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Archive | December, 2011

Bad News Round-up for the USPS

5 Dec

By now, we’re sure everyone’s heard the news. As the links below show us the problems of USPS are still big news it seems, the comments by readers are pretty laissez-faire about the whole issue. Some people are focusing only on the economic hit of a massive layoff by USPS; others are positing that communication and transactions are naturally all online now, so it doesn’t matter if USPS slows 1st class mail; and honestly, if you skim the number of comments on these articles, you just don’t see many people talking about it.

CNN Money: Postal plan: Slower delivery, 28,000 jobs lost … “As a part of the cost-savings plan, Postal Service proposed in September to cut 252 mail processing plants. Generally, they’d like to bring the number of mail processing facilities down to under 200 from the 463 that exist today.”

BBC article: US Postal Service facing 28,000 job losses

NYTimes.com article #1: Planned Postal Service Cuts to Slow First-Class Mail

NYTimes.com article #2: U.S. Postal Service Seeks to End Next-Day Mail

Mashable: Could Postal Service Budget Cuts Affect Netflix?

Washington Post: Facing bankruptcy, US Postal Service plans unprecedented cuts to first-class mail next spring … “The agency already has announced a 1-cent increase in first-class mail to 45 cents beginning Jan. 22.”

Time Magazine: USPS to Slow Delivery of First-Class Mail

Do you think you’ll be affected by the changes come next spring?

 

Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

2 Dec

1 –> Margana over at Inkophile gave some great advice regarding buying pens, paper or ink and when to trust online reviews. Read it here.

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2 –> The Letter Writers Alliance gives great instructions on how to host your own letter-writing social here, and also gives the main U.S.P.S. dates for holiday mailings to arrive on schedule here. (LWA also provided the link to the USPS website that provides more holiday details for international, military, and domestic shipping and mailing. Here’s the link.)

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3 –>  Kim at Tiger Pens did a nice, short review on the Pilot V4 Disposable Fountain Pen. And TonyB at Tiger Pens had a great Blog Review & Interview of Rhonda Eudaly, which you can read here. (Rhonda’s blog link is here, plus you can find it in our blogroll in the right-hand column.)

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4 –> Karen D. posted about the Problem of Shipping Charges on the Quo Vadis Blog and we’re so glad she did! It’s an issue customers bring up to us all the time as well and we do our best to please you all. That’s why we have shipping offers like our current one, which is free standard shipping on orders of $50 or more.

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5 –> And to end on a really cool video of How Ink is Made, we have to thank Azizah of GourmetPens.com for sharing it first! (It was originally posted in 2010.)

 

Penmanship & Calligraphy: A Look at Several Calligraphic Styles

1 Dec

Penmanship & Calligraphy Series by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com
Before we venture into the land of calligraphy ourselves, let’s first take a look at some calligraphic styles. I’m going to show several of the most common and traditional, but be aware; there are literally hundreds of styles and variations.

Italic Hand

Image courtesy of Cole Imperi.

Fun Fact: This is the script where the two-story ‘a’ became the one-story ‘a’ we most often use in handwriting today. (Click to enlarge image.)

This is often one of the first styles taught to budding calligraphists and I know a few calligraphers that would say it is the most used. The creator of this handwriting style is Niccolo Niccoli of Italy(get it? Italy… Italic?). His goal in developing this script was to improve efficiency and write faster. He basically reduced the number of strokes found in most of the letters (thereby reducing the amount of time it takes to write them) and set it on an angle, which made writing a bit more comfortable and faster.

Blackletter Script or Gothic Script

Image courtesy of Cole Imperi.

Fun Fact: German-speaking countries loved this script. (Click to enlarge image.)

This style of writing is dark, angular and heavy. It was mostly used in pre-17th century times, but it’s still requested for special occasions today. Many educational books of the time (like books on law or business) were written in this script because it was less expensive (in terms of time it took to write and in how much space on the page it took up). I tend to see it used today on things like certificates and in logos.

Bookhand Script

Image courtesy of Cole Imperi.

Fun Fact: You really can’t go wrong with Bookhand. This style can be used for both formal and informal applications in modern times. (Click to enlarge image.)

Bookhand is pretty much a go-to everyday style of writing. It came about as a way to quickly and neatly write out text from bound books. Now, there are actually lots of Bookhand styles, but the one pictured should give you a pretty good idea. Many agree that Bookhand is the most readable of all calligraphic styles, likely due to its roundness and the rounded ascenders and descenders. This style can actually be written with a ballpoint pen or pencil, making it super accessible and a great place to start if you don’t have a fountain pen or dip pen. The image I’m using to illustrate this style of writing comes from James Pickering. He has a really great web page that covers all the ins and outs of this style.

Copperplate Script

Image courtesy of Cole Imperi.

Fun Fact: The Declaration of Independence is written in this style.(Click to enlarge image.)

Believe it or not, this is actually a pretty simple and straightforward script (aside from all the flourishes and swashes). If you want to show off, then this might be the style of writing for you. Copperplate traditionally uses a really fine nib instead of say, a flat nib you might use in Blackletter. The actual name for this script comes from books students used to learn how to write in this style; they were printed from copper plates. You can actually make really great use of a finer-tipped flex nib fountain pen with this script because you can control the thickness of the stroke with variances in applied pressure.

Library Hand

Image courtesy of Cole Imperi.

Fun Fact: Click this image for a page full of wonderful examples of library cards written in Library Hand. You can see the similarities between the cards, but that each writer wrote the style slightly differently.

This is my current favorite and the script we’re actually going to learn together! Library Hand was once taught in library schools so cards in card catalogues would be easily readable as well as other library records. It’s a great place to start because you’ll learn how to write uniformly and legibly. Melvil Dewey (of the Dewey Decimal system) was a big developer and supporter of this hand.

Finally, I just want to note that this is by no means a quintessential guide to calligraphic styles. There are countless variations and lots of argument about what exactly makes a certain style a certain style. This is just meant to be a brief overview and a quick glance.

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Meet the WriterCole Imperi is a business owner and a proponent of the handwritten word. When not at Doth Brands, a Branding & Identity firm catering to the health, wellness & deathcare professions where Cole works as Owner and Creative Director, you might find her on her yoga mat teaching yoga or behind a laptop writing for Simplicity Embellished, a letter-writing and lifestyle blog.

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Editor’s Note: This is Article #3 in a series of 6 on the topic of penmanship & calligraphy by Cole Imperi. Read the others so far here:
Article #1 “Where to Start
Article  #2″Where it all Started & Where it is Today