The parallel glider is one of those tools that will surprise you with its usefulness! I reach for it every single time that I go to create calligraphy or hand lettering. In this article, I’ll show you three ways to use a parallel glider with a series of short video tutorials.
I’ve never been a math person, so my 2014 purchase of a parallel glider wasn’t exactly exciting. To me, the contraption had way too many numbers written on it — seemingly arbitrarily. When I went to draw guidelines for calligraphy, though, it was love at first gloriously parallel roll! Making guidelines suddenly wasn’t a tiresome and tedious task, and slant lines could be whipped up in a few quick swipes. Seven years later, I still use the same parallel glider regularly. Today, we’ll talk about how a parallel glider can make lettering life easier for you.
What is a Parallel Glider?
A parallel glider, also known as a rolling ruler, is a ruler that rolls up and down, making it easy to create parallel horizontal or vertical lines. It’s easy to find cheapie parallel gliders with plastic bases and ridged plastic wheels, but those have never worked for me. They don’t “glide” across a page like the Alvin parallel glider does.
Drawing Guidelines With a Parallel Glider
I remember my pre-rolling ruler days … and those days involved a lot of tedious time with a regular ruler. Now, I just line up the parallel glider with a guidelines sheet and draw guidelines as I move the ruler down. I made a tutorial video to show you exactly how to use your parallel glider to draw guidelines:
Not everyone uses slant lines, but they can really help when you want to write formal calligraphy. You’ll especially notice a difference if you’re creating elegant calligraphy styles that demand consistency. Here’s how the parallel glider makes slant line creation easy-peasy:
You can download the free “Perfect Calligraphy Envelope Generator” featured in the video above by clicking here. For more information about making calligraphy slant lines, see the About Calligraphy Slant Lines article.
Creating Neat + Clean Hand Lettering
While you don’t have to have a rolling ruler for hand lettering, it can make a big difference for certain styles. In the video below, I’ll show you how I use a parallel glider to create George Style Lettering:
If you like the hand lettering style in the video above, you can learn how to make it with this worksheet. (George Style lettering looks amazing on mail art!)
A Word on Availability
I have wanted to get my hands on a parallel glider wholesale order since I opened the Supplies Shop in 2019. Unfortunately, Alvin, the company that makes these rolling rulers, went out of business last year because of COVID. (As I understand it, they relied heavily on school orders, which weren’t placed last year due to schools being closed.)
Another company purchased the rights to the Alvin name earlier this year, and they resumed manufacturing of these wonderful contraptions. The rulers are made at the same place in Poland to Alvin’s specifications … right down to the now-defunct alvinco.com URL written on the ruler. I am very happy to be able to offer you the same rolling ruler that I fell in love with years ago, and I know you’ll love it, too!
To be clear: having a rolling ruler won’t make or break your calligraphy creation. If it’s not in the budget, don’t worry about it! The same results can be achieved with a regular ruler, just with more fuss. But, if you’ve got a little bit of extra jingle in your pocket, I highly recommend snatching one of these up! Happy guideline creating, and we’ll reconvene this weekend with a fun holiday-themed tutorial.