GWYNETH PALTROW + J. CREW

I don’t usually post about fashion, but when two favorites come together I think it warrants a post, no?  I received an email from Gwennie (via Goop) wherein she teamed up with J.Crew for a transition into fall preview. It was executed flawlessly, Gwyneth modeling the clothes and then a little link on how to get the look.  I am a G.P. fan, so this sent me over the edge of euphoria when coupled with styling eye candy powerhouse J.Crew. I don’t spend a lot on my wardrobe, (unless it’s shoes or handbags which I feel are investment pieces), but I do like the quality of a lot of my J.Crew acquisitions. Their belts last forever and I don’t know what they do with their ribbed tanks, but they seem to never lose color or shape; I have a navy ribbed tank that has lasted me years
I am getting excited about fall in my new neck of the woods, previously in the City of Angels we didn’t really have any delineation between the seasons, September often brings a second coming of summer (but hotter than you would ever like), so it will be novel to experience a seasonal change. Maybe I can rejoice in the Pumpkin Latte cravings with the rest of the blogosphere, as the thought of a Pumpkin latte in September in Los Angeles is about as enticing as getting bamboo shoots pushed under your fingernails. On another note, I know I promised downloads and hopefully I will have those ready for you by tomorrow! I am also announcing another winner for the monogram giveaway tomorrow so I hope you stop on by to see if it’s you!

20 + CALLIGRAPHY ALPHABET SPECIMENS

Welcome Yahoo readers! If you are coming here for the first time we have a ton of Lettering resources!  These are some of our fave supplies for beginners. We are about to launch a tool that will assist with cleaning up your lettering to be able to share it on the internet, you can sign-up for the launch here! We also have plenty of hand lettered fonts that we love and recommend here.

On my journey to learn calligraphy and develop my own hand I have read many, many books.  I have taken a private lesson with a master calligrapher, but regrettably it was terrible timing for me with work + moving and I was only able to get in the one lesson. I also took a class at Paper Source, which was fun but didn’t turn me into a calligrapher in the 2 hours I spent there. I had my ‘aha’ moment when I recently took Melissa Esplin’s Modern Calligraphy Course. I am a visual learner (a lot of individuals are), I found watching her create the letters was very helpful for me. One of the things I had read previously that clicked when coupled with Melissa’s class was that in calligraphy you are ‘drawing’ the letters. This makes sense when you realize you need to pick your pen off the paper multiple times to create one letter; unlike with traditional cursive where you are told to keep your writing instrument on the page. Another tip I found very helpful in my practice is to reference alphabet specimens. The alphabets I appreciate the most (at the moment), are ones that give a very clear diagram of the stroke order. Before when I viewed these diagrams, I thought I would have to create the letter in one fell swoop (impossible), now that I know that it is okay, neigh, encouraged to lift my pen, I know that I can create the strokes in steps, which results in an actual letter (a huge achievement in my book). I have found a slew of reference alphabets for you.  What is the absolute best calligraphy/lettering tip I can give you today? Practice. You really need to practice to achieve your goals in this discipline, but the best part is that with practice you can achieve a modicum of success. I love Copperplate, but Spencerian is what was taught in schools before the Palmer Method took over. Spencerian is the reason why so many of the American 19th century letters, ledgers and every day notes were so elegant.  I have been asked how much I practice and I have challenged myself this month to practice every day for an hour.  I usually can’t do this until late at night, but it is a very meditative practice so I find it works well before I go to bed. I also don’t always practice with dip pen and ink, a pencil works fine to get familiar with the strokes (so for those putting off learning until you can afford tools you can actually start tonight).  Practicing with the sample alphabet specimens will help with one day developing your own hand. Most of all have fun!

 //ONLINE SPECIMEN RESOURCES//

Iampeth-This stands for the International Association of Master Penman Engrossers Teachers of Handwriting. Here you will find a treasure trove of antique specimen books that have been scanned and that you can view for free! It is a wealth of resources, plus there’s free videos showing you how to create Copperplate letterforms as well.

The Palmer Method-If you are of a certain age and went to Catholic school there is a great chance that you are familiar with this hand and learned it at school. It is casually elegant. There’s a font here that is pretty spot on if you can’t wait to master this hand.

Ames Historical Society-You’ll hear the name Ames a lot in calligraphy circles, this link is a beautiful scanned guidebook and some interesting history thrown in to boot.

The American Instructor-A lovely antique alphabet specimen.

Finnish Penmanship Sample-Simple + elegant letters both Majuscules (uppercase) and miniscules (lower case).

How to Write Like an Architect-This isn’t calligraphy, but is lettering. This is one of my favorite hands and when I print I try to always re-create it.

//BOOKS WITH CALLIGRAPHY ALPHABET SPECIMENS//

The Technique of Copperplate Calligraphy-I love this book because it gives multiple variations on uppercase letters which I really appreciate.  There are certain letters that I have a hard time with or just plain don’t like the way they look and to have an option for an alternate makes me very happy.

 Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy-This is a large manual with tons of samples. Even if you don’t want to learn but love calligraphy this is a beautiful tome to see.  It doesn’t have the stroke order, but she explains creating letters very well and I think the novice can follow along easily.

//VINTAGE ALPHABET SPECIMENS//

Etsy has some wonderful and affordable vintage specimen and guidebooks. I highly recommend them if you are interested in procuring some. Not only are they useful but would make a beautiful collection. Try search words like penmanship, calligraphy books, alphabet specimens.

Ebay-If you get serious about collecting penmanship guidebooks Ebay has some super rare and yes, expensive ones. Just looking through the listings of them is fun too!

Potboiler Press-Some great antique calligraphy books.

//ONLINE CLASS//

I Still Love Calligraphy-Melissa is a wonderful teacher and she does provide both a downloadable alphabet and guideline sheets for her students.

Calligraphy in the 21st Century with Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the co-creator of the world’s best + easiest product photography tool-Foto Rx | Shopkeeper’s Helper and one of the writer’s of this delightful blog. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.

FEAST FINE ART & CALLIGRAPHY

I figured a little lettering eye candy would be in order for this week, no?  This is the hand of Alissa Mazzenga of Feast Calligraphy, it’s so lovely, feminine and unique. Artists like Alissa raise the bar for every letterer that wants in on the modern ‘calligraphy’ scene.  There are many talented lettering artists in the world and I will continue to showcase them here and introduce you to some up & comers.  I am popping back in later today with some downloads for you (I hope you like). And one more resource post to round out this week!

LETTERING IN ILLUSTRATOR + IMPROVING YOUR HANDWRITING

I am beyond thrilled to share our very first Besotted video tutorial courtesy of my pal, one of my favorite Pinners and my partner in Souvenir Foto School Miss Michelle P.  When I mentioned what I was doing this week Michelle kindly offered to create this video for those that wanted to explore lettering in the digital realm.  The tutorial was created with Adobe Illustrator, which I sheepishly admit that I am not great with, but Michelle makes this tutorial very simple and even those not too familiar with the program can follow along (you can get a free 30 day trial here if you don’t have it). After I watched this I emailed her immediately and asked for more, she made it seem so easy that even I the Illustrator challenged felt like she could try this. You can view the video here (or click the image).
I knew when I started this week that I didn’t want to solely focus on calligraphy so I am including some resources for improving your own handwriting or creating a more interesting personal hand:
//BOOKS//
Love Your Handwriting by Heidi Swapp – Heidi is a well known scrapbook product designer, but it’s her distinct whimsical hand that has made her a stand-out in her industry.
//CLASSES//
Love Your Letters Workshop by Letter Girl–  I haven’t taken this class but I really want to.  I love Gina’s casual and happy hand.
Letter Lab-I took this online class, it’s not for everyone as the focus is for scrapbooking, but I am very open minded when it comes to classes + learning I try to always extract the kernels that will work for what I am trying to accomplish. I can happily say I did learn a few new tricks.
//WEB RESOURCES//
French Cursive-This may be one of my favorite foreign hands. I go crazy (in a good way) when I see French cursive. You will need a Cahier d’Ecriture, French ruled paper and a sample alphabet, if you scroll down on this link you will find one!SeanWes-Sean is an amazing lettering artist, but what’s even more amazing is that he is so generous with information. I really liked his post on copying (hope you do too).
//PENS//
I am a huge pen enthusiast, but this is a short list of pens I use in my everyday to assist with my penmanship. Lettering pens are a different animal.
Le Pen-These have a great tip, come in many, may colors and are nice and petite so they feel really nice in your hand.
Sharpie Pens-I love these, but they seem to come up missing when you use them (because others will love them as much as you do).
Muji Pens-These are great looking and you can get super tiny points. I find a tiny point makes everyone’s penmanship look better.
//FREE HAND-LETTERED FONTS//For those that won’t be trying out Michelle’s technique (I totally can’t wait to), here are some fonts that mimic a hand-lettered look.  The one I used above is Grant’s Ghost. Festus is a good faker too. If you are looking for a French handwriting font DuCahier is the only game in town.

P.S. If you have any questions for either Michelle or myself leave the questions in the comments and we are happy to answer.

P.P.S. The always lovely Going Home to Roost mentioned this week (thank you!) and added some of her own favorite links!

BRAUSE ROSE NIB FOR PAINTERLY STROKES

Okay, the Brause Rose nib is slowly becoming another favorite nib.  It has not made its way to favorite yet, because sometimes it feels like I am trying to hold on to a slippery piece of pasta. It’s aesthetically beautiful, it has an embossed rose on its body which feels so very Victorian and lady like to me. This nib takes a lot of practice to get comfortable with for a newbie to the craft.  I have only been doing this for a few weeks so I don’t know how long it shall be before I can pull this out and scribe without fear of ruining what I am working on. When I am having a good practice session I can make the nib create beautiful thick stokes that mimic what I imagine I would want a paint brush to do (lettering with a brush is VERY difficult), this is a good ‘cheat’. You can also get very thin hairline strokes as you can see on the uppercase ‘L’ and the word ‘rose’.  My suggestion would be to try the Zebra G or Nikko G and get a feel for the dip pen and then work your way after a couple weeks to this nib.  It feels very ‘springy’ to me and is categorized as a flexible nib, meaning to get those hairlines you are going to have to have a feather light touch and to get those thick strokes will take nary any pressure. I don’t know for certain, but it seems like a calligrapher like Molly Jacques might use a nib like this to create the beautiful thick strokes of her lettering.
In doing these posts I wanted to be sure to add in some random lettering tips. One I should have made clear immediately before practice is wear clothes you won’t care about getting ink on. I ruined 3 shirts and my favorite pair of jeans before I started putting on an outfit specifically for lettering practice. It’s just a black t-shirt and black leggings (I look like a cat burglar), but I don’t have to stress about ruining another article of clothing.  I also always put down a piece of butcher paper; I love my desk and would be so sad if I ruined it. I have already spilled an entire container of black Sumi ink on my desk (and keyboard) and I never want to re-live that experience. Again if you have questions ask me in the comments, I am so new to this craft, but at least I can share my experience.
You can read about the Zebra G + Nikko G nibs here and the Gillott 404 nib here.
P.S. You will find when you start out that certain letters will vex you. I hate my ‘k’s and seriously can’t believe I posted one. I am also having the worse time with the letter ‘B’. My favorites letters are the uppercase ‘L’ and ‘G’ I want to find words that start with them just so I can write them all the time!