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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? is now following The Typepad Team
Jun 3, 2014