Tools of the trade
Though industrial calligraphy papers are now available, Hawila prefers to use the original paper, which he gets from Turkey. A process in itself, the handmade paper is coated with a paste made from eggs, which prevents the paper from soaking up the ink. “The ink on the paper should exactly follow the lines of the straw,” he says.
The pen, one of the oldest calligraphy tools in the world, is usually made from bamboo reed, which varies widely across countries where calligraphy is still common such as Iran, Egypt and Turkey.
Though composite calligraphy inks are now widely available, Hawila likes natural inks such as saffron and coffee – “You can imagine how they dealt with calligraphy before. It was an art that was very connected to the places they were living and what materials were available.” He often though experiments in calligraphy with a variety of materials, even using street-graffiti style paint for his bigger outdoor murals.