Evolution in action

Unlike Athena, our 26-letter alphabet didn’t just spring into existence one day, beautiful, fierce and fully-formed: it is the result of thousands of years of human ingenuity and experimentation. The letters evolved.

IMG_8427.jpgPages from Christopher Jarman’s “Fun With Pens” (A&C Black Ltd., 1970).

Good-looking calligraphic letters don’t just spring onto the page right after you sit down to write them, either: they are the end result of steady practice. When you want to make something beautiful to give to a friend or to keep for yourself, you will need to form an idea of the thing before you touch your pen to the final nice paper. This requires getting warmed up, maybe experimenting with different hands, and several attempts on practice paper to get the words/names right before you make the final attempt.

Students performed this very evolution last week in calligraphy class. The result was many handsome-looking bookmarks:

IMG_8347.jpg
Maria, Martin and Flora chose to write in Round hand (and note Martin’s drafts at upper left); Alice and the teacher chose the Blackletter hand.
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