Sunday, 31 October 2010

Tools of the trade pt 2

Firstly a sorry, a long since my last post. I have been rather distracted with applying for training for a career change, so all the fun stuff has taken a distant second, third and possibly tenth place.

But, here is my next offering, pens and penknives, a brief overview of some of the kit I use for writing.

No would-be painter should be without his main tool of work, not the brush, but the humble pen. Mainly goose quill, but other feathers could employed, such as buzzard, crow and swan. These are the pens most familiar to us, but other forms of pens did exist; tubular brass/copper alloy, reed (antiquated by the late middle ages) and capillary pens such as this one.

Before a painter can paint, he must be able to draw, or so thought Cennini, the writer of a well-known artist's treatise at the end of the fourteenth century. His opening chapters focus on the acquisition of drawing skills, using not just pens, but charcoal and lead or metal point.

There are a few ways in which pens can be cut, they generally tend to follow the same method, with a few variations.

I tend to use this method, with the exception that to make the slit, I lay the pen down, cut side up as Jenn does, but I rock my curved penknife blade on to the nib to make the slit, I found from personal experience that this results in a very clean cut. As Jenn rightly says, a sharp penknife is what is needed.

As Jenn and I both 'do it medieval' we tend to use the tools they did, more modern methods will invariably use modelling knives.

Some advocate tempering the quill by immersion in hot sand, I have not been shown any clear evidence that the medievals did, however, one manuscript image of a stationer's stall, Italy, shows feather hanging up, presumably to dry. I know that older, drier feathers are harder, I end to gather mine during the summer from local reservoirs when the water fowl are shedding their feathers.

Featured below are a selection of pens and associated tools, all owned and used by me.

From left to right, goose, tubular brass, capillary pen.
The writing on the paper was done with a goose pen.

From Medieval colours

A set of well used pens

From Medieval colours

A pen case with pens and knife.

From Medieval colours

Pen knife

From Medieval colours

Bronze stylus
Used for drawing on prepared paper or for scoring lines in paper or parchment for margins and text lines.

From Medieval colours