Module 2, Chapter 2, Activity 1


Activity 2.2.1

Use handwriting to fill and decorate your sketchbook pages.
Using words of your choice, fill pages in your sketchbook with words in your own handwriting trying out the different tools and inks that you have. You can overlap words and use different tools and materials on the same page if you wish.
You can also vary sizes from very small to huge letters which go off the edges of the page. Or turn paper in different directions including sideways and upside down.

This post has experiments with different writing implements, and were mostly done at Mum’s when she was ill, using ‘found’ paper, an old pad of paper with filing holes in it, and cheap coloured paper from the local stationery shop, all cut into squares (but not very evenly). Some of them haven’t got backgrounds – the papers were so thin and cheap that the merest hint of moisture made them curl up and die (one piece actually disintegrated when I applied a colour wash!). However, I’ve done my best with ‘dry’ colours, using crafting ink pads (applied with a Brayer), coloured pencils, pastels (oil and soft), and wax crayons.

And I didn’t write poetry or anything on them, because I was very limited for space, and had to keep clearing things away, so mostly I wrote about the writing tools I was using, so I didn’t get muddled. I didn’t really plan anything because I had a lot of other things on my mind and was fairly busy, so I just concentrated on writing with what came to hand, but there seem to be a lot of them…

A lot of the sheets of paper are very thin, so I only used one side, and they were very crinkled and curled by the time I was more or less settled back at home. I was going to stick them in the sketch book, but it seems an awful waste of paper, so I’ve left them loose. and stuck some of them together, and glued some on to other sheets, with notes and pictures on the backs. But I have An Idea, which may or may not work…  Watch this space! Force of circumstances means I was a bit all over the place with these, so I’ve posted the pages, without many comments, and some of them are in the wrong order…



Below is sponge eye make-up applicator and red ink. Not a success – was very difficult to control the applicator  (but it’s good for mark making) and it disappeared a bit under the wax and pastel I scribbled over it. And the ink really is quite red – the colour reproduction on my printer’s scanner is not good!

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A piece of charcoal. It’s a bit unpredictable, because it has a tendency to break, and you don’t get even surfaces on the writing, but I quite like that. I tried doing a rabdom sort of monoprint over it, with acrylics and a sheet of perspex.The paint was a bit thick, so some of the letters disappeared under it, and some of them distorted a bit as I rolled the paper onto the perspex, but I quite like the grungy effect. Ink over the top would help I think, but I didn’t get that far.


The next two pages were written with two fine-liner felt-tips held together with an elastic band. Love the effect.Background on the first was done first with a teabag rubbed over the surface, then after I did the writing I put pastel marks in the white bits and used by fingers to rub them in. The second one, on yellow paper, I left blank.





This is written with the hooked end of a metal crochet hook, and I think it’s fantastic. It doesn’t hold the ink for all that long – about three letters on average, and you have to press fairly hard with the end, but you get lots of variation of light and dark, and it’s got a kind of immediacy that other pens lack, if that makes sense. It reminds me of the scratchy writing and sketches by some cartoonists and illustrators – Gerald Scarfe perhaps, or Quentin Blake? And it great if you’re feeling in a spiky sort of mood! Guaranteed to make you feel better!


The page below shows writing done with a pen I made myself (in the interests of accuracy, one of the Darling Daughters has pointed out that it was a cider can, not a beer can). I enjoyed this so much, I’m doing a separate little post to show what I did – when I’ve finished transforming the pencil by some wrapping and the zapping…

I used a page decorated with tulip petals rubbed over it, that I did at Mum’s, because I’d bought her a bunch of tulips that were the most glorious colours, and I wonder if they would transfer to paper. But, sadly, they didn’t. So I’ve included a picture of them, just to show how beautiful they were.



And here is a page where I used a balsa wood pen I made myself!!! Isn’t this great? And it is so wonderful to write with pens you’ve made yourself. The  pen is quite broad, and I cut notches in it, and you can write with a corner, or use it upright to print letters made from the edge, ore upright dragging the edge along (the smaller ‘A’s are done with the edge. Used in the usual way you get a fabulous patterned letter.



I tried using a feather but it was not as easy as you think.

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Below is where I used a glittery eyeliner that I was allergic to. You can’t see the glitter and shimmer here, and I certainly didn’t see it when I bought it – and the name and blurb gave no indication. It was only when I put it on that I realised, and even though I took it off fairly quickly my eyes and the skin around them went sore and itchy and red and swollen! Anyway, I’ve put it to good use here.

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Playing with wax crayons. I LOVE wax crayons.



Playing with black paper. Chalk and liquid chalk:


Below: The letters round the edge are written with a Dovecraft Chalk Marker, which doesn’t look at all like chalk – it looks and feels rather waxy. However, on the paper it does look chalky. The big white letters in the centre are written with Tippex correcting fluid. Long, long ago, when reporters wrote their stories on typewriters, we used gallons of this stuff to paint out mistakes (then we typed corrections over it), so we could take ‘clean’ copy to the typesetters. So when I saw a little bottle of it I couldn’t resist. It’s thinner than I remember, and I’m sure it smells different, and the little brush has been replaced by sponge applicator, but I wanted to try writing with it.


More samples on a scrap of black paper stuck on to a page torn from a magazine. The metallic writing look gorgeous, but it doesn’t show in photos or scans.


Experiments with a highlighter and neon fine-liners on scraps of black and white paper stuck on torn magazine paper. Not at all impressed with neon fine-liners.And why did I scribble over the black paper with an old gold oil marker?









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