Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quills, part 8

If you don't use a quill for a few days, it will usually dry out a bit and lose its shape. Recutting it is a bit of a pain. If you're then going to be using it all day, that's time well spent, but if you're just going to fix a letter or two in a broken Torah, a plastic nib is totally the way to go, since it keeps its shape between uses. You can just keep it in your pencil case and there it is, ready to use.

A plastic nib is also a good tool for learning, in a way, since it means you can practice when your teacher isn't there. (I was never taught to tune my violin, which was one reason I didn't do a lot of violin practice - the other reason was being undisciplined...same problem...good thing I'm a decent calligrapher, because I'm a terrible violinist.) But you'll still need to sharpen it eventually, or else spend a lot of money on nibs, and you're better off learning sharpening on a real quill, it's much easier. Also a plastic nib won't make very fine lines, and you need to know how to do those eventually.

A crude method of letter formation uses a plastic nib to get the body of the letter in place, and then comes along later with a gel pen and puts in the very fine lines. This is all very well, but it is sort of like learning to sing and stopping at karaoke - there's so much more to it than that.

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