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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!

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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.

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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

 

 

Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

30 Dec

1 –> Read all about the postage rate increase over at Missive Maven’s blog. Basically though, before January 22, you may want to use up those international and postcard stamps you currently have.

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2 –>  You’ve still got time to submit your snapshot or scan of your own Library Hand. Read our post Penmanship & Calligraphy: Library Hand + Call for Submissions for more details. The last article in the Penmanship & Calligraphy series will be in two weeks!

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3 –>  In typewriter news: a typewriter you can eat over at Letter Writers Alliance, plus a fantastic tale of typewriters over at Good Mail Day.

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4 –> Ink/Pen/Pencil Review Round-up:
Converting Monteverde Refills to Fit Retro 51 Tornado by GourmetPens.com.
The Uni-ball Signo Bit 0.18mm by Rhonda Eudaly.
New Iroshizuku Inks by Julie at Pen Paper Inks … Whatever Blog.
Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 5 Color Multi Pen by No Pen Intended.
Ohto Multi Pen Hexagonal Barrel 3 Points by Multi Pen Dimensions.

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5 –>  Misty (a.k.a. the Pen Thief) also has a great post on what to do with your used and unwanted postage stamps. Read her suggestions here.

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6 –> 

What do you think of the new image for international stamps for 2012?

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7 –> And to end on a flourish, have you seen the World’s Most Expensive Pens? Oh my heart be still ;) Thanks to Margana at Inkophile for posting about it first!

This is the last Friday Blogger Tuck-ins of the year! We’re thinking for 2012 we’ll split out the pen/ink/notebook reviews for another weekly post since there are so many! Thoughts? If we do, which day would you like to see it posted on?

 

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.

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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 #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.

 

Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

23 Dec

1 –> One of our past giveaway winners, Azizah, posted about her prize! Check out her pictures of the Moleskine Academic Pocket Weekly Planner on her blog Gourmet Pens.

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2 –> Millie at MsLogica.com shows you how to make a fab pencil wrap. Check out her post here!

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3 –> Make your own Moleskine Messenger Bag with Moleskinerie’s template here. Or you can buy the real thing on EPC here. ;)

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4 –> Ink/Pen/Pencil Review Round-up:
Noodlers Blue Nose Bear Ink Review by Pocket Blonde.
Noodlers Firefly Yellow Ink Review by Peninkcillin.
Diamine Eclipse, Amaranth, Ancient Copper and Damson Ink Review by PensandPaper.co.uk
Review: J. Herbin Rouge Hematite 1670 Anniversary Ink by Gourmet Pens.
Pentel Slicci 0.25mm in Red by Rhonda Eudaly.
Swan Neck Pen Review by Multi Pen Dimensions (check it out particularly if you’re left-handed).

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5 –> If you haven’t seen this yet, it is a MUST for the holidays! Star Wars Snowflakes!! Enjoy :)

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And most of all, Happy Holidays to you all!
Thank you so much for the support by following our blog, commenting on our bloggers’ articles, and purchasing your paper products from our store! We can’t wait for 2012 with you all!

 

Friday Blogger Tuck-ins

16 Dec

1 –> One of our past giveaway winners, Margana, posted about her prize! Check out her pictures of the Moleskine Academic Pocket Weekly Planner on her blog Inkophile.

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2 –> Molossus over at Life Imitates Doodles gave Library Hand another try after reading our post Penmanship & Calligraphy: Library Hand + Call for Submissions. We have to admit, she did a fabulous job at it! Check out her attempt at writing in Library Hand here.

3 –> If you haven’t heard of the Doodling in Math Class series on Youtube from user ViHart, you have got to check it out. It doesn’t really have to do with the world of pen and paper specifically, but we bet you’ll get a kick out of it. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DK5Z709J2eo]

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4 –> Ink/Pen/Pencil Review Round-up:
Retro 51 Tornado – Natural Bamboo Rollerball by GourmetPens.com.
Uni-ball Signo Gel RT 0.7mm by GourmetPens.com.
Noodler’s Ahab Flex Pen Review by PenInkCillin.com.
Sheaffer VFM Matte Black Medium Point Fountain Pen by No Pen Intended.
Uni-ball Style Fit Mystar 3 Color Multi Pen by No Pen Intended.
The PaperMate InkJoy by Rhonda Eudaly.
Pilot Iroshizuku Yama-budo by GreaseMonkeyHands.

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5 –> Stephanie from Rhodia Drive has a friend named Alex making these suh-weet Rhodia-inspired bracelets. Check out their blog post on how to get one.

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6 –>  TonyB over at Tiger Pens’ blog wrote about 7 Crazy Things People Do with Sharpies … and yes, people have really done these things. Maybe it’s the Sharpie fumes that get to people?

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7 –> Nifty over at Notebook Stories posted pictures of (some of) her notebook collection. Over 100 notebooks are shown, and there are more in hiding! You’ve gotta check it out here. How big is your collection?

And if you’re a Rhodia fan, today is the last day to enter for a chance to win a Rhodia No. 19 Notepad! See our post on it for more details. We’ll post the winners on Monday – have a fab weekend!

 

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. <<<

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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 #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

 

Penmanship & Calligraphy: Where it all Started & Where it is Today

17 Nov

Penmanship & Calligraphy Series by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com
This post is not meant to be an in-depth look at the history of penmanship or calligraphy by any means, but it is meant to provide a little insight and maybe a new perspective.

At the root, writing is a way to both preserve and mark. It exists because humans communicate and writing is just one form of communication. We communicate all kinds of things through writing: things like recipes, an address, or notes in our kid’s lunch boxes. Because of writing, we have ancient texts like the Bible or the Rig Veda, for example. We have maps that show us names of places long gone and love letters and family trees. Hundreds of languages and dozens of alphabets exist. Communicating via the written word is rich and diverse and always has been.

To understand the actual act of writing, we need to be familiar with the tools: the 26 letters within the English alphabet. Did you know we have four cases that are taught in most schools here in the US today? We don’t even notice, but many people who have English as a second language definitely do notice. We have:

  • Capital print
  • Lowercase print
  • Capital cursive
  • Lowercase cursive

Granted, many of the letters (like ‘O’ for example) don’t have much variation between the cases, but some truly do (like Z or Q). By comparison, Hebrew has two cases, a print and a cursive. There is no capital/lowercase. Most languages use multiple cases and the purpose is generally to provide more clarity in writing and reading. Unicase refers to languages, like Hebrew, that don’t make a distinction between upper and lowercase. Arabic is also like this. (You can read up on letter case on Wikipedia and capitalization on Dictionary.com’s Hot Word for more details we won’t go into here.)

Humans have been embellishing letterforms about as long as we’ve had them. In fact, initial forms of writing began with pictures (called ‘pictograms’). Pictograms turned into ideograms (A sun symbol might mean sun, but also day). Phonograms came next (symbols representing sound) and we made the jump from inscriptions on cave walls to stone, clay or wood. With the development of the reed brush, we made the jump to writing on papyrus, wax tablets, and animal skin. Fast forward through the last millennia and our alphabets developed quickly. Punctuation and spacing were added in as well as grammar rules. All the while, we kept extra embellishments in tow, whether that was images accompanying text or beautifully illuminated drop caps.

Sennelier Calligraphy Pad on EuropeanPaper.com

Sennelier Calligraphy Pad; specifically designed for calligraphers.

In the 20th century, shorthand was taught in school and in places like Secretarial college. (In high schools across the US, it was basically replaced with typing classes.) Writing shorthand is called stenography. It’s an abbreviated way of writing and it lets you write as fast as people speak. This has mostly disappeared today due to computers; however, it can be argued that texting has appeared as a new incarnation of shorthand.

Looking at things from a broad perspective, really not much has changed. Writing styles are still evolving (hello graffiti) and we still use different styles of writing for different purposes (like calling up Edwardian Script in Microsoft Word for party invitations or writing in large capital letters on your ‘GARAGE SALE’ sign). There are still people who have a career in penmanship (hello calligraphers) and exquisite writing is still highly prized.

I’d like to make the argument that we are pretty much in the same exact spot we’ve always been, it’s just we have new applications and tools. We have text messaging, email, thousands of typefaces to choose from, graphic design, and a multitude of other bits and bobs.

And we still have those brushes, pencils and ink, just like we always have.

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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.

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Editor’s Note: This is Article #2 in a series of 6 on the topic of penmanship & calligraphy by Cole Imperi. Read the other article here:

Article #1Where to Start

 

Penmanship & Calligraphy: Where to Start

3 Nov

Penmanship & Calligraphy Series by Cole Imperi on EuropeanPaper.com
Have you ever gotten a note from someone who was both thoughtful and handwritten? I know I have, and I probably saved every single one. No matter the handwriting, whether big and loopy or small and abrupt, the handwriting is unique to the person writing. It’s a lot like a fingerprint.

If you’re at a spot in your life where you might want to work on your penmanship a bit, then you are in the right place. Or maybe, you just want to do justice to your nice pens and paper. Over the next few weeks, we’re going to talk about penmanship and calligraphy. And this first post? It’s all about where to start.

Where to Start

What is the difference between penmanship and calligraphy? Penmanship is your specific and unique style of writing. Calligraphy is taking a particular style of writing and basing your strokes directly off of that. It’s that simple.

So to start, we’ll focus on penmanship. Know that you have a unique style of writing and the purpose of working on your penmanship is not to erase that uniqueness, but perhaps just to work the craft a bit more. Spending time on your penmanship results in a style of handwriting that is even more uniquely you—it’s just polished. Think of some of the great painters. They all had a unique way of working with their paintbrushes and paint. They all spent time on their craft. They all had a very distinctive style that was all their own.

You’re all great painters; you just haven’t worked on your craft enough. But the goal of penmanship is not to copy someone else’s style—it is to refine your own.

What Tools Do I Need?

You’ll need a pen and some paper. And no, you don’t have to use a calligraphy-specific pen, any pen will do. I keep plain white notecards and envelopes in my desk drawer at all times for basic correspondence. I also love Rhodia’s Dot Notepads for writing little bits and bobs and for practice. My favorite journal paper can be found in the Moleskine Volants. I love this paper with ballpoints, fountain pens, and pencils equally.

Does the Type of Pen Matter? Does the Type of Paper Matter?

A random piece of my handwriting to analyze the penmanship.

The answer is both yes and no. Personally, when I write something important, I use ‘important’ tools. I pick up a fountain pen rather than a cheap plastic ballpoint pen. There are a few reasons for this, the most important being that a nicer pen will generate a better flow of ink and can show more variation in your strokes. If you write with a ballpoint, the intricacies and nuances of your natural handwriting very often become lost. The same is true for paper. If you are using standard computer paper, you are more likely to run into problems (like tears, bleeding ink, and smudges). Nicer paper is actually designed to hold ink and deal with the point of the pen scratching the surface of the paper.

Finally, it is good practice to find some of your recent handwriting and take an extra minute to notice the details. For me, it’s a to-do list I made last week (pictured). This is my writing in its natural state, written just for me. I will take a look at this and look at some of the letters I naturally (and therefore comfortably) tend to embellish a little. This is what you should do with your writing. Look at your tendencies.

Next time, we’re going to talk more about penmanship and calligraphy from a historical standpoint and where it stands today.

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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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