Pens may be obtained from various stationery sources – from the traditional “nib” pens dipped in ink, to calligraphy pens that have cartridges built-in, avoiding the need to have to continually dip them into inkwells.
Styles & techniques
Sacred Western calligraphy has some special features, such as the illumination of the first letter of each book or chapter in medieval times. A decorative “carpet page” may precede the literature, filled with ornate, geometrical depictions of bold-hued animals. The Lindisfarne Gospels (715-720 AD) is an early example (Brown 2004).
As with Chinese or Arabian calligraphies, Western calligraphic script had strict rules and shapes. Quality writing had a rhythm and regularity to the letters, with a “geometrical” order of the lines on the page. Each character had, and often still has, a precise stroke order.
Unlike a typeface, irregularity in the characters’ size, style and colors adds meaning to the Greek translation “beautiful writing”. The content may be completely illegible, but no less meaningful to a viewer with some empathy for the work on view. Many of the themes and variations of today’s contemporary Western calligraphy are found in the pages of The Saint John’s Bible. A particularly modern example is The Holy Bible, Timothy Botts Illustrated edition (Tyndale House Publishers2000), with 360 calligraphic images as well as a calligraphy typeface.
Calligraphy in a Latin Bible of AD 1407 on display in Malmesbury Abbey, Wiltshire, England. This bible was hand written in Belgium, by Gerard Brils, for reading aloud in a monastery.
The Georgian calligraphy is centuries-old tradition of an artistic writing of the Georgian language with its three alphabets.
Western calligraphy is recognizable by the use of the Latin script. The Latin alphabet appeared about 600BC, in Rome, and by the first century developed into Roman imperial capitals carved on stones, Rustic capitals painted on walls, and Roman cursive for daily use. In the second and third centuries the unciallettering style developed. As writing withdrew tomonasteries, uncial script was found more suitable for copying the Bible and other religious texts. It was the monasteries which preserved calligraphic traditions during the fourth and fifth centuries, when the Roman Empire fell and Europe entered the Dark Ages.