Monday, August 17, 2009

The Calligraphy Lesson : Part Two, Script

Calligraphy by Victoria Hoke Lane
Invitation by Marcel Schurman Company, Flora Bella Collection by Brenda Walton; Hunt nib

This lettering inscribed on the gifted Brenda Walton's beautiful invitation design is an example of pen-made script. We've already learned that pen-made means those letters have come directly from the pen, and in the case of original art such as the earlier italic example as well as this fill-in-the-blank invitation, these letters are not retouched. What you see is what you get, including mistakes, which I have lovingly come to regard as almost charming (read almost) in my many years of experience.

Script letters are made with a pointed nib. The weight of the thicks vs. thins depends upon the flexibility of the nib and the pressure exerted on it. Believe it or not, as recently as 100 years ago, every educated person could write a decent script hand. If you want to improve your self-esteem, improve your handwriting...but that needs to be the subject of another post. Although script is lovely for a brief note or a beautiful placecard, it doesn't lend itself well to long texts as it is difficult to read. Helvetica didn't become universally used for nothing!

Calligraphy by Victoria Hoke Lane
Invitation by Bella Ink Designs; Brause nib, 1mm

I've included this example because it shows what is possible in terms of variations on a given style. I chose this portrait style card stock because it matched the Bride's color scheme. It also had another coordinating landscape style card with an equally saucy little design that lent itself well to the rehearsal dinner invite I was also designing. In keeping with the modernity of the design, I used a kind of script variation. In addition to writing loosely and paying little or no attention to "staying within the lines," I used a broad-edged pen nib instead of a pointed one. That resulted in abrupt changes in thicks and thins as opposed to the extreme thins and the "swelling quality" present in traditional script thicks.

Although the letterforms are based on script, because the broad-edged pen was used one might even mistake it for a kind of italic. It has a certain element of elegance, but it is light-hearted as well. When choosing styles of lettering, the formality of the actual event, and the design and/or paper stock are important considerations. Certain lettering styles could be very inappropriate in spite of being beautiful in and of themselves.



{lauryl} said...

Fascinating. Your explanation just further proves to me how many people who call their handwriting "calligraphy" have no idea what they are talking about. That would be like me calling myself a baker just because I like to dabble in baking now and then. Thanks for educating us!

Laura said...

Hi Victoria! I absolutely don't know how I missed this enchanting blog! I'm an italian blogger and I love spending my time writing and practicing calligraphy...I've studied Gothic and I'm goin'on with something we use to call "cancelleresco" style..
I follow you, because I adore your work and I love the idea that someone tries to let people love calligraphy!