Tag: calligraphy

Why Calligraphy?

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I joined a group of calligraphy enthusiasts on FB, Calligraphy Spot. It’s a fun group. Everybody’s nice and accommodating, you learn a lot from the other members, and there are weekly calligraphy themes. This week’s theme is “Why Calligraphy?”, which made me wonder at my fascination with it, even if I have a love-hate relationship with it. My answer was because I love words. I like how stringing letters together make words, and stringing words together make up phrases and sentences that mean something. A physical manifestation of something as abstract as thoughts.

I really want to learn copperplate or Spencerian calligraphy, but I’m afraid that I’ve stopped and started this several times because I feel like it goes against my natural hand. I am more at ease with uncial calligraphy, block lettering, and the only kind of dikit-dikit calligraphy that I can manage through brush pens. In any case, I enjoy my attempts at calligraphy and I enjoy looking at other people’s works. I appreciate how people can make words aesthetically pleasing in many different ways using different tools.

Meeting the Water Brush

I’ve always been curious about water brushes since I was able to try one at a pen meet last year. My friend uses it for pen and ink washes, though. I always see other calligraphers using it for brush calligraphy and I got curious so I bought one.

Waterbrush Calligraphy

I didn’t realize how much fun it is to use until now. I used watercolor for the letters and washes. I’m still finding my way around it as a calligraphy tool, it’s pretty hard to control watercolor and I guess that’s what makes it beautiful. It pools around in places and goes wherever it wants to. It’s a little unpredictable. Also…Bulbasaaauuuurrr! Rawr!

Waterbrush Calligraphy

It just goes to show that you won’t know if you like something unless you try it. I see myself using this tool and exploring it more in the coming days.

Last week was incredibly hectic. I consider myself very blessed to find the time to collect my thoughts and do something with my hands that isn’t related to work. Here’s hoping this coming week is a bit more forgiving.

More Like Riding a Bike

After a few days of writing words, then phrases, then paragraphs, and whole passages, I’m beginning to remember what I forgot.

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Turns out it’s a lot like riding a bike. It’s still a slow process, but like a young child just learning to read, I am able to recognize the letters and words again. I can write the letters on my own now, without consulting my guide. It’s slow but it’s fascinating how the letters and words are slowly becoming less and less alien and more and more… mine. The photo above is of a Filipino folk song, Bayan Ko. There’s nothing quite like writing it in Baybayin. The message of the song fits so well.

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The photo above is of Psalm 8 (Awit 8), one of my favorite Psalms. Translated to Filipino and then written in Baybayin. Exquisite. Filipino is still my emotional language, after all. 🙂

(Side note: It’s just wonderful to use these stub nibs for Baybayin. The line variation lends more drama to the strokes, though also making it nearly impossible to write small.)

Writing with Baybayin

On my second semester as a sophomore in college, I had this elderly lady from the Filipino Department of the University of the Philippines, Diliman as a professor for one creative writing subject. On the first day of class, her first question was “Sino dito ang nakakaalam kung paano sumulat at bumasa sa Baybayin?” (Who among you know how to write and read in Baybayin). Nobody raised their hands. She looked just a bit appalled that the iskos and iskas in her classroom, most of whom were taking courses under the Filipino Department, do not know how to read and write Baybayin. I vaguely remember learning about it in highschool, but not learning to use it. Teachers mentioned it in passing but failed to communicate the significance of this.

My professor proceeded to write characters on the blackboard. “Puwes, bago matapos ang klase na ito, matututo kayong bumasa ng Baybayin” she said (Well then, you will all learn how to read Baybayin by the end of this class). And learn it, we did.

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I chewed on this for a while after we learned the rudimentary of reading and writing with our alphabet. We had our own writing system, before centuries of colonial rule made us lose it, lose this part of our identity as a people. Somehow in the long, convoluted corridors of Philippine history, we lost sight of it. Not many are interested to relearn it. After all, what use would we have of it now? I dug into it, though. I learned the characters until I recognize them as quickly as the modern English alphabet. I can read and write Baybayin like how I would read and write anything else. I kept journals entirely in Baybayin, chuckling to myself with the thought that even if I left the notebook open anywhere, not a lot of people will be able to read it.

Then I got busy with other things in life and I stopped using it in my journals. One day I just realized that I had, once again, lost it. I could not recognize the characters quickly anymore. I could not read them in a natural, flowing way like I used to. My own journal entries became inscrutable to me, the thoughts I kept in my journals nearly lost.

Of course, even if I lost the retention of recognizing the characters, the rudimentary principles of reading and writing were still fresh in my mind. What my professor had taken upon herself to teach us, even if it did not seem to be connected to our subject at that time, that stayed with me until now. I still write words and phrases in my journal, but the ability to express myself and write quickly and in a natural pace is (for the moment) lost to me.

Baybayin

I still think our Baybayin is beautiful, though. I like the characters and the simplicity of reading and writing with them.

Baybayin

I don’t know if we will ever revive interest in our alphabet system now or in the future, but I certainly hope so. It’s part of our identity as a people.

Baybayin

I promised myself that I will relearn how to be more “fluent” with Baybayin, like I used to be. Perhaps I shall write my journals with Baybayin again in the future. 🙂

Blaze Wu Handmade Calligraphy Inks

Everything Calligraphy was kind enough to send me some samples of the recent addition to their product line–Blaze Wu handmade calligraphy inks. I truly enjoy testing these inks out. The colors are great, and the ink is nicely viscous so that it plays very well with the c3 nib I bought to try these inks out.

Here’s a short (well, as short as I can manage with 8 different colors) rundown and description of each ink.

Murky Clouds Obscure the Sun
What a very long name. This one’s dark grey with sparkly silver sheen. Look at that sparkle! Kinda reminds me of stormy grey but the sparkly bits are finer and more pronounced here. A friendly tip, don’t forget to stir well as you dip so that the glittery particles will be evenly distributed.

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This really reminds me of silver linings around clouds. I like the base color of grey. Here’s a closer look at this ink:


Victoria’s Velvety Skirt

This one’s a nice rose color. It’s bright and happy, and does look a bit velvety. This soft, old-rose base has a gold sheen to it.

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It’s a very pleasant, soft-looking color. A few close ups of the writing sample:

Continue reading “Blaze Wu Handmade Calligraphy Inks”

The Second Time Around

I got something nice from Swirls and Strokes today! I was pretty excited to get these in the mail, but a bit of a backstory first. I got interested in pointed pen calligraphy last year when I first joined Fountain Pen Network Philippines. There are a lot of talented calligraphers in the group, and though I’ve always found drawing letters to be quite interesting, I never really gave serious thought to learning it myself. Encouraged by the group’s many talented calligraphers, I set out to buy myself a starter kit for copperplate calligraphy (a heavy, stainless steel holder, a small bottle of ink, a guide book, and a notebook for practicing). I happily delved right in, only to find that the exercises were extremely painful on my hand. The cramps were unbearable (that should be the first clue that I was probably doing something wrong), the constant dip-dip-dipping was annoying, and I wasn’t happy with my progress. Long story short, I quit before I even got letter D right.

Fast forward to several months after, I joined a small pen meet with a few good pen friends. My friend Dean taught me how to properly prep a new nib (moment of clarity–so that’s why my nib wrote funny). He also let me use his different oblique holders and inkwell. It gave me an idea about what I was doing wrong and set me on the right path to learning. My first realization, I had insufficient tools. Second, I insisted on not asking for help. So, I thought I’d start again and bought a nice inkwell with two jar holders, and my very first oblique holder made by The Curious Artisan.

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The inkwell is by Eureka Moments, and it’s pretty convenient because it holds the jar securely and at the same time tilts them forward so you can easily reach into the jar, like so…

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The tilted stand also makes it easier to dip into the jar even when the ink level is running low. Coincidentally, the wood of the inkwell stand matches the wood of the carrot holder.

Here’s a closer look at the oblique holder that I picked. This carrot is made of Bayur wood with a fixed brass flange.

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This is a simple carrot oblique holder which tilts the nib at a certain angle to make writing a lot easier. I wasn’t looking for something expensive, I just wanted something simple, usable, but beautiful. The Curious Artisan’s holders are works of art by themselves (check out the catalog on his site), and I promised myself that I would get one when I have devoted more time to this hobby. Even if the holder I chose was a simple wooden carrot, I am happy with it. It feels balanced, light, and it’s really just the right girth for me. It didn’t feel too light, it wasn’t unwieldy. It was just right. 🙂 Also, the pouch that came with it is cute, eh?

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starting from the top

So I started practicing again, while still waiting for the ruled calligraphy pads that I ordered to arrive. This time, I’m pretty confident I can go beyond the letter D. There’s still much to learn, as I’m learning from the calligraphy classes I’ve started to attend online, but I’m just enjoying my very slow progress. 🙂

Today’s Calligraphy Practice

For today’s calligraphy practice, I wrote down Psalm 92 on loose Tomoe River paper as part of my letter-writing project. I used Diamine Wagner and oh, isn’t that color lovely?

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It reminds me of pistachio nuts. It’s a harmonious mixture of green and yellow. It’s so calming and mellow and just…happy! Here are a few close ups to show you the crazy gorgeous shading of this ink.

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Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-Guri and a Japanese Brush Pen

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A thoughtful gift from my friend who recently came home from a trip to Japan. Sigh, Japan. Home of the Iroshizuku inks. Someday I’ll get to see you too, and I shall eat takoyaki in your streets with utter abandon. Haha.

Anyway, the ink! I don’t know all of the English equivalents of the ink colors so I thought that it was black. A closer look at the ink showed that it’s brown, though. Apparently, Yama-Guri means “Wild Chesnut”. It’s a beautiful addition to my brown inks, and I’ll write a review as soon as I get decent photos of the writing samples.

The brush pen is also fun to use. I don’t know why I find brush pen calligraphy a bit easier to manage than dip pens. The pen itself is beautiful, though. The texture and design was meant to look hand-painted. I love it.

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