Monday, September 24, 2012

Demystifying Pointed Pen Flourishing

If you're a newbie to pointed pen flourishing and wish to know more, you should you should run, not walk to a workshop taught by Heather Held.

(My apologies to Heather for this less than flattering photo of her - but at least you'll recognize her when you meet her!  I was so busy creating marks on paper, the last thing I thought of was taking the perfect portrait!)

Just watching Heather work is one of the best ways to learn.

All these photos are from the second day. The first day was letterforms.  It was good Copperplate practice time which was much needed!!  I now have some insight into the differences between Copperplate and Spencerian.  I'm definitely a Copperplate girl.

The heart of the flourishing we learned from Heather was the Universal Line of Beauty which you can see below.

 From there we learned this basic cartouche and then it was all about embellishing that basic cartouche.
You can see how Heather turns her paper every which way.  What a scary concept for me!  And I almost died not using a guard sheet.  To me, it's like driving without a seatbelt.


I got exactly what I needed from Day 2 of Heather's workshop. You can stare and admire pointed pen flourishing in old books and reproductions till the cows come home and that's where it stays. In the books! Not one person in that workshop had a piece of flourishing they couldn't be proud of.
It was amazing.

Heather Held is a very calligraphically determined person. It's obvious from the moment she begins teaching that pointed pen is her passion. 

Near the end of the second day we began working on coloured paper with Dr. Martin's Bleedproof White.  The trick is getting the consistency of the gouache just right for the nib you're using!

Then we graduated to adding colour...  This is Heather's work, of course.

And lastly, I'll share a couple of my own things.  I threw out *a lot* of practice pages.
I just want to acknowledge Christiane for ruining my life by introducing me to the Esterbrook 357 vintage nib which is no longer made.  I hope I can make this nib last forever.
Yes, that should be Esterbrook!

I haven't had so much calligraphic fun since the pigs ate grandma (as the saying goes) thanks to Heather! 
We'll all be able to recognize work by Heather's students.  Just look for that basic cartouche. See it? vbg.
Thanks to the Fairbank Calligraphy Society in Victoria for hosting Heather's workshop and thank *you* for stopping by and reading!
Heather Held is a Canadian calligrapher and you can be inspired by visiting her website here.


  1. Fabulous work - she seems such an inspiration! Makes me want to dash upstairs and get out my pens :)

  2. My lonely pens are wondering why I am not doing this!
    I'm looking into online classes with Heather.
    thanks for taking time for the photos

  3. oh wonderful. I love Heather's work. You did some nice work yourself. Thanks for the pics. Just might get out my pointed pen and try some when I get home tonight... Have a great day

  4. Wonderful post, I'm dying to get into this, just don't know if the arthritic hands can handle it.

  5. Thanks for the write up Suzanne!!!!! What a horrifying picture of me but let's blame it on jet lag!!!!! It was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks for the idea of the subscription link on my blog. I have since added that. Happy flourishing dear friend in BC!!!!!

  6. I am in awe of Heather's beautiful calligraphy. I have my hands full with card creation and can buy your lovely work on rubber stamps.

  7. I am impressed!!! I'm sitting here with an open mouth in amazement of your beautiful work, I'm jealous! I love what you've done! I can't possibly pick up another new hobby, but if these are stamps they'll fit right into my collection and card making.