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Messages - Zivio

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Everyday Handwriting | Penmanship / Re: Letters from 1840!
« on: December 04, 2023, 07:32:21 PM »
PS:  My sister and I were in an email exchange regarding the letters, and she had been able to locate an historical article on the web about a particular school, unnamed in the correspondence, at which Miss Elizabeth had taken a teaching position! The correspondents are not people of any particular historical significance (although research continues,) but it was satisfying to find some contemporary corroboration of some things mentioned.

I was also able to find information about the paper shown with an embossed mark in my original post:

Stationery used on the May 15th 1840 letter from W.M. Hays was embossed with “D. & J. Ames Springfield” manufacturer mark. I wasn’t able to find any current company by that name, but did find this excerpt [Wikipedia]:

David Ames (colonel) (February 2, 1760 - August 6, 1847) served as first superintendent of the Springfield Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts, from 1794 to October 31, 1802. He supplied the American army with shovels and guns during the American Revolution and was commissioned in the militia. Upon completion of service at the Armory, he entered the paper-manufacturing business and by 1838 was proprietor of the most extensive paper manufacturing operation in the United States.

Everyday Handwriting | Penmanship / Re: Family History
« on: December 04, 2023, 07:22:25 PM »
... There is another aspect of this project which is worth realizing. There is no time limit. I took almost the whole of 1980 to compile my 37 pages literally writing paragraph by paragraph as time allowed ...

What a beautiful labor of love and heirloom for your family! Your comment about time limit resonates with me ... I've always marveled at how much may be accomplished by small actions over long periods of time. This thought is often an inspiration to make the most of our moments and to attempt (sadly unsuccessfully for me at times) to put them to as best use possible.

Thanks for sharing this inspirational work!

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 / Re: Compound/complex ending flourish - order of pen strokes?
« on: November 19, 2023, 05:08:21 PM »
Very much enjoying the discussion and additional tips on this! I thought all I needed was an answer for the order of writing it, but so many more things I hadn’t considered are coming up. 

Thanks, all, for coming to the party!

Flourishing / Re: Compound/complex ending flourish - order of pen strokes?
« on: November 18, 2023, 09:31:01 AM »

... But I am not in a hurry...

As I am fond of saying,

“I’m always not in a hurry.”

It doesn’t make sense to want to hasten one’s mortality. You may quote me.  ;D

Flourishing / Re: Birds
« on: November 17, 2023, 10:40:17 PM »
How fun is this?!  Really lovely, @Mary_M!

Thanks for sharing your art with us; it inspires me!


PS: Zoomed in. Could not find stupid tails. Smart, proud tails only.  :-*

Flourishing / Re: Compound/complex ending flourish - order of pen strokes?
« on: November 17, 2023, 10:22:39 PM »
I would have guessed step 1, followed by step 3 continuing to step 2.

Interesting, indeed, Michael! A complex flourish like this is beyond my current level of ability, but I'm enjoying this thought experiment. Erica's suggestion was making a lot of logical sense to me, but I'm learning there's more than one way.

Erica's order of getting the main body of that "C" in position and then connecting/adding the final flourish seemed straightforward, but now I'm curious. Is there something about making the "C" flourish before the main portion that would make it easier to execute or perhaps join up?  I was liking the thought of adding the final flourish in the context of the space the majuscule takes up as an aid to its shape and position. Placing the flourish first before the letter seems like it would just be kind of hanging out there ... what am I missing?  And thanks for playing along!

Flourishing / Re: Compound/complex ending flourish - order of pen strokes?
« on: November 17, 2023, 01:48:43 PM »
Thanks! I thought of this in my sleep last night…

I do some of my best work sleeping! ;D  Nothing like it to engage that second brain (subconscious)!

Yet another great tip that would never have occurred to me, lover of “spontaneous handwriting”* that I am!  I must say, because of that love, or perhaps how it informs my practice, my internal reaction to first doing the “C” in pencil was one of a bit of resistance.   But it makes SO MUCH SENSE!  And there’s no question that a “compound flourish” like in this example just cannot be executed so beautifully without planning and every assist that may be brought to bear.

I know I keep referring back to my interest of practical handwriting. I love the more restrained bits of OP flourishes, the ones that really do look like little flights of the pen on exits and entrances but still suggest spontaneity. But from time to time I would dearly love to highlight a word or two in the style of this example!  Coincidentally, I fairly recently did write two different letters of encouragement with that very “Congratulations” word in them!  The best I was able to bring to bear on highlighting this sentiment was placing it on it’s own line with a flourished majuscule. Baby steps for baby beginner here. I was very self-satisfied to read Michael Sull’s suggestion that one might bring attention to certain words in a written work by simply capitalizing, not just proper nouns and those at the beginning of sentences, but ANY where some interesting emphasis may be brought. In the few notes or letters I’ve written, I had actually done this myself, instinctively, so I loved Sull’s affirmation. It reminded me of certain 18th century printed documents that (amusingly) would capitalize certain words, almost randomly.

Always grateful for you attention and experience,

* I just learned that “spontaneous handwriting” terminology from Sull’s new book! Perfect, and YAY!

Flourishing / Re: Compound/complex ending flourish - order of pen strokes?
« on: November 16, 2023, 09:31:33 PM »
Ah, perfect @Erica McPhee!  I’m only now getting into some baby flourishing, certainly nothing as complex as this!  Recently took Suzanne Cunningham’s “The Art of the Oval” and learned some good stuff.

Having approached Spencerian as everyday handwriting, (spontaneous writing, as I just learned Sull calls this!) I think my brain was having trouble getting past pen lifts, rejoins, touch ups and adding shade after … thinking very linearly.  But it just didn’t make any sense to me that those flourishes could just hover out in the ether and then writing the word after.  I’m certain if I’d started with Copperplate or some other script this may have been self-evident. 

I’m learning so many new things from “Sull’s Manual of Advanced Penmanship,” and sending thanks again for putting me on to it!  “Book learning” for now, but I have aspirations …

PS: Your “real quick” is blowing my little penmanship mind! I totally get that you might not call it your “best work” but from where I sit, that would be an impressive accomplishment.

Flourishing / Re: Compound/complex ending flourish - order of pen strokes?
« on: November 15, 2023, 07:41:22 PM »
@Cyril Jayant  Wow -- thanks for taking the time to draw this out!  If I may ask a follow-up question: 

The long flourish strokes themselves were not as big a mystery to me. In fact, I think I could make them in either direction: coming off the C, left to right as you show, and then rejoining the exit stroke of the "s."  Here are the two options I can see:

I could also see first writing "most" of the "C" stopping at the shaded portion just before the second crossing, then "ongratulations" and come out of the final "s" and work backwards over the full word and rejoining the "C" on the thick shade.  The rejoin on the thick shade would be easier to camouflage, and the main benefit, though, is you've got the full word already written out so your flourish crossings can be spaced appropriately and might be easier to work with the balance. 

Write the "C" and build the the long continuous flourish, then write "ongratulations."  Just typing this isn't making sense to me. Seems it would be horribly difficult to get the spacing right, and then that final rejoin on the "s" would be precarious.

I'm honestly guessing I may have just answered my own question, because option 1 seems the most logical. I think it's the effect of that "infinite continuous flourish" trick that was baffling me.  And I also think that's the magic effect intended!  It just seemed so weird to me because I've never hazarded anything like this yet.  Also, reading further in the text, Sull does talk about rejoin and retouch technique.  He just hadn't been clear on this example, nor several other similar ones on that same page. 

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!

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Re: end of word extension
« on: November 14, 2023, 04:21:48 PM »

… of course those stroke have no rule, but how I can get sort of sense on come up with those style?

Greetings, @Miranda_J -

First, I will offer my disclaimer that I still consider myself at the beginner stage of learning Spencerian — especially flourishing! But I do feel qualified to offer my personal experience that may be helpful:

I, too, have been very interested in those “exit flourishes,” and I want to develop the more ornamental style of OP (ornamental penmanship) Spencerian script.

What I have learned, so far, mainly by examining many different examples of historical documents and penmanship manuals of the time, that flourishes are very much a matter of the penman’s personal taste.  But in addition to the vast variety of flourishes to be found, I have seen that many are similar, or appear to have been influenced by a certain “standard.”

As you say, “there is no ‘rule’” and I completely agree! The only restriction, if there is one, is to strive for flourishes that are as aesthetically pleasing as possible.  Yes, what pleases one person may be different for another (“beauty is in the eye of the beholder”) but there are common practices that will support this: a sense of balance, choice of shading options, preserving the legibility of the text, etc.

How to go about coming up with the flourishes?  What has worked, is working, with me is to find lots of examples online or in books of the variety of treatments. Discover for yourself which suit your personal fancy and appear the most interesting or beautiful to your eye. For me, I tend to enjoy the more restrained, or downplayed flourishes. For another person it may be the more ornate, the better!  Nobody can decide this for you.  I make screenshots of those that appeal to me and capture them in a single Word document or whatever software tool you have available for future reference.  Besides finding what you like, you will likely begin developing a “sense” of how different flourishes are used under different conditions or needs. From there you will have a great start for not only understanding “how it works” but “what will work best for you.”

I could provide links to some great online sources, (many can be found on the forum) but instead I suggest this Google search:

ornamental penmanship is an AMAZING resource for free downloads and/or loans of some remarkable penmanship content!  With the above search you will find a number of the best copywrite free original textbooks from “The Golden Age of Penmanship!”  Besides finding many examples of flourishing treatments, you will also find lessons on how to create them! 

I won’t go into how to learn to make them here — plenty of resources on this very forum for that! As a beginner myself in flourishing, though, I will say that some basic “figure 8” drills have been most helpful for developing skill in making smooth lines. From there, for me, it has been mainly a process of copying the flourish I want to learn, FIRST IN PENCIL, many repetitions, and comparing my attempts closely with my exemplar. Also helpful is to just learn one or two simple ones to begin, and start using them often until they become very familiar before adding another to the repertoire. Having a solid foundation first will make every subsequent flourish all that much easier to learn! It isn’t a race … begin slowly.

Hope this helps, and wishing you best of success in your and/or your children’s progress!


The Library / Re: Sull’s Manual of Advanced Penmanship
« on: November 12, 2023, 08:31:20 PM »

… I usually dive right into a book full force and try out things here and there but with this one, I am reading it through like a novel first and will then start practicing each technique…

@Erica McPhee This comment above made me smile … I am a person who will first read guidebooks as novels to kind of set the learning stage, then get into technique. Well, and not just books, but user manuals for any new products I’ve purchased! My wife finds it amusing that I take almost more joy in the “reading materials” that come than with the products themselves.  ;D But like you, she’s a “dive right in” kinda person.

Just had to post that I’ve received my copy of the book, and what a gem! I’d seen the very negative Amazon review that I’d felt you may have gently challenged in your own review, and I agree with your comments. I think the reviewer was somehow put out by what they’d seen as some sort of quality deficits, but I totally disagree. OK, maybe the black and white imagery is not as beautiful as some other “coffee table books”on calligraphy, but the CONTENT! Even my cursory flip through has left me with anticipatory excitement! I’d also personally benefitted so much from Sull’s “Learning Spencerian Script” which may appear similarly, well humble, that the images the negative reviewer posted just didn’t bother me at all.  Did I mention CONTENT?   ;D

Along the same lines, c’mon, this book was only about $25 USD. When I consider the author’s efforts and expertise, if I’m able to glean only one good idea from this work, the return on investment is fabulous. From what I’ve seen, there will be many, many more, and this guide has the potential to inform my practice way beyond my current abilities and likely through the end of my remaining lifetime.

Another beautiful surprise was that the Amazon description said “spiralbound.” The “Learning Spencerian …” is also of this format, which has been great for study. But unlike that very small volume, I had little expectation that this new volume would’ve come with a very nice binder style hardcover. I probably could’ve figured based on the size and number of pages it would pack a wallop, but once again I feel like it is a true bargain! I remember decades ago telling my daughter about the huge value of a used book we’d once purchased when I described it in terms of entertainment hours per dollar! Likewise, when I think of the hours of a master penman’s attention per dollar for this work?  Priceless. 

For anyone with an interest in Spencerian script, you just can’t lose with this purchase.

Inktober 2023 / Re: Day 24 - 2023: Shallow
« on: November 10, 2023, 07:12:21 PM »

Then I get some visual puns in: (hey, @Zivio - this might be your sort of thing; not exactly pedantry, but some intellectual free-associating)


@K-2  Yes, absolutely my sort of thing! Among other things, the study of the "science of creativity," we'll call it, captured my attention for many, many years. Free-association, intellectual, intuitive, or happenchance, was very much the hallmark of many techniques that I'd passed along in our work team trainings to improve our collaborative and individual creative problem-solving! 

Thanks, for the tag! I'm always interested in what you have to say, and learning and laughing along!

The Library / Re: Sull’s Manual of Advanced Penmanship
« on: November 10, 2023, 06:47:28 PM »
Thanks @Erica McPhee for the detailed review! I'd recently seen Michael announce it on his FaceBook page and had debated whether to purchase it.

Like @Mary_M I have and continue to use Michael and Debra Sull's "Learning to Write Spencerian Script," which was a huge game-changer for me! Until then, I'd only had the Mott's Spencerian Theory and copybook reprints for my first year of practice and very, very little input from anyone to inform my practice. Michael had also sent along a personal nameplate in the manner of penman masters/teachers of old and what appearted to be a quickly jotted off note. I was in awe!

As I've (often) mentioned on the forum my interest in Spencerian is its use for everyday handwriting and correspondence, with some definite OP flair but perhaps only conservatively flourished. "Learning to Write ..." definitely fit the bill for me as a most practical guide and manual.

While this new publication seems way too advanced for my own aspirations and current level of skill, I've always been one to be on the alert for, and open to, anything that appears on my radar when learning new things. I also very much like to support the arts and artists and anyone who works to advance the art and craft of handwriting ... SO I ORDERED IT!  ;D

I'm certain that if nothing it will be a great source of inspiration and interest. 

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