Letters Of Joy (Part II)

My first class of the LOJ conference was taught by Katherine Malmsten. She’s a very good teacher. If you ever go into the Kirkland Trader Joes store, check out their chalkboard ad’s.

katherinemalmsten{image found here}

She does the lettering for their chalkboards! When I heard her say that I about gasped! I’m so in love with chalkboard lettering. They have a really nice one right here in town at the Duvall Grange Cafe. I wish I had a photo of it to share because it’s awesome and I’ve no idea who did it.

Anyway, my morning class was about ruling pens, folded nibs and ruling writer style pens. If you know or appreciate the style of pointed brush lettering you are going to love this. One reason, for me at least, is that it’s so much quicker to catch on than pointed brush. Still not enough time for a two hour class, but enough to get an idea and be on your way to play.

ruling-pen{image from here}

But first thing’s first. What is a ruling pen? Available at many art supply stores. They’re great for getting super skinny straight lines, when dipped in ink. The screw at the tip adjusts the width of the two blades, which also adjusts the width of the line. I believe they were commonly used in drafting and architecture, but the computer has sort of phased that need out. If you sand down the point at the tip, you can really get some cool lettering. Follow the italic style letter forms and then just play.

foldednib{image from here}

The folded nib, which was my favorite. I got mine through Paper & Ink Arts. Just go to their search box and enter ‘folded nib’. Slide that into your pen and you’re ready to play. The nib holds a good amount of ink. When applying just the tip of the nib to your page the thinner letters you get. Apply more of the nib to the page and the thicker letters you’ll get. That pretty much explains how you get the thick & thin of the letterforms. There’s a little bit of rotation that occurs with your pen/nib to go from thick to thin. That’s a very basic explanation.

Although we weren’t taught this, there are ways to make your own folded nib. It reminds me of something I saw in a book once. Someone made a nib from a soda pop can! If I hear of another longer course taught by Katherine I’ll be signing up as fast as I can. She is a wealth of knowledge and a fantastic teacher.


{top: ruling writer; bottom: folded nib & holder; image from here}

Ruling writer style pens are the most rare. They’re also the most expensive, but you can buy a new one still through Paper & Ink Arts. I never had a chance to use this pen, but it’s one of Katherine’s favorites to use.

Many of these pens you can find at flea markets, I found one at the Fremont Flea Market last summer for about $3, garage sales or even eBay. From what I hear, often people don’t really know what it is they’ve got so you can find some deals out there. Just get creative with your descriptions if you’re searching online. And if you find an extra ruling writer style pen let me know!

magic{image found here}

With lots of practice, the image above is what a folded nib or ruling writer pen can do. Go to Katherine’s web site here to see more of her incredibly talented work.


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