How-to Begin Left-handed Calligraphy

I am not a leftie, so I’m challenged by coaching calligraphy for people who are. Even so, interested left-hand writers want to know what to expect if they try calligraphy. What should a left-handed person learn? Left-handed calligraphers use various writing styles. They approach the text line with their hand from above and below it. They write uphill, horizontally, and downhill with results that vary from a right-handed writer in quality thick-thin stroke results. And often different from other lefties. Most calligraphy books, articles, and Youtube videos only have a small section for lefties. There’s only limited published information on how lefties hold the nib to the writing line and the angle required to make a pen stroke. What can you do about that? Where can you go for help?  Unless you find a left-handed instructor, most answers will come from within you. Since each calligraphy style has a specific nib-to-writing-line angle that controls its thick-thin stroke production, anyone using a different angle won’t make letters appear as intended. Since you approach the page from a different direction than a rightie, you must find your own best writing angle. The way you comfortably hold the pen and its nib to create the appropriate angle for your intended calligraphy style.  Also, don’t be afraid to change the way you letter from that described for right-handed students by right-handed teachers. Cramping your hand and arm for lengthy periods to get the nib to make the correct angle, as do […]

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Is It A Script, Hand or Font?

What’s the difference between script, hand, and font? I’ve heard these terms used almost interchangeably. There is a difference. A script is a handwriting form used as a model, the writing style a calligrapher scribe has in mind to create. In general, they have names like “Uncial”, “Carolingian”, and “Gothic”, to name a few. Researchers identify a script by collecting thousands of individual examples and analyzing them for a similar look.  The hand is personal to the individual scribe.It’s what I actually put on paper or vellum, with any imperfections. I may intend changes because I don’t do a certain letter well, or they may be due to the pen I use. I may choose to tweak certain letters because I think they’re prettier that way or to fill more space. Those differences make up my hand. The word font comes from the Middle French term “fonte” meaning something that’s been melted or cast. It next referred to the set of metal type used in a printing house.  This term now applies to a digital letter system such a “Veranda”, “Arial”, or “Comic”.  Today’s digital font has numerous variations due to the many people that like designing letters. These terms also have categories and subsets. I won’t go into them all. I’ll leave most of them to the paleographers. A few are important for scribes. A majuscule script has only same height letters and no slant. It’s similar to using only capital letters to […]

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