Hi Flourish Friends,
It’s hard to believe we are already going into the third week of 2018! Honestly though, I wasn’t too sad to see 2017 come to an end. It was a difficult year in many ways and although I still like to savor every moment of life, I like the idea of a fresh new start. I’m always a bigger fan of years that are even numbers, too. 🙂
I was reviewing last year’s list of resolutions and I’m really happy I have actually accomplished some of them. I reached some personal goals – had my first cello recital this past month after starting lessons in June! And I have tackled some professional goals as well.
I have been hard at work for close to two years on a new book. It’s a calligraphy book of course and the topic is, maybe you guessed it, flourishing! There are few resources available, and no books yet that I am aware of, focusing solely on pointed pen letter flourishing. I know it won’t be the only book on the subject in the coming years but I’m hoping it will be one people like.
The book will include extensive instruction for a traditional Copperplate script, alternatives for both capitals and lower case, flourishes and how to create them, and designing with letter flourishing.
When I began, I took a hard look at my lettering and decided I needed to relearn Engrosser’s script. I started by researching old journals and studying lessons by the masters. I took it down to the very basics and even changed how I held my pen. It was not easy but I am confident it was worth it and it has improved my calligraphy significantly.
As part of this journey, I came across a small paragraph in one of the old journals by Charlton V. Howe in which he briefly mentioned that he preferred a triangle shaped, oblique pen holder. Howe wrote:
Personally, I do not think the average oblique holder is well adapted to script writing unless the top side is flattened so the forefinger can rest upon both the holder and the tin at the same time, thus overcoming the tendency to grip or turn. The triangular oblique holder is well adapted to engrossing script.
I have learned through experience that the nearer the point of the pen is grasped, the better control of the pen is the result. In writing Engraver’s script, I place my forefinger on the pen below the side piece of the oblique holder about half an inch from the point of the pen, which results in perfect control of my pen.
The only triangular shaped pen I could find reference to was the Ransomerian Pen advertised in many of the old journals. I was especially intrigued by this and contacted Edward Curran, one of my favorite pen makers, to see if he could help me. I wanted a curvilateral pen – that is, a somewhat triangular shape but with rounded edges for better comfort, a flat top, and a shallow bottom. I sent Edward some drawings and photographs of a model I made from paper clay. Utilizing his pen-making knowledge, after a few trials, he created, what to me, is the perfect pen holder for Copperplate and especially flourished Copperplate. We call it, the Curv-E Holder – representing its curvilateral shape, Curran, and E for Erica and Edward.
The harmonious sides allow a natural tripod grip and for the pen to be gently cradled in your hand. You can also place your index finger further down to allow contact with both the nib and pen at the same time. This allows a degree of pressure feedback to the proprioceptors in your finger tip which in turn allows more control. The proprioceptors are the sensory nerve endings that give information concerning movements and position of the body part. It has made a remarkable difference in my lettering and has quickly become my holder of choice.
Using a tripod grip allows me to better execute both muscular movement and whole arm movement which I believe facilitate better flourishing. If I prefer, I can glide my hand on the side of the little finger or the nail, whichever feels more comfortable.
While I am still busy at work putting the finishing touches on the book, Edward has a limited number of the Curv-E Holders available in his Etsy shop: https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/ChicOblique.
Edward has more information and a video on his Instagram at @chicoblique. If you decide to give one a try, I would love to hear how you like it. In the meantime, stay tuned for news in the coming months as the book nears completion and pre-orders are available.
I hope you all have a fabulous 2018. May your health, happiness, and all you hold dear, flourish in the new year!
P.S. The new list of 2018 Exchanges for Flourish has been posted and sign ups are now open for the Holi Heart Exchange!