

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