Sixteen eager students were ready to start a day of learning and practising calligraphy as part of the events associated with the fantastic Anglo-Saxon Kingdoms 2018-2019 exhibition at the British Library. We were focusing on the Angled-Pen Uncials as in the St Cuthbert Gospel of St John, a very pleasing writing style, and which has only majuscules, or capital letters.
Everything was set out before the students arrived with a sloping board, pen and nib, ink, etc and sets of A3 information and exemplar sheets so that no ruling lines was necessary while learning.
The morning was spent learning and practising the letters and then the afternoon focused on quill cutting and preparing and writing on vellum. Cutting quills was a lot tougher than it looked – the barrels of swans’ feather are really strong!
It does take some preparation, but once the steps are clearly explained and reinforced to everyone as they cut the feathers, really good quills resulted.
Then it was on to preparing the vellum, practising writing names using the quill and then, with a deep breath, writing on the vellum itself. I suggested using Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache in vermilion as a contrast for the initial letter and this worked really well. The results needed to be admired even halfway through the writing!
And the concentration here was intense!
But the results were very much worthwhile! Congratulations to all students for such a successful day – and for being such a lovely group to worth with.