Tuesday, September 04, 2007

French Handwriting

Today is1st day of school.Kids learn handwriting. I ignored the training, too busy drawing in the margins.  Now I can't read my own handwriting nor can others.
I fell back in love with handwriting when I discovered French wine labels.British Copperplate calligraphy or what the French call "Anglais" is used everywhere and has such a classy look to it. 5 years ago I took myself off to calligraphy classes with Eleanor Winters. It's not too late to sign up if you have a few free Sundays!
You practice like piano scales the same letters over and over. It's like meditation, but your hand is moving constantly. And you're making lovely swoops and swirls. It's a lot like drawing.You also have excuses to buy lovely pen paraphrenalia. Last trip I fell victim to a Marie Antoinette inkpot and I don't even practice anymore.I wish all the new kids on their first day in school the best of luck. I hope they pay better attention than I did in handwriting class.
"If only Carol would just pay attention"

Bet you never heard that one? The French still love  handwriting and so do I.


  1. Okay, now I have to have the sepia ink. And pens, and nibs...and some really good wine, for the labels of course. Or maybe some Veuve Cliquot.

  2. Ha ha! Love this post. I confess to "coloring outside the lines."

  3. Ah yes..I think I was out to lunch when the handwriting lessons were going on.. So I REALLY enjoy things with good handwriting on them. I fell in love with Susan Branch years ago. she actually hand wrote several of her early cook books & added lots of cute water color art work to them. I do actually use them too.
    Great post Carol.

  4. Anonymous11:52 AM

    I'm a total sucker for all those wonderful inks and pens and nibs. You'd think I'd have the best handwriting in the world: I was a good student and always got good grades, but I did get an "I" for "improvement needed" in one area. I was given my own "punish assignment" black/white composition notebook, and every single night, I had to write, 500 times, "I must not talk in school." Didn't help then with the talking or the penmanship, sadly! Those nuns...
    Great post for the start of school, Carol. But you lie like a rug: your handwriting is delightful!

  5. Anonymous11:54 AM

    Gillott drawing pens, eh? You get around, toots!

  6. Anonymous11:58 AM

    Ah. A new potential obsession. This looks like such fun.

  7. Anonymous2:47 PM

    You always hit a button.
    Right on the mark today.
    I couldn't print to save my life as a kid.

  8. Damn, your calligraphy is amazing! My handwriting is alright but calligraphy, forget it. -__-

  9. I was taught to write in Gothic in my early years at school. It was great fun but now I use pens for sketching and love to buy new pens and sketchbooks.

  10. Anonymous4:52 PM

    I don't think they practice penmanship anymore. I remember the tedium of it though.
    I too am now interested in calligraphy. I even bought some books at the used bookstore filled with beautiful examples I hope to mimic someday.
    First, I must finish writing my book.

  11. i sadly missed the penmanship and spelling gifts in school...missed you while i was gone...blessings, rebecca

  12. Anonymous5:23 PM

    Ah - back to school! Always my favorite time of the year -- yes, I was a "good little girl" and had perfect penmanship, but alas, when I got to 7th grade, I felt my perfect handwriting looked "juvenile". After all, what adults do you know who have beautiful penmanship? So I taught myself to scribble - badly, very badly! Then I changed careers, became an architect and had to learn to print block upper case letters for everything all day long. Now, I sometimes try to write something personal in script, but inevitably, the block printing takes over!
    That inkwell....those gillot nibs... there's a man in town who teaches Spencerian script. Now, if I leave the trap on autopilot on the weekends, sleep only between midnight and 4 am, cut back on Flickr posts, and send out for dinner every day.....perhaps I shall fit it in!

  13. Dear jeanette m of l
    Mrs.Thatcher kept those hours
    12-4AM -Sleep
    I do 11:30-5AM
    Somewhere, somehow there's got to be a way you could go Spencerian.

    After doing this post, I took up the pen to try some loops and came up very rusty :(
    I wonder how I did those so fluidly?
    And I need a new banner for ParisBreakfasts badly...Hmmm

    WendyB Coloring outside the lines is the preferred way!

    LoveItaly You spotted the Gillott pen points - my nom de plume litterally!

    Adrian I could sadly never get into Gothic for some reason..I tried it. Not swoopie enough for me.

  14. ohhhh...
    i do so love good penmanship!
    here is my problem:
    *the initial capital letter*

    i want to swoop
    and loop
    and circle around
    and back again...
    and turn the end
    into a little flowery thingy...

    i plum forget the rest of the word!


    does that ever happen to you?

  15. Anonymous9:03 PM

    Oh, drool, drool! I love calligraphy and all the paraphernalia that comes with it. Here's to elagant handwriting - to handwriting at all. Calligraphy means 'beautiful writing' and your blog entry and photos are beautiful and remind us of this fine art.
    Among the many weird jobs I have help, I can count calligrapher as something I did for money.
    Must go pen something lovely...

  16. Anonymous3:39 AM

    I love this post, Carol! I DO love it!
    I'm a French teacher and this has been part of my job for many many years...
    All French people have gone through this learning process... and of course as they have to go through it in their primary school years, they soon want to get rid of it ... when entering the secondary school...
    I find the "écriture cursive" (=anglaise) highly beautiful.

  17. How interesting Marie-Noëlle! And here I am at the moment, trying to teach myself to write like French children do!?
    Maybe that's why the French are better disciplined at the patisserie than we are...

  18. Beautiful post, Carol! :-)
    I was watching the chef pâtissière at Demel's the other day, admiring the steady hand. You may be right, practising those circles and curlicues from an early age, may play a part in their ability to reach the pinnacle of their craft. The Italian educator Maria Montessori developed a method for teaching preschoolers fine motor skills with large sandpaper letters. The children would follow the outlines with their fingers.
    Handwriting and visual presentation was important to get good grades during my school years in Austria, so I tried to please my teachers.

  19. Anonymous7:58 PM

    Bonjour Carol:

    Ah, Calligraphy! How much I adore it. When done by someone other than moi!

    I had a year or so of it in design school. I love the physical motor action of the process, but rarely mastered it good enough to do it for an actual client assignment.

    Sometimes I address a card and the inside inscription to my wife on special occasions. I practice for hours before committing to the actual card and envelop. She appreciates it but it is far from perfection.

    Thanks for showing your handiwork.

  20. Anonymous5:32 PM

    Like Ballet on paper... Lovely!


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