Robbie Saslow - Round and Robust: Exploring Uncial

This class is part of Legacies III.

John Neal Books is not hosting this class.

Please add item LEG2021 to your shopping cart for supply orders for Legacies III classes.

Round and Robust: Exploring Uncial

Robbie Saslow

2-Day Workshop

Beginner – Advanced


Uncial was the preeminent calligraphic style used in the first millennium for transcribing religious texts on parchment. Today this style endures with beautifully solid yet graceful letterforms, ideal for evoking not only antiquity and clarity, but also playfulness, fluidity, and fun. Whether you are new to uncial or a seasoned “uncialist” in need of a brush up, this course will be perfect for you. After a brief review of where uncial fits into the history of letterforms, we will jump right in with the structure, spacing, variations and flourishing of the 26 letters. There will be time for hands-on practice, and opportunities to sit back and observe demonstrations as well.



  • A good pad or ream of practice paper, whatever you like working on. The letterforms we will be creating are 3½ to 4 pen widths tall, and I’d suggest you PRE-RULE your paper if you are starting with plain unruled paper.

If you are new to this and need some hand-holding, please contact me (see below).

If you don’t already have paper on hand, here are some suggestions.

  • Borden and Riley “Paris Paper for Pens” #234, 11×17 or 14×17. (P40)
  • Bienfang Calligraphy practice pad, #206 (P41)
  • Staples bright white 28 pound (available in letter size…but get larger if you can)
  • Many like the John Neal practice pad: (P21)(P20)
  • This is primarily a lettering class and I encourage practice, practice, practice. But it is also important to apply your beautiful letterforms to something other than a practice pad, so if you want to work on a small project, consider having a sheet of some “nicer” paper at hand. Your choice: watercolor paper, Mi Tientes, or other art paper. (PS61)



  • Pilot Parallel Pen (the green cap 3.8 mm size or blue cap 6.0 mm size would be good to start). Be sure to get some refill cartridges! (FP67)
  • If you prefer dip pens, use what you like working with: Brause, Mitchell, Speedball, even crisp new calligraphy markers will work. (N02) (N04) (N09)
  • What size nibs to get? Every pen nib company has a different numbering system, so I cannot give a specific size. Consider a medium nib, something about 1/8” (4 mm) in width for practicing, and other sizes, both larger and smaller, if you want to work on a project.



Some good practice ink is enough. Examples include: Higgins Eternal, Higgins Sepia, Walnut ink, etc. Ironically, (I08) (I121) (I145)


If you like working with gouache or acrylics or watercolors, be sure to have a water can, mixing palette, mixing brushes and some paper towels at hand. (S679) (BR43)


  • Metal ruler (S270) or t-square big enough to rule lines across the paper you have. (S753)
  • Pencil (#2 or harder) (PL38), and eraser (E13)
  • Pen/pencil and pad/notebook


A lyric, passage, poem, or short verse that you can use to create a final project. Keep it modest in size (a couple of sentences maximum).