Gemma Black

Tasmania, Australia

A100 Unity: Pen, Paper, and Ink

Two and a Half Day Class
Tools & Materials

The three essentials for lettering artists are the pen, the paper, and the ink. Edward Johnston stated the importance of “Sharpness, Unity and Freedom” in our work so we will look to combining our understanding of the essentials with these three valuable points.

What creative artist doesn’t love the scent of the ink, the touch of the tool in hand and the feel of the paper waiting for that first mark of the pen? More often than not, calligraphers will overlook the fundamental importance of their paper, the condition and choice of their tools, and the quality of their ink and other wet media. These three elements, the pure essence of our calligraphy, excite me.

In this workshop we will work to further appreciate the choice in paper, tool, and media. From the little Post-it Note to high-end fine art papers we will test, gather and bind a record of our unifying results. We will also try working with vellum, the world’s most enduring substrate for writing.

Our letterform of choice for this class will be both traditional and contemporary Roman capitals drawn, penned or painted onto the paper. Our media will be a variety of ink, watercolour, and gouache with changing grounds and a wide range of tools. Join me and get excited about paper, learn more about ink, and become a paper fetishist too.

Supply List
  • A full set of broad-edged nibs in sizes 3/4 mm – 5 mm in width (preferred brands: Brause, Speedball or William Mitchell)
  • Also bring a variety of tools you like using such as a ruling pen, a ruling writer, Automatic pens, pointed nibs, round and square-ended nibs, brushes, balsa. In fact, bring all the experimental tools you’ve put away waiting for a rainy day to try.

There will be a paper pack provided for this class however, please bring along any offcuts of fine art papers you have up to double letter size for testing.
  • A practice pad
  • A quality artist diary if you like recording your day-to-day activities
  • A couple of small sheets of tracing paper
I will supply some (real) vellum for the class but if you already have some and you haven’t tried it before please bring it with you.

  • Black ink stick and stone if you have them
  • Walnut ink and any other bottled ink you would like to try.
  • Watercolors and gouache (two to three tubes of each will be satisfactory)

  • Compass
  • Ruler
  • Eraser
  • Rag
  • Bone folder
  • Small water containers
  • Pencils: both lead and colored, even aquarelle
  • Mixing supplies, palette, etc. for the inks and colors

Binding supplies
  • Small cutting tool
  • Metal-edged ruler
  • Awl
  • Waxed thread
  • Tapestry needle
Materials Fee
There will be a $15 materials fee for this class that will cover the papers and the vellum.

Gemma is a calligrapher from Tasmania, Australia where she operates her studio-based practice. In 1991 she received a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study in Europe. She is also a Fellow of the Calligraphy & Lettering Arts Society, UK. Gemma teaches for art, calligraphy, bookbinding and craft organizations across Australia and she has also joined the faculty at international lettering art conferences in Italy, Germany, Spain, the U.S., Canada and the UK. Currently her teaching via zoom and other online platforms due to the pandemic, is keeping her very busy and active. Her work is housed in private and public collections, including the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK; the European Parliament; Letterform Archive San Francisco; and Parliament House Canberra. Gemma enjoys teaching very much and delivers her programs with a pure love for letterforms.