A few weeks ago a very good friend of mine sent me a handwritten letter through snail mail. And I LOVED IT! My friend used a walnut-ink calligraphy pen to send me a nice “Thank you” note. Her message got me wondering about how the importance of calligraphy and penmanship went during times when cell-phones weren’t a second thought to half the planet’s population.
How Ancients Heat the Haters
I’ve always been an artsy 90-liner with an old soul, so it’s almost a given for me to appreciate paper quality and good ink. It’s fun! And I have a strange love for snail mail which surprisingly hasn’t lost its overall appeal in the age of online shopping. Anyways—ABOUT CALLIGRAPHY.
Every time I look at handwritten letters –I’m not talkin’ post-it notes—I find it fascinating how precise the text can be with little to no mistakes. There could be the occasional strikethroughs and mechanical edits here and there, but for the most part, old texts and letters seem to have none. If anyone takes a glance at old U.S. documents (vintages mostly behind glass now) or written inscriptions on European historical landmarks and ancient texts, they’ll see how handwriting it literally EVERYWHERE. A beautiful sight to see. Very few mechanical mistakes though (to the untrained eye, I suppose?).
I think the issue over time was focus. Apparently focus has been on a steep decline with every generation. My friend mentioned how it was tricky writing the letter she sent me so as not to make any mistakes. Made sense. I lost count of how often I took handwriting for granted (still do) and I imagined my friend learned the same of herself. Handwriting, the literal writing BY HAND, used to be a dang OCCUPATION. During times when most people spoke but a few wrote? Those who wrote were well compensated. Well….some. These folks put modern-day pencil-pushers working from nine to five to SHAME. Scribes worked nothing but overtime for the sake of their craft. Handwriting took skill and discipline. Who knows? Ancients might say that my friend and I lacked discipline which is why our calligraphy-writing presented a challenge. Not to say people throughout history didn’t struggle in this respect, but they knew what the heck they were doing and why. Had to. There was no “undo” button.
How often do you write considering prose, rhetoric and ethos for the whole process? If you’re a U.S. English speaker, you might be saying “It’s all Greek to me. I dunno.” There are reasons for that. It’s fascinating to me.
I recalled learning cursive at a time I was barely registering my ABCs. All the teachers instructed regardless. I practiced my cases, stayed within the three lines and did not cross the dotted one without reason. I thought, “Why do I have to learn this stuff?” Apparently, at that age, I learned for the sake of creating my own font, my own style, handwriting development, my own personal fingerprint of words.
The importance of paper types and weights has stayed relevant thanks to commercialism. But what about with common folk? Scarce really. Still art has also helped sustain relevance. The paper my friend used was fancy. No bells. No whistles. No fringe, frills, lace or doily patterns. It was just nice, thin, and smooth—not off-white but a glazed white. The white you might’ve seen on pound cakes, donuts and fritters. It could’ve been blank and I’d still love it.
Popular paper types that come to many minds are the papyrus and rice paper thanks to pop culture. Rice paper is made from straws of rice stripped of leaves and steadily soaked, while papyrus is made from the stems of the papyrus plant laid out and pounded flat. Both have processes that require dedication and give pretty neat results. I understand now that paper-making tends to require proper screening and drying stages. All for the sake of craft.
Nothing beats the feel of smooth fabric in one’s hands like that of paper, that not only has a personal touch thanks to the written word. The paper literally has the personality of the writer presented in its very nature.
Who saw this coming, though? Now anyone can take a screenshot of my cursive name and forge it like a picture. A picture’s worth a thousand words, right? What if one word written by me is worth a thousand bucks plus my identity that I can’t get back? YIKES. But again, the question comes to mind, “Cursive? What’s the point?” For some it’s nothing. For me it’s art. In my culture it’s a dying necessity it seems to where its only necessary use is slowly getting replaced by the “Digital Signature.”
But if that doesn’t scare anyone who wants to dapple in creating their own paper whether homemade from the kitchen or traditionally with the proper tools, feel free to browse some of the links below.
WANNA LEARN MORE ABOUT THIS TOPIC?
- Making Rice Paper
- Making Homemade Parchment
- The Calligrapher’s guild
- History of English Script
**COA's, Disclaimers and ETC's**
All mentioned content is purely for entertainment/informative purposes. All links provided for each respective topic are of sites I find trustworthy (a.k.a. safe to browse) with any following content the property of those admins. Any unexpected roads to elsewhere are at the discretion of your own browser/internet provider’s security settings …annnd hopefully a good firewall.
Please pardon me if I am not too accurate with the subjects I post about. I do try my best to stay current and not generalize. Constructive criticism and “Grammar Nazis” are welcome (especially about my artwork ^_^), but no flames …[pretty] PLEASE? If you have anything to add, correct or would like to share any cool topics you’d like me to draw for, feel free to click on the links towards the bottom of each page, or drop me a message here!