Tag Archives: Calligraphy

How to Use Seyes or French Ruling for Handwriting

Now, I’m not quite delving into the debate about whether or not cursive writing should be taught in public school, but if you are interested in spending some time on your handwriting, French ruled paper, or Seyes ruled paper, could be something to help you out.

Calligraphers also use this paper, sometimes ignoring the “rules” for standard handwriting, but using the lines to help get a consistent size – I’ve seen calligraphers using the Pilot Parallel pens with letters up to 15 or 20 lines high.

This paper looks super complicated, but if you spend some time with it, it’s actually not too complicated at all. The¬†paper has thick lines with three thin lines in between each. These thin lines are supposed to help you keep the size and height of your letters consistent.

Seyes Ruled Paper, French Ruled Paper Notebooks from Clairefontaine

Seyes ruled or French ruled paper is widespread in France, and actually, I think you can find it in many countries in Europe. It’s often used by students, and I think the margin on the left (nice and wide!) is for teachers’ gentle encouragement/corrections. The vertical lines help with indentations for paragraphs or tables, as these notebooks could be used for a variety of school subjects. I’ve also read that generations of French school children used J. Herbin’s Poussiere de Lune ink, which is kind of a romantic thought! All that moondust ūüôā

We have a¬†customer who had grown up in France who comes in¬†specifically for this Seyes ruled paper. She said since she’s come to Canada she’s been using “regular” paper, and her handwriting has been swooping all over the place uncontrollably (this is not the case, as I’ve seen her handwriting and it is perfect…ugh! The French and their eating endless varieties of cheese and never getting fat! And their perfect handwriting!!).

How to Use Seyes Ruling, French Ruled, Handwriting Alphabet Sample

There are five rules to follow:

1. Capital letters go up to the third line.
2. Lower case “bodies” – like a, c, the circle part of d or p – go up to the first line.
3. Loopy stems go up to the third line – b, f, h, k, l.
4. Non-loopy or straight stems go up to the second line – just d and t.
5. Anything that goes below the line – f, g, j, p, q, y, z – go down two lines.

Seyes Ruled, French Ruled Notebook, Handwriting sample, How to write on Seyes paper

Really, basically everything goes up to the third line, or the first line, except d & t. If you keep that in mind, you just have to be careful about the d & t.

How to write on Seyes or French ruled paper, handwriting sample

A¬†popular warm-up exercise for calligraphers and handwriting teachers is to try drawing circles of consistent size across a line. I think you’re supposed to go fast to really loosen up the muscles, but I don’t think I’m at that stage yet – I’m still at the concentrate-really-hard-and-don’t-mess-up-because-you’re-taking-a-picture-for-the-blog stage, but don’t be afraid to mess up!¬†¬†


If you’re just starting out, it may¬†help to take a letter that’s¬†troubling you¬†and¬†write that letter over and over again. The next step might be to try connecting two letters of different heights, like a – f – a – f – a – f to practise getting from one height to the the next.¬†


It takes practice! It takes some practice and concentration to get all that muscle memory working, so take a trip to your local cafe, or sit out on the porch in this fresh spring weather! And then, send me a letter in your beautiful (or you know, “unique”) handwriting ūüôā

We have two types of notebooks in this Seyes or French ruling – an A5, softcover staple and we just got in an A4 softcover spiral bound. These are made by Clairefontaine, so the paper is excellent for fountain pens – although the lines are quite close together, so I might recommend a fine or extra-fine nib if you’re specifically practising your handwriting.

Clairefontaine Seyes French Ruled Notebooks at wonderpens.ca Wonder Pens Toronto

Interesting side note! When I was in college I spent some time teaching in Madagascar, an island country off the east coast of Africa. Madagascar was previously a French colony, and like Canada, they still have much of the vestiges of French language and culture around.


When I was there, a young stationery aficionado wandering around, I discovered Seyes ruled notebooks. Having never encountered them before at that time, I stocked up on a few, and I still have one left today!

The paper quality, however, is no Clairefontaine (and that’s being generous…).

Calligraphy Classes are Back!

Some of you may recall that we used to offer calligraphy classes, up until the summer of last year. This was a really exciting part of the bricks and mortar shop – the word calligraphy comes from the Greek, meaning beautiful writing, and of course being a fountain pen nut, how could this not be something we wanted to share.

We stopped holding calligraphy classes at our 906 shop due mostly to space constraints. If you’ve been in our shop, you know it’s not too big. As our business got bigger and we started carrying more products (especially over the winter as we needed to stock higher levels of ink due to shipping issues), the boxes of stuff began to get a little unwieldy.

Having a small space meant we couldn’t run classes while the store was open, and if classes ran over time, we would have a bit of a traffic jam with customers coming in and students moving out. Another problem with having such a small space is the limited number of students we could have at one time, so if we happened to get cancelations, especially at the last minute, we had a tough time making the classes successful.

However, all that has changed! With this new space at 250 Carlaw, Unit 105, we’re ready to begin offering classes again. The space will be big enough to have classes near the back, while other customers can still come in and browse or talk shop.

And! We are so excited to secure Mark Lurz to teach our first classes.

Mark received his formal calligraphy training at the Arts & Craft School in Basel Switzerland, and is founding member of the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto. As you can see in the examples below, Mark has beautifully mastered many of the Western scripts and hands.

Mark has been teaching classes for over 40 years, so this ain’t his first rodeo. He normally offers his classes in Bolton, and¬†so we’re pretty¬†happy he has agreed to come into the city to share his experience and his skills¬†here. I’m hoping to share a little more about Mark with you over the next few weeks.¬†

Mark Lurz 1

You can sign up online here, or you can pop by the 906 shop anytime up until we move. New workshops will be posted in the workshop section of our website.

The class is $75, and it’s three hours long. There will be some coffee, tea, and treats, and a fifteen minute break halfway through the class. Supplies are provided, so just come ready to flex those fingers!

We’ve got a few more classes in the works, including a pointed pen class.¬†I’m hoping to announce them in the next few weeks, along with more dates for this introductory class. We’ve heard from a lot of you that having classes scheduled far in advance means that you can plan to come if you’re coming into Toronto for a trip from out of town and the timing lines up for you.

Intermediate and advanced classes will be offered as we get going. We’re hoping to try offering different styles of writing and lettering, so if you happen to know any lettering artists or “modern” calligraphers or any other style you can recommend, please consider passing their name on to us! You can send us an email at info at wonderpens .ca.

This is just another reason to get excited for this new space on the East End. Hope to see you there!

Kaweco Italic or Calligraphy Nibs – 1.1, 1.5, 1.9, 2.3

Many companies make italic or stub nibs as an option for their pens, including Lamy, TWSBI, Edison, and of course, Kaweco. These “italic” or “calligraphy” nibs are primarily a European writing style, so you may not find them as often on Japanese or Asian pens, except as a music nib.

Kaweco Calligraphy Nibs 1.1, 1.5, 1.9, 2.3 at Wonder Pens, wonderpens.ca

These days, in my abundant free time, I’ve been playing around with the Kaweco calligraphy nibs- you can get these on any Kaweco pen you buy, or buy them individually as a spare nib unit. I’ve had a lot of fun playing with the Pilot Parallel pens, but I love that I can get a nib as wide as 2.3 on a more compact pen.

I used a clear Kaweco Sport for these writing samples, which I’ve eye-droppered with Noodler’s Kiowa Pecan. If you’re going to be using italic nibs, especially the wider ones, it helps to have a lot of ink. (For some direction on converter your Sport to an eyedropper, check out this post)

Kaweco Calligraphy Nibs 1.1, 1.5, 1.9, 2.3 Writing Sample at Wonder Pens, wonderpens.ca

The 1.1 and 1.5 nibs are fairly standard, smooth, even flow but still with good line variation. The 1.1 is good for everyday writing, and you may be able to squeeze in the 1.5 if you’ve got good paper or large handwriting. A lot of customers use these nibs for letter or card writing, but a Fine or Medium nib for their work or school notes.¬†

Kaweco Calligraphy Nibs 1.1, 1.5, 1.9, 2.3 Writing Sample at Wonder Pens, wonderpens.ca

The 1.9 and 2.3 nibs, though, are slightly more exciting. I love that they’re still nice and wet, and you can see shading with the ink. The difference in the horizontal and the vertical is of course much more pronounced, so your writing really takes on a bit more of a calligraphic air, without even taking any lessons! (Although, obviously, some lessons would help…)

While I did just describe the nib as wet, being so wide does mean that you have to slow down just a bit. You’re not going to be able to scribble and scrawl at top speed, especially if you want the strokes to be even and crisp. If you write at an moderate pace, your ink should be able to keep up no problem – I think this may also not be a big deal because calligraphy is not necessarily meant to be scratched out, but written with a bit of care.

Kaweco Calligraphy Nibs 1.1, 1.5, 1.9, 2.3 Writing Sample at Wonder Pens, wonderpens.ca

Kaweco Calligraphy Nibs 1.1, 1.5, 1.9, 2.3 Writing Sample at Wonder Pens, wonderpens.ca  Kaweco Calligraphy Set at wonderpens.caYou can get all four of the nibs, plus a Black Sport with Silver Trim, and two packs of black cartridges in their Calligraphy Set, which all comes in a beautiful tin case.

Of course, you get everything you need, but there are a few advantages to getting it in the set, rather than individually (unless you know you just one want or two nibs).¬†Kaweco Calligraphy Set at Wonder Pens in Toronto, CanadaEach nib comes in a section, which you can just screw on and off to the barrel of the Sport. You can keep a cartridge punctured in the back, and the little clear plastic domes fit around the nib to keep them from drying out. If you’re doing a lot of switching back and forth, addressing envelopes that need different font sizes, or practising calligraphy or typography, this can be really handy.

I’ve just been playing around with the 2.3 nib for the past little while, and when it came down to doing writing samples of all of the nibs, my fingers got pretty inky as I had to pull out each nib from the section, with the feed all inky.

In the future, if you have a different pen you’d like to use these italic nibs with, they’re friction fit, so you can pull them out of the housing and put them in any other Kaweco pen.

Kaweco Calligraphy Set at WonderPens.ca       Kaweco Calligraphy Nibs at Wonderpens.ca

If you know which nib you want, though, you then have the flexibility of either purchasing the nib with the pen body of your choice (mint, burgundy, clear…) or you can purchase the nib unit alone. This is pretty common for people who know they’re only going to use the italic nibs in certain situations.¬†

Keep in mind that all of the italic nibs are only made with a silver finish. You can purchase a Black Sport Skyline with Silver Trim, but many of the other Sports only have gold trim, so if you have a Clear Sport, like the one in these pictures, the nib isn’t going to match the finial.

Kaweco Clear Sport Demonstrator as Eyedropper

Kaweco Vintage-Styled Clip on Clear Sport

If you already have a pen, Kaweco or otherwise, you should consider trying an italic nib! Taking the time to slow down with your writing and maybe even looking up some calligraphy guidelines online will help you develop an appreciation for the beauty of handwriting and its rich and beautiful history. It can be almost meditative, while also giving you a good reason to get writing.