Tuesday, May 29, 2012

kids at the faire: The Art of Calligraphy

My grandfather often used a dip pen.  I don't ever remember him doing medieval-style calligraphy, or anything truly fancy, but the fact that he knew how to use pen and ink astounded me as a kid.  My mother had learned calligraphy somewhere along the way, citing grandpa's interest in calligraphy as her personal inspiration.  One of the first marks she made (pun intended) in the SCA was as a scribe.  She typically uses cartridge pens, but the principle is the same- wielding a power over ink.

I never learned calligraphy.  I tried several times.  I got a calligraphy kit as a Christmas gift one year, but whether it was lack of dedication on my part, or a skill set that simply does not fall into that category, I really just never got the hang of it.  I can draw with a dip pen- I use a nib and ink for all my illuminations now- but I still look at those who can do calligraphy with awe.

My children are still too young to write, but my peripheral experience with calligraphy puts having them each learn at the top of the A&S list.  It's a useful skill.  Not just in the SCA, but in the "real" world as well.  Just search for "calligrapher" and see how many successful businesses have been built upon the ability to master pen and ink.

In the SCA, the ability to do calligraphy can open up not only the world of the scribes to your child, but can possibly prepare them for a day when...just maybe...they may be required to sign a scroll.  And imagine how beautiful that signature would be if they learned calligraphy now, as a child!

If your child has control of a pen, and knows cursive, introducing calligraphy is a natural next step.  Start with fountain or cartridge pens to avoid ink spills, but encourage them to play with dip pens soon after they get the hang of how a nib is different than a ball point.  Then try out this online lesson when your child gets a better handle on using a nib. 

And remember that, just like me, calligraphy might not be their thing.  It takes practice and patience, and some kids just don't have that.  Some adults don't either.  That's when you introduce them to medieval illumination and the chance to wield power over paint instead!

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