Tag Archives: Beginners

A Calligraphy Workshop at the Red Dot Gallery


 

Red Dot

One of our local schools, Icknield High School, offering a wide range of subjects in the Creative Arts at GCSE level, and home to the Red Dot Gallery, made a request for local artists to come in and run a workshop for year 9 & 10 students currently working towards their Silver Arts Award. As you may well imagine, I thought this would be right up my street. I am sure to grab any excuse to plant the calligraphy seed in young minds.

That is how Gill and I found ourselves one Monday afternoon pinning sheets of lining paper to the gallery walls, wondering how many prospective scribes might come along. Red Dot staff thought there might be ten or so. I had made up fifteen packs consisting of the usual guide lines plus examples of the Roman and Round-hand alphabets as used in the Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Luckily, I had a few spares also, as eventually, at the allotted hour, we were graced by the presence of seventeen of the most attentive, industrious youngsters one could wish to meet.

I had decided previously, that, as many of these students would probably be aiming at a career in the graphic arts/design fields, and there being such a bewildering and sometimes expensive, variety of thousands, probably millions of fonts and type faces available, that I would put to them the idea of taking the half dozen or so historic scripts that we would discuss today,  and making them their own. Using just the models, and tools in front of them plus lessons and resources from this blog, especially the links pages, they could become proficient at drawing their own letters, rather than trawling through all those on offer.

We had approximately one and a half hours to fill and six thousand years of the evolution of western letterform to cover, as well as factoring in as much practical work as we could manage. A massive task, you might think, but by turning my experience as a youngster round and likening my searches through encyclopaedias and dictionaries to searching the web, today, I was able to start with a picture of a Sumerian Cuneiform clay tablet dating to c.3300 BC,

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then, briefly that this highly advanced form of record keeping had already evolved over some millennia and eventually, at the hands of several trading nations, percolated toward Greece where scholars adapted it to their own use. From there it was taken by the Romans to become the familiar script we know today.

Calligraphy.Roman capitals alphabet.double pencils.img.jpg

This alphabet then became part of our British culture. Meanwhile, from Greece the writings travelled northward and were eventually used by St Cyril and his followers to form the beginnings of the familiar Russian ‘Cyrillic’ script of today. On the way it was probably hybridised by migrating Celts who carried it up through Scandinavia and thence to our northern islands and shores and of course Ireland, then merging back with the Roman hand where it became what we know as Uncial.

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For some centuries there was a proliferation of styles as the Roman cursive developed, some of which became unreadable as the Romans moved out and the highly artistic Anglo Saxons added to the mix. Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor, with the help of Alcuin of York, managed to bring some uniformity to the written word in what we know as Carolingian.

Here is my version of Uncial top, Carolingian bottom.

Uncial (top) and Carolingian

Later, this would become a humanist roundhand

Roundhand (Foundational)

and was used by Edward Johnston as a foundational hand.

Calligraphy.roundhand alphabet.double pencil.img.jpg

Roundhand

Then we come to the Gothic period with Blackletter, Old English. etc. where due to the scarcity, and expense of animal skins, more letters had to be crammed onto each page.

This shows the difference in space required for Uncial and Blackletter scripts.

Uncial/Black-letter red

Old English Script

Italics.

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For speed and ease of writing most styles were italicised and various hands developed. Secretary, Chancery, various forms of Copperplate alongside the various types that were being carved and cast to be used by the early printing press and even more now as digitisation comes to the fore. Today we briefly mentioned Italic as one of the forms to concentrate on when building a portfolio of lettering styles along with Roman Capitals, a Roundhand, a Blackletter, Uncial and perhaps one of the Copperplate scripts.

Italic script

Phew! 6000 years in 20 minutes. Now It is now time for the students to go to work. First they were invited to have a go with markers, pencils etc on the paper spread around the walls.

This next sequence of six photos, courtesy of Miss S. Lavin.

S. Lavin's pics 1

S. Lavin's pics 3

S. Lavin's pics 2

S. Lavin's pics 4

S. Lavin's pics 5

Then with my usual beginners tool set of double pencils, guideline sheets and model Roundhand and Roman alphabets it didn’t take them long to really impress Gill and I with their enthusiasm and with some really nicely formed letters.

S. Lavin's pics

We also had time for a very enjoyable, for me, question and answer session but only a few moments, as parents arrived to pick up their offspring, to search through my tool box and show just some of my fountain pens, poster pens, dip pens, hand made quills, reeds, bamboo pens etc.

The tool box

Many thanks to the students and to the staff, firstly for the invitation, then for making our visit such an enjoyable experience, and for keeping the tea flowing. We hope this has begun, for some, a life long interest in the wonderful world of letters. We shall look forward to our next visit.

Cheers.

Bill and of course, Gill.

 

 

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Luton Irish Forum Calligraphy Group.

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  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

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4


Link to week 3

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4.Img. jpg

Before I begin this week’s write up, I would like to thank Andrew for getting in touch and offering some toughened glass suitable for light-tables, and also for delivering same to the museum. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. They were soon snapped up and are probably in use already.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. Light Table. img.jpg.

Here Peter is trying my portable Light-Table and finding it easier to transfer lines from his guideline sheet.  For more information on working with Light- Tables, especially layout issues as discussed this week, have a look at this earlier post on hints and tips.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. Pen-work. img. jpg

Now, while beginning to get to grips with broad nib and ink, we explored how the balance of the written page is found, bearing in mind that the optical centre, is, as with letter construction, (i.e. the central cross stroke on “E” sits on the centre line rather than straddling or hanging from it), slightly above a measured centre. The hints from “My Cool School”, on putting together a brochure give a very good illustration. As the author writes,

You can measure all you want, follow all the rules, and do everything you have been taught, but the bottom line is:  If it doesn’t Look right – it isn’t!”

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. Coming on Nicely. img jpg.

Next, how to plan a page of script, perhaps a poem, without having to write out the whole page only to find you haven’t left enough room. It is a good idea to always copy text from a printed page. It saves any ambiguity (specially when dealing with a client), and at a glance you can pick out the longest line. After first working out, with your guide-line sheets, how many lines you can get on your page, write this longest line in the chosen script  and size. If it is too long or short for the sheet it is meant for, you can either modify the page size, or the size of script, or use a more compressed script, or opt to write that particular line on two lines. Either way you are now in a position to know that what you have planned for the page will actually fit. Your work will now fail only due to faulty execution rather than bad planning.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. A nicely balanced page. img. jpg.

Having been asked to PPP with all their might, the slightly bemused, exhausted group, left with these words ringing in their ears, “Heheheh”.  “Just wait to see what I have in store for you next week”

Looking forward to the final session, for now, I hope, and to seeing you all next week.

Cheers.   Bill.

Link to week 5

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 3


Link to Week 2

This week we concentrated on the transition from double pencil alphabets

calligraphy. A Roundhand alphabet.double pencil.img.jpg.

to using dip pens, fountain pens and marker pens, using at first the widest nib in our kit.

calligraphy. A Roundhand alphabet. written with a broad pen. Img. jpg.

If using a dip pen, first we need to remove the thin protective lacquer coating by running the nib through a flame just for a second or two, then a dip in water; or dip in boiling water and then dry with a cloth before applying the reservoir which slides under the nib to within about 1/16″ (2mm) of the tip.  I was intrigued to find that the ink converter on the Manuscript cartridge pen does not fit the length of the barrel. I shall be looking into this.

A few tries to get the ink flowing, adjustments to reservoirs, inky fingers and smudged paper, then using the more closely lined guideline sheet to gauge the x height needed for the size of nib chosen and that is the next stage of the journey started. All that is needed now, as before, is Practice, Practice, Practice, on which subject I shall point you to one of my earlier posts, Positive Practice.

We did not delve too deeply into layout this week but in the next session we shall be looking at the easiest ways of judging how to fit the printed copy onto our shiny new page at the first attempt, after writing out just one line on a piece of scrap paper.

Looking forward to seeing you all again next week.

’til then PPP.

Keep watching this space.

Link to week 4

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 2


Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

 Link to WEEK 1

Sorry to see a few people missing from the last session due to holidays, work commitments, illness etc. Hope to see you all again soon. Some new faces though, made the mix of abilities even more interesting and everyone had the chance to recap as the roundhand alphabet was demonstrated once more with the double pencils and then later with a broad nib.

Then, a look around the room to find that most had been doing their homework “PPP” and had even made a start on the Roman Capitals. Some though were a bit confused by my notations on the sample. I apologise for not pointing out the formula for letter proportion which can be found on Lesson 2 Roman Capitals.

Monumental capitals might be 8 to 10 nib-widths high. These on the example are 7. Pen angle should be 30 degrees except for diagonals -AWXYZ- 45 degrees, and legs of N, written with an almost upright pen. Capitals in body text are better kept to perhaps half again as high as the minuscules. Widths of Roman capitals vary from 1 nib width – ”I”, to half a square – “E”,  3/4 – ”G”, 1 square – ”O”, to one and a half squares -”W”.

Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

We have one left handed scribe among us and it might be worth mentioning that he took calligraphy classes while on a graphic design course but was never asked to try to write from below the line rather than over the top, which is more natural for a “leftie” when writing with a pencil or ballpoint, but not as efficient when using a broad nibbed pen. I must say I am impressed with his progress so far with the double pencils, I am hoping the transition to pen and ink will be as painless.

Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

Just a couple of comments in passing, this week, on spacing, make sure to use the balloon example, even when practising, to give your eye, brain, hand and arm, plenty of exercise and to build up coordination.

Balloon.calligraphy spacing guide.Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

On layout. You will notice that all your guideline sheets have borders. Not very big ones so far as we need to conserve paper while practising. Later on in the course we will be looking into the correlation of white and black space but it is a good idea to bear in mind that a page with half the amount of black space to white, if nicely balanced, is easier to read and much more restful to the eye than a page crammed from corner to corner.

calligraphy templates.combinations.x height guide.jpg.Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

To make it easier to work out what this is all about. The x’s to the left of the page have the space of two x’s between them, making room for  ascender and descender . The x’s to the right of the page have only one x between them, useful for a page of capitals or uncials, or, short or intermingling ascenders and descenders. So if we always work in multiples of 1/8 of an inch, one guide line sheet will suffice for any number of layouts. More on this later.

Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

Hoping you are able to make the next session where we will be putting the above into action.

Link to WEEK 3

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.



Enjoy.
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.

Welcome to Bill’s Space.


 <img source="pic.jpg" alt="My logo, lettering ."</img>.

Bill’s Space is aimed  at  anyone who has a love of calligraphy, or lettering. Especially beginners and those who  are  having trouble getting started.  Featuring videos and worksheets, links and articles, all with a bias toward art, calligraphy, lettering, and teacher’s resources, and updated as new material comes to my notice.

A Jack of All Trades. Always aspiring to become a master of lettering, I learned a basic italic hand at school, and became a regular at the local library calligraphy section. It took some years to find a local evening class but once there I found myself able to help fellow students with their struggles. Shortly after this I became a tutor myself at evening classes and also started a local church group.

Back in the eighties my work was exhibited in Luton Library.

For 6 years I was privileged to lead a Calligraphy Workshop/Retreat at Belmont Abbey, Hereford.
Any scribe will tell you that people wrongly assume that if you can put letters on paper you will be able to paint them onto almost anything. Brushwork, though, is a completely different technique to master. Luckily I was able to join a 1 year full-time C&G signwriting course and then worked for some time as a signwriter, but I never lost my love of penmanship.
I hope I can help you on your journey.

UPDATE
Bill’s Space was originally set up to promote good lettering. It has now metamorphosed into an all round meeting point for artists, calligraphers and teachers, worldwide, to relax while they search for that little something different to put in their resources locker. Recently a new group, CALLIGRAPHY at Bill’s Space Mk II, has been set up on Facebook to run alongside the original site. Whether you are a beginner or have years of experience come and join in the fun. The more experienced scribe is encouraged to give help and assistance where needed.

A click on this image will take you to a comprehensive catalogue of tools and materials

I recommend that beginners go straight to Getting Started in Calligraphy where you will find a comprehensive guide on what you need to get started and links to the various lessons.

If you are looking for inspiration a browse through the links pages might just give you the nudge you need.

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact me through the contact box here-under.

I hope you have enjoyed your visit. Please come again and tell your friends.

For embedded links to all my pictures, prices for commissions etc.,  don’t forget to visit my website, Calligraphy by Bill Grant .

Keep watching this space.

Cheers.

If you would like to donate a few pennies to help with the upkeep of Bill’s Space, please click on the button to link with Paypal.  Many thanks.