What is Ruling Pen Calligraphy?
Ruling pen calligraphy in the scheme of things is a very new kind of calligraphy. So new in fact, that it doesn’t really have a standardized alphabet, but is often a brush calligraphy-like script characterized by it’s rough spraying and splattered strokes. While most calligraphy is centuries old, ruling pen calligraphy was first first written in the 1950s by German calligrapher Friedrich Poppl.
Tools for Ruling Pen Calligraphy
The calligraphy tools you’ll need for ruling pen calligraphy are as follows:
- A ruling pen or folded pen
- Appropriate ink in a container you can easily dip into
- For extra splashes a rough paper is preferred. A paper that can handle a lot of ink, like a watercolour paper is best to reduce bleeding.
What is a Ruling Pen?
There are two kinds of ruling pen: the original ruling pen and the calligrapher’s folded pen (which also is referred to as a ruling pen). The original ruling pen (top right) has a small dial to open and close the two tines of the pen. It originally was used by draftsmen in engineering and cartography to help make the thinnest lines for technical drawings. The folded pen however was developed specifically for ruling pen calligraphy by Matthew Coffin in 1995.
The Ruling Pen I Recommend
The best ruling pen (or folded pen) for just starting out in ruling pen calligraphy has to be the Horizon folded pen off of Paper&InkArts. It’s maybe not the best one available but at ~$15 it is a steal compared to the $40-$60 I see on some other sites. But you know a better price than $15? Free. Check out the next section to learn how to make a folded pen (ruling pen)
How to Make a Folded Pen
If you are just starting out calligraphy, or don’t want to spend money on the hobby just yet, try making your own folded pen!
All you need to make your own folded pen include:
- Cola can
- Old scissors (or some sort of metal cutter)
- Pencil (or some sort of sturdy stick)
- Tape (or some adhesive)
If you have all of those things, I have a full blogpost and video on how to do this over on this page: How to Make a Calligraphy Pen
How to Do Ruling Pen Calligraphy
In pointed pen and brush calligraphy, there are thin upstrokes and thick downstrokes. Ruling pen calligraphy shares this sentiment but in a more sharp and abrupt way. That being said, feel free to mix up the strokes between thick and thin.
Your First Ruling Pen Strokes
Start by dipping your ruling pen into your ink, ensuring you have a generous amount of ink on it. You’ll notice that strokes made using the tip of the pen are thin, and strokes made with the edge of the fold create much thicker strokes. This change in pen angle and grip allow upstrokes and downstrokes to be made.
Why the Ink Splatters
The ink splatters are caused by the nib catching and releasing from the writing surface due to friction. This typically happens when doing quick strokes with the folded pen on it’s long edge. Rougher paper and thinner ink can be used to increase the severity or frequency of your ink splatters. However, try out your own paper & ink combinations!
Ruling Pen Calligraphy Alphabet
I do not have a ruling pen calligraphy practice sheet set available yet, but you can use this image above as a practice exemplar to copy from. Once you get the hang of it, try making new dynamic letters and new strokes by varying pen pressure, angle, ink and paper. Whatever you choose to do, just keep practicing and working towards your personal goal. 🙂
Alright, Over to you!
Something missing from this post? Please leave a comment letting me know. Thanks for reading until the end! 🙂