I used to run an annual holiday course teaching children uncials.
And now I have just about completed a little book aimed at 10-year olds and upwards.
This little 16-page manual (about postcard sized when closed) will come with a balsa stick ‘pen’ and some walnut ink crystals for immediate accessibility. I am assuming that whoever gives the child this book will also buy some materials and help the child.
This is how I approach teaching children:
Minimum Age: About 10, when their handwriting is already formed.
Pens: Oh, the joys of real ink and a real dip-pen! So this is my preference and what we use in this book: Brause 3mm nib or Speedball C-O nib, both tough nibs. I also suggest that the Parellel Pens are good. The pens and nibs need to be purchased, but there is the balsa pen to go on with.
I really don’t like felt-tip calligraphy pens as they slip and slide and don’t grip the paper. Also children are so used to felt tips that I think they get sloppy. Besides, they love using real ink*
Ink: I suggest a variety of inks – diluted gouache, watercolour or fountain pen ink.
Paper: They need thin layout paper (40gsm) to trace on and other than that, good computer paper or cartridge for special.
Approach: Forget about discussing angles and X-heights in detail. The x-height information on the left is really for the adult helping them, and I have given the interlinear sizes for the nibs I suggest. My idea is that they photocopy the book and then trace the letters using layout paper stuck over the photocopies until they are confident enough to do them freehand.
I try to make teaching children colourful and fun, hence the monks!
The sample sentence ‘supercallifragiliticexpialidocious’ is given and a basic shopping list. This book has a centre page explaining how to do a simple decorative letter and also some more complicated Celtic weaving (for the ‘upwards’ audience). The main aim is to keep materials and teaching simple and accessible.
I will let you know when this book is printed and available on the website.
*A word of caution with real-ink – my 5 year-old graddaughter was using ink and a dip pen to draw with and I looked at the upholstered chair she was sitting on, wondering if I should cover it. Well her body was covering it so I didn’t bother. But her fingers got inky and she absent-mindedly kept wiping them on the chair! I noticed a lot of brown waterproof ink smudges when she had left. Ah well, it was my fault and I had wanted to recover the chair anyway. She just sped the process up a bit.