Masgrimes Leather Calligraphy Writing Pad

Now this was a review that I initially didn’t anticipate doing. While I did initially start this blog off as only a stationary review blog and nothing else, I have since started to review my oblique pens and other calligraphy tools.

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I bought this pad as a step up from my normal style of using newspaper to help cultivate a lighter touch. The problem with newspaper was it was really hard to maintain a constant thickness due to all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes, the ones I picked up didn’t suit me and the bright colors on the page distracted me during my drills. I decided that this would be a good investment and boy was I right about that.

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David had a limited amount of this particular Italian patterned writing pads available and I was able to jump in and snag one before they went out of stock. I was still in my dorm when the package arrived and it was absolutely beautiful to look at in person. The pad was rolled into a cylinder and a little piece of the leather was used to tie it down, allowing it to keep its shape.

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Since it arrived back in February, I’ve been using it all the time. Whenever I sat down to practice, I would always have it ready. It has been a wonderful addition to my burgeoning collection of calligraphy related tools. It has allowed me to cultivate an almost feather-like touch and inhibits the smooth, gliding sensation of my nib every time it touches the paper. If I had one complaint, it would be that I’m not allowed an iron in my dorm to be able to straighten this pad out after traveling with it. Otherwise, it’s an absolutely amazing and affordable tool that will benefit anyone from a calligraphy noob like me to an amazing calligrapher like David.

Huy Hoang Dao Oblique Holder 2

Review 2/3

 

 

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I remember a while back when I published the first oblique holder review on my blog and featured a Huy Hoang Dao holder that I had bought nearly a year back. Since then, I had a bit of an accident. While trying to adjust my flange, the glue gave in and the flange popped right out of the holder. Worried about the integrity of the wood, I promptly emailed Hoang about it and inquired what I could possibly do to revive it. As my first holder, it holds a lot of sentimental value that I just couldn’t get myself to let go of. Hoang got back to me and recommended me to get it fixed by Chris Yoke, given that I was based in Indiana now.

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In a completely surprising twist of events, he told me that since I had last ordered, his pen making skills had gone through considerable improvement and that I deserve a better pen, so he would send me one for free. He really didn’t need to and it wasn’t necessary, but Hoang took matters into his own hands and decided to send me a new one for free(!). It was amazing to see how sincere he is towards his customers and his passion towards his craft. I was absolutely inspired by him to really pursue my practice with more gusto than I thought I was capable of. So for the last couple months practicing exclusively with the one he sent.

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The very first thing I noticed were the beautiful contours of the holder. While the shape was very similar to my previous one, the thin profile really made it seem much more delicate and refined. If put right next to each other, one can see a quantum leap in the lines of the wood and how thorough Hoang was with the respective processes that made this pen look and feel absolutely stunning in my hand. All around another stunning holder by Hoang and something that I will be using for a long time. Hoang is putting some amazing holders up for sale and I would advise anyone in the market for a tastefully designed, well-made oblique holder at a price that won’t make your wallet cry, check out his online store.

Disclaimer: I have not been compensated in any way for my review and have written my impartial observations and thoughts for your reading pleasure.

Horizon Folded Pen

Sorry for not being as active as I would have liked. I’ve taken a rather intense course load for the semester and tests keep barreling towards me like trains and I have to do my best to study as hard as possible. I’ve had next to no free time in between studying and I’m ending up still awake at 2 in the morning doing calligraphy drills to calm down before heading to sleep. It’s nearing midterms week so, there’s going to be more and more thrown at me right before that time, so this might be the only update for the next two weeks (hopefully not). Thank you all for your outstanding patience and I will endeavor to get another review in today if possible.

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This was a nib that I really wanted to get my hands on for the longest time. So when I finally did, I went absolutely nuts with experimenting. Different inks, angles of the strokes going for the splatter pattern I see so many of my favorite calligraphers make when they use it. So far, I have not been able to get it yet, maybe it’s all in the flick of the wrist as the letter ends.

A folded nib is a rather unique nib when it comes to calligraphy as the style of writing is very different from say, a broad edge pen. It’s relatively new innovation in the calligraphy industry and it definitely has a unique charm that other current nibs can’t provide.

The center fold of the nib acts as the ink reservoir and it can really hold a lot of ink. I did a full dip and was able to write 3 capital letters before running out. As it’s running out, if the ink has nice shading, like Iroshizuku Yama-Budo, then the color will start getting progressively lighter with each stroke allowing you to view numerous gradations as you write. Depending on the angle you hold the nib relative to the paper, the stroke could be thin or brush-like. Also, how much control you exert over the nib changes the way the ink flows, as heavy pressure from the hand, results in more ink on the page. Pacing is also important, as a fast pace can result in choppy lines. All of these variations can be seen in the first picture.

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You can choose to either buy one or make one. I chose to but from Paper Ink Arts as I tried making one and it just didn’t come out right no matter how many times I tried, so I defaulted to buying one. There are instructions to make one too though they typically won’t be as consistent as a store-bought one. The end result, however, is similar so if you just want to try it out to see the possibilities, you can just make one and experiment with it.

 

Huy Hoang Dao Oblique Holder

So this is a review that’s been on the back burner for a long time, as with my last year of community college, I just didn’t have the time to sit down and practice my Ornamental penmanship as much as I would have liked. I got this almost a year back when I was graduating from a standard plastic Speedball oblique holder. Yesterday when I was planning what to review this came up as I’ve been getting back into doing drills as a form of stress management with all the schoolwork I’m getting assigned. So without further ado, let’s get started with the review.

First of all, I would like to mention that Hoang is one of the calligraphers I admire the most. He’s massively talented, hardworking and all around a great person. While our latest interaction was nearly a year back, I still remember how seriously he took my concern that the pen had not arrived and made sure to check with his local post office on where it was just to assuage whatever doubts I had. He’s a huge inspiration to me and I really appreciate the time and effort he puts into his craft.

 

The pen came in a standard cardboard box that I still use to house it. It’s solid enough that it has gone through airport security and checked in baggage and come out smiling every time. Never have I once worried whether there would be any damage to the pen.

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Within the box there was a handwritten note from Hoang thanking me for my order and describing the wood he used to make the holder. According to him, my specific oblique holder is made from a rare black rosewood that can only be bought every 1 in 20 wood blanks he purchases. He described the process of how he cleaned and covered the wood in a transparent lacquer to achieve the magnificent shine I see every time I use it. It really felt surreal to be holding such a beautifully handwritten letter and ever since receiving my holder, I stored the letter with it so I could use it as an exemplar of sorts.

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The first time I held the pen, it was a truly sublime moment for me. To be holding something that would not only help me improve the quality of my calligraphy, but also something that will last a very long time. The sheen of the lacquer really brings the aesthetics of this pen to a new level. Every time I use it I can’t help but admire the shine, the grain patterns of the wood and all the other aspects that make this pen mesmerizing.

Overall, this is a holder that will accompany for a long time. Who knows, judging by how well it’s held up so far, it might just last long enough to make it a family heirloom. Everything about it screams quality and the amount of work put in definitely enhances this perception. While I still haven’t used this holder as much as I should have, I hope to rectify this in the coming months. Lastly, a little shout out to Hoang, I’ve been following your work on Instagram for a while now, and I just want to tell you that you are a big inspiration to me. Keep up the great work man! 🙂

 

 

Witch Pens Review

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Now this is one calligraphy tool I’ve been dying to review. I was initially exposed to Witch pens through a review by Leigh Reyes. The concept behind them is so simple, yet so efficient. The name is also pretty awesome, Witch pen (a contraction of William Mitchell).

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The design of the pen is simplistic yet utilitarian. The metal bends backwards to create a reservoir right underneath the nib. This allows the user to transition between fountain pen inks and other more viscous inks such as iron gall or sumi.

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The nib is a folded piece of metal that allows for easy use on many different papers. While I used it on a smooth Rhodia paper, I’m certain that I can definitely use it on some more textured kinds of paper such as cold-press watercolor paper. The way the nib is designed, it will provide a smooth writing experience on many different surfaces.

The Witch pens are a great starter for all those interested in broad edge pen calligraphy. While fountain pen inks do run a little, I have had positive results with gouache, some thick watercolor paints, as well as sumi and McCaffrey’s ink. My only gripe is the cleaning process. It is a little difficult to clean these pens thoroughly, with the only method being immersing them in water and then drying them out on paper towels. It is a little time consuming, but well worth it for the fun I’ve had.