***This is a heart-warming addition to our shop because Salman is one of the nicest guys I know - he's even shared surprise birthday cake at our shop, for one of our staff. I know I say that a lot, and that's partially because we, Jon and I, somehow landed ourselves in Toronto and in Canada, where the pen community is incredible and we have some of the friendliest and most supportive stationery nuts in the world, but Salman really is one of my favourite people. He is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to both calligraphy and letters and so open and passionate about sharing it. We're honoured and thrilled to be carrying Salman's holders, and even more so as he has a waiting list for his custom holders three months long. He's offering these holders at truly a very, very reasonable price considering all of the work and time each one takes, along with the experience and knowledge he has in making them. Salman once came to our Letter Writing Club and did free envelope addressing, and I can only imagine the reaction of people receiving the letters in the mail, as though invited to tea with the queen (although I hope, in my case, that the recipients were not then disappointed by receiving the scribbles of the proletariat). The part I liked best, though, was watching him pull out all his various inks and nibs and tools and goodies. I'm mostly just a lowly letter writer and journaler, and occasionally I make a mark on an invoice, usually just a doodle, so I can only dream of having all of these tools to make beautiful words with, and now of course, I have this gorgeous wooden nib holder.
I have always been really interested by handwriting - I loved looking at different ways people wrote and different styles they had. I first picked up a calligraphy pen when I was in elementary school and my dad gave me a set. My favourite colour was purple at the time so I pretty much wrote exclusively in purple ink (until all the ink spilled in my bag...).I didn't come back to calligraphy again until two and a half years ago when I had just moved to Montreal. I wanted to pick up something stress-relieving and relaxing, so I started experimenting with calligraphy, and ended up becoming obsessed with it!
I totally lose track of time when I get to do calligraphy, so I have no idea how long I'll usually go for! I do a bunch of warm ups when I start - a lot of loops and ovals to get my hands warmed up, and then a word or two I'm thinking of.Sometimes when I'm wanting to experiment with different styles, I'll write the same quote over and over again, but I'll play with the spaces in between letters or how the letters loop or their width and length - it's quite fun, and before I know it, an hour has gone by just with one quote!
Ooh - there's so much I love about it! I love the movement of it, watching ink set and dry (especially if it's gold ink!), the little scratch of the nibs against paper. I love that calligraphy is like this old art form - in an age where everyone brings laptops to take notes, I love that calligraphy is a meeting of the hands with the heart and mind, and how you can touch and feel the raised ink, the etch of the nib, the very words.But I also love that it's this sweet marriage of art and words - I've always loved words for their power and how they can create worlds and move hearts, how they can give life and death. So what I especially cherish about calligraphy and hand lettering is the way it can reflect the beauty of the content of words through their very form.
***That's a lot of information! But it's really because we have so much going on here these days. What a blessing, although it feels like everything is just a million never ending loose ends waiting to be tied up. I'm in charge of doing most of the ordering and emailing with our vendors and manufacturers and distributors, and most days it seems like I can hardly keep up. Every once in a while Jon looks through the email and says, oh hey, did you see this email about this deadline that passed you know, like two weeks ago?? And I look away and try to pretend that Caleb is in need of attention. If it's a really old email, I pretend like Caleb is doing something to get into trouble. I just responded to a letter I found in a box by my desk from January. I think that might be a record low for me, but who's keeping track. The exciting news is that I only found the letter because I was sorting and re-sorting my stationery (you know, priorities) when I found this beautiful cabinet on Kijiji! The very next day it arrived through our doors, and it now houses some of my favourite things. One day I'm going to really organize and sort through everything, and maybe even do a blog post on the treasures of my new stationery cabinet, but for now, here's a photo I shared last week on Instagram.
- Kaweco Tin Case
- watercolour in tubes
- little pans (6) + half pans (7)
- rubber cement
- foam (optional)
I'm hoping this will inspire me to be a bit more creative! Having to break out all of the tubes and palette and clean it off after is a bit of a pain, so maybe this will be incentive for me to try something new without too much work. My brush lettering is so-so at best, but practice makes perfect ;)
It's been rainy couple of days here, after our golden and sunny weekend. The grey skies and rain is sometimes a bit depressing, but I'm absolutely loving the cool and misty air compared to our snowy days just a few weeks ago.
Caleb is just loving the rain - he's got this thing about jumping in puddles, or just walking in and marching around and laughing like a maniac. It's crazy because he doesn't have rain boots, just these sock shoes that are socks with rubber bottoms, and running shoes. If we go out more than twice, and both his shoes get wet, he's left wearing his snow boots to go to the park.
If only my in-laws could see how I do things here...
It still needs to be lacquered, so any ink splashes or spills don't soak into the wood (which would only come out with sanding it off, which could affect the shape), but of course I couldn't resist, and I've done just a bit of very careful doodling.
If you have any questions about the class, please let us know! You can see more details here, or you can leave a comment, or e-mail us at email@example.com.
***In other news, Monday is our grocery shopping day, so this morning we headed off to T&T, which is an Asian supermarket down by the waterfront. It's great when Caleb's sitting the shopping cart, since he just stares around as you push him up and down the aisles, but as soon as you have him out of the cart, he's a disaster. He likes to grab things and then re-stock them in alternative locations, which I guess is part of what he does in the shop here. Barely acceptable in our shop, or at least barely tolerated, but in public...we're working on it. The sadness news of all is that my favourite potato snack is no longer being carried at T&T. Or rather, they're only carrying the BBQ and spicy flavours of it. Jon has been trying to appease me by suggesting other snacks, but you know, life just isn't the same when your snacks don't hit the spot. Good thing I have a Nanaimo bar for dessert :) (And in case you were worried that it seems like I'm basically just subsisting off unhealthy foods, I just ordered water bottles for the entire family. They're very cute glass water bottles with silicone sleeves, and Caleb's is a mini one with a straw. I may have spent 45 minutes of my life that I'll never get back deciding which ones to get.)
|Monday, March 14th||Tuesday, March 15th||Wednesday, March 16th||Thursday, March 17th||Friday, March 18th|
Cursive Writing Camp with Michele Nidenoff, $165
10 am to 11:15 am
|Calligraphy Class with Mark Lurz, $65 10 am to 12 pm|
- When cursive is mastered, it's faster and easier to write in cursive than it is in print.
- Most private schools are continuing to require learning cursive writing, and as public schools begin to lessen their focus on it, in the workplace, cursive writing may become a marker for a certain type of education.
- Studies are showing that in class, taking notes by hand is more effective than typing.
- Students who have good penmanship often have more confidence in how and how much they write, so in school, they focus more on learning than on the process of physically writing.
- Studies are showing that there is link between creativity and writing by hand.
- It can be fun! Just like some children may enjoy drawing, some children may enjoy writing, and this is a way to give them structure to learn the skill properly.
***We've been running calligraphy classes in our new space for a while now, which has been something we were very excited to do after our tight quarters at 906 Dundas West. We've held classes at our shop, in the back, while customers came in to browse and look at inks, but we're now ready to announce that we will have a separate space for calligraphy classes, just down the hall. It's a wide open space, with windows and echo-y sounds and concrete floors and white walls, which certainly brings me back to last winter and early spring, when we were walking through the empty shop and packing area and apartment units, and it was all cold and industrial and bright and full of hope. We have even more planned and soon to come, including a March Break Children's Calligraphy Class, and more. It's been pretty exciting, to say the least, to see how the interest in calligraphy has grown over even just the last couple of years we've been running classes - we've had graphic designers and artists and calligraphers attend our classes, but even just "regular" folks who see the beauty in this art. It's a way to put a bit of intention and mindfulness in the writing we do everyday.
- Go to your local bookstore, or a place that sells materials to teachers, like Scholar's Choice, and pick up a workbook on cursive writing. I don't know that I would necessarily recommend one over another, as cursive handwriting isn't too complicated - just look for one that gives lots of room for practise. You can get a special notebook for your kids to practise writing stories or copy out sentences on separately.
- Get your child a special pen, maybe one that they pick out on their own. Even if you're a traditionalist for blue inks in thank you notes, maybe your kids can still practise in green or purple or pink. If they can only write with this pen to practise their cursive handwriting, it may be an incentive to practise.
- Have everything set up in one place, or in a box, so when you're all finally sitting down to practise, you don't have to go hunting for that pencil sharpener or more worksheets.
- Consistency is key - better 15 minutes a day, or every other day, than 2 hours a week. This also has the advantage of not making it turning it into a crazy two hour writing session where you all come out like zombies.
- Watch them form the letters, rather than just looking at the final product. The letters may look good, but it can be hard to tell sometimes if they're forming their letters in one stroke (properly), as opposed to breaking them up, and joining them up separately.
- An occasional treat, like practising cursive handwriting at a cafe with a hot chocolate, may be something to keep the learning fun.
- I give out stickers, both for completing a section, but also smaller stickers to acknowledge a group of letters or words that are particularly well done. Kids need some incentive for doing the work, but also for doing it well, which has the added bonus of incentivizing them to learn what is good.
- As much as learning should be fun, there are some things, like multiplication tables and also cursive writing, that just need to be practised. While you shouldn't become a drill tyrant, sometimes your child just needs to put in the hours to develop that muscle memory.
- Lead by example with your own handwriting, or at the very least, show them what they're aiming for and why it's important. Remember, you're teaching them a skill that can be helpful for the rest of their life, and they should know that too.