Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My calligraphy secret magic tricks

I sometimes get paper that lets ink bleed badly when I try to write on it. I have several tricks I use to get the ink to lay nice and sharp on it, and I had to try almost all of them yesterday on some wedding placecards I just did. I start with a good quality ink, try it out on the paper and see if it bleeds, and if it does, the first thing I try is a little gum arabic. It's expensive, but a little goes a long way. That usually does the trick, although sometimes it makes the ink too thick to run properly off my mapping quill (it's my favorite nib for the classic Copperplate script I write in). If the ink is too thick after adding the gum arabic, I add a little bit of alcohol, which evaporates fast and helps stop bleeding. However, this didn't work on the placecards, either, so I went to the hard stuff: ammonia. Et voila! It was perfect. My last resort is spraying each piece of paper with spray fixative, the kind used to seal in pastels, charcoal or pencil so they don't smudge. I know that last trick from my experience drawing with different media, and I just use that knowledge in that other field and transfer it for use in this one, heh. Fortunately I didn't have to go that far, and I always would rather not as the offgassing from the spray fixative on the paper is unpleasant while I work. I avoided that this time, yay! The ink is nice and crispy sharp at the edges of the letters, and the placecards look good. I'm proud of my work. :)