November 2018, Melbourne: Copperplate: Term Study


November 2018, Melbourne: Copperplate: Term Study


Copperplate Term Study


The Co-Work Co
421 Lygon Street, Brunswick East

  • Thursday 1 November 2018, 6pm - 8.30pm

  • Thursday 8 November 2018, 6pm - 8.30pm

  • Thursday 15 November 2018, 6pm - 8.30pm

  • Thursday 22 November 2018, 6pm - 8.30pm

  • Thursday 29 November 2018, 6pm - 8.30pm

This is a five-week course running throughout November 2018, aimed at students with some experience with a pen.

This is a slower paced course than the weekend workshops;  we will take the time to thoroughly develop and understand the shapes of both miniscule and majuscule letters, spend time studying exemplars from the old masters and copying them, and work individually on improving our skills.  There will even be homework tasks (but no detentions!)  I will mark and assess your work, give you individual feedback, and guide you in your journey towards mastery of this delicate and elegant script.

We will also have time each session allocated to other calligraphy skills that are often skimmed in traditional workshops, like layout and design, planning your flourishes, pacing your work, and how to best use various supplies.  I have a studio full of tools and techniques I can share;  I will be bringing different tools each week and discussing how best to use them.  (And yes, I will take requests!) We will talk about the qualities of different inks, learn how to prepare pigment-based inks like Pearl-Ex, learn how to prepare and protect paper while working, and discuss writing on different surfaces like hot-press paper, rounded bottles, or slices of agate. 

I anticipate the class size to be very small, meaning: a lot of individual attention for students! I look forward to helping each of you create something wonderful.


Here’s a quick summary of the major topics we will cover in each class, plus the extras that will keep life interesting:

WEEK ONE: Copperplate miniscules: review and refresh; using different inks

A short talk on the history of copperplate, English Roundhand and Engrossers’ Script; handouts will include my own exemplars and some from the old masters. We will discuss formal and informal script and the basic strokes that give life to the miniscule alphabet. I will work with each of you on improving and adjusting your miniscules and will ask you each to work on your given tasks over the following week, to bring them in for review and adjustment in week 2.
Tonight we will talk about using watercolour, gouache, and other different types of ink rather than just practice walnut ink.

WEEK TWO: Copperplate majuscules: review and refresh; adding bling

Majuscules are much more difficult for most students than the miniscules. We will spend this time adjusting and working on majuscules, refining and polishing your ovals and shapes. We’ll talk about tine manipulation and I will set some homework exercises again! We’ll talk about differing alphabets and I’ll provide some exemplars of my favourites as well as suggestions for developing your own flair. And of course I’ll give you feedback on your earlier homework.
Tonight we’ll talk about bling: finetec, Pearl-Ex, liquid pearls, hot foil. How to use it and when to stop!

WEEK THREE: Layout, spacing, piece preparation, and design work

It’s all very well knowing how to put the letters; the next question is where to put the letters. We’ll talk about and try out different types of paper to write on; we’ll talk about spacing and how far apart your letters - and words - and lines - should be; we’ll talk about positioning your piece on a page; we’ll talk about borders and margins and framing. This week you will choose a short quote to write out for your final piece (I’ll bring in options but you can choose your own!) and I want you to bring in a draft of it in week four.
Tonight we’ll talk about tools for layout like lightpads, phantom liners, laser liners, and how to set up and prepare your workstation with all of the above.

WEEK FOUR: Flourishing

Everyone’s favourite! You will have your draft of your final piece, and I’ll walk you through first a lecture on the basics of flourishing, and then we’ll work out how it applies to the piece you’ve chosen and the details you want to include. We’ll discuss the dos and don’ts of flourishes, and how to make sure that your piece looks balanced. We’ll practice whole arm movements until your shoulders are sick of it. And you’ll prepare (either in class or at home) the layout of your final piece.
The class can talk about anything extra you would like to learn tonight, but flourishing is likely to take all the available time we have! However, we’ll also plan when and where you want to add your extra details in week five - in which we’ll be playing with gold leaf.

WEEK FIVE: Working on our final pieces; tine manipulation; gold leaf.

I know that life at home can get hectic and that we don’t all have the time to do a hundred drafts and a final piece at home, so what I’m planning for this week is for you to bring in your second-last draft layout and we’ll work on your final pieces in class. We’ll make tweaks to the layout and you’ll finish the last few details, slowly and carefully. I’ll talk about framing, custom mats, and we’ll go over everything we’ve done so far.
Tonight’s extra activity will be the one you all are waiting for: applying genuine gold leaf to really make your projects dance. We won’t be doing a thorough study of illumination - just enough for you to start to learn on your own - but you will get to try it out, play with it, and apply some little bits and pieces of gold to your final piece if you wish!


I expect most of you will have completed a beginners’ class, either with me or elsewhere, or have a basic understanding of the script; if not, I recommend that you do! I will be providing paper and ink, handouts and guidelines, and several nibs to each of you on the first night. I expect that you will bring your own oblique holder (you can purchase a Moblique through me if you need - just let me know). As the class progresses and we play with various goodies I will be bringing enough for each of you to test and play with in class, and I’ll provide recommendations on where to shop if you want to purchase your own. (This includes gold leaf - I don’t expect you to go out and purchase your own supplies until you’ve had a chance to play with mine!) I will also provide hot-press watercolour paper for your final piece, if you want to use it; you are welcome to use anything else and I’ll certainly have suggestions to share!


As usual, refunds aren’t possible (due to the cost of supplies and of the venue) but you are welcome to transfer your position in the class to a friend if you can’t make it or need to withdraw, even on only one of the nights. If you can’t attend unexpectedly, we’ll make arrangements for you to scan your homework to me and depending on my commitments we may be able to have a brief Skype session or other catchup discussion just so that you aren’t behind for the next week.

We’re all adults here - the only punishment for not doing homework will be that you won’t have the homework to build from! I understand that life happens and sometimes things just don’t get done. Don’t fret.

The venue is wheelchair accessible but only from the back - please let me know if you need to come in that way so that I can unlock the back door.

Public transport up and down Lygon Street is easy. There is all-day parking available in the surrounding streets and also on Lygon St itself after 6pm (clearway time). I’ll send you more information closer to the date.

I look forward to seeing you!

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