Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Old School Cool

So I'm practicing old school cool Spencerian Script when I realized I will never master it. I ask, "Why spend hours repeating the same alphabets over and over until my arm shakes and my eyes blur?" Seriously. And, what's the point in torturing myself when writing with a fountain pen is faster and easier? I just need to practice opening the loop spaces on my loopy alphabets. Okay, and correct five or six other common errors, and just  be happy. Right? Finding white ink that actually works should be enough of a perk to keep me writing my way. Surely?

(from FLOW Magazine)

I think I've sold myself on being satisfied with what I can do until I see something like this. Old school cool makes me drool! Then again, an iridium tipped fountain pen trumps feather quills any day. Right? Right. Well, no, not entirely. I tell myself that if they could do it then so can I. I mean write that way. So, once again will I try.

Is this cheating? Well, yeah. 

But not this! Porcupine quills are perfect for quill pens. They hold ink well. Ink just doesn't flow well, for obvious reasons. I haven't experimented with sharpening the nib end just yet, since truth is, I'm afraid I might cut away until there's nothing left to cut. Its heft is solid--more solid than a feather's for sure. Still and all, I have plans to write at least one letter with my porcupine pen before I retire it.

This bottle of Winsor & Newton's 969 Ultramarine ink is at least five years old, and it flows like a dream. I'll test the bottle behind it tomorrow. It's Daler - Rowney jet black calligraphy ink. It's not our great-great ancestor's ink. Can you imagine using lamp soot for ink? But what do I know? It might still be old school cool.

This day, fifteen letters were posted by me. Yes! I woke to sunshine and birdsong. I flung off the covers, and dashed off to enjoy the day! I know. You cannot imagine anyone dashing--especially me, but I tried, so you should try too. And, I got mail! Lots and lots of mail! Well, there was one Dear John letter but still . . . We are waking from winter's slumber, to pen great letters in old school numbers. Well, maybe not. 

Often enough, less is more . . . more or less.

Well, there are exceptions.

See? I used the adopted stamps. Yep, I'm playing catch-up.

May your mail be merry and bright. As long as you write.


  1. I like the script from the Flow Magazine. I use older documents for inspiration for my own writing. The cursive from school doesn't flow for me that is why I changed it to write the way I do, which, if I'm honest, is italic printing. But I like it. I tried cutting one quill and didn't do very well. I need to try again because I'm curious to write with one. I write better with longer, more slender pens so who knows this may be an interesting experiment. Do you find it easier or more difficult writing with a "lighter" pen? I'm wonder howing how the weight of the quill will effect the script. I must find another feather and try again. I'm coming out of my winter hibernation too. I'm in my Spring Renaissance now and getting back into the swing of things.

    1. After reading what you said I realize we all put our own stamp on shaping words, and that if everyone wrote the same perfect script . . . All the little imperfections make our handwriting unique. Over the years, my own hand has changed from a tiny, stilted cursive without a slant, into several different styles that vary according to my mood or position.

      I have a large feather that I swear came from a buzzard. Not being able to find quilling sand is the only thing that saved it from my pocket knife. I will order the sand this week! It's time to do this.

      I prefer a pen with a little heft. Lighter pens tend to make my hand cramp from holding on too hard, and the nib skitters like I have palsy. I tend to hold the dip pens farther away from the nib, and I write better and more consistently.

      Your handwriting is enviable! I'm glad you're feeling spring too. I was so excited to be out and about yesterday that I overlooked two letters destined for my "mass" mailing. They will be two days late since I used this day for food shopping. I did a slow store crawl. I do like hummus! Phoenicia Mkt makes it just right. I bought dolmas, Armenian pickles, French feta . . . I should save all this for a letter!

      Thanks for improving my day. :)

  2. Feta, hummus and pickles, sounds like a picnic! I love those things too. I'm still trying to find a feather, I have a feather collection but I'm loathe to cut them. One of my feathers is from a buzaard, I think, it's about 28 inches long! Imagine writing with that! It makes me chuckle to think of it. K and I have been discussing quill writing. I did make some oak gall ink and it worked fine at first, then thinned and I don't know why. I've tried elderberry ink too and had the same result. Most say you need gum arabic to thicken, but did Jane Austen have that? My next ink trial will be with walnut shells.

    1. It felt like a picnic. Phoenicia sells the best hummus! The top the container with oil and spices. Oh! I forgot the bread. Oh my goodness! I do like eating with my fingers. The dolmas were disgusting. The grape leaves were tough, and the rice was a gelatinous, unidentifiable, gross mess.

      I'm working on a post about some of the things you mentioned. I'm "researching" and testing first. And why don't I have a Noodlers Flex pen???

      Let me know how the walnut shells work, okay? This is fun!

  3. What white ink do you use for spencerian script. I am working on mine as well...do you use sumi best? Also, when not using feather quills, what nibs work best for your spencerian practice...do you use an oblique holder? Do you use a particular paper? Yep , those opening loops are hard to get down! I say the same thing..."if they could do it (the mass population, mind you!) then certainly I can do it as well! Keep it up!

    1. I'm using Dr. Martin's Bombay white India ink. I should say "used" since I gave up last night. I'm a graphic designer but cannot for the life of me control those thin spidery lines! Yesterday, my favorite book seller and I had a chat about out semi-obsessions with calligraphy, and I STILL bought two more bottles of ink and new nibs. I have pads of specialty papers, practice papers, and kits. I prefer tracing paper. Why? Because it makes me look better than I am.

      I can honestly blame not having mastered Spencerian Script on my shoulder and arm and shaky hand, but the truth is, I have no use for the script. So why did I just buy a new pen/ink/nib? I'll tell you tomorrow.

      Truth is, they HAD to use a quill and flourishes, and make their own ink. That also used an oil lamp. Okay, I can't knock them just because I fall short, but I can do what I am fairly good at. So, you just wait and see. I'll show you! I have an ace up my sleeve.

      Tell me you have to practice a lot too. Make me feel better. My loops are never consistent and my hand shakes. One mistake and I have to start over! Will you show me yours? I'll show you mine if you do. Well, maybe. :) Please?