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Is it accepted fact that they're holding knives? I've been curious about this since I began studying calligraphy some years ago. Yes, you would use a knife a lot, particularly in sharpening quills - but you would never sharpen your quill over a page of wet ink. Quills are a lot like fingernails, and the bits tend to fly off in much the same way as fingernail clippings - they would stick to and smear wet ink. You do also use a knife to scrape off errors - but you don't do this until the ink has completely dried. If you think about the results of trying to scratch a puddle of ink, this becomes obvious. You certainly wouldn't hold your knife in your hand as you worked for either cutting quills or for fixing errors. But you might hold a brush. When working with any pigment that needs regular stirring or that's maybe not the ideal consistency, you hold a brush in your left hand and the pen in your right. Having a loaded brush at the ready makes the process of reloading ink much smoother, and loading a nib with a brush is much more reliable and will give you sharper lines and clearer letters than dipping your nib, especially if you are using a broad-edged pen - which most medieval scripts did. I'm not a historian, of any sort, and I have only my own studies and the words of my calligraphy teachers to base this thought off. Does anyone have any input?
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Jun 3, 2014