Friday 10 November 2017

Modern Calligraphy Book Review

I don't do Calligraphy for the most part, always considered it to be too extravagant for the amount that I write.  That said, I do enjoy the act of writing, taking the time to put the words on the page neatly and well spaced, is always a calming activity to be engaged in.  With this in mind, I agreed to take a look at the latest book on how to do Calligraphy, and see if things have changed from when I started writing so many years ago.

This is Modern Calligraphy by Lucy Edmonds

The first thing to note is that it's a practical book, both in the instructions given, and the nature of the book as presented.  It doesn't just tell you to hold the pen a certain way, it shows you the correct way of doing it.  Whilst some will argue about the proper way to hold an oblique nib versus a straight nib, for those beginning on the journey, it's good to have the pointers laid out clearly for you to start with.

The second thing is that the book is designed to be used for the exercises that it asks you to complete, here are lots of spare pages and practise areas to work with.  This might not seem a bad thing, but there are some who might be concerned that of the 168 pages in the book, 45 of them are blank, 80 are examples of how the Calligraphy should look, and the remaining 43 actually contain instructions on how to make that Calligraphy happen.

As an example, a page of what to do, then four pages to practise
In a lot of ways, I'd have preferred a more concise book that had nothing but instructions in it, leaving me to use my own paper to practise on, rather than writing in the book itself.  The paper the book is printed on is good quality, but it doesn't react like the normal paper I write on, so the exercises were usually repeated on my paper of choice after doing them in the book.

How it should be, how a pro does it, how an amateur does it.
The instructions on how to hold the pen and how to place the nib were mostly superflous (Take pen, take nib, insert thus), but the instructions on technique and the understanding of how you use a dip pen, over how you would normally write, were excellent, and a real revelation to someone who'd never really given it much thought.

Advanced techniques
The book covered basic and more advanced techniques, not enough to give you mastery of the art, but easily enough to start you down the path.

Which may be something I spend far more time with...
In all, it's an interesting book, retails for around £12.99 and contains more than enough to get you started on the practise of Calligraphy.  I do think that there's a lot of padding in the way its been presented, and that a single page of practise paper would have been enough rather than four sides of blank in every instruction, but I understand that charging thirteen quid means that you would probably be expecting more than a forty page book.

Either way, it's well presented and easy to follow, I'd recommend it as a beginners guide.

As always, I didn't pay for the book, and nor did I receive any incentive for my opinion.