Category Archives: LETTERING

Quitting the Evil Weed

Apart from the fact that my first smoking experience happened around about the time of my first paid commission, this has nothing to do with calligraphy but some thoughts on part of my life that was once a way of life.

A friend is, at last, ready to stop smoking. He has tried, but never really followed through and was very soon puffing away just as much as before. This time though it seems his mind is made up. He has set himself a target date, Sunday 11th October, and is determined that he will, by then, be calling himself a non smoker.

He has been offered advice and a great deal of encouragement, mine included. This encouragement and advice is all very well but first he must be sure in his own mind why this time he will succeed and why, this time, after the last draw on that last dog-end, he can stub it out in the firm belief that his preferred method of withdrawal is going to be his only contact with the nicotine for which, he thinks, his body craves.

My parents both were smokers but my smoking history began at the age of ten, perhaps eleven, during the school summer holidays, halfway up a tree, which was soon to be bulldozed in the cause of high speed travel. (M1 Motorway). My friend produced from his pocket a packet of Players Navy Cut cigarettes, (I since found out that this brand was the strongest available at that time), gave me one, lit his own then mine. Cough, cough, cough, I was hooked. I spent the rest of my life looking, but never found again, the high I experienced with that first fag. Ahem! Not with tobacco anyway. For twenty years or so I boxed but knew I could never attain my full potential. I had the skill, the strength and the speed but not the stamina of a true champion. Still I smoked.

To cut a very long story short, I smoked my way through the equivalent of 18250 half ounce packs of Old Holborn, some of which were decidedly dodgy, (Cheap baccy, DONT DO IT, you don’t know what you are breathing into your lungs), I smoked them all the same, must get my fix, no matter what! Until…..Wham! Consultant at L&D Hospital, “Well, it is like this, Mr Grant. If you continue to smoke, it will not be long before I am obliged to cut off one, if not both, of your legs”.

My strategy? Finish off the 1 oz pack I was smoking at the time, arrange with my doctor, a course of Nicorette inhalators, bite the bullet and use the lifeline I had been given. At first I found the mouthpiece of the inhalator was more pipe like than cigarette so I tried tried various holders for the cartridges and eventually found that the cartridge itself could be held between the lips. This way, I found very soon, that I would be sucking on the same cartridge for so long that the nicotine was long gone and I had not realised that for an hour or so, all I had been taking in was pure clean air.

That was eight years ago. I am no longer a slave to tobacco, the circulation has returned to my legs. My lungs, having taken a battering of 50 odd years of smoke will never be as good as they should be and have to be cosseted through each winter but will not worsen due to the habit of a lifetime. That is what smoking is as far as I’m concerned, a habit. A habit I have, with much help and support, kicked into touch.

So, if you are trying to break the habit, go for it. As the old cliche goes,

Cheers! Good health.

Precision, Perfection, Practice

I don’t ask for this degree of precision from my students but strangely, it is what many of them strive for. My thoughts on this matter : Aim for perfection in everything you do but do not be obsessed. Perfection comes with practice, (PPP), in all aspects of calligraphy, from first mastering a script, to building a page, from the initial planning, right through to putting on that final decoration. Most will never achieve it.  After all my years as a lettering geek I still aim for that perfection, I know I shall never attain it but I sure have enjoyed the journey so far.

By the way, when you do achieve that perfect piece of work, don’t be afraid to ask for top dollar. This watch has a price tag of 2.6 million of them.

Cheers. Keep watching this space.


Je suis Charlie



Luton Irish Forum Calligraphy Group.

This gallery contains 1 photos.

  Since completing the series of Workshops at Luton Museum, I have had numerous enquiries about when, or if, they might be repeated. Or, perhaps, if there might be evening sessions somewhere. I have floated a few ideas with Luton Culture and … Continue reading

Calligraphy and handwriting for Children

I am often asked how long I have been doing calligraphy and how I got interested in the first place.

As a youngster, the only books in the house were a 10 volume Arthur Mee Childrens Encyclopaedia.  The many articles and illustrations of ancient civilisations, carvings and manuscripts that I found there really fuelled my imagination and have been my inspiration to this day.

At about age eleven  I was lucky enough to have an art teacher who had a great interest in calligraphy / lettering.  He taught us a form of italic script and issued licences, to those of us who became proficient enough, to use it in the classroom.  To my great shame, I never attained the standard required and so, was not allowed to use italics to write my essays and compositions.  I did, however, at that early age, have my own fountain pen.  I don’t remember how I came by it, but it was probably a Christmas or Birthday present.  This pen was an Osmiroid 65 with a medium italic nib and I was soon in great demand in the neighbourhood to write cards and envelopes and suchlike, but my first real commission, for which I received one shilling, was The Lord’s Prayer written in a spiral.  That pen was lost some time ago but lately I found another on eBay complete with ten nibs. Writing with it really brings back memories.  One other thing I was taught at that time has been a great help all through my life.  When drawing or colouring letters,  don’t turn the paper to give better access to the brush, crayon or whatever.  One day you might have to put your letters on a wall, so learn to always work  in the one position. (Except when doing this)…………………………..



Not my first commission, but very similar.
Here are a number of links and videos all with a view to teaching children to enjoy the making of good letters.  Whether you are a parent, a teacher, a youngster, or an older beginner, there will be much here to stir the interest and get you or your class started .  Don’t forget the links to “Lessons” on the right of this page and the many art / calligraphy based links to be found elsewhere at Bill’s Space.

A very interesting study of cursive writing /learning.” What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades”. “Does handwriting matter?”

Cursive writing under threat.

Doodling with double pencils or markers, and filling with colour is a very good introduction to learning how the thick and thin strokes are formed.


This one is from the Monica Dengo calligraphy teaching site.  In Italian but the enthusiasm shines through just the same.



An educational philosophy encompassing all creative subjects backs up the teaching of handwriting in France. The French believe that giving children the ability to write will free their minds to perform creatively throughout their lives. So they teach handwriting as a subject in its own right.And they teach handwriting in a uniform way throughout primary schools, using traditional calligraphy to produce a distinctive, ornate hand.This programme visits a school in Lyon to see how students in Year 1 and Year 6 develop this ability.



Calli and Graphy

Home Education Resources  Free printable practice sheets

Alphabet Handwriting worksheets plus colouring pages etc.

See also the rest of the series
Learn to Write Calligraphy

Teaching cursive



See also the rest of the series

As I come across new material on this subject, I shall add it on, so keep watching this space.

Graduation of the first Children’s Group at the Russian Contemporary Museum Of Calligraphy.

National Handwriting Association.

Berol Teachers Club

Meanwhile, colouring ready made letters is a good way of getting a feel for letterform, so here are a few to play with.  Print them off and have fun.

Please let me know if there is anything you are unsure of.  If I don’t know the answer, I’m sure to know someone who does.