Tag Archives: teaching calligraphy

A Peculiar Story and Occasional Calligraphy

Iwas asleep at my desk, my head cushioned by my keyboard, when Harold flounced into my light and airy studio snapping a pair of castanets for no good reason other than he believed he was a flamenco dancer.

‘Why you do this, Madam Scarlet? Why you let stupid girl abuse pens? Is not right.’

I lifted my head from the keyboard leaving a thread of spittle connecting the s and the k.

‘Oh Harold, I’m tired of all this nonsense, you are a plumber from Southend-on-Sea; wearing a frilly crimplene blouson and a tight pair of lycra bell bottoms is not going to make you anything other.’

Harold snapped his castanets and pouted.

‘So, what’s the problem? What’s Charmaine done now?’

‘She is writing the modern calligraphy, she make letters look like spider ‘aving epileptic fit on paper. I come ‘ere with belief that Madam Scarlet teach traditional calligraphy.’

I glared at Harold. My head felt fuzzy.

‘Are you doing a French or Spanish accent today?’ I asked, wishing he’d just talk like a plumber.

‘You are mad woman. On first day ‘ere you say we must learn proper letter form and now you let stupid girl do what she like. What will ‘appen to the wonderful craft of calligraphy if no-one learn it proper? It will die out and no-one will know ‘ow to use pen; we will ‘ave nothing left of our calligraphy heritage other than childish scribble.’

Harold was looking puffed up and red in the face, so I glared at Harold some more, but with added swagger.

‘So what?’ I said, controversially, with a dash of evil in my eye.

As expected, my reply was like a red flag to a bull. Harold exploded in a Fandango, there was much fancy footwork, an enviable castanet technique featuring numerous redoble rolls, and an eye-watering misplacement of a maraca, which was unpredictable and belonged to an entirely different culture.

After reassembling the wooden floor, I dismissed Harold, dabbed the spittle from my keyboard, and pondered my latest calligraphy request – I had been asked to recreate an ancient village document with Gothic lettering and gold illumination. I smiled to myself, silly Harold, as if the wonderful craft of calligraphy would ever die out!! To be fair this request was probably beyond my remit, but thankfully I knew plenty of calligraphers [this highly talented one in particular] who would rise to the challenge. Horses for courses as they say.
I pushed my laptop to the side of my desk, it was time to get on with some occasional calligraphy of my own….

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An Invitation….

Looking for a Calligraphy Mentor….?

I have been contacted by my niece, Charmaine, and she is desperate to learn calligraphy for her upcoming nuptials in 2020. I offered her my services but she is adamant that she wants to address the wedding invitations herself, mostly because she considers me to be so addled and ancient that she fears I may be dead before I am needed. Charmed, I’m sure. Anyhow, with a heavy heart I have agreed to help her. Obviously she has been pouting over Pinterest and is determined to learn a modern calligraphy style, in return I have said that if she wants my instruction then she will learn my way, and that she would do well to learn several styles… I mean, who is to know what will be fashionable and slapped all over Pinterest in 2020??

She has now been here for several hours. I have locked her in the attic. It is furnished simply with a wooden desk and chair, upon the desk is a rudimentary lined notepad from Tesco’s, a straight plastic holder, a no.2 1/2 William Mitchell nib, a bottle of Higgins Eternal ink, a small paintbrush, and an old Sheaffer instruction pamphlet that includes a basic italic examplar. Before leaving her, and locking the door, I demonstrated how to insert the nib into the holder i.e. this is the nib and you shove it in the holder. I also disgusted her by sticking the new nib in my mouth and giving it a good slosh round with saliva. I did explain that this is my way of getting the protective factory coating off the nib, but she is welcome to spend time messing around with flames, toothpaste, alcohol, vinegar, etc, if she finds the saliva method too repugnant. My gob is like acid and never fails to strip a nib. Any nib. I then fitted the reservoir for her, checked the nib was writing okay, locked her in and then went up the pub.

I am back now and fixing her a bowl of gruel, which I will take up to her after I’ve finished my fag. I am excited to see how she has progressed after my in depth instruction. If all goes well then I may think about taking on a paying student as there is something comforting in having someone locked in the attic whilst I potter about. I will upload pictures of her work in my next post.

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Take the nib, shove it in the holder and then suck it and see….then add the reservoir
Warning: these nibs have been used. Please do not suck used nibs.