Rebecca Bossi

I make silly pictures.



Sii il cambiamento che desideri vedere nel mondo - 2 week challenge

Hello everyone!

I want to start my project with the warm-up, to track my progress and any changes in my calligraphy.


The quote I decided to write is "Sii il cambiamento che desideri vedere nel mondo", which is the italian translation of "Be the change you wish to see in the world", by Mahatma Gandhi.

The reason I chose it, apart from agreeing with it, is that I want to make a nice poster and give it as a birthday present to my mother in law, which is next month. We were talking a few days ago and she told me she found this quote and was thinking of writing and hanging it on the front door of the house, so I know this is something she would appreciate it.

My goal would be to go a step ahead and wirte it on wood (or engrave it, if I'm brave enough) to make a nice present.




So, I first set up my workspace and decided for a nice ink to use: I ended up choosing a nice magenta, Winsor & Newton, because I liked the color.

I have a little experience using a nib, since I used it in university for a realistic drawing course, but obviously drawing and writing have completely a different felling.

Being left handed I had to understand HOW to keep the nib so that I could get a few letters together. Sometimes I got stuck, and I ended up interrupting the lines more than I though. I also tried to write a couple of lines mirrored, so that I can get a bit more smoothness (as I would if I were left handed) and I have to say I could feel the difference between writing with the "right" and "wrong" hand. I even tried actually writing with my right hand but it was a disaster (see the 6th row).



After practicing shapes, I started with the alphabet. You can see I messed up a little bit at the beginning, and again I tried a mirrored version of the letters.


Even though those exercises were really helpful, I felt I was a bit stiff, just trying to copy the letters exactly like in the worksheets Bryn published, so I decided to try and write a few words or short sentences, just to worry a little less about getting all the letters perfect and more about getting a good "flow". I even tried some numbers.


The more I tried, the more everything started to feel more natural. I also got more and more able to get around my left-handedness, understagin how to position the nib and when to stop and pick up a letter.

I've fallen a bit behind schedule so I'll have to update tomorrow with the pencil sketch of my quote.



After some more practice sheets, I started to decide on the composition of the final piece. What was a bit tricky was the lenght of the words: having chosen a quote in italian I had to deal with the fact that, simply, we have long words. I also knew I wanted a kind of rounded composition, something that would look lood on a oval or round frame, since it's going to be hanging of a door.


After that I decided I wanted to get a bit more comfortable with the words themselves. Practice is the key, but I know I couldn't just practice random letters: "cambiamento" is a long word, and I wanted to know where exactly I would have to pick up and start again or, knowing myself, I would end up trying to complete it in one go.






For my final piece I decided to change the ink color. After all, I was doing this as a gift for my mother in law, so I had to choose a color that would suit her. I decided to go with green, and try a gourgeous ink that has been sitting on my desk for months.


I soon realized this was a mistake. Differently from the Winsor&Newton red ink I have been using previously, this was much harder to use! It seemes as if the ink couldn't stick properly to the nib, so I had to use much shorter stokes, "recharge" the pen much more frequently and be much more careful, since the ink dried a bit slower than the red one (as a left handed, this is a smudgin disaster waiting to happen).

As I was determined to use it, I scribbled a ton of letters and words on little scraps of paper, trying to understand how many letters I could write in one go and such. I then tried another green ink (Ecoline ink) but I found it had the same problem: the only ink that would flow smoothly was the red one.

I tried three different final versions, to try and notice the differences of the tree inks: Winsor&Newton first, Campo Marzio second, and Ecoline third. 


In the end I decided to go with the Campo Marzio ink: the Winsor&Newton didn't have enough texture, and I liked the color better that the Ecoline.




I used green Campo Marzio ink and 50% cotton Fabriano paper.

Just out of curiositiy I decided to go a little bit "off path" and decided to try inking the same quote with a brush. Being already comfortable with it I wanted to see if I could get a better flow (as I felt sometimes stuck with the nib).

I used Ecoline ink on Fabriano smooth paper, and used a Winsor&Newton Series 7 brush, size 2.




  • Calligraphy is fun! I have been interested for years, but always put it off as I though I needed precise materials and precise knowledge of many calligraphy rules (which I guess it's true if you want to learn Classic Calligraphy. During this challenge I learned that you just actually need the will to practice and some basic tools: the rest is just practice, practice, practice.
  • Being a left handed calligrapher is hard. Very hard. I came to the realization that even after a thousand prectice sheets I will probably never gain the flow and speed of a right handed calligrapher, simply because I am going against the right direction - that's just how the nib works! I'll just take it easier and learn to write slower, it that means I can archieve beautiful script.
  • Nib VS brush: I liked how more freely I could write with a brush, and how the downstrokes were ticker, but there wasn't much contrast; the nib is definitely classier, cleaner. I feel like my nib was probably a little small, so I couldn't achieve the contrast I wanted, but still I am satisfied with the result. I am definitely going to buy some other nibs and try how different they feel!

In the end, this has been a wonderful introduction to the world of calligraphy and a great challenge. Thanks you Bryn for the great course, and all the classmates who left a feedback!




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