ABC Uncials has a secret password for the owners of the book to download free templates and ruled up paper.
You can also read up more about teaching children on the website: www.linkerrdesign.co.uk/abcuncials
Isabel is nearly 10 and is a left-hander (like many famous artists including Leonardo da Vinci!)
She has got her ABC Uncials book and has downloaded some ruled up paper to try the pen excercies in the introduction.
This is her very first calligraphy lesson:
She is writing on the ruled up paper for a Speedball C-0 nib and has a Speedball penholder and some walnut ink that came with the kit. The C-0 nib is quite a tough nib.
Make sure that the ink on the child’s left hand side, so that they don’t have to stretch across their work. They dip the pen to halfway up the nib, then dab the front of the nib onto a folded piece of kitchen towel to get rid of excess ink.
I suggest that left-handers start off with right hand nibs and if they cope well with these nibs, then calligraphy nibs will be more accessible to them than always trying to get left-hand nibs. (It is a bit different to left-handed scissors which are an essential for lefties.)
I also suggest that they start off with the paper sideways and write from top to bottom (and I don’t fuss about posture)
This is because if they hold the pen in the way that feels natural, the thicks and thins get reversed as they hold it at 45 degrees the wrong way (135 degrees actually!) If they try to hold it at 45 degrees the right way as shown below left the pen is upside down and the hand smudges the work. (Ideally lefties should be able to write from the right side to the left side of the paper as in Hebrew!)
A possible solution is to twist the wrist and hold the pen at an impossible angle pointing outwards away from the body. This requires huge dexterity. Gaynor Goffe who is left handed writes like this and she is an outstanding calligrapher. I bet she could write beautifully with her foot if she tried! I once knew a young man who just did calligraphy upsaide down!
In the end the left-hander has to work out what is comfortable for them because:
- there are different degrees of left-handedness
- a left hander has learnt to cope in a right-hand-biased world in their own way.
So I start them off working totally sideways and often they tilt the paper a little less finding what is comfortable for them.. It is not as easy to do horizontal downstrokes of letters as you push sideways, rather then pull the pen downwards, but it still seems to have been the best solution for the left-handers I have taught.
When the line is too thin or jagged it is because the edge of the pen is not making full contact with the paper. Also, after a while people often forget the 20˚angle and start going at 0˚. Hold their hand and write with them to help them feel the correct angle. Tracing letters is great for helping re-inforce the pen angle. (I also hold the hand of right handers, adults or children if it helps them get their hand and nibs in the right position.)
Isabel has finished and has started doodling. I’m strict with adults about keeping margins clean so that they ‘get their eye in’ on spacing, but with children I’m very relaxed. Isabel has done quite enough concentrating for one day and its nice to play a bit and to explore the pen and ink.
I gave her a wide balsa pen and an A3 sheet of paper to play around on. (See: Balsa pens) I showed her how to draw birds and she did some. Mine is the top one and the rest are hers.
I then wrote her name for her to see and left her to do whatever she liked. You can see that by the time she got to the ‘e’ in Isabel, she was tired and school writing crept in. But she loved her lesson with me and has certainly earned her little book ABC Uncials – which will be printed next week.