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Lucky Greens : Shades of March for Your Desk

12 Mar

lucky-green-gifts-european-paper-blog

Lucky greens for spring! The color of stationery around our office this season :

1. Apica CD-15 Series Notebook Set »
2. Moleskine Classics »
3. Conklin Mark Twain Crescent Filler Fountain Pen »
4. Original Crown Mill Stationery »
5. Fabriano EcoQua Side Spriral Notebook »
6. Paperblanks Jade Wrap Journal »
7. J.Herbin Bottled Ink »
8. Word. Pocket Notebook Set »

Handwriting Showcase : Oh My Deer Handmades

15 Jul

 

When it comes to whimsical handwriting, Chelsea  from Oh My Deer (one of our long time faves) definitely takes the cake! She puts so much love into each character. Her custom pieces have so much gumption and exclusive style as well.  Enjoy her delightful blog and her Etsy shop. Send some love from all of us at European Paper!

Shop lovely inks »
Shop fountain pens »
Shop exceptional correspondence papers »

 

Handwriting Showcase : Dark Envelopes with Light Scripts

4 Jun

It’s wedding season! Whether you’re getting hitched or not, we get giddy thinking of all the hand-written correspondence opps a wedding can bring. It’s a perfect time to get inspired by beautiful penmanship. Here are some favorite inspirations of dark envelopes with glowing text we’ve loved on Etsy and beyond :

A Great Gatsby wedding or party theme by JillyInk on Etsy »

Beachy toned goodness from Ladyfingers Letterpress »

Fun “Ricardo” style from Sarah Watson Illustration »

Whimsical calligraphy for hire by TineAndThread on Etsy »

Are you a master at hand-lettering? Send us links to your site or tag us on Instagram : @EuroPaper – we’d love to see it! info [at] europeanpaper [dot] com
Feeling like addressing some fabulous envelopes? This stunning pink color from G.Lalo would look awesome with light lettering »
Or feel free to   Shop All Pens & Pencils »    Shop All Stationery »   

Pull Out Your Finest Pens, Stationery & More: It’s Letter Writing Month!

1 Feb

February is Letter Writing Month! Accept the Challenge at EuropeanPaper.com

We’re psyched to begin February with news of two fabulous letter writing challenges from around the blogosphere!

  • First up is the Month of Letters Challenge (LetterMo.com) started in 2011 by novelist Mary Kowal
  • FPGeeks also created a “mail a day” challenge called International Correspondence Writing Month (InCoWriMo, which is inspired by NaNoWriMo if the acronym doesn’t sound familiar).

Both challenge websites have forums and more information, but the premise is simple: mail one thing per day over the course of the month. (Technically, LetterMo’s challenge is for you to send 23 pieces of mail, one per every day the postal service runs, while InCoWriMo’s challenge is 28 pieces of mail, one per day.) Whether you send a postcard, 5-page handwritten letter, mail art, or package is completely up to you.

Resources:

Have you written a blog post about Letter Writing Month or have another resource for us to list? Add it in the comments below and we’ll add it up here!

Making the Choice: Ballpoint vs. Rollerball

1 Oct

Are you in the market for the perfect everyday pen, a trusty workhorse always at the ready? Ballpoint and rollerballs pens are the usual go-to pen, but the perfect ballpoint or rollerball pen for you depends on several factors.

How do you use pens? Do you write big, flowing script, or do you pack a slew of tiny perfect words onto teeny slips of paper? Do you press hard when you write? Does writing make your hand, wrists or elbows hurt after only a few minutes? All these questions will make a difference in determining the best pen for you.

Shop all Ballpoint and Rollerball Pens on EuropeanPaper.com The Ink

The primary difference isn’t the pen – it’s the ink. Ballpoint ink is oil-based and takes longer to dry than a rollerball’s water-based ink, but the ballpoint ink tends to smear less during the drying process. If you are a person that tends to run a finger or hand over recently written lines as you add more, ballpoints may be the best choice for you.

* “Gel” pens are often (errantly) lumped in with rollerball pens, but these use yet another type of ink with its own traits – both benefits (like not requiring a cap) and failings (like not writing as smoothly, with as little effort) of a ballpoint as compared to a true rollerball.

Paper Choices

Ballpoint ink tends to float “on top” of the paper, whereas rollerball ink tends to “soak into” the paper.

If you use thin, delicate paper you may prefer using ballpoint pens, since rollerball ink will often bleed through. This is especially true in journals or other instances where you write on both sides of the paper.

Moleskine Classic Rollerball Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

Moleskine Classic Rollerball Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

Coated or treated paper also won’t be as receptive to rollerball ink as it is to the oil-based ballpoint, since the rollerball ink won’t be able to saturate the paper. Writing with a rollerball on standard paper may not be as sharp either, since the body of each letter, each stroke, may spread a little wider as the ink wicks into the paper. If you are a tiny text writer, this may pose a problem. People who write tiny are better served by a ballpoint pen (or a mechanical pencil, for that matter).

Rollerball ink often delivers a more expressive script because the water-based ink is thinner and the ball that delivers the ink to the paper rolls smoother. Rollerball ink is less “sticky” than ballpoint ink, so it flows onto the paper with less effort from the writer, making the act of writing less stressful on the hand.

The Physical Act of Writing

If you have a tendency to push down hard when you write, a rollerball may help you reverse that trend because additional pressure is not needed to get a dark, crisp line. If you have arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, hands that are weak and/or tire easily, a rollerball may be your best choice.

In these instances, selecting a pen with a hefty weight and a thicker barrel will reduce the stress required to write. Properly weighted pens require less downward pressure and a balanced, thicker barrel reduces the cramping caused by holding a too-slender or poorly balanced instrument.

Keeping Up With Caps

Ballpoint pens are often easier to use as an “everything” pen because they usually have retractable tips (by a click or twist mechanism) to always be at the ready.

Rollerball pens require a cap to prevent the water-based ink from drying out. This means removing and keeping up with the cap every time the pen is used. Aside from protecting the ink from evaporating, a cap also protects clothing and other objects from potential ink leaks.

Fisher Original Astronaut Ballpoint Space Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

Fisher Original Astronaut Ballpoint Space Pen on EuropeanPaper.com

The Importance of Aesthetics

The perfect pen will be eye-candy, too. You should love the way it looks and embrace the beauty in the tools you use. Life is short. Why write with just any pen when you can use one that adds joy, style, and luxury to your daily routine?

Don’t worry about losing your investment. We don’t pay attention to disposable things because we don’t have to. We do pay attention to pens we love. It’s personal. And, when you own one, you clear the clutter of the disposables. Your perfect pen will be so compelling you’ll cringe when you consider using a disposable product. Yes, that is proof you have found your perfect pen.

Don’t settle. Take your time. Enjoy the treasure-hunt and bring home a gem! You will be glad you did.

~~~

Meet the Writer: Angela Allen has been creating online content for small business clients since 1999, when she had to use a painfully slow dial-up connection. Now, she specializes in real estate topics and organic content marketing for entrepreneurs on a gloriously high speed connection. When she’s not writing for WickedWriter.com clients, she enjoys the discipline of living small in her high-tech cabin deep in the woods of Kentucky, blogging on WickedBlog, and enjoying the pure tactile titillation of going “old-school” and writing with a fountain pen on luxury paper.

~~~

Finding the Fountain Pen Nib That’s Right for You

22 Mar

Image provided by Cole Imperi.

A smattering of nibs to ogle. Image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

A fountain pen nib exists for every style of writer. Whether you press hard and dig deep into the page or prefer to elegantly draw loops and curls, there is a perfect nib waiting for you. The tricky part is looking objectively at the way you write and from that determining what style of nib is best for you.

Actually, the tricky part is probably that there is no global standardization of nib sizes. Your best bet? Become familiar with terminology, find a brand you like and work from that brand as your ‘base.’ Below, you’ll see commonly accepted definitions and descriptions for nib sizes and types (however, there is dispute within the community).

Nib Sizes

All nibs come in different sizes whether you are purchasing a flex nib, an italic nib, a stub nib or any other kind of nib. The most common width sizes include Extra Fine (EF), Fine (F), Medium (M), Broad (B), and Double Broad (BB). You can also find nibs that come in EEF-BBB, but they’re traditionally harder to come by.

Nib Types

Needle & Accountant Nibs

Sailor Desk Pen [EF Nib]

Image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

These are basically EF (Extra Fine) nibs. The Sailor Desk Pen in the photos would be considered by most to be a needle nib. Most people would agree that the thinnest, finest nibs come from Japan. If you’re looking for a needle nib/accountant nib, go for a Japanese-made pen in either EF or EEF.

Stub Nibs

A stub nib is like writing on a thin oval. Imagine that the tip of the nib (the part that makes contact with the paper) is an oval shape. The lines that you create from writing will show this slight variation. (A round tipped nib, which is known as a standard nib will not show variation in writing much like a ballpoint pen doesn’t show variation.)

Italic Nibs & Calligraphy Nibs

Image provided by Cole Imperi.

Kaweco Sport Calligraphy 1.1 image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

An italic nib is like a stub nib, but the oval is longer, thereby producing more variation in line width as you write. Many use the terms ‘calligraphy nib’ and ‘italic nib’ interchangeably. The basic gist of what makes an italic and calligraphy nib different from others is that the nib will have sharper corners. The sharper corners create very clean, crisp lines in line strokes. The stub nib does too, but those corners tend to be ground to rounded points so the stub is less likely to ‘catch’ or scratch the paper when you write quickly. Calligraphy nibs also tend to come in wider sizes. With an italic or calligraphy nib you will likely need to write slower than you do normally because they tend to catch or skip more by design.

Oblique Nibs

An oblique nib is exactly the same as an italic or a calligraphy nib, except the nib is cut on a slant (or angle), rather than straight across.

Music Nib

Music nibs (designed for the purpose of writing music) traditionally have two slits in the nib rather than just one, but not always. They are made so the user can produce lines crosswise and longwise easily.

Flex Nibs

Image provided by Cole Imperi.

Prosperity Pen, Medium Flex Nib image provided by Cole Imperi. Click to enlarge.

Flex nibs have some amount of ‘flex’ in the nib itself so when the user presses down on it variation in the width of the stroke is produced. Flex nibs can be found in various amounts of ‘flexiness,’ from slight flex to super flex. Vintage flex pens produce some of the greatest flex around. What makes flex nibs unique is that they can be combined with other types of fountain pens. You could find an Italic Flex Nib for example, or a Needle Flex Nib. Flex nibs have a bit of a learning curve but produce lovely, unique results. The flexibility of the nib highlights the natural nuances of each person’s handwriting.

This brief overview of the most common types of nibs should help you on your way in determining what nib might be for you. Personally, my absolute favorite nib type is a standard flex nib. Second choice is a calligraphy nib. To me, being able to highlight the unique way I naturally write is most important, especially when I write letters by hand. If you’ve never even held a fountain pen, I strongly suggest trying out multiple types first. Just pick the pen up in your hand, dip the tip of the nib in some ink (no need to fuss with cartridges or full refills here), and write a little with it. You’ll be able to immediately determine if you like one or not.

Why Stationery is Important + Free Printable

29 Feb

Whether you write a quick note or a full-blown letter to a loved one or friend, any paper product will do. Truly. However, if you take the time to consider what you are writing on and with, you’ll see that you are creating an experience for the recipient. You are also creating an experience for yourself. The act of writing a letter was (and still should be) a way to connect with the recipient and to allow the recipient to connect with you. When you opt for stationery that has been customized, you are opting for a deeper experience.

Personal stationery became popular in the Victorian era and we still have remnants of this tradition today. It is most common in business situations; however, a revival of personal, customized stationery seems to be taking place, at least in the USA.

Stationery selection is really an art form. When you are writing a letter to someone, whether it be a thank you note or a letter for pleasure, one should select the stationery based upon the recipient and the purpose of your writing. The stationery should also be a reflection of who you are as well.

Choose your stationery in relation to the importance of your note. If you are sending an important letter; choose classic, important stationery. Traditionally, avoid using day-to-day paper (like notebook paper or computer paper) because it is everywhere, it is cheap and it is associated with other tasks, like homework and printing out reports and documents. You do not want your recipient to associate your special letter with homework or a work project!

Choose your stationery with the same amount of care you give to the words you put on the page.

To get you started, I’ve included a downloadable PDF of stationery you can customize! Click the following link for a letterhead made specially for you to download and use –> EPC-Stationery-Pomegranate-Editable

Free printable with a pomegranate from EuropeanPaper.com

Click to enlarge.

The image that appears on the upper right corner of the letterhead is a Grenadier Punica (aka Pomegranate) and was illustrated in the early 1800s. Fruits were a common addition to personal stationery and they would often appear in borders or as full-blown illustrations. The pomegranate represents fruitfulness and growth. This is a great choice for congratulatory letters or letters bearing good news.

The printable stationery set is customizable if you so choose. The file prints two sheets to one, 8.5” x 11” piece of paper. Fold it in half and cut it right down the middle. Each half-sheet folded in half fits perfectly into an A2 envelope.

To customize your stationery with your name and address, just open the PDF and click on the areas that have text. If you don’t want any text, just delete it and click save, then print. If you want to customize it with your name and contact information, simply click on the text and type what you want, save it and print it! The font and color of the font are already programmed in so it matches the image perfectly.

I’ll have another download for you in a few weeks. Let us know what you think of this resource and if you’d like more!

~~~

Meet the Writer: Cole 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.

~~~

Penmanship & Calligraphy: Reader Spotlight! + Swashes & Flourishes

12 Jan

Hopefully, Library Hand was a bit of a challenge for you. (Read the 4th post in the series all about Library Hand here.) Sure, it looks simple, but it can be difficult to actually put the components of Library Hand into practice.

In this final installment, I’m going to share two reader submissions, make a few suggestions and introduce you to the wonderful world of swashes and flourishes.

The first sample comes to us from reader Stephanie and she did an excellent job. I only have one suggestion here and this is actually the most common tweak practitioners may need to make in their own writing: angle!

Click to enlarge.

Hopefully you can see my red lines; do you see the variation? We have straight up and down, leaning to the right and a few characters that lean to the left. Take note of the angle you are writing at and make sure it is consistent throughout.

This next submission comes from Sandra of Life Imitates Doodles. An excellent submission – see her original post here. The suggestion I have here is to slow down in the print form. Printing will likely take this user a little longer than cursive as I’m guessing that might come more natural to her.

If you still have something for me to look at, please just leave a comment with a link to your sample and I’ll take a look!

Now, on to the fun stuff. Swashes and flourishes!  (Click on any image to enlarge it; then you can use it for practice.)

Most use the terms interchangeably, but the main difference is that a swash is an embellishment on a letter (like an exaggerated serif) while a flourish can be totally separate from a letter or word.

Let’s take the letter N to start with. You’ll see I take it through the basic letterform, add a swash and then add a flourish. You can do the same!

The J got a flourish up top:

We are not limited to just letters. You can embellish shapes too and use them in your letter writing or journaling.

One of my most-used flourishes is extremely simple to learn. This is a great place to start.

You can tweak the ‘bubbles’ in the simple flourish to get this effect:

And then you can take this flourish and use it! I almost always turn it on its side and shimmy it up against my addresses on outgoing mail.

Another easy flourish comes from the curlique:

There are no rules in swashes or flourishes. There are more traditional designs, but that doesn’t mean there can’t be more modern ones! Take a look at my ‘flourish girl’ and my ‘flourish fish.’

One quick note to help you get the most out of swashes and flourishes: use the right tools! A flex nib or calligraphy tip works wonders. In the samples above, I used a Kaweco Sport with a Medium nib (purple ink) and I used a Kaweco Calligraphy Sport with a 1.1 nib (blue ink). You can see subtle differences in the line work.

Finally, stay aware of the angle you hold your writing utensil at. Try changing it to create different effects.

Thanks to everyone for reading (and participating) in this 6 part series. I’ve really enjoyed writing it and I hope it’s been useful!

~~~

Meet the Writer: Cole 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.

~~~

Editor’s Note: This is Article #6 in a series of 6 on the topic of penmanship & calligraphy by Cole Imperi. Read the others here:
Article #1 “Where to Start
Article  #2″Where it all Started & Where it is Today
Article #3 “A Look at Several Calligraphic Styles
Article #4 “
Library Hand + Call for Submissions
Article #5 “Tips & Resources

 

 

Penmanship & Calligraphy: Tips & Resources

29 Dec

Spend all the time in the world you want tracing letterforms and copying words from calligraphy books; ultimately that is not where your ability to write well will come from. Certain principles will aid you in writing well if you follow them; I’m going to share my five core penmanship principles. If you put these into play, your penmanship will improve and your natural style will shine.

Write Often

An occasional birthday card and thank you note is just not going to cut it. If you really want to improve your penmanship and/or be able to write in a calligraphic style of some sort, you need to be writing regularly. And by regularly I mean basically all the time.

That grocery list is a chance to practice, as is the ‘honey do’ list. In fact, those are wonderful practice spaces because you are not only writing something useful, but if you make a mistake it is not a big deal. Whereas making a mistake on your last sheet of fine cotton paper is definitely a problem.

I can also tell you that practicing your penmanship on things that have no use (like just writing out poems or tracing letterforms) tends to discourage practitioners rather than encourage them. We all want to write well and we all want to see our work in use. A notebook full of alphabets written 20 times is not much motivation.

Tip: Great penmanship goes anywhere.

Slow Down

If everyone just slowed down when they wrote, we’d all see improvement. Letters would become more defined and our natural style would become more visible. When we write fast, letters tend to blend into one another and legibility is reduced.

Let’s not forget the very basic purpose of writing: to communicate. When we write fast and hurried, lots of the message is lost.

For example, receiving a birthday card with a scrawled message inside looks, well, scrawled. It looks hurried, it looks rushed. It looks like my friend wrote on the inside of the card literally as it was being put into the envelope.

Tip: Slow down!

Notice Symmetry

If you write often and slow down, you might notice some things about the way you write. Maybe you dot your i’s funny or your h’s have a neat hook at the top. These are not bad things. Notice what you do naturally and carry it through your writing like you are creating a personal alphabet. Your own style of calligraphy.

Strip everything away and then slowly add in. Do not start out by working on swashes and curlicues, zigs and zags. Build your foundation first, and then add on the decorations.

When you write a ‘w’, is the bottom rounded? Or pointed? Does it look like two ‘u’s stuck together or two ‘v’s? If you round your ‘w’ maybe you should see if you can round the bottoms of some other letters. Like the lowercase ‘t’ for example. Can you put a little hook in the bottom of your ‘t’ to mimic the ‘w’?

Tip: Look for what you do naturally and then repeat it.

Use the Right Tools

This one is a little tricky. How do you know you are using the right tools? Trial and error. If you write often, slow down, and notice symmetry, you can then determine what type of paper or writing utensil might be best for you. If you write small, you’ll probably want to go with a fine-tipped pen so your writing becomes more legible. If you write in a very simple, minimalistic way without much embellishment, you might want to try writing with a stub-nibbed fountain pen or a chisel-tipped pen just to see how that might change your writing.

Aside from the visual effect a certain pen or paper would have on your writing, the ‘right’ tool for you is also determined by the natural way you hold your pen.

Most Americans tend to grip their pens and pencils really tight. I was one of those people! I used to have calluses on my fingers from where I held the pen. When I switched to a fountain pen and loosened my grip, I saw immediate improvement and felt immediate improvement. I am partial to fountain pens because they do all the work; your hand is merely a guide.

Tip: Consider how you grip the writing utensil and try loosening your grip or holding the pen at a different angle.

Don’t Compare

The way I write is not the way you write. Someone else will always have better handwriting than you if you are looking for it.

These are five of my most important tips for writing well and I hope you’ll give a few of them a try. If you want a little more fuel to add to your penmanship fire, I’m including some of my favorite haunts on the web for you to peruse.

~~~

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.

~~~

Editor’s Note: This is Article #5 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
Article #3 “A Look at Several Calligraphic Styles
Article #4 “
Library Hand + Call for Submissions

 

 

New Products in Calligraphy

28 Dec

If you’ve surfed through our shop recently — EuropeanPaper.com — you may have noticed we’ve added some new calligraphy items! It’s still a relatively small category, so if you have any suggestions or product requests, let us know in the comments. Shop Calligraphy on EPC here.

We’ve got items for beginners as well as advanced calligraphers. Here is a sample:

Click the image to shop this product on EPC.

Brause Introduction to Calligraphy Lettering Cards

Learn and practice several calligraphic styles with the easy-to-use Brause Intro to Calligraphy Lettering Cards. The Calligraphy Lettering Guide is the perfect addition for any beginner or intermediate calligrapher. For each lettering style, arrows show the order and direction of the pen strokes. The lettering styles included are: Carolingian Script, Modern San Serif, Gothic, Gothic Black Letter, Gothic Fraktur, Chancery Cursive, Italic Script, Roman Alphabet, and Unical.

Click the image to shop this product on EPC.

Brause Advanced Calligraphy Set

A complete line of Brause’s superb steel nibs for calligraphy and writing, the Brause Advanced Calligraphy Set is a must-have for the professional calligrapher. With one natural wood nib holder and 9 steel nibs for script and calligraphy, the Advanced Calligraphy Set is incredibly well-rounded for all projects. The 9 steel nibs included are: 1 Cito Fein, 1 Steno, 1 Pfannen, 3 Banzug (1 /2 /3 mm) & 3 Ornament (1 /2 /3 mm).

Click the image to shop this product on EPC.

Clairefontaine Calligraphy Pad

Clairefontaine’s classic Calligraphy Pad is made with 130 gsm paper that has a satin-like texture, suitable for classic calligraphy with nibs or brushes. This paper was developed by the Schut Mill in the Netherlands in the late 19th century after a trip to Japan by the Schut family. They called it “Simili Japon” paper because the ivory toned calligraphy paper is similar to Japanese paper with its specific surface that enhances the performance of writing instruments. With 25 sheets of this beautiful paper, you’ll have enough space for all your calligraphic needs.

 

Penmanship & Calligraphy: Library Hand + Call for Submissions

15 Dec

Do you feel like your handwriting is sloppy? Uneven? Erratic? You’re not alone. With a little practice, and a bit of guidance right here, right now, it will get better.

Library Hand is a style of handwriting that was once taught in library schools and now, I’m teaching it you via the internet. Library Hand will teach you to write letterforms that are even and open, and it will teach you to slow down when writing. Have you ever seen a card from a library catalogue that was handwritten? Take a look by clicking here. These are all written in Library Hand and we’re going to adapt this style into our own handwriting.

All Library Hand styles feature rounded letters and uniformity between the letterforms. The most popular was probably the style by Melvil Dewey (of the Dewey Decimal System). However, once the typewriter came on the scene, Library Hand started to fade away. And today, with computers and texting, handwriting just really isn’t a priority unless you put it at the top of your list.

Before We Start

As with any style of writing, whether it is Spencerian or Gothic, you will have a much higher success rate if you understand the foundation of the letters. Trying to produce a thick Gothic letter really won’t work with a ballpoint pen, for example. Every style of writing has its own rules and sometimes its own tools.

The Foundation of Library Hand:

  1. There is no shading. That means the thickness of the line should be the same at all times. Use a simple ballpoint pen to guarantee this effect.
  2. Dot your i’s and cross your t’s with care. Make all your dots on all your i’s the same and all the crosses on all your t’s the same.
  3. Keep your letters and numbers at the same angle. Straight up and down is best.
  4. No flourishes! No fancy stuff!
  5. Write slower at first, and with purpose. Pay attention to each letter as you write it.

Tools of Library Hand:

Ruled paper (a.k.a. paper with lines)
A ballpoint pen, pencil or fine-nibbed fountain pen with no flex

Library Hand: Beginning to Write

I’ve included two printable pages for you. One features the ‘cursive’ Library Hand alphabet and one features the ‘print’ Library Hand alphabet. (Click on the links to open the PDF’s.)

Library-Hand-Alphabet1

Library-Hand-Alphabet2

The first step is to print the included documents and simply trace over the letters and the sample sentence. Now, trace over it again.

The second step is to grab some lined paper. Use whatever lined paper you are used to writing on. When learning a new style of writing, don’t start by choosing a paper with a width of line you are not accustomed to. Now write the sample sentence without tracing the original document.

Click to enlarge.

To the left is a page from my Moleskine focusing on the Letter ‘O’ back when I was beginning with Library Hand. With the ‘O,’ most of the guidebooks tell you to write the capital ‘O’ right to left. Alternately, the Capital ‘Q’ would be written left to right.

No matter how close you get to the letterforms shown in the alphabet diagram, you will end up with your own style of Library Hand. That is totally normal, and encouraged. If that ‘O’ is just not working for you and you want to make a complete circle, then by all means, go for it.

Click to enlarge

The image to the right shows me writing ‘Personal Style’ with a ballpoint pen on a piece of cardstock. I held the pen at a different angle each time I wrote the words and you can probably spot a few tiny embellishments I added or took away. Pay attention to the differences in the Capital ‘S’ in style, the ‘yle’ in style and the Capital ‘P’ in Personal. Do you see slight adjustments in each one?

When it comes to Library Hand, the goal is to apply a simple structure to letterforms. A simple structure anyone can apply to their own handwriting.

Library Hand: Where and When to Use it

Library Hand was developed for use in places where information needed to be presented legibly to all who read it. Today, you can use this style of writing whenever you like. It’s wonderful for taking school or meeting notes for reference later, leaving sweet messages to your significant other, or labeling anything and everything. In a world where handwriting just kind of happens, Library Hand is a style you can use that will instantly make what you write a little more special (and readable).

>>> Call for Reader Submissions!

If you are giving Library Hand a shot, please email in a snapshot or scan of a writing sample by 12/22/11 to leah@europeanpaper.com. Include your name and a link to your blog or website if you like. We’ll post up your entries in the last installment of this series. <<<

~~~

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.

~~~

Editor’s Note: This is Article #4 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
Article #3 “A Look at Several Calligraphic Styles“ 

 

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