Author Topic: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)  (Read 8404 times)

Offline tintenfuchs

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Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« on: June 02, 2014, 04:54:23 AM »
I have a confession to make. I don't like bird flourishes. And it is eating me up from the inside, so I CONFESS!!  :'(
Now stone me.

No, seriously, what is it with the birds? While I understand the artistry and skill involved, I find birds perched on beatiful writing really, really weird. Does anyone know where this tradition comes from and why it evolved in the first place?

And are there any alternatives? Are there, like, cat or fox flourishes?  ;D
Natascha
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Offline AndyT

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #1 on: June 02, 2014, 06:55:13 AM »
Know what you mean - I got the Lupfer book recently and the plates run to a murmuration of birds, about two dozen quills (bits of birds), a dragon (scaly, fire-breathing bird), a stag and a bunny rabbit.  The overall effect is a bit Hitchcock.

Maybe the American bird flourish tradition started out with quills - an obvious motif for certificates and diplomas?  I'm not bowled over with a lot of them myself, despite the virtuosity, but Blanchard's humming birds are wonderful and don't look dated to me.  For a bit of relief from the avian theme perhaps you might like this wonderful book courtesy of Brush My Fennec, which includes dogs, knights on horseback, fish, vases of flowers, angels and suckling pigs ... as well as birds.  And you get an owl, which makes a change.

Offline Nickkih

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #2 on: June 02, 2014, 09:51:24 AM »
Omg Natasha Me too!!! I'm not a flourish bird fan at all. I just don't get it
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Offline joi

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #3 on: June 02, 2014, 09:56:03 AM »
ha LOL ditto!  not that they creep me out or anything, it's just i have thought why is it always a bird?  i've seen some other animals recently here and LOVE a dragon...now that is cool.  maybe because my husband calls me the Asian Dragon when he is in the dog house...

Offline tintenfuchs

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #4 on: June 02, 2014, 12:00:54 PM »
Let's start a support group!
Natascha
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Offline Linda Y.

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #5 on: June 02, 2014, 12:23:34 PM »
haha, thanks Natascha for your confession! They are really beautiful and intricate and when I look at them I can't believe they were done by a human!! I like to admire them but don't think I would ever want to make one.

Offline schin

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #6 on: June 02, 2014, 04:17:18 PM »
It was bird flourishing that sparked my interest in calligraphy when I was a kid. But though I admire and love them, I just don't do them much either. I feel they are great for practice and exercise though.

There is a funny article on Iampeth by WE Dennis about flourishing.. seems like he really hates it (eventhough his bird flourishes are amazing!), here is an excerpt: http://www.iampeth.com/text_docs/Dennis%20on%20the%20Delicate%20Art%20of%20Flourishing.pdf
Quote
You see I am now on my vacation and I wouldn't make a swan, bird, or any other crazy
thing for a hundred dollar bill. As to this fame (?) as a flourisher, I wouldn't give a row of
pins for that, you understand, In fact I am inclined to think that it is a sort of stigma on a
person's character; he's a sort of leper in the eyes of right-minded people. Time was when
I considered a fellow who could flourish a swan, a bigger man by far than any monarch
that ever sat on the throne, but now I will be blamed if I do not think he is about the
smallest vegetable that grows. If I had a boy and caught him flourishing a bird or any
other thing, I'd ship him on a three years' whaling voyage and give him a good whaling
before he started. If he learned to flourish a harpoon and stab a whale in a tender spot,
then I'd spend my last dollar to set him up in a soft snap where he could make an easy
living.
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Offline Moya

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #7 on: June 02, 2014, 08:04:52 PM »
Quote
You see I am now on my vacation and I wouldn't make a swan, bird, or any other crazy
thing for a hundred dollar bill. As to this fame (?) as a flourisher, I wouldn't give a row of
pins for that, you understand, In fact I am inclined to think that it is a sort of stigma on a
person's character; he's a sort of leper in the eyes of right-minded people. Time was when
I considered a fellow who could flourish a swan, a bigger man by far than any monarch
that ever sat on the throne, but now I will be blamed if I do not think he is about the
smallest vegetable that grows. If I had a boy and caught him flourishing a bird or any
other thing, I'd ship him on a three years' whaling voyage and give him a good whaling
before he started. If he learned to flourish a harpoon and stab a whale in a tender spot,
then I'd spend my last dollar to set him up in a soft snap where he could make an easy
living.

Schin, I love that SO MUCH.  Thank you for the link!

I think I'm going to try to use the phrase "I wouldn't give a row of pins for that" in everyday conversation as often as I possibly can...

Offline Linda Y.

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #8 on: June 03, 2014, 12:44:35 AM »
It was bird flourishing that sparked my interest in calligraphy when I was a kid. But though I admire and love them, I just don't do them much either. I feel they are great for practice and exercise though.

There is a funny article on Iampeth by WE Dennis about flourishing.. seems like he really hates it (eventhough his bird flourishes are amazing!), here is an excerpt: http://www.iampeth.com/text_docs/Dennis%20on%20the%20Delicate%20Art%20of%20Flourishing.pdf
Quote
You see I am now on my vacation and I wouldn't make a swan, bird, or any other crazy
thing for a hundred dollar bill. As to this fame (?) as a flourisher, I wouldn't give a row of
pins for that, you understand, In fact I am inclined to think that it is a sort of stigma on a
person's character; he's a sort of leper in the eyes of right-minded people. Time was when
I considered a fellow who could flourish a swan, a bigger man by far than any monarch
that ever sat on the throne, but now I will be blamed if I do not think he is about the
smallest vegetable that grows. If I had a boy and caught him flourishing a bird or any
other thing, I'd ship him on a three years' whaling voyage and give him a good whaling
before he started. If he learned to flourish a harpoon and stab a whale in a tender spot,
then I'd spend my last dollar to set him up in a soft snap where he could make an easy
living.

But Schin, your bird flourishes are so wonderful! I feel that as a woman artist/illustrator/calligrapher, you bring a delicate style and sensibility that cannot be reproduced by male calligraphers. Like when I see Jake Weidmann's birds, they have a strong, masculine look to them. Yours are soooo delicate and sweet and pretty.

And that quote is hilarious!! I need to read some of the old Penmen's Journals like ones you have shared on your blog.

Offline Estefa

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #9 on: June 03, 2014, 05:03:25 AM »
Honestly, I am also not a huge fan of bird (or other pictoral) flourishing. I think it's often borderline kitsch. Although of course I see the skill required to do that properly ;).

In van den Horicks Schreibmeisterbuch there are tons of strange flourishes, among others faces, angels, lions (close enough to a cat?, on page 4v), bulls, elephants, some more birds like doves, eagles, owls (fighting!!), naked women, stags, some sort of wild cats, horses, dogs (13v), naked men, wild boars (?), even more birds like parrots and herons bearded giants with clubs, camels, unidentifiable animals with or without horns, kids, double-headed eagles, unicorns (29v) it's all there, around 1630 in the Netherlands.

It's possible I posted this some time ago, but it can't hurt to link to this again ;). So up there's the link, you still need to click on the picture of the book cover, and unfortunately the navigaton of the viewer is a bit annoying but I think it's worth a look.

There are also the most astonishing "abstract" flourishes.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2014, 07:24:50 AM by Estefa »
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Offline tintenfuchs

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #10 on: June 03, 2014, 05:29:17 AM »
bearded giants with clubs

Why flourish birds when you can have those?
Natascha
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Offline Estefa

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2014, 06:42:18 AM »
Not so fitting on a wedding invitation ;D???
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Offline tintenfuchs

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2014, 07:10:18 AM »
Not so fitting on a wedding invitation ;D???
Depends on the wedding theme!  ::)
Natascha
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Offline Starlee

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #13 on: June 03, 2014, 08:45:45 AM »
I may be mistaken (I often am), but didn't the bird flourishes start out as a way for master penmen to show off their skill and, well, fluff their own feathers back when they were in high demand as an attempt to attract new students/clients? In that sense, animal flourishes are kind of egotistical anyway...pretty as art, but not practical.
Star

Offline YokePenCo

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Re: Bird flourishes (plus a confession)
« Reply #14 on: June 03, 2014, 03:39:39 PM »
From my understanding the bird flourish stemmed from the use of quills as pens. It was taking a quill image to the "next level" and was considered by the Golden Age of Penmanship as a way for a penman to show off his skill.

I think today it's a reflection to the past as a way of honoring those master penman.

In the words of Beatrice....."I unfriend you!" - ya bird haters, lol :P hehe (Sorry I'm still a fan of the bird flourish)
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