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Topics - Zivio

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Spencerian Script / Sandserian
« on: June 14, 2024, 12:08:00 AM »
Practicing Spencerian in the sand has been helpful to me for improving my sense of letter proportions. The letters are very large (x-height 457mm,) and there are no guidelines or sketching first – it all has to be done in one go. Sometimes I’ll have to write quickly to avoid the waves reclaiming it before completion.

I especially like when the sun is lower in the sky. The shadowing effect makes the names look like they’ve been extruded rather than scribed!
Credit to Andrew van de Merwe (Instagram @beachscriber) for the idea behind the special tool that can somewhat emulate pointed pen shading. Andrew makes all kinds of tools and uses found items on the beach to do some really creative sand calligraphy!

Spencerian Script / Spencerian Sashiko
« on: June 13, 2024, 09:10:34 PM »
Combining a Spencerian concept with my newest Sashiko divertissement. Well, the resolution of the stitching wasn’t quite fine enough to capture the writing, but it was an experiment and work in progress.

Once the backs of the jeans are completely stitched in, I think it will be fine, and hopefully people won’t be staring at my backside trying to make it out.  Eyes up here!!  ::)  ;D

Thanks to @jeanwilson , I’ve recently been introduced to etegami, a modern era Japanese artistic approach to watercolor postcards.

I’ve added this to my ever-expanding retirement projects bucket list.  A common etegami practice is to use one’s hanko stamp to personalize their creations, so this has lead me (back) to block carving/printing and (newly) to hiragana/katakana to suss out the symbol(s) for my name.

Which has now lead me down a rabbit hole to the art and mysteries of Japanese orthography! SO MANY NEW TERMS I’d never known existed! 

Pedantry follows, though not up to the excellence of @K-2 ’s inimitable style. I was having a difficult time understanding the relationships between these terms, so I used the Mind Mapping™ technique developed by Tony Buzan circa 1974 to organize them. I’d first learned this technique in 1977 and have used it extensively in planning, organizing and learning since. Here’s the map of terms I’d encountered with the briefest of details just to give me the lay of the land.

For those knowledgeable about these things, I’d love your comments and corrections.

@AnasaziWrites posted a WSJ article about California’s new legislation requiring cursive handwriting instruction in public schools beginning January 02024:

Cursive is Back

California has joined 22 other states in the union to have fully mandated instruction, but there are some differences. Most of the other states have the requirement to teach by grades 3, 4 or 5.  Califonia’s, so far, is the only one requiring it in grades 1 through 6. Also, unlike the other states, California’s law cites teaching of cursive or joined italics.

I’m of two minds on the topic:

(1) The forces of technological change in communications are just too powerful to be overcome by merely requiring children to learn this in a few elementary school grades. My sense is that handwriting, sadly, will eventually die except as an art form, and mostly already has.

(2) As with giving children opportunities to learn and explore art, music, sports, vocational studies, etc., it is a wonderful thing to expose them to cursive writing. There will be some who find a great interest in it and learn to enjoy seeing historical and everyday handwritten communications, as I do, and even decide to practice it.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Etegami ...
« on: February 08, 2024, 11:51:03 PM »
I only recently learned about this "Japanese postcard art," (thank you, @jeanwilson) and very much like what I've seen and learned! 

I especially like the simplicity, both in the art and the words which seems to make it very much non-threatening to many who may otherwise say "I don't do art."  Reminds me a bit of sashiko stitching/mending.

My current focus is still on Spencerian for everyday handwriting, but one day ...

Here's a great introduction:

Show & Tell / Verve …
« on: January 04, 2024, 04:11:56 PM »

I am sharing this recent work of my hand, something I only rarely do on Flourish Forum. I have seen so many splendid and skilled contributions from true calligraphy adepts on this forum since joining … this will not be one of them.

However, it is because of the things about it you CANNOT see, that I decided to post it up.  Let me explain:

My goals, with respect to penmanship, from the start have been to completely rebuild my “everyday handwriting” from scratch, as it were. No special presentation pieces or framable art for me — just handwriting. I greatly admire the charm and simple, wabi-sabi aesthetic of writing from the heart …

... THIS is what I love!

Beautiful handwriting, though, especially that which appears to have been dashed off in a devil-may-care fashion has been particularly appealing! The smoothness of lines and flourishes — true flourishes that are zipped off like the crack of a whip and not laboriously drawn — I’m uncertain whether I actually see this or maybe feel it.  Well, I have seen it in a few of @Erica McPhee’s videos and hear an imaginary and triumphant “Ta Da!” every time I witness her speedy and effortless flourishing technique! …

... THIS is what I’m after.

So last night, my dear younger brother Al came to mind. I pulled out a sheet of copy paper and dashed this off!  I just let ‘er rip, as it were. No planning. No measuring, just handwriting.  And I was pleased! Hard to come by self-congratulations for this typically negativity-biased, self-critical soul... 

... THIS is why I’m sharing.

A few other “behind the scenes” technical details to explain this post:

- I’ve been encouraging myself to try different tools and materials. I just grabbed a Pentel Fude (XFL2L) brush pen, something I don’t practice using and with which I have little experience.  It felt like writing with a soggy piece of linguine, but I did it! 

- Against Michael Sull’s expert and practical advice, I have been confining myself to whole arm/muscular writing technique to avoid falling back into 60+ years of finger-writing muscle memory. In his writings, Sull advises hybrid finger-arm technique due to the difficulty and time required to train those large muscles. He is correct, and neuroplasticity be damned, I think it may be even more challenging for brains of a certain age. But yeah, it can feel most “dashed-offedly” when it works, and after 3+ years of practice it is starting to happen.

- My usual x-height is 2-3 mm … I don’t practice at the size of this piece (this is on 8-1/2 x 11 sheet.)  Wow, I don’t think I’ll ever have to worry about addressing a package in devil-may-care fashion!

- I’d mentioned no measuring or planning, but add to that no guidelines. I very much surprised myself by the layout and slant consistency that happened without trying. Layout could certainly be improved on a second attempt, but I just wasn’t really thinking about it.

For any of you who may have read this TL;DR expose, thanks for listening. It is meant primarily for my own mental health/self-therapy to get out of the defeating habits of disqualifying the positive and withering self-criticism. Writing and journaling has been good medicine for me.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / The Science of Learning: Motivation
« on: December 10, 2023, 11:57:40 PM »
I have lately been on a huge “science of learning” jag and steeping myself in all manner of books, blogs, podcasts, and personal experimentation. This began w/ a “30-Day Superlearning Plan,” specifically for music, but I’ve been applying many of its concepts to penmanship.

One particular concept I learned about and wanted to apply, was that many successful learners in music, sports, art, or whatever, immerse themselves in their chosen interests by placing things in their environment ... pictures, posters, background music, etc. to motivate them. I'd been thinking about printing out samples of handwritten letters or other pieces that I've only looked at on my computer, and hang them in my study area.

I wanted to share this inexpensive frame thing I recently purchased. It's kind of pitched as a way to hang children's art, but I'm very pleased with its quality. Besides a frame, it has a glass door with magnetic closure, and you can store many sheets within! It is simple to change out the currently presented item, so I'm loving the flexibility of a changing view. Besides my print outs, I now also have a way to store and display letters I've saved from other people (thank you @AnasaziWrites and @Erica McPhee and @jeanwilson and @InkyFingers and @Vintage_BE !) that typically have only lived in a file folder.

You may find them on Amazon by searching "Rexllon Kids Art Frames"

Everyday Handwriting | Penmanship / Letters from 1840!
« on: December 04, 2023, 07:12:36 PM »
My wife and I first met our elderly widow neighbor down the street when we were trying to surprise her by leaving a Mayday basket of flowers at her home earlier this year. Well, she caught us and invited us in for a beautiful visit. She loved that we remembered the old tradition. I decided to send her a brief snail mail note in Spencerian knowing that her children and grandchildren typically only email or text her and thinking she might appreciate this gesture from the past.

A few weeks ago, I was again visiting and happened to ask if she had received mail “from someone." Oh, yes! her eyes brightened, and she rushed off to show me she had saved the letter, and then said, “I recognized this," meaning the pen and ink cursive. She told me that she had a box of old letters that were in the drawer of an antique desk she had purchased some 50 years ago! Well, I got really excited, and she let me take them home to borrow and enjoy. The correspondence was a series of letters from 1839-1840 that had many vague references to what appeared to be a possible marriage proposal that had gone wrong. As my neighbor said, “he had plans, she had plans, but they weren’t the same plans!" I have since made typed transcriptions of the 11 letters with many of my own editorial musings and questions so she can revisit them without straining her eyes.  Mr. Hays writes with a very legible, but small hand at 1 mm x-height. Miss Elizabeth's cursive is also legible at 2 mm.

Flourishing / Compound/complex ending flourish - order of pen strokes?
« on: November 14, 2023, 10:23:06 PM »
I am currently reading and studying Michael Sull’s most excellent new book “Sull’s Manual of Advanced Penmanship.” If I may, I’d like to plug this book here, but also pose a question. 

If interested in the book, @Erica McPhee has posted a detailed review at this thread:

The instructions are very detailed and clear, however, I’m struggling with the order in which the compound ending flourishes around the word “Congratulations” is rendered*. It is clear to me there has to be some rejoining of the flourish either back to the final “s” or somehow starting at the “s” and rejoining the “C”… somehow. I can see how the flourish itself can be made in a continuous, non-lifted stroke. 

Besides the flourish, it seems to me the whole word must have had to have been written out completely before making the flourish.  Was it written without the beginning “C” first in place in order to get the spacing right then “C,” then the flourish added after?  If so, that means the flourish would need to join up in two places. Was it likely drawn starting after the “s” or starting after the “C”?

I think I’m struggling with this because I am only familiar with Spencerian as a more “spontaneous” form of handwriting … no pen lifts, so the concept of rejoining is pretty foreign to me.

* This example is on Page 39 of the book.  I’m including a screen grab here, but in case this is a copywrite infringement, perhaps @Erica McPhee might remove it, and I’ll just have to hope someone else who has purchased the book may be able to reply.  Hey!  This is an excellent reason to purchase it — I hope this teases you into it!

Spencerian Script / Spence-share-ian
« on: August 30, 2023, 08:09:31 PM »
Ever since joining this forum, I’ve been reluctant to share much of my own writing, but seeing others' work of every level of ability has always been enjoyable and instructive for me.  So here’s a sample of a letter written earlier this year.

A FF member suggested that white ink on dark paper can magically make things look better – I agree!  Using that Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bleed Proof White™ felt a lot like writing with a popsicle stick and kindergarten paste, but it is a dramatic effect.

My goal in learning this script has always been to use it for everyday handwriting/correspondence – I have no calligraphic aspirations, per se.  I’ve limited myself to arm/”muscular” movement only, in order to outwit sixty years of muscle memory, cramped grip and illegible writing. The strategy has worked, to a point, but I find I’m still lacking a fluency of movement, so last week I began using Zaner’s “The Arm Movement Method of Rapid Writing” which prescribes some really fast movements in its drills, and describes required speed in terms of downstrokes and letters per minute. 

Already, putting serious time into the drills and pushing the rhythms has uncovered new ways of lightening my grip and of balancing the weight and pressure of the arm and pen that I’m hopeful will begin to get me closer to my goals.

I just stumbled upon the Smithsonian's Digital Volunteer program where anyone over 14 years old may contribute to transcribing historical handwritten documents! 

An excerpt from the project page states:

Become a Smithsonian Digital Volunteer and help us make historical documents and biodiversity data more accessible.
Since June of 2013, our community of “volunpeers” have collaboratively transcribed and reviewed over a million pages of field notes, diaries, ledgers, logbooks, currency proof sheets, photo albums, manuscripts, biodiversity specimen labels, and historic audio recordings ...

What I love about the opportunity, besides being able to see some great examples of handwritten historical documents and penmanship, is that there is really zero commitment to volunteering!  You can just browse the projects for things of interest, or if you decide to help transcribe you are not committed to completing any particular document! Just save as much as you've done and start another one or quit. 

I haven't yet done any work, but I did make an account and am looking through some projects. I was just too excited not to post this up!  Here's a link to a video explaining the process and a couple of screenshots of what I've seen so far.

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Codex Gigas
« on: June 09, 2023, 12:17:51 PM »
Apropos of nothing, except a bit of desultory research into my Bohemian ancestory and connections with script, I encountered the Codex Gigas this morning. Compared to many of you, my interest in script is only a few years old, and no doubt @K-2 could add much pedantry to this topic, but this was my first introduction to this amazing work!

If there are any of you interested in this, I found the short video here edifying:

I'm enjoying using a vintage R. Esterbrook "Modified Slant" #702 nib.  Would like to get more. I see also Esterbrook nibs described as "Natural Slant."

What is meant by modified or natural slant with respect to pointed pen nibs?

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Beach Calligraphy Workshops
« on: April 18, 2023, 01:52:06 PM »
I’ve recently made contact with Andrew van der Merwe, on Instagram: @beachscriber

His “Beach Calligraphy” was once the subject of an article in the IAMPETH journal.  I’m fascinated by his techniques, innovation and creation of tools, many from found objects, with which he creates beautiful ephemeral art.  Check out some of his reels and photos – they are mesmerizing and satisfying to watch.

You may have seen some of my own Sandserian efforts in the forum. Really, just playing around, but I recently made a SandPen tool I’d copied from Andrew.

Andrew has sent me a DM me about his beach calligraphy workshops:

“I'm coming to the US to present workshops again. So far we have Chicago, Massachusetts, Miami and South Padre Island on board. I'm still putting out feelers with other societies so if you know any up that way, I'll be keen to make contact.”

He doesn’t know I’m putting this up on the forum, but my admiration and respect for his work compels me to try to do him a favor and reach out to see if there are any calligraphy groups near beaches in the USA that may have interest in his workshops.  I personally live in a very rural area, so there isn’t much of an opportunity here, except for the long expanses of beach. 

My Instagram feed posted up a little reel advertising this business, The Flower Letters  The reel featured video of envelopes being prepped for snail-mailing and images of lovely handwriting.  Before going further, I'm in no way affiliated with this business nor have I purchased their products.

This product/service sends its subscribers stories told via "handwritten" letters, two per month sent in snail mail. Subscribers may choose from various themes for the stories.

I've got mixed feelings! I think most of them fall to the positive side, but I'd be interested in hearing what other calligraphers, especially those who earn income via their art think.

POSITIVE -- just off the cuff, not in any particular order:

+ Exposing more people to the beauty and nostalgia of handwritten letters. Maybe this appreciation would lead some to wanting to develop their own writing skills?
+ Perhaps exposing some of a younger generation to the joy of receiving actual mail for the first time in their lives! I've only written a few letters to younger people, but always like to sit back and imagine their response to having received something personally addressed ... and then running to someone who might decipher the cursive for them.   ;D
+ Supports the USPS!
+ There's a calligrapher somewhere behind those letters, so it supports their art.
+ Interesting/unique concept! I'm always intrigued by creative business ideas.
+ Supports a small business.


- OK, I've not been able to explain or clarify my own negative feelings about this ... but mass producing/distributing letters disguised to appear personal feels like a cheapening of the experience. I'm having a somewhat ineffable reaction of "ickyness" and wondered what others who have been in the art field might think. 

PS:  See the "poll" above and vote today!   ;D

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