Play along: Pointed Pen no. 2

Play along posts are where you can join me and follow along as I learn a new art or craft.  You will find useful links, tips and resources to help you learn alongside me.  This is my second post on learning the pointed pen, more specifically, the Copperplate script.  You can find my first pointed pen play along here.

I am typing this with fatigue in my shoulders, arms and hands as I have just completed a few pages of drills in my quest to learn the Copperplate script.

I have to tell you, this is beyond hard. This is probably harder than learning the piano. Okay, that comparison is unfair because I learnt the piano when I was much younger and when you are younger, you learn things quickly.

I caught Paul Antonio’s periscope about a week ago and he talked about having separate tools for play and separate tools for practice. I’m paraphrasing here but he said something along the lines of: You don’t play when practicing. You need intentional practice. Watching him talk about practice made me feel like I was a little child again being told off for not practicing the piano by my music teacher.

Oh boy! This was going to be harder than I thought. This is hard because I am not doing deliberate practice every day as I should and the pointed pen and its many scripts require not only mental but bodily discipline. After writing on and off for a month, I have discovered that writing with the pointed pen requires the following:

  • Exercise of muscles you don’t normally engage in handwriting or typing – There are muscles in my fingers and my arms that are aching right now which I never knew existed.
  • Muscle memory – In order to be able to write beautiful Copperplate script, you need to write consistent lines and shades, and they all have to be angled at 55 degrees.  This requires muscle memory and to create muscle memory, you have to practice every day.
  • Time and dedication – for a busy mum like me, this is probably the hardest aspect.  Dedicating time to do my drills so that my body establishes some muscle memory.  I am going to have to schedule in some intentional practice ala Paul Antonio.

You see, my creative output has been mostly “undisciplined” because I have largely been self taught through experimentation and discovery.  You can’t do that with the Pointed Pen because it requires technical discipline, where there are rules you have to follow, like the 55 degrees slant and the letter forms have to look like the Copperplate script.  I am also impatient so seeing that I haven’t progressed enough to move on to Lesson 2 is frustrating.  This last point really is a self-imposed one.  I know getting the basics right first will help when I am attempting more difficult letterforms so I am making myself go slow so that I learn the many basic parts of the Copperplate script to an acceptable level before moving on.

Most of all, this month of learning the Copperplate has taught me that I have to be kind and patient with myself.  Progress not perfection.

So much harder than it looks. Practicing the pressure and release strokes through drills.
So much harder than it looks. Practicing the pressure and release strokes through drills.  I’m using a straight holder with a Brause No. 361 or otherwise known as the Blue Pumpkin nib.

Progress not perfection,




Resource links:

  • This is the free Copperplate lessons I am starting with – the Flourish Forum.  Consider joining as the members-only section gives you a lot more resources.  The forum is very active with a place to learn pretty much everything connected to the pointed pen.
  • Periscope has been a wonderful tool for learning the pointed pen because there are many calligraphy experts that use it to broadcast.  There is nothing better than to watch an expert write as you can learn from their posture, the manner they hold their pen and they way they write.  Some calligraphers worth following are: Paul Antonio, Kei.Haniya, Bianca Mascorro, David Grimes, and Nina Tran.
  • IAMPETH website has a great resource of lessons and guides.
  • I found the this webpage on the Vintage Pen website really useful and it explained very simply the basics of how to hold the pen, what direction your nib needs to be and the direction of pressure.
  • You cannot go past Nina Tran, Your Copperplate Companion, for learning the Copperplate script.
  • If you have Instagram, just search hashtags like #calligraphy, #copperplate, #handlettering etc for inspiration and motivation.  The talent out there is incredible!
  • The experts recommend Eleanor Winters’ book Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy.  I haven’t read the book yet so am suggesting this based on recommendations from the experts.

Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *