Calligraphy Tip no.17

Apologies for my extended absence. I have been scrubbing. Specifically, I have been scrubbing the grubby grey tiles in my shower. I am something of an overzealous scrubber, as Charmaine is so fond of telling me, and this has proved detrimental to my lettering. I cite Exhibit ‘A’ – prior to scrubbing…..


Exhibit ‘A’

And, Exhibit ‘B’ – post scrubbing


Exhibit ‘B’

As you can see, Exhibit ‘A’ is smooth in line, whereas Exhibit ‘B’ is a shaky mess. This is because the repetitive rhythmic pressure and forceful overexertion of the lower arm, which is needed for a good scrub, causes the muscles to contract and spasm. Therefore my advice to fellow calligraphers and lettering enthusiasts is to learn to scrub with their non-writing arm. This may mean that you have to live with grey grouting in your shower; that your mirrors and windows may look a little smeary; that your teeth may be permanently stained yellow; and that other areas in your life may become less than satisfactory causing significant frustration and complaint from loved ones and casual acquaintances, but I feel that this is a small price to pay for smooth, flowing, confident letterforms.

Meanwhile, I am still up to my eyeballs in gold leaf and calligraphy correspondence. I do mean to post more regularly on my blog – I’ll aim for Thursdays, but sometimes it might just be pictures – it is difficult to type with just my left hand. Please bear with. Thank you.



51 thoughts on “Calligraphy Tip no.17

  1. Good gods! Can it be that I’m first? I’m never first here.

    You know, I always suspecting that being a scrubber wouldn’t pay off in the end, and now we have proof. So, yes, stop that scrubbing! We’ll still talk to you, even if your things are not scrubbed.

    Lovely m, by the way. Mmmmmm…

    • Hello, Mr Devine, I am not as popular as I used to be. This is what happens when you get old and addled – the youngsters play tricks on you, begging you to post, and when you do they make a point of ignoring you. It’s a good job that my blog has acquired listed status, meaning it will be here forever, but the banner and spelling mistakes cannot be cleaned up without authorisation from Torridge District Council.

  2. Hahahaha! You need to make Charmaine do the scrubbing. Or buy insurance for your valuable hand.

    I find bathtub and shower scrubbing to almost reach the ironic heights of vacuum-cleaner hair removal. Last week I snipped/unrolled a wig’s worth of hair from the Dyson’s brush roller. (Doesn’t that indicate a failing on the part of the Dyson?!) With my dominate hand. So my pointed pen sucks. Also I haven’t practiced it in ages.

    • Oh Amy! Steady on there! Lifting heavy objects, and even scrolling through Instagram can impact badly on the writing arm.
      My brush roller is in much the same state other than it is flecked with real gold…. surely I can sell it on eBay???

  3. My dear Ms Scarlet
    As my dishpan hands will testify, your problem would be much eased with distilled vinegar. Or that stuff that is so well (and loudly) recommended on the television by HIIMBARRYSCOTT.

    • Oh Mr Auty! I have tried everything on the wretched tiles…. vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda…. and a few of THOSE REALLY SHOUTY Products…. SO, I’m just going to get a man to re tile the whole bloomin’ lot. They are not particularly nice tiles in any case.

  4. We have two showers here. (Honestly, why???We can only run water for one at a time.)
    But the tragic fact is that BOTH get scungey. The showers, that is. I’m scared to attack the grout too vigourously for fear of a hailstorm of tiles. I’ve tried popping a bowl of ammonia in the cubicle, but the damn’ stuff just evaporates too quickly.
    And there is also a bathtub in one bathroom.I have to hoover that daily.White tub+ black cats, y’see.
    I thought of hiring a scrubber…but when I looked in the Yellow Pages I found it meant something quite different…

    • I confess to vacuuming my kitchen worktop, Dinah. It’s quick and effective 🙂 Saves the crumbs going on the floor.
      Is ‘Scrubber’ a Brit word? Have I confused my readers? Where is Monsieur Banish? Does he have woodworm? Questions, questions, questions….

    • I’ve always credited the Cockney with the term meaning a low-class tart.Oh dear! Now someone will think I’m going all cookery.”Tart” in rude English means a woman of low morals.As does “scrubber.” Seems to be an English thing, although some Australians say Tart.

      • Dinah and Mr Lax – I love the word ‘tart’, and seems less offensive than scrubber. They use such cruel words these days… like ‘slag’…. I think this is a vile word. And men get off lightly…. there isn’t really an equivalent male word.
        We shall have a jam tart party the next time you both visit!

  5. Oh the scrubbing, it’s never good. I did too much weeding today and now I can’t stand up straight any more. Gorgeous gold letter.

  6. I agree with Amy, that young Charmaine, should be doing the scrubbing ? Therefore saving ones hand for better things like more gold leaf or even the occasional tipple (second thoughts) the latter my bring on the shaky hand.

    • Tsk. Young Charmaine is spending all her time on social media sites… if I’m not careful she’ll be uploading pictures of grubby shower grouting to Instagram and bringing shame on my household…. I’ll think I’ll leave her be…. she’s a loose cannon.

      P.S I’ll have that drink though 🙂

  7. Yes, scrubber is a Brit word. And a good one. You won’t hear it across The Pond unless, like me, you watch too much Brit telly.

    And I was going to use it in a comment but all the “scrubber” references have been taken. I’m late to the party, once again.

  8. There was a film called ‘Scrubbers’ with Kathy Burke and Pat from Eastenders set in a women’s prison, it was quite morbid. Exhibit B is similar to my hand writing. Stardrops kitchen spray with bleach applied to your teeth will whiten them a treat, just make sure that you take them out first.

    • Ms Carte – Pat Butcher’s character was called ‘Strapper’!!! I don’t think I want to know any more!!!
      Stardrops!! So many uses!! Sadly my teeth fell down the back of the radiator this morning, after retrieving them I decided to go for the industrial bleach method.

  9. My surefire always successful method of cleaning shower tiles: Use Tilex Mold & Mildew Remover.

    It’s a really powerful bathroom tile cleaner. You may follow the directions the first time to ensure proper cleaning success, which includes ventilating bathroom, spraying tiles, leave on for 5 minutes, rinse or scrub. Leave bathroom if fumes become too much at any time. Works great, especially if you don cleaning/rubber/vinyl gloves to scrub tiles before you rinse tiles.

    My lazy yet equally successfully method: Before leaving for work or going to sleep or undertaking an activity that’ll take me a few hours out of the house, I spray the tiles, then close the bathroom door. I’ve left it alone for a whole day. Just rinse off the walls prior to using shower. Best done at least once a fortnight. No scrubbing required. Tiles clean & tidy!

    The gold M looks glorious. The Devon nearly April 2016 date made me do a double take, as I mistook the year as 2076. Then I remembered y’all Brits like your 7s all fancy & fashionable with a line across it, looking like it’s wearing shoulder pads or epaulets. I hope your arm gets enough rest before returning to calligraphy. Cheers! And take it easy.

    • Septic tank, Mr Swings, meaning delicate plumbing that is not to be messed with by harsh chemicals. Harsh chemicals can lead to a hideous back up situation. Live and learn. I have a new soakaway and am very careful about what goes down my plughole.
      Yes, the crossed 7!!! I think it’s a sign of over caution…. er, yes, I do cross my 7’s!!

  10. There are several domestic tasks that leave my hands a bit shaky afterwards. If I have anything to do that needs steady hands, I just have to leave enough time in between the two for my hands to recover.

    Failing that, set the alarm for 2 am, scrub furiously until 3 am, return to bed, and everything will be fine come getting-up time.

    • Apologies, Mr Kinky!! I am getting in a muddle with my replies…. I deleted what I’d previously written here. I was not trying to gloss over or ignore your comment.
      I think Chumscrubber is an interesting word, and not one I’ve heard before… I shall try to use it before the day is done.

  11. Nothing like a well scrubbed blog. I think for most people their arms don’t work equally well. I would certainly give up my left arm before my right arm. Of course typing would be a new challenge with just one hand. You can’t have a hand without an arm – unless you are on stage.

    • Get rid of the tiles and grout. I have an acrylic tub surround. Sooo much nicer to keep clean! I have had my fill of cleaning the tile and grout around tubs, and agree with Eros that Tilex works well… IF you go at it regularly. I will never have tiles in a bathroom again.

      I think putting that minx Charmaine to work scrubbing the tiles is the perfect thing to do! It will keep her out of trouble, and save your calligraphy arm from unnecessary wear and tear.

      And I love that M!

      • Ponita…. Charmaine has cleared off now. After reading the comments here she burst into tears, pulled on her coat, and fled out the door. She was muttering something under her breath about reporting me for cyber-bullying or some such. When she returns I will resort to the tried and tested method of bribery and will shake a handful of loose change under her nose. Hopefully this should make her see sense.
        Thank you!

    • Ha!! Indeed, Bill!! And you have reminded me that my blog is in need of a thorough Spring clean and some artful rearrangement. Changes are afoot, yet not in hand.

  12. one or two drops of oil of cloves in an atomiser bottle of water, sprayed liberally on your grout and left to dry will kill most mould spores, then just brush it off and wash it down the plughole darling…

    • Ms Roses…. this is something worth considering!!! I shall ring Mr Beastie! He seems very good at this sort of malarkey. And he’ll do it for free.

  13. Post scrubbing is me on a good day. It’s such a bore when you can’t read the urgent notes to yourself. Would bleach help? Those committed cleaners on TV use gallons of it.

    • Septic tank, Pat…. no bleach for me.
      I am having problems with my eyes…. the writing bit is fine…. but my eyes, they just do not function how they used to.

  14. How did this happen. As far as I can see I have not commentated on this post which, given yours is a well known and admired blog at Countingducks Incorporated, is bordering on the rude. I personally think, given you’ve got a skill, tolerance of a little homely mould in the shower is a small price to pay for maintaining calligraphic perfection.

    • You could never be rude, Mr Ducks!!!
      In the end I gave up with the mould, and bought a swanky new vacuum cleaner instead. The walls may be mouldy, but the carpets are pristine.

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