Back in my college days, schoolteachers observed that teaching beginning writers a calligraphic hand — either as opposed to, or in addition to, Cursive Writing — had the happy result of students with better, more legible handwriting. Since "Penmanship" (handwriting, with the goal of accurately replicating standard letter forms at all times and speeds) was my worst grade in school, I felt compelled to take up the study.
By the time I graduated, I had a stash of several Osmiroid left-hand fountain pens (yes, I'm left-dominant!) in both standard and my preferred oblique styles, several Speedball handles and an assortment of nibs, a handful of India and colored inks, and a preference for writing ornamental "text" hands on smooth vellum paper.
|Vintage Calligraphy Supplies|
While Michaels has sold a limited number of calligraphy pens and inks over the past several years, most customers were only interested in calligraphy markers — whether the Zig memory, Recollections (our house brand), or Speedball Elegant Writer. I've always associated these markers with dull corners, uneven edges, and dried-out inks — nothing worthy of the effort of fine lettering. (Then again, many professional calligraphers feel the same about steel pens as opposed to hand-cut quills and reeds...)
In the past year or so, our calligraphy offerings have expanded. We now have a couple of Manuscript brand sets, as well as a Speedball set or two, a set of Asian calligraphy brushes, and two lines of calligraphy ink.
So, too, has the range of popular calligraphy — although to make it less scary, we're calling it "hand lettering". And instead of using scary, blotty, messy dip pens (or slightly less scary, but still blotty and messy flat-tip fountain pens), we're using brush markers. And the letterforms we're teaching look more like Copperplate than Chancery Italic or Fette Fraktur.
Of course none of pens we sell are designed for lefties, which is one of the reasons I've had to haul my stash out of storage. (The other main reason is to try to give my colleagues a feel for what our calligraphy customers might ask about or need.)
During the process of preparing for tonight's "Hand Lettering" class, I've picked up and experimented with several types of brush marker, purchased some left-handed calligraphy markers, and started resurrecting my old dip pens. Unfortunately, both Osmiroid and Platignum have left the calligraphy-pen market, and while I have the tips, my old barrels are nowhere to be found. Surprisingly, though, a few of my inks — at least one of which bears the price tag from its purchase over 35 years ago — are still good. Time to get some new parchment, vellum, and chain-and-laid paper, and start playing with letters again.