Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary

Stippling & Sponging

Saturday, 16th December, 2006
DAB HAND, the stencil shop on Queen Street, Horbury, proved so useful this morning; not only did we get a couple of rubber stamps for printing wrapping paper, I also tracked down a calligraphy pen with a fairly small nib. My old one is clogged despite giving the nib a thorough cleaning.calligraphy pen

stamp I try it out on the back of a Christmas card envelope. I like the way it writes although, because I want a graphic look for my maps, I'm intending to use it just as much for drawing.

quick brown fox

targetspiralI doodle on the back of envelopes or in margins of newspapers or on notepads when I'm on the phone. I feel that I should adopt a more playful approach to artwork more often, but I always seem to be up against it in my book projects, so I go for what I know will work. I'd like to improvise more. Surprise myself.


spongesponge blobstreesponge treeI've found that I can't get the organic look that I want in the shading of trees and hillsides on the sketch maps for my Walks Around Horbury just by hatching and stipling with a fountain pen. I want a richer look.

I ask the stencil experts at Dab Hand, Karen Willoughby and Susan Potts, for some advice; if anyone knows about stippling they should. They suggest natural sponge.

I try dipping it in drawing ink. At first it's very blotchy, the marks are too big for the scale that I'm working on, but once I've blotted off the surplus ink it gives the effect I'm after. It's not very controllable, but as I'm after a natural-looking texture that's appropriate.

They suggest using several bits of the sponge one after the other so the repeated pattern doesn't become obvious.

hodgeBut I do worry that there might be a marine conservation issue with the use of sponge.

Hodge Splodge

Another back-of-an-envelope doodle: a hedgehog in calligraphy pen and sponged ink.


sandpaper-rubbing treesWhile I'm in Horbury I call at the Handyman shop and get a piece of coarse grade sandpaper - this is another way of getting a random stipple if you work on thin paper, such as copier paper. After you've done the pen and ink drawing put the paper on the piece of sandpaper and rub with a black wax crayon.