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Messages - Zivio

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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:

[As a foreigner, what does it mean to go "down the rabbit hole" ???

Like Lewis Carroll’s Alice (in Wonderland) following the white rabbit, it means becoming curious about one thing which leads to another, then leading to yet another, to the point of distraction, often resulting in losing track of time … without necessarily answering one’s original curiosity or interest. Janis used the idiom to describe her (first?) experience with exploring ChatGPT, artificial intelligence for answering questions. Believe me, I have chased that A.I. rabbit down the hole more times than I’ll admit!

Would you say “getting sucked in” for something like this? Logophile that I am, I’m interested to learn if there may be an equivalent colloquialism in the UK.

I just went down the rabbit hole!  WHY did you send me on this little mission??!!


JOY loves company!  :-*

... Third - @Zivio I never would have thought to check an AI - so resourceful!!!

You may learn to regret having said anything about this* -- it is an autodidact's dream, and I've been on a huge jag lately! There are many ways to use it, and I've only recently learned that there is something to be said about "prompt craft," that is, understanding and becoming proficient at getting the most effective knowledge access. There are even "Prompt Engineer" positions becoming a thing, which is very surprising to me because just about any search a person might have for typical search engines can also be posed without requiring any particular elegance. 

If you or others are interested, two excellent free resources are Google Bard, or Bing Copilot. Bard is my personal preference, but Copilot is also good. They each have pros and cons, so I select the one most useful for the task at hand:

* I warned you.  And this probably belongs in another thread, but did I mention I WAS EXCITED?!  ::)

Oh, one other resource which possibly describes visual characteristics can be found here:

Doing some random research I encountered this: 

"Several 18th-century manuals like John Seally's "The Running Hand" (1770) showcase the narrow Italian style."

But I have no way to vouch for its accuracy. It may be possible to locate an online or digitized copy, but I failed to locate one. Many larger public library systems support "Interlibrary Loans" and then there's WorldCat® online. From WorldCat® I wasn't able to find the exact title, but there was Seally's "New running hand copies : designed for the use of schools by John Seally, Master of the Academy in Bridgewater Square, London. 9 leaves, engraved throughout." 

For what it's worth, you may be able to gain access at WorldCat® through a local university or other organization.

I just encountered an excerpt* from Jane Austen’s Emma which reminded me of this FF topic:

"The post-office is a wonderful establishment!' said she. - "The regularity and despatch of it! If one thinks of all that it has to do, and all that it does so well, it is really astonishing!'
'It is certainly very well regulated.'
'So seldom that any negligence or blunder appears! So seldom that a letter, among the thousands that are constantly passing about the kingdom, is even carried wrong - and not one in a million, I suppose, actually lost! And when one considers the variety of hands, and of bad hands too, that are to be deciphered, it increases the wonder?'

Indeed, the wonder, and my thoughts exactly! It is one of the very few childhood wonders that has endured the passing of time for me.  I remember marveling, while just a boy, that I could send a letter to anywhere in the USA for PENNIES!  And that hasn’t changed to this day!  Add to my gobsmackery that I had never experienced undelivered mail, either on the receiving or sending end! “How can this even be?!” I puzzled …

In 2022, it was estimated that USPS processed some 420 million pieces of mail PER DAY!  And check out this little chart I’d asked ChatGPT (@jeanwilson) to prepare. My wonder and gratitude expands as I remember that if it weren’t for all the dedicated and hard working staff at our beloved USPS, none of this would happen.

Jane Fairfield’s comment:  "And when one considers the variety of hands, and of bad hands too” also resonates when I consider the “good hands” with which many here address their envelopes! Again, I’m astounded that the few letters I’ve addressed with Spencerian cursive have even arrived at all to their intended destinations. 

*As described in “To the Letter: A Celebration of the Lost Art of Letter Writing,” by Simon Garfield.

Show & Tell / Re: Verve …
« on: January 14, 2024, 03:30:11 PM »
@ …
Good to see you’re allowing your writing to have a therapeutic side and not only the discipline side of it.

Ah, well stated, dear soul. And thank YOU for sharing your story! My mind immediately seized upon an image of two little cookbooks my late Mom had put together for my younger brother and me, in her own neat handwriting. She lost her mother when but a child of six … and shared the endearment she felt when finding and using recipes written in her own Mom’s hand.

That is the “soul of the writing” I might have been trying to express when I couldn’t decide whether  it is what I see, or rather what I feel when encountering some handwriting.  :-*

Spencerian Script / Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
« on: January 07, 2024, 08:27:02 PM »

    As I'm looking on some calligraphers's spencerian work, I noticed that the "heavy" flourishes and the "weight" of it, is mostly on the capitals and the exit strokes. Not so much on the middle of the words/phrases. Does it seem to be a thing or just personal choices?

    I don’t have an exact informed opinion about your question, but if I were to guess …
    • Spencerian, considered a running hand script, is generally written without as many pen lifts as other scripts like Copperplate so doesn’t naturally lend itself to mid-word flourishes.
    • I believe there is also, maybe unintentionally, a nod to the penmen of old whose extant examples of Spencerian OP mainly flourished on majuscules and exit strokes. Perhaps because of reason just stated.
    • Where I do tend to see perhaps a little more flourishing in the middle in Spencerian has typically been from calligraphers who I believe cut their teeth more on Copperplate or other scripts than on a running hand.
    • Also, where one will find more elaborate flourishing in Spencerian that overflows to the middle of words is in traditional “signature writing” where the penman can get really jiggy with it!

    As said before, aesthetic taste and interest should inform your own choices, unless you are very interested in reproducing writing in a more strictly historical way.  But even then, there are examples of beautiful Spencerian that don’t adhere to the “rules” as we think they are.

    And yes, Suzanne gave us, well me for sure, a lifetime supply of ideas for flourishes!


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

    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.

    Spencerian Script / Re: Love for Writing
    « on: December 16, 2023, 12:56:50 PM »
    Hallo, writing is so much fun isn't it? I practice at
    least a hour per day. How much do you all practice?

    Funny you should ask, because I have an exact average to report … although I’ve retired, my previous career kept me immersed in numbers daily, and old habits are hard to break.  So for the 2.75 years from 9/2020 to 6/2023 at which point I stopped keeping track, my average daily practice was 75 minutes, but it ranged anywhere from the rare zero practice days (away from home, unscheduled interruptions) all the way to 4-5 hour days. 

    Spencerian Script / Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
    « on: December 16, 2023, 12:34:54 PM »
    @Despoina … Still not the quote from Platt Rogers himself I had been looking for, but speaks to individuality in the execution of Spencerian script. 

    This is from VARIETY OF STYLE in the volume Spencerian, published by Spencer's sons in 1877 which I’ve excerpted here from Michael Sull’s wonderful new book “Sull’s Manual of Advanced Penmanship,” and I highly recommend for anyone with a bent towards the OP execution of that script!

    ... In presenting definite rules for the proper formation of letters, it is not designed to confine the skill and ingenuity of the writer within narrow limits, nor to prevent the exercise of peculiar tastes.

    We desire, rather, to encourage individuality of style, so far as it may be consistent with propriety, and will, in this chapter, make some suggestions in regard to the changes of which different letters are susceptible, while their proper form is carefully preserved.

    The originator of this system, possessing a love for the beautiful, and a power of invention rarely equaled, was enabled to construct upon the basis of the principles he established, a greater variety of graceful and beautiful forms than would have been possible for a mind less exquisitely organized to design, or a hand less accurately trained to execute. The genius which would have made him a master in any department of art, was directed to penmanship ...

    Spencerian Script / Re: Flourishing in Spencerian
    « on: December 14, 2023, 11:03:23 AM »
    Greetings, @Despoina!  Your question particularly resonates with me, as I am only fairly recently beginning to study, learn and apply flourishes to my Spencerian practice.

    I will, however, offer my standard disclaimer: I’m no expert on the topic and still consider myself very much a beginner, so take the following as on the order of opinion.  And, let’s see, oh yeah, “Your mileage may vary.”

    I recently completed Suzanne Cunningham’s “The Art of the Oval” four-session class on flourishing. Her first session went over the handout, “Rules, Rules, Rules” and presented 12 of them. Her instruction to us was that they all apply equally to Spencerian.

    That said, she demonstrated everything on Copperplate script. Since I haven’t learned that, it was clear that certain of the many flourishes just would not work in the same way on certain Spencerian letters. But then, a big takeaway from the classes is that there are TONS of ways to make flourishes and generate your very own ideas even though certain “rules” (I like the term “guidelines”) apply. 

    I’ve fairly regularly run into the metaphor, “there are no calligraphy police watching your moves/work” here at the Flourish Forum as well as in Suzanne’s very class!  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and for me, especially with flourishes, this seems to be very true. Aesthetic beauty will be experienced differently for each of us. Oh, and Platt Rogers Spencer, himself, welcomed individuality in the writing of his eponymous script! Can’t find the quote for you at the moment, but trust me.

    What is working for me is to look at a lot of examples of calligraphy and Spencerian script — both historical as well as by contemporary adepts. While there may be a lot of similarities and “repeats,” very quickly one finds that flourishes and OP, in general, spans a wide spectrum of expression!  From these examples, I’m discovering my own style and “density” preferences which is informing my practice and performance.

    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 / 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.

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