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General Categories => Calligraphy Guilds => Topic started by: JERRY TRESSER on August 09, 2017, 01:54:04 PM

Title: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on August 09, 2017, 01:54:04 PM
At one time in sunny Fla, we had 8 guilds. Now we have 3 and one of them is almost on the brink of being lost.  I was wondering if there are any statistics of guilds that are gone. How much of an influence did individualized learning from videos contribute to this sad  situation, not to mention a continuous flow of one day "become a calligrapher " workshops . Comments would be appreciated. Some groups seem to be doing fine, but some are just currently being managed .  I fear for the community as its always been volunteer work and a love for the art that kept these guilds afloat.  Things are a changing !   JERRY
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Katie.R on November 27, 2017, 01:55:29 PM
Hello there Jerry,

I know this is reviving an old post but I can't help but comment. Your post made me look into the Florida calligraphy guilds; much to my surprise, the Coastal Calligraphers Guild meets just north of where I live! When I am home from school this summer I would definitely like to attend one of the workshops that they hold.

I do agree with you that video learning has reduced the "demand" for groups such as calligraphy guilds. Why attend a meeting and get real-time feedback, when you can watch a free video? Unfortunately, I feel that this is the way many people approach learning new topics. While all these new technological capabilities, it jeopardizes some of the more "old school" art forms and learning methodologies.

On a positive note, I do think that the resurgence of interest in hand lettering could be very beneficial to calligraphy guilds. Many younger people are coming to appreciate calligraphy. Calligraphy guilds have the chance to draw in all these new people who are interested. Things are changing, yes. But I think that should calligraphy guilds adapt to these changes, the decline of participation should cease.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Erica McPhee on November 27, 2017, 02:05:28 PM
Thanks for reviving this thread @Katie.R ! I didn't see it the first time around. More good news... I live just south of the Coastal Calligraphers Guild and manage their website! So we must be close to being neighbors! I am always looking for calligrafriends! I'm currently redoing my studio but once it is finished, you have an open invitation to come visit.  ;D

We are a very active guild in Sarasota and in Orlando. In Sarasota we are getting new members on a regular basis. We are still a somewhat older crowd but I hope as you mentioned, with the interest in calligraphy, we will continue to see new younger members.

I would think with Ringling nearby, we would get more interested letter lovers.

I hope others will respond with the current status of of their guilds, too.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Katie.R on November 27, 2017, 05:14:39 PM
@Erica McPhee What a small world! Has the Sarasota Guild reached out to Ringling at all? I can't help but wondering if the college has a club for students related to calligraphy and/or lettering. If they do, this would be a great way to "advertise" to new members.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Estefa on November 28, 2017, 05:05:53 AM
Living in a country where calligraphy guilds are unknown, I must say I cannot see online learning etc. in that negative light only. Without the internet and the possibility to connect (and to learn) online, my interest in calligraphy, especially pointed pen, would probably have waned or at least, learning would have been much harder. Like this, I had the possibility to learn from international reknown teachers like Harvest Crittenden for example. I cannot at this point in my life travel to the US to attend conferences and classes. So these online communities and classes have been a huge benefit for me!

Furthermore, while I do not organise a guild, I have organized calligraphy meet-ups here where I live, and just last week I attended a meet-up in Berlin that a collegue of mine organized! It's not as formal as a guild (as far as I understand) just a group of people meeting to write together and getting to know each other. We had people there from many different countries so my friend held the meeting in English and German it was quite amazing honestly, and also this would have been impossible to organize without the internet :).

Also I plan on offering online classes. Even inside Germany people cannot always travel half around the country for workshops, and I have been asked so I will.

I do understand that you live in a very different situation, @JERRY TRESSER and I understand your frustration. But in my experience, some people that start out only being interested in fancy modern stuff will get hooked on the more traditional styles and I am sure some of the guilds will be revived!!
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Erica McPhee on November 28, 2017, 09:08:03 AM
I would agree @Estefa - it does not have to be an "in person" vs internet situation. We are so fortunate to have online classes and videos! And as well, there is definitely something to be said for meeting in person, whether it be via a formal guild or a casual meet up.

I think the larger "issue" is really one of people being less social "in person." And that is in all cases, not just calligraphy guilds. Of course, it is almost all the younger crowd has come to know. But those who have met calligra-friends in person know it offers something an online experience just can't.

I also think there is a tinge of "something" that calligraphers who have been in business for 20+ years feel with all of the newcomers and businesses being started. It has no doubt watered the market (in America) but that is a discussion we have had over and over.

To be sure, there is a volume of benefit in both online learning and guilds.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: arherbgm on November 28, 2017, 11:32:52 AM
If it were not for FF, books, YouTube, and other online resources I'd have lost some motivation.  Always looking for more, of course --- "in person" meetups not happening near me - closest is Philadelphia Calligraphers' Society.  Private instruction is cost prohibitive for me; online classes, videos, and workshops are reasonably priced.  Haven't looked - are there any threads in FF with compilation of the better online things available, or recommendations?

Soooo...that said:  I'm going to hold you to your promise, Estefa! ;)  I find that I sit and stare at others' work as well as whatever I can find with so many of you fine calligraphers in action.  I'll look forward to your online instruction!!

If anyone located from Maryland Eastern Shore to the Delaware coast out there wants to give a shout out --- no problem.

Thanks,
Arlen 
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Erica McPhee on November 28, 2017, 01:24:57 PM
Arlen, @arherbgm , if you go to the  Flourish FAQ (http://www.theflourishforum.com/faq/) page on the base site, and scroll down to Tutorials, there are a list of various tutorials available on Flourish.

There is also this thread:  Workshops & Conference News (http://theflourishforum.com/forum/index.php?board=16.0) which lists various workshops both online and in person when someone sees it and shares.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on November 28, 2017, 03:39:08 PM
Thank you for contributing.  JERRY
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Estefa on November 29, 2017, 02:42:16 AM

Soooo...that said:  I'm going to hold you to your promise, Estefa! ;)  I find that I sit and stare at others' work as well as whatever I can find with so many of you fine calligraphers in action.  I'll look forward to your online instruction!!


Thanks a lot for your kind encouragement, Arlen it may take a while, as I'll start probably with a German class ;)
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on November 29, 2017, 12:42:28 PM
"I do understand that you live in a very different situation, @JERRY TRESSER and I understand your frustration. But in my experience, some people that start out only being interested in fancy modern stuff will get hooked on the more traditional styles and I am sure some of the guilds will be revived!!" 

  No frustration, i was making an inquiry about the decline of guilds here in the US.  Currently there seems to be a more vibrant interest in the pointed pen then the traditional broad edged pen. I recently visited a website where over 100 different oblique holders being offered from a variety of small businesses. Not to mention a host of imported Cola type pens from all over the world.  Not sure what to make of it. 

This much i can tell you. traditional broad edged lettering is steeped in a vast treasure  of manuscripts that resides in the best libraries in the world. Although these seems to be a renewed interest in the pointed pen or should i say explosion, the loss of guilds and societies in the US has been eroded.  Personally, i found here in South Fla. the emphasis seems to be more crafty in its approach . This has contributed to the lack of participation of those interested in historical script education.  Just my thoughts.   
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on November 29, 2017, 01:21:18 PM
Estifa,   " Living in a country where calligraphy guilds are unknown "          just out of curiosity, what country are you from ?
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Estefa on November 29, 2017, 02:05:44 PM
Sorry for misunderstanding, @JERRY TRESSER.

I am under the impression that the interest in calligraphy, lettering and handwriting is growing, not diminishing. Some of those who start with more contemporean approaches might get interested in more traditional styles. Maybe the places and ways in which people meet and learn are changing, but I don't see calligraphy dying out. There were always, in all sorts of art and craft, more hobbyist and more deeper ways of practicing. I can see nothing wrong with that.

But maybe I understood wrong again, and that was not what you were saying at all ;). As @Erica McPhee said, we had the discussion traditional vs. modern quite some times already here
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Estefa on November 29, 2017, 02:07:18 PM
Estifa,   " Living in a country where calligraphy guilds are unknown "          just out of curiosity, what country are you from ?

I am from Germany I thought I's mentioned that, sorry :).

We do have a rich calligraphic tradition of course, but it's very differently practiced and organized than from what I hear from the USA.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on November 29, 2017, 02:46:40 PM
Estefa, a "rich calligraphic tradition" is a significant understatement considering the pioneers that emerged from the German influence, especially in Romans and Blackletter.  I was fortunate enough to study with Hermann Zapf in both of his master classes in the late 70s and early 80s..   There is no discussion between traditional and Modern if we are using tools based on pressure as opposed to a fixed pen angle.  As i said in one of my earlier posts, the pointed pen industry and that is what it has turned,  into seems to have an over abundance on the oblique holder. The broad edged pen which is what i use is a quill or reed.   It has remained so for a thousand years !

The hands of the broad edged user have historical implications that involve evolution , from the first century well into the 14th century. The pointed pen does not provide that kind of history.  I know some very talented Spencerian writers and authors  who are magnificent in there letter writing capabilities.  I do have an appreciation for the pen manipulation of the thicks and thins, but after 45 years of lettering i am more sensitive to the historical aspects of the alphabet and how it progressed.  I find this lacking completely with the pointed pen.. The holder has become a cottage industry with prices that are bewildering to me. I dont appreciate the significance , but with new nibs constantly coming out onto the market and springs to control the ink flow is amazing. 

Actually, lower case pointed pen letters are more fluid and really require a good grasp and knowledge of ligatures and attaching one letter to another.  Early capital pointed pen letters(15th century)  were based on competition . This also held true for Blackletter broad edged pens lettering especially in the Germanic states. The major difference is that broad edged lettering evolved into space saving forms such as Gothic.  Vellum gave us paper.  Out of need and expense.   That does not exist in pointed pen lettering.  It does not take away some of the exquisite writing i see, but space is not part of the occupancy of letterforms.  Take care, JERRY
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Erica McPhee on November 29, 2017, 06:42:52 PM
I find this discussion very ironic considering @Estefa is one of the calligraphers I know to have put great care and extensive in-depth study into the history of calligraphy, including Blackletter.  ;)

Jerry, I do agree the increase in interest (for a large part) in calligraphy has been in pointed pen and brush lettering. As Stefanie mentioned, an interest in broad edge and broad edge hands, which lends itself to more traditional calligraphy for art pieces, is often fostered once the person becomes interested in delving deeper into the study of calligraphy.

In terms of guilds, versus the discussion of pointed pen versus broad edge, art versus craft, etc., it may be true that the modern movement of calligraphy is less focused on meeting in guilds. On the other hand, I have seen some doozy "group disagreements" in more than one guild which has led to the break up or disbanding of the guild. It may also be a generational gap. With just a couple of exceptions, I am still the youngest person in our guild (and I am 48)!

I also think the formality of the guild is less appealing to the younger crowd. It's intimidating. The first 10 years of my time spent in guilds, at workshops, and even online yahoo groups held fast to that intimidation factor. This generation isn't interested in that. And with literally thousands of people all over the world in on the discussion online, versus the 20 or 30 in a once-a-month meeting, I'm not sure if guilds will continue to grow or not.

I certainly appreciate the opportunity guilds offer in terms of bringing in highly skilled teachers. But there is definitely something to be said for online classes I can pause, rewatch, and take at my leisure.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Estefa on November 30, 2017, 02:39:55 PM
Estefa, a "rich calligraphic tradition" is a significant understatement considering the pioneers that emerged from the German influence, especially in Romans and Blackletter.  I was fortunate enough to study with Hermann Zapf in both of his master classes in the late 70s and early 80s..   

You're very lucky to have studied with Hermann Zapf!

There is no discussion between traditional and Modern if we are using tools based on pressure as opposed to a fixed pen angle. 

Well, there I disagree with you. A quill is also, accordingly cut, quite the flexible tool. I've seen Hermann Zapf writing with pressure and release and quite a lot of pen manipulation, both techniques essential to writing with a pointed nib as well as for some broad pen styles.

As i said in one of my earlier posts, the pointed pen industry and that is what it has turned,  into seems to have an over abundance on the oblique holder.

Well it's just that some people don't just like beautiful writing, they also like beautiful tools it's simply a fashion imho (I also own a number of pretty holders, straight and oblique. Two of the straight are from the 19th century and made of silver respectively ivory. For writing broad edge, however, a quill is my preferred instrument as well!). Btw I recently saw in Venice a several centuries year old luxury writing set for a prince, made of ivory, rare woods and inlaid with precious stones and gold.

The broad edged pen which is what i use is a quill or reed.   It has remained so for a thousand years !

The hands of the broad edged user have historical implications that involve evolution , from the first century well into the 14th century.

I am acutely aware of that ;).

The pointed pen does not provide that kind of history.

On the contrary, what I see, is one history and evolution of Western writing styles, branching out, changing, evolving and developing in such a variety of forms that it is a wonder and a treasure. I don't get the near contempt with that many traditional calligraphers seem to regard pointed pen which was also not invented just yesterday. In the light of work by masters like Van de Velde etc., who sort of led the way to the developement of later pointed pen styles, I cannot understand how you see pointed pen styles lacking historical context. (@sybillevz maybe you can provide some more examples ;)?)

(I know that some pointed pen calligraphers claim themselves that theirs is the one and only way something that I also wholeheartily disagree with.)

I know some very talented Spencerian writers and authors  who are magnificent in there letter writing capabilities.  I do have an appreciation for the pen manipulation of the thicks and thins, but after 45 years of lettering i am more sensitive to the historical aspects of the alphabet and how it progressed.  I find this lacking completely with the pointed pen.

Why? Later you write about early pointed pen letters from the 15th century. So 500 years doesn't count as history?! Sorry, you're just loosing me there maybe it's my bad English.

Actually, lower case pointed pen letters are more fluid and really require a good grasp and knowledge of ligatures and attaching one letter to another.  Early capital pointed pen letters(15th century)  were based on competition . This also held true for Blackletter broad edged pens lettering especially in the Germanic states. The major difference is that broad edged lettering evolved into space saving forms such as Gothic.  Vellum gave us paper.  Out of need and expense.   That does not exist in pointed pen lettering.  It does not take away some of the exquisite writing i see, but space is not part of the occupancy of letterforms.  Take care, JERRY

I find this discussion very ironic considering @Estefa is one of the calligraphers I know to have put great care and extensive in-depth study into the history of calligraphy, including Blackletter.  ;)

Thanks for this, @Erica McPhee I hope I do, and I usually don't show my broad pen efforts publiquely because I think they are not yet good enough. Doesn't mean I don't practice ;)!

In terms of guilds, versus the discussion of pointed pen versus broad edge, art versus craft, etc., it may be true that the modern movement of calligraphy is less focused on meeting in guilds. On the other hand, I have seen some doozy "group disagreements" in more than one guild which has led to the break up or disbanding of the guild. It may also be a generational gap. With just a couple of exceptions, I am still the youngest person in our guild (and I am 48)!

I also think the formality of the guild is less appealing to the younger crowd. It's intimidating. The first 10 years of my time spent in guilds, at workshops, and even online yahoo groups held fast to that intimidation factor. This generation isn't interested in that. And with literally thousands of people all over the world in on the discussion online, versus the 20 or 30 in a once-a-month meeting, I'm not sure if guilds will continue to grow or not.

I certainly appreciate the opportunity guilds offer in terms of bringing in highly skilled teachers. But there is definitely something to be said for online classes I can pause, rewatch, and take at my leisure.

Very interesting insights regardig guilds, Erica thank you!
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: sybillevz on November 30, 2017, 03:24:41 PM
Sorry, I didn't really take the time to read the whole thread but I just wanted to respond to @Estefa about the history of pointed pen scripts... 
The first thing I want to say is that English Round Hand is the result of an evolution :

Chancery (formal) > chancery cursive > "Italian hand" (derived from Lucas Materot's interpretation of Cresci's chancery cursive in 1608) > French Bastard (1630's) + Flemish style of swashes (Velde in 1605) > English Round Hand (ca.1710) > modern simplified RH (Engrosser's Script) from the early 19th century > Spencerian > Multiple variations and mixes of the 2 (Madarasz script for ex).

This evolution was driven by the need to write fast and in a very legible way. Because the Italian hand was faster than Chancery script, it took over as the "main hand used for business" in the 17th century all over Europe. The French Ronde was even more legible and started being used outside of France in the last decades of the 17th century... and it influenced the British writing masters who developed their own "patriotic" script.
 
Because the RH was composed of very simple forms (fast and legible), it eventually supplanted all other scripts as a handwriting system. Remember this happened at a time where more and more people had access to a basic education. Reading and writing became part of the curriculum in schools around the end of the 18th century, teachers needed to have simple models to teach so they didn't spend too much time on this stuff.

This need for simplification of the scripts is what drove most of the history of writing. This is true even for medieval "calligraphic" scripts.

Now, when Edward Johnston "revived" the art of calligraphy in the early 20th century, he judged that only the formal writing styles could be considered "calligraphic". For him and his followers, the decadence of handwriting began with the tendency to "cursivize" scripts (attach letters so to allow faster writing). For this reason he didn't like "Copperplate" scripts and the historians of calligraphy who followed his vision all agreed that there was a very strict line between calligraphy and handwriting (they considered copperplate and everything that followed as handwriting). They were actually wrong to think so, but that's a conversation for another day ;)

The second thing I wanted to point out is that up until the 1780's all of the cursive scripts were written with a broad cut quill, including Bickham's style of Round Hand. When the RH became the main "handwriting style" used in Britain, regular people (as opposed to writing masters) felt that using 5 different quills to write a letter or a contract was a bit too tedious : quill cutters began cutting pointed quills for regular script (before that, they were mainly used for flourishing) because a pointed nib is more versatile than a broad edged nib (you don't need to change the size of the nib in order to change the size of the script). Pointed quills slowly became the norm, and when they eventually started to manufacture steel nibs, pointed nibs became more popular...
That being said Engrosser's script and Spencerian (1850's) were also first developed with broad edged quills.

As for the pen holders, all I know is that the oblique is a british invention but it was never really popular in Europe. The Spencerian writing masters adopted it becaus it worked well with their script style. I have to admit that it's not the best tool to write traditional RH because it can't be manipulated as well as a straight holder.

I hope this answers the question... there is so much to say about this !
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on November 30, 2017, 08:20:56 PM
My original post related to calligraphic guilds that have quietly disappeared over the past several years.  I dont want to get into a clarification contest  on the broad edged pen vs the pointed pen.  That was never even mentioned in my post.   This much i can tell you. The emphasis on learning has changed significantly   One can easily go to YouTube and find a multitude of lettering styles. Whether they are good representations of classical hands is no longer the issue. Whatever people enjoy doing , its there for the taking. 

I do disagree with some of the information on the above post, but i dont want to turn this into a circular firing squad. Nor am i interested in responding.   Whatever people are happy with is fine with me. I had a formal education in letterforms, based on the broad edged pen.   My study is the alphabet .  Classical hands. Specifically Romans.  That i can talk about but making comparisons between two separate systems in today's calligraphic world, just leads to an unnecessary bias of one style of writing to another. 

  My tool of choice is the quill or the reed. My expertise is in the preparation as its part of the entire process which includes the grinding of the ink, the making of the colors and the gilding if necessary.  It is a process that sometimes is more spiritual in its application then what we are dealing with in todays market.  Most definetly an art form in itself.     If there is an interest in classical hands it can only be achieved through the broad edged pen or the brush .   Watching a video i find unrewarding . However if it satisfies the watcher, then that in itself may be fulfilling their needs.   I need to rub shoulders  with other like minded souls .   
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: AnasaziWrites on November 30, 2017, 09:39:34 PM

  My expertise is in the preparation as its part of the entire process which includes the grinding of the ink, the making of the colors and the gilding if necessary.  It is a process that sometimes is more spiritual in its application then what we are dealing with in todays market.  Most definetly an art form in itself.
Beautifully said.
   
Quote
If there is an interest in classical hands it can only be achieved through the broad edged pen or the brush .
Oh?
Quote
   I need to rub shoulders  with other like minded souls .
We are here.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Estefa on December 01, 2017, 02:26:51 AM
Thank you, @sybillevz :).

My original post related to calligraphic guilds that have quietly disappeared over the past several years.  I dont want to get into a clarification contest  on the broad edged pen vs the pointed pen.  That was never even mentioned in my post.

Fair enough :), @JERRY TRESSER. I don't want that either. Again maybe I misread. Obviously we are talking at cross-purposes here in a way something that all too often happens in online discussions when people don't know each other.

Now back to my desk where some material waits to be prepared to gesso for a gilded Christmas project ;).
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on December 01, 2017, 03:05:35 PM
Estefa, just a little follow up: "Well it's just that some people don't just like beautiful writing, they also like beautiful tools it's simply a fashion imho (I also own a number of pretty holders, straight and oblique. Two of the straight are from the 19th century and made of silver respectively ivory. For writing broad edge, however, a quill is my preferred instrument as well!). Btw I recently saw in Venice a several centuries year old luxury writing set for a prince, made of ivory, rare woods and inlaid with precious stones and gold."

I can appreciate that but the emphasis for me is on the tool. Basically whatever is put in my hand. There may be some exceptions, but regardless of the cost, if you can not handle letter forms it not going to make a difference what you have. Its what you know.    Also,

"On the contrary, what I see, is one history and evolution of Western writing styles, branching out, changing, evolving and developing in such a variety of forms that it is a wonder and a treasure. I don't get the near contempt with that many traditional calligraphers seem to regard pointed pen which was also not invented just yesterday. In the light of work by masters like Van de Velde etc., who sort of led the way to the developement of later pointed pen styles, I cannot understand how you see pointed pen styles lacking historical context. (@sybillevz maybe you can provide some more examples ;)?)"

You may have misunderstood what my meaning was when i said evolution. The alphabet is what i was referring to. We started out in the first century with only Capital letters (23) and Z was the 3rd letter even prior to the Roman influence. It took 800 years to develop a complete set of minuscule (lowercase) letterforms. Historically the development and the slow change and growth of the alphabet is very well documented . Simple examples. How the cross bar of the H changed as well as the that of the letter A. How the G was developed. How the J was formed to indicate its difference between the I.   This development what i am referring to came to a conclusion in the 14th century with the invention of the printing press.  The Chancery Hand or Italic (being developed) in Italy  was controlled by the Papal Chancery and it reached its conclusion as more of a secretarial hand then a manuscript hand.  by the 15th century. the first book on Chancery was published titled La Operina. by Arrighi.    This was the movement where the common folk outside of the church influence could learn how to write and read (including children) Beyond Chancery, we had the plates of the press ! 

I must admit many earlier letter forms especially in the Blackletter hands became very nationalistic . A perfect example is The German influence, even as to this writing today. Dark, close letterforms , strong and beautifully executed. Even that kind of lettering could not take up a page but did have its strength in a few words especially in vermillion .
Under those circumstances i agree with you. But its a different evolution. Not of letterforms but growth of understanding in other cultures, areas, and even ideas.

The pointed pen cannot be developed with a change in the alphabet. What it can provide is elegance, grace and a remarkable sense of occupation where thicks and thins control  there position in the style of writing. But the alphabet is the alphabet. Even capitals are based more on competition for the same reasons. They are ornate, exquisitely done and very elaborate in design.

The alphabets in the first century were designed by there respective geometric forms. The square, the circle, the rectangle and the triangle.  The Romans built there coliseums and monuments on these principles. That also included there lettering on stone. Which was reserved for Caesars. That represented power ! Firsst done by brush, then chiseled into stone.  Even there manuscripts and the lettering were controlled and mandated.

The broad edged pen was the influential guide first by reed then feather.  By the 8th century after well over 800 years of Uncial, a fully formed lowercase alphabet  was the order of the day.  This to was mandated by Charlemange  (Carla Magna)  here the influence was money !  Having conquered all of Europe he needed to insure that with all the languages of different countries an alphabet could be developed for the entire realm. He hired the Alcuin, the duke of York to develop the lowercase letters. Which has turned into what we have today.  That was 1300 years ago ! 

thought you would enjoy a little side track on the history which was pivotal and demise of the broad edged pen.  Any revival which is usually a rediscovery of the tools more so then the letter forms themselves , provide a group (me included) that has a yearning to understand classical forms . Whether its a violin, piano or a cut reed.  I dont disagree with the notion that getting a taste of a beautiful art is not the proper way to understanding the art itself, but the tool is not going to make it more understandable or easier.   So when i see a website where 200 different oblique holders are being offered for sale at a variety of prices (up to $ 300.)  one has to wonder, what kind of an alphabet are dealing with here. As a matter of fact, no alpahabets are even being shown, just holders, nibs and paper.   the emphasis certainly has changed. The complete capital alphabet as we know it with its inherent geometric forms will withstand as it has for the past 5000 years.

Please , contact me privately if you would like to continue this. That goes for anyone else who may be interested. Thanks for your participation. jerry   [email protected]llsouth.net
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: sybillevz on December 01, 2017, 04:08:20 PM
Jerry, thank you for sharing this fascinating history of the alphabet. Like Estefa, I didn't really understand what you meant in your earlier post, and I apologize for jumping in and sharing things that were not really relevant here.
I am not familiar with your work, but like many of us here I have an immense respect for classical calligraphers (is that the right term?) like you and the work and knowledge that is shared in guilds.
I am only in my 4th year of learning calligraphy - having so much fun with pointed pen -and I intend to keep studying and learning about older techniques. I am fortunate enough to live in a country where there are good calligraphers I could learn from (I'm from Belgium). Unfortunately for me, many of these teachers have been travelling to the US this past year (it seems that they are more popular than ever over there !) and I haven't been able to participate in their workshops yet.
In the meantime, I am grateful for the Internet and online classes like the one Harvest Crittenden is going to offer in the new year : Trajans with Yves Leterme.

You are right when you say that too many aspiring calligraphers focus too much on buying nice oblique holders or whatever nib performed well in some video. For some reason, people tend to think that getting expensive or beautiful tools will make it easier to become a master calligrapher. They are clearly in the wrong, but is it that important ? Without the renewed interest for calligraphy on the Web and pensmiths who made it possible for me to acquire some good looking and comfortable holders I never would have started learning.

A few months ago I visited an old monastery here in Belgium (in Maredsous if this means anything to you) where I met an old nun who presented me her work of illumination. She lamented that she was the only person left on Earth who knew how to do that and that her craft would die with her... I told her that she was wrong about that, but she keeps on believing it anyways.

It is sad that guilds are dying, but from what I understand, some do manage to appeal to this new audience and offer the kind of guidance that the new generation is looking for. From what I understand, more conferences and workshops are being held than before... maybe there is a reason ?
I may be optimistic, but I am confident that the craft will not die out and anyone who wishes to learn historical writing styles or illumination will find a way to do so. Maybe not the way you did... but they will.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: melanie jane on December 01, 2017, 04:32:13 PM
Estefa, just a little follow up: "Well it's just that some people don't just like beautiful writing, they also like beautiful tools it's simply a fashion imho (I also own a number of pretty holders, straight and oblique. Two of the straight are from the 19th century and made of silver respectively ivory. For writing broad edge, however, a quill is my preferred instrument as well!). Btw I recently saw in Venice a several centuries year old luxury writing set for a prince, made of ivory, rare woods and inlaid with precious stones and gold."

I can appreciate that but the emphasis for me is on the tool. Basically whatever is put in my hand. There may be some exceptions, but regardless of the cost, if you can not handle letter forms it not going to make a difference what you have. Its what you know.    Also,


Jerry, you sell a quill knife on your website for $90 - a similar price to many of the holders you seem to have found exception with. 

At the end of the day, you are correct, a fancy holder will not improve your penmanship, as I'm sure a fancy knife will not improve your quill cutting.  People will buy things they like - there is nothing wrong with that.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: Erica McPhee on December 01, 2017, 05:33:47 PM
  No frustration, i was making an inquiry about the decline of guilds here in the US.  Currently there seems to be a more vibrant interest in the pointed pen then the traditional broad edged pen...
This much i can tell you. traditional broad edged lettering is steeped in a vast treasure  of manuscripts that resides in the best libraries in the world. Although these seems to be a renewed interest in the pointed pen or should i say explosion, the loss of guilds and societies in the US has been eroded.  Personally, i found here in South Fla. the emphasis seems to be more crafty in its approach . This has contributed to the lack of participation of those interested in historical script education.  Just my thoughts.

@JERRY TRESSER - You can't say the above and then say this, "My original post related to calligraphic guilds that have quietly disappeared over the past several years.  I dont want to get into a clarification contest  on the broad edged pen vs the pointed pen.  That was never even mentioned in my post. "

It's part of the evolving conversation. There are many facets to the comments in response to your initial inquiry about the disappearance of guilds. I find the historical discussion to have evolved from the OP to be the most interesting posts we have had in awhile. But if you feel the conversation too muddled in regard to guilds, or you would like to continue to share more of your historical knowledge of calligraphy (which I am sure we would all enjoy), let's start a new topic about it.

... Like Estefa, I didn't really understand what you meant in your earlier post, and I apologize for jumping in and sharing things that were not really relevant here.

No need to apologize @sybillevz  as Jerry's initial post was world's apart from his last explanation in regard to the historical context of learning and guilds. And your response was relevant in regard to the evolving conversation.

In regards to tools. There is absolutely nothing wrong with collecting beautiful tools. I found @Estefa 's description of the centuries old tools to be fascinating! And we know... it's the artist the makes the art, not the tools.

In regard to the in-depth study of historical scripts -- I would agree wholeheartedly that the majority of calligraphy fans today are not interested in taking their study that far or even that serious. The majority want to learn a modern script. But as was already discussed, there will be a small percentage that will want to learn more, delve deeper (as @Estefa and @sybillevz and @AnasaziWrites and many others here on Flourish have started to do). Will there be enough to carry on the tradition of the fine arts of calligraphy in a guild setting? I don't know. But I also know the guilds I attended for the past 20 years didn't get that deep either. So we are really talking about two separate topics.

With a topic this broad, it is often difficult to stay on topic because there are so many facets involved. Jerry opened a can of worms and we learned much in the following discussion. But we can't make statements about opinion-heavy topics (especially instigating ones which put up defenses) without expecting others to share their thoughts about it, even if it takes us in a different direction than intended. It's how conversation works. Albeit it's a little more tricky on the internet.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on December 01, 2017, 06:21:00 PM
Melanie, the cost of the knife is in the preparation of the blade. The knife is reasonable and one can get a one for 35.00, but to hone it so that its prepared to cut a 1000 quills or bamboo is another matter. Glad you brought this up as it certainly deserves some consideration. But no comparison to oblique pen holders.

To further illustrate. I cannot hone a knife. I had a good friend who passed on . His name was George Yanagita. An exceptional guill cutter but more importantly he made the knives from tempered steel.  To have one was really an honor as he made a limited amount and was fussy as to whom he sold his knives to.  I had two of them. They currently retail for $ 225. and up in price , if you can find one !  George was world renown for the knives. That history is quite accurate.   I am enclosing a photo.

 With what we offer is an inexpensive piece of cutlery.   the knives are shipped out and we usually receive them back in a months time, prepared.  The person who takes it and shapes the steel to accommodate the feather is an art unto itself.   To the best of my knowledge, there are only 2 companies on the net that sell quill knives in the US.  Not the fake items that you see on Ebay.  The other company that also sells a quill knife is $ 10.00 cheaper. I have certain requirements as a quill cutter myself, so i would rather spend a little more as i know what i am looking for.  One final observation, there is nothing worse than a bad knife, so on some items it makes a big difference .   
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on December 01, 2017, 06:56:05 PM
Sybillevsz, no apologies necessary.  Our guild is being eaten from the inside out.  Our newsletter went from 4 pages to a half a page. Our quarterly roaming library offering new and good out of print books are not being offered any longer, our workshops are basically non existent. The last one was last April. If you go to our  website, it has not been updated since June of 2016,  If you go to our FaceBook page, we have nothing to conribute. No photos from prior workshops, no write ups, only 1 person has signed up for the yearly Christmas party.  Its depressing.  I have spoken to several older members who are unwilling to contribute anything to the group but still continue the membership. that in itself is remarkable. 

I do attempt to offer workshops but there seems to be little interest in learning classical hands even though i do encourage beginners. They want the pointed pen. Reasoning is simple. They are looking at the financial reward of envelope work .  So learning skills  is limited to videos and online courses.  Or possibly private lessons but it a non broad edged guild .  The participation level is almost gone. I am continuously reminded that whatever position they seem to hold is voluntary and they have private lives to deal with. They need money.  For all intents and purposes we are dealing with a craft oriented guild at this point.   My wife who has more common sense then myself, feels that if thats what they want , then , until the spark looses its flicker, let it go !    My wife is usually correct. 

I have been around for well over 50 years in the world of lettering. Allot of information is available on Google,including my book on Gilding,  but importantly people used to get allot of good quality information.
Everyone seems to be in the production business.  Myself included, but never on letter forms. That i keep for myself.  I am more than happy to help, and many times i can provide some knowledgeable information to resolve a lettering concern, and i am delighted to help in gilding questions, but thats where it ends.

As to your online studies. Trajans are geometrically based letters. So each letter is treated as its own entity with it own living space. I know of the person who is offering the course. Very well respected, and seems to do allot of interesting works. However, if i am not mistaken its brush work.  Which is another matter altogether. Extremely versitile, manipulative and requires skill... I do Romans as well but with a broad edged pen.  Not as classical as the brush .Metal is not kind when it come to manipulations.   I am very happy for you if you pursue this avenue. If you can do Romans, you can do anything.

Pointed Pen courses is beyond my capabilities and i have a built in animosity to pressurized letter forms.  That my hang up.. I am left handed.  Taught myself how to write with my write hand. Took many years of investment, so i know both sides of the story when it comes to learning letter forms.  I switched for a variety of reasons, but most importantly, the alphabet is a right handed study.  All of the pieces in this link were done with my left hand between 25 and 40 years ago.  I have allot of current work that i can share, much of which is Italic.  www.jtresser.com/b-d.html    Thank you so much for your post, and by all means email me privately if i can be of help. JERRY   [email protected]
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: melanie jane on December 01, 2017, 07:10:58 PM
Melanie, the cost of the knife is in the preparation of the blade. The knife is reasonable and one can get a one for 35.00, but to hone it so that its prepared to cut a 1000 quills or bamboo is another matter. Glad you brought this up as it certainly deserves some consideration. But no comparison to oblique pen holders.


I'm sorry, but I don't understand why you don't feel it's a comparison to pen holders?  Both take man hours to make.  I'm sure there is skill in honing the knife, but there is also a skill in making a well balanced penholder (and I daresay making a penholder takes a lot longer).  Both are skills which can be learned.  I don't understand why one skill is more 'worthy' than another? 

With regards to calligraphy, I think another thing to point out is that many calligraphers on this forum are making a living from their work.  They have to provide what the market wants and, at the moment, the market wants pointed pen.  Regardless of how interested they may be in other hands, not everyone has the luxury of being able to fully immerse themselves in a hand which is not going to pay the bills and put food on the table.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on December 01, 2017, 07:36:06 PM
To answer your question, i am sure it takes allot of time especially if one has to make the wooden handles as decorated as i have seen.  As to taking more time to make a pen holder then crafting a piece of steel i will leave up to those reading this thread. 

I agree with you completely on what the market wants as the impetus seems to be financially motivated. I dont have a problem with that. Where i do have a problem is that i have been directly involved in the business end where individuals who are well intended people leave themselves open to personal liabilities when something goes wrong with the client !   That is no longer Calligraphy, that is a lawsuit!   Especially when nerves are frilled and obligations have to be met.  It would we a worthy consideration for those who want to get into the business end seriously consider how to protect there own assets when entering an agreement and something goes wrong... Calligraphy 101 should be about entering into a business contract verbal or otherwise.

 Thats my beef. Not worrying about who is going to put food on the table.  The market is very limited out there Melanie. There are some very fine artists who do handsomely, and have stellar credentials. Then there is everyone else.  As a point of information, the money in calligraphy in todays market is lettering more so on glass, pin-stripping, murals.

 Doing invitations, envelopes, or a certificate  is easy money but will it keep you in the black.  I doubt it.  Its funny that this subject should come up because i have a good calligraphic friend who just got a job from Estee Lauter for Christmas invitations. Prior to that the parties were scaled back due to financial concerns as to what to pay for or not pay for.  Maybe there is some hope. The market seems to think so.   I hope your right.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: melanie jane on December 02, 2017, 06:02:32 PM
Jerry,  I'm not sure how we got onto the risks of lawsuits when doing calligraphy work?  But in any case, I would assume that any risks are the same, regardless of what hand you are doing. 

I think there are a number of people making a living from doing envelopes, etc.  No, I doubt that anyone is going to make a $million from wedding invitations, but plenty of people out there do worse work for less money.  If calligraphers are able to bring some money in whilst staying at home bringing up children, looking after elderly relatives, etc then all power to them. 

Finally, you must realise that you are posting on a forum where the vast majority of the members do some form of pointed pen calligraphy?  Many of them have spent years honing their craft, just as you have.  And you are basically telling them that the form of calligraphy they do is unworthy.  Personally, I think that is quite disrespectful. 

Your guild could probably flourish if it welcomed pointed pen calligraphers into it's membership, but if the rest of the members feel as you seem to then I doubt they'd get a warm welcome.  That's a pity - for everyone.   

Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: jeanwilson on December 03, 2017, 10:50:03 AM
None of my comments are direct responses to anything that has already been written on this topic. I am simply sharing a perspective that might clarify a couple things.

20th and 21st century calligraphy guilds have never been and currently are not organizations that will give members the education or tools needed to build a serious career in calligraphy/lettering arts. Guilds are clubs to welcome newcomers and provide camaraderie for the intermediate and advanced scribes. Many volunteer hours are required to keep the guilds going. Guilds are not run by professional scribes. Top-notch professionals do not have time to run guilds.

It is not fair to blame the demise of guilds on contemporary trends or the failure to embrace contemporary trends. Some guilds die a natural death because the founders have moved on and the remaining members do not have enough intermediate and advanced scribes to keep things going. Guilds in large urban areas tend to have an easier time maintaining the group because of the larger population, but there are examples of very small guilds in remote areas that have been very successful for many years.

Each guild will decide on their own if they want to be more traditional or branch out into more contemporary trends. Contemporary trends are no threat to the traditional arts. They coexist peacefully. People are free to embrace one or the other - or both. IMHO, fretting about contemporary trends is a complete waste of time. Those who put in the hours to really master the traditional styles are simply people who choose to put in the hours. If you don't have the time, there is no crime in puttering around with the easy stuff. Ballet dancers do not look down their noses at the square dancers or line dancers. If you only have the time and skill to square dance or line dance - that is still better than just sitting on the couch with your beer and Cheetos in front of the TV.

Sites like Behance are filled with calligraphers/lettering artists who are doing just fine without guilds. If you aspire to be a professional and make a decent living, you will find the classes and mentors that will further your career. If you think a guild will give you all the education you need, you are most likely going to be very disappointed when you take a few local classes, build your website, and then wonder where the customers are.

This will sound harsh, but it is true. Artists are a dime a dozen. When I was a young graphic designer, right out of college, my first boss made that comment. I was in shock. I thought I was special. But he was right. By taking an objective look at my work compared to the work of the designers he hired to work on the big budget jobs, I could see that I was a *farm team* artist working on the little jobs for the clients with little budgets. It would have taken a lot of work for me to become a big-league artist.

That's how the world works. No matter how much you love what you do, there are a ton of other people who love the same activity. There will always be a lot of competition in the world of art and design. If you want to be top-dog in your chosen field, you will have to work very hard. Your local guild will not be your stepping stone to a successful career. The majority of people in guilds are hobbyists. Personally, I love the hobbyists and I am happy that the guild system is chugging along. Guilds offer so much to their communities - but they are not organizations created for professional scribes or to help those people who aspire to be professionals. The rigorous training required to be a professional would not be very welcoming to most of the beginners or those who simply want a club to support their hobby

Hopefully these comments do not ruffle any feathers. I've been observing these topics for 25+ years. Anything relating to art tends to generate strong opinions - but there is a lot of common ground if people want to look for it.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: AnasaziWrites on December 05, 2017, 09:03:05 AM

To further illustrate. I cannot hone a knife. I had a good friend who passed on . His name was George Yanagita. An exceptional guill cutter but more importantly he made the knives from tempered steel.  To have one was really an honor as he made a limited amount and was fussy as to whom he sold his knives to.  I had two of them. They currently retail for $ 225. and up in price , if you can find one !  George was world renown for the knives. That history is quite accurate.   I am enclosing a photo.
Beautiful quill knives. A well made knife is a treasure.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: AAAndrew on December 05, 2017, 10:48:19 AM
One piece of information for @sybillevz, the oblique pen and oblique holder were invented, and patented, by Sampson Mordan and William Brockeden in 1831 in Britain. Quills don't come in oblique, obviously, so these are purely the invention of the steel pen period.

https://thesteelpen.com/2017/10/27/origins-of-the-oblique-pen-and-oblique-holder/

Since we've also deveated off into quill knives, I'll go ahead and ask a question. All of the antique ones I've seen are flat-bladed, thin and long. There doesn't seem to be anything terribly special about them except for their general shape and the quality of the manufacture. Are the knives you're selling, Jerry, different? They seem to have a convex and a flat side. Is that true, or am I reading the picture wrong? I'm genuinely curious as I'm becoming interested in learning how to cut quills and the proper tool is one part of that skills.

Andrew
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: sybillevz on December 05, 2017, 11:28:53 AM
Thank you for the info @AAAndrew ! I remembered someone here saying that the oblique holder was a british invention, but couldn't find it anymore...

It's not surprising to me that this invention came after the shift to pointed pen (quill then steel) : in books about the teaching of handwriting, authors sometimes say that the pupil has to be forced to keep his paper fairly straight on the table because they naturally take and unsuitable position, turning their paper too much... Learning how to write involved training the body, arm and hand, to behave properly - that is still true today though.

As for the quill knife, I have seen it illustrated more often in French copybooks : it was often curved, as Jerry's knives are. But some books do show a smaller, and narrower blade. If I'm not mistaken, the curved blade helps carving the quill while the straight blade is better to cut the slit and make the final "nibbing". Not sure this is a correct explanation, I'm going to have to look into this ;)
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: AAAndrew on December 05, 2017, 12:07:41 PM
This one looks like a very nice example.

http://www.vintagepens.com/quill_knife.shtml

Title: Re: quil cutting
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on December 20, 2017, 06:29:57 AM
From my own collection. A Victorian Quill Cutter from the 17th century. Elephant Ivory, with a small knife on the back to be used for scraping and possibly some touch up. Quills as well as reeds are a wonderful writing tool. its always the tool that dictates the form. Having the ability to shape a feather or reed to a specific cut is a wonderful opportunity for broad edged users when developing hands that have different angle requirements.   There is allot of information out there on quill cutting.  I prepared a small little photo example on how to prepare the quill if anyone is interested. I use it when teaching quill cutting.   JERRY
Title: Re: quil cutting
Post by: AnasaziWrites on December 20, 2017, 09:24:34 AM
From my own collection. A Victorian Quill Cutter from the 17th century. Elephant Ivory, with a small knife on the back to be used for scraping and possibly some touch up. Quills as well as reeds are a wonderful writing tool. its always the tool that dictates the form. Having the ability to shape a feather or reed to a specific cut is a wonderful opportunity for broad edged users when developing hands that have different angle requirements.   There is allot of information out there on quill cutting.  I prepared a small little photo example on how to prepare the quill if anyone is interested. I use it when teaching quill cutting.   JERRY
@JERRY TRESSER
I went to your website (which is terrific by the way) but didn't see the quill cutting information. Would you post a link to it here?
Thanks very much.
Also, are quill cutting knives, like the elephant ivory one you show here, still being made, or does one have to look for a vintage one?
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on December 20, 2017, 09:52:35 AM
Send me an email and i will put the photos together on the process for quill cutting.  I use it when i teach as a reference . It would not be on my website. This knife i believe is from 1865. Queen Victorias cutlery. I have had it in my possession for 50 years. I seriously doubt any kind is being made. Offered Yes !   

I recently met a former student who did purchase one of these cutters from Ebay..  They  do sell them.

 This little machine cuts the feathers  beautifully, makes the point,    puts in the split. For pointed pen work its ideal, the little knife in the back  allows the nib to be shaped and cut further if you want to make it into a broad edged nib.   

Allot of the people who i come into contact with always prefer the feather because of its uniqueness.   Have a safe holiday. JERRY
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: AnasaziWrites on December 20, 2017, 10:12:45 AM
@JERRY TRESSER
Email Message sent.
M.
Title: Re: Calligraphy guilds disappearing
Post by: JERRY TRESSER on December 20, 2017, 01:08:47 PM
For those interested, when i teach quill cutting, i use the knife below for beginners. Partilcipants are required to  also have a thumb guard which is not included in the photo.  Any questions, please dont hesitate to contact me directly.  I do also offer a step by step (13) photos from beginning to end on cutting and curing the feathers for use.  JERRY