Author Topic: Not Adhering to Standards  (Read 5337 times)

Offline NicholasC

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Karma: 2
    • View Profile
Not Adhering to Standards
« on: October 03, 2015, 02:23:20 PM »
In my quest to learn Spencerian script I have obtained copies of the Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship theory book as well as all five copy books.  I have read through the theory book and have begun to work in the first copy book, and while arduously writing straight and curved lines over and over again is...oh, so much fun...I decided to download a sheet showing all of the capital and lower case letters, so that I could see the ultimate goal on one page.  While continuing to work on my lines and form I have also been toying around with the actual letters, and I have to say that I really do not like a few of them.  Some of these letters simply do not conform to my ideas of how they should look and feel.  I have come around to the lower case "p" and to the end "t" (both of which look different than what I would normally expect), but a few just do not sit well with me.

I can not get behind the lower case c, f, or x, (although I do not hate the "f" I feel as if it should be more angular and slanty).  I also do not like the upper case C, I, or L.  These letters really bug me and I have decided not to use them as presented.  Both forms of "c" look like "e" to me, the lower case "f" is too loopy, the lower case "x" just isn't x enough for me.  The upper case "I" is not awful, it just doesn't work for me.  It is the upper case "L" that I have the most contempt for.  The upper case "L" looks like an upper case "S" and it is absolutely nothing like I expect. 

I know that I am an adult and can form my letters however I please, but I also know that there seems to be a very rigid mindset among those who teach the Spencerian script (at least among the few that I have encountered).  I have seen folks corrected for the slightest variances and told that their letters are incorrect when the differences are so minuscule as to be nearly indetectable.  I understand the need for a standard when teaching a form of writing, but I also realize that no two people will form letters in the exact same way.  I realize that with time and practice I may even see the light with some of these letters (as I have said, I have come around in regards to the Spencerian "p" and end "t"), but I wouldn't count on it.

I am wondering how many folks out there have opted for different forms of certain letters, while still sticking to the overall alphabet of Spencerian script.  If you're out there then, let me know how you feel about this subject.  If you have chosen to use different letter forms, which ones and why?  Let me know that I am not a lone, stubborn holdout in an otherwise happy Spencerian community.
Rise up in the cafeteria and stab them with your plastic forks!

Offline Blotbot

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1108
  • Karma: 37
  • Follow your bliss.
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #1 on: October 03, 2015, 03:13:21 PM »
While not learning Spencerian,  I have to agree with you.  I think trying to slavishy confom to a very specific letter form kinda sucks the joy out of it.  In addition, one style of script will have several "experts" each with a slightly different style.  I suggest you find an example that you like the most and use it as your guide.

Offline AndyT

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 2093
  • Karma: 150
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #2 on: October 03, 2015, 03:22:31 PM »
I mix and match contentedly.  Bloser's Ornamental Penmanship book is a happy hunting ground for alternative forms, and there are any number of other sources, most of them linked to by IAMPETH.

Specifically, that "c" is a problem and I can't think offhand of anyone who uses it in the normal line of things.  Just drop that absurd loop and be happy.  There are several choices of "f", including the type which terminates in a wedge tail like a "p", and comes in very handy.  Come to think of it, I use three different "f"s as the mood takes me, with variations.  "x" can be made with two loops back to back, which is the way I was taught at school, so that comes easily.  "q" with a "loose" tail is a pain in the neck and plays havoc with spacing, so I substitute a copperplate q with the tail returning to the stem at the baseline.  I did feel a little guilty about that until Brian Walker told me that he does the same.

As for capitals, there are so many variants in the OP sources that you're bound to be able to find something which takes your fancy: the Madarasz book contains some alternative ideas for "L" and "I" for instance.  Alternatively you could look into the business penmanship manuals for simpler capitals, which can look very good if lightly shaded and combined with a careful lower case.

What I don't do is invent new forms, but there is no reason at all why anyone else shouldn't.  It's meant to be practical penmanship, after all.  :)

About teachers demanding accuracy: I do subscribe to that one, especially for lower case.  Spencerian is full of tiny nuances which give it its character, and they need learning.  There are more than a few copperplaters who also do a bit of Spencerian which looks all right at first glance, until you notice the round backed "c"s and "e"s, the shades which are symmetrical when they should be lopsided, and worst of all overly rounded turns.  I've had my knuckles rapped for all of these, and I'm grateful for it.

Offline Erica McPhee

  • Administrator
  • Super Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 6530
  • Karma: 327
  • Be brave. Love life!
    • View Profile
    • Dasherie Magazine
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #3 on: October 05, 2015, 12:14:23 PM »
One of the things I love about Spencerian is its many variations. I have been working with the copy books as well. I enjoy learning the formal letterforms. But rebel that I am (haha), I definitely use variants. There are so many capital variations I have found in the old manuals and some lowercase ones as well.

I dare say you are in very good company.  ;)
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
Dasherie Magazine | Paperwhite Studio | Instagram | Facebook

Offline Intellidepth

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 2
  • Karma: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2015, 02:35:45 AM »
I understand your frustration with all of the letters you have mentioned as they are the same ones I first questioned when I began Spencerian. I sought alternative forms for most of them (including experimenting) and found that there is a certain balance/consistency of form required in order for an entire script to look unified over the course of a page. I have returned to some originals and am still experimenting with others. My personal aim though is to find a handwriting style I will be ultimately comfortable with, rather than take it up as a profession.

Offline NicholasC

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Karma: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #5 on: October 13, 2015, 01:17:18 PM »
I understand your frustration with all of the letters you have mentioned as they are the same ones I first questioned when I began Spencerian. I sought alternative forms for most of them (including experimenting) and found that there is a certain balance/consistency of form required in order for an entire script to look unified over the course of a page. I have returned to some originals and am still experimenting with others. My personal aim though is to find a handwriting style I will be ultimately comfortable with, rather than take it up as a profession.


This is the thing that I am struggling with.  I want the script to look like it goes well together, but I also want the letters to conform to certain ideas that I have for them (thanks a lot grade school).  The mechanics and flow of this script are what ultimately brought me around on the Spencerian p and ending t (although I still struggle to make the ending t look more t-like).  I am sure that I will come around on one or two of these letters (a sight alteration of the upper case L led me to realize why it looks the way it does, and even helped me to come to a middle ground that keeps the feel of the Spencerian version without the exact look). 

Watching YouTube videos helps me with ideas for alterations and how to incorporate those alterations into the overall style, but even with video instruction there is a long road ahead.  I am surprised at how closely my own Palmer cursive mirrors the basics of Spencerian, but I do not want a basic, mono-line Spencerian script.  It is the slightly more ornate characteristics of business letters from the 1800s that I want to emulate.  This will require some lengthening of my letters and a steadier, more confident hand (right now my Spencerian looks like a loopy, comic sans, parkinsonian version of true Spencerian).

Thanks for all of the suggestions and encouragement, I will press on secure in the knowledge that I am not alone in my rebellious desires to alter certain letters.
Rise up in the cafeteria and stab them with your plastic forks!

Offline schin

  • Super Hero Member
  • ******
  • Posts: 1428
  • Karma: 118
  • Las Vegas
    • View Profile
    • Openinkstand
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #6 on: October 13, 2015, 01:44:22 PM »
Definitely not.. I dislike the copybook's c and that silly x, and I don't really like the p too. I look at how the other masters deal with them and use those instead. As long as the overall look is Spencerian-ish, I don't think it's a big deal to do variations! Isn't that the whole point of handwriting?
OPENINKSTAND // website | blog |instagramyoutube

Offline evjo

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 318
  • Karma: 19
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2015, 03:05:54 PM »
The way it was explained to me - or perhaps I mean, the way I understood what the teachers said - ha ha -  good Spencerian is written using the principles of the script rather than matching particular letters.  There is room for variation in both overall style and in specific letterforms. 

For example, the letters slant to the right, and the slant of each letter should match the slant of every other letter.  However, if my letters slant at 52 degrees, and yours are at 49 degrees, both of us are still correct.

Also, the old way of making some letters looks wrong to the modern eye.  The old p is not recognized by modern readers, for example, so most of us ignore it and use the one that looks right to us.

When in doubt, I look to the principles of Spencerian and judge my progress on how well I am following them.  Sad to say, most of the time my knowledge is greater than my ability.  (I'm lazy about drills!)
Ev

Offline InkyFingers

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 718
  • Karma: 55
  • All creations not equal.
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #8 on: November 03, 2015, 12:08:19 AM »


« Last Edit: November 03, 2015, 12:18:10 AM by InkyFingers »

Offline NicholasC

  • Freshman Member
  • *
  • Posts: 34
  • Karma: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #9 on: November 03, 2015, 02:09:10 AM »
I love the look and the flow of Spencerian handwriting.  Platt Spencer made an excellent writing style and I greatly admire him for it, but Spencerian standards are only standard because Spencer decided that his way was the best way.  He liked his way of writing more than anyone else's, and a lot of other people agreed with him.  Those standards were created over time, with experimentation and common sense.  Spencer came up with a way of writing letters worked well with his overall sense of aesthetics and flow, but he started with a different set of standards which he altered, adapted, and improved upon.  His standards for Spencerian handwriting are excellent, but that does not mean that those standards are written in stone or that there are not other ways of writing certain letters without deviating too far from the overall form.  InkyFingers, your "Y" in "definitely" and capital "S" in "sticking", for example, are slightly different from what is presented in Theory of the Spencerian System of Practical Penmanship, but they work well with your overall style.  While your letter forms do not differ widely from standard, you have still taken some minor liberties.  There is nothing wrong with that.  Handwriting is personal, and unique to the individual; no two people write in the same manner.

I have decided that while I do wish to adhere as closely to the standard Spencerian as possible, I have no issues with changing up some of the letter forms for ones that are more suited to my own style and sense of aesthetics.  I would like nice looking handwriting, but I do not plan to use my Spencerian for anything other than daily writing.  I have no one to impress other than myself, and my wife (who insists that if I am going to spend so much time working on my handwriting, that I use it to write letters to her).

On a side note, InkyFingers, I really like your Spencerian, looking at how some of your letters were formed is helping me to improve a few of my own letters, and I appreciate your well written example.  Your Bs and Ls in particular have helped me to see how to better form those letters.  Thank you for that.
Rise up in the cafeteria and stab them with your plastic forks!

Offline InkyFingers

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 718
  • Karma: 55
  • All creations not equal.
    • View Profile
Re: Not Adhering to Standards
« Reply #10 on: November 03, 2015, 09:49:50 AM »