Friday, November 6, 2009

Quills, part 14

I mentioned that I've been using two quills since August.

Quills are a bit like shoes. If you're going hiking, you want hiking boots. If you're wearing a pretty frock, you want pretty shoes. If you're not going for a particular look, it doesn't matter much.

Parchment surfaces vary in texture. Sometimes it can be very very smooth, sometimes rough and sandpapery, and anything in between. The image at right is an extreme example, not from this Torah at all. It's a very close zoom, so you can see the marked difference between rough and smooth.

With quills, if you've got very rough parchment, you want a tough sort of quill. One that isn't going to leap and spatter every time there's a bit of irregularity, one that isn't going to wear out every three minutes so you spend all day sharpening. If you're doing extremely fine, delicate work, you probably want to use something smaller and thinner, because otherwise it's like trying to do ballet in hiking boots. If it's just ordinary sort of parchment, it doesn't matter so much.

Two thicknesses of quillIn general, for this Torah, I've been using just an ordinary sort of quill; turkey, not especially remarkable in any way. But occasionally there's been a rougher patch, and for those I've switched to a sturdier quill. Why not use the sturdy one all the time? I just don't feel like it, like I don't wear hiking boots all the time. You can if you want.

Between the top and bottom of this next image I switched from regular quill to sturdy quill, and you can't tell where, because I cut both quills to give exactly the same sort of letters. It looks no different, but it made the difference between a fine writing day and a frustrating writing day.

Quill switch
Clicky for bigger image

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