Faith, or Something Like it and the End of Calligraphy Classes, For Now

Last Monday, not the one from two days ago, but the one dated February 21st was my last day of copperplate calligraphy at the Center for Book Arts. It really gave me perspective on what exactly five weeks looks like. We’re already in March!

When I signed up for Calligraphy, I felt like five weeks was a long time and definitely plenty of time to get a handle on calligraphy. What I realized is that was/is just not enough time period.  If anything, five weeks is a great step in a direction, or for the sake of a shorter word, a tease.

However, I would be lying if I told you that I did not learn to love and appreciate copperplate calligraphy or the talented and amazing Karen Gorst, or the other nine people I shared the class with. As a matter of fact, there is a second level of classes coming up in May and I intend to take that class. My hope is that in the weeks leading up to the class, I will spend time practicing what I did learn in the first class. Hopefully, by the time the second class comes around, my letters, words, sentences will look a bit better. What that entails however is truly dedicating 15 minutes a day to the art of practicing. Calligraphy is not handwritting. It is the art of shaping letters. One of the things that I find the most amazing is that if you break down each letter, you find several ovals within them. When you learn to shape each oval and connect them to create the letters, you realize that your hand is moving in a motion that is completely different from anything you’ve known before.

If we go back to my chaotic posting from two days ago, then you’ll remember that I don’t always have the time to squeeze 15 minutes in of calligraphy, but the fact remains that if I want to make my dream (of creating an entire line of calligraphy invitations) then I’m going to have to practice. Not to mention, I feel like if I don’t practice then what I learned would be a waste to not just myself, but the lovely woman who taught me and who really encouraged me the last five weeks.

Ms. Gorst quickly became a cheerleader for me and S2. As a matter of fact, several people in the class did. So while the practicing is for me and learning the skill is mostly for me, but also to share with the world, I want to continue to live up to the experience of meeting so many incredible people who are on par with me.

I don’t think I’ve talked about that before, but when you’re on an endeavor, you want to be surrounded by people who are like-minded, and encourage and challenge you. It’s one of the reasons why I LOVE my Etsy team (The {NewNew}) as much as I do. It’s such a great feeling to be surrounded by people who share your passion and ideas and help you grow. Not that my friends and family don’t do that, but my friends and family even in all of their support don’t always understand what and why I’m doing all of this.

That is really why my Copperplate Calligraphy class helped me grow. The class had at least five designers (graphic and web) who were just tired of sitting at their computers every day and wanted to learn a new skill that involved their hands. . One of the women is a florist who wants to be able to write nicer gift cards. Being in a room full of creativity helped fuel the creativity and also stop me from thinking I’m a bit crazy to be so interested in something that does not fully flow with the online technology world we live in.

I’m including two pictures of my final class project in last Monday’s class. We were instructed to practice the “majuscule” and ” minuscule” letters (upper and lower case) by combining them to create a word for each letter in the alphabet. Karen very graciously let me stay a few minute after class to complete the project and then went over each word with me to tell me where I did and didn’t create the right shape, or connect the letters correctly. Ever the perfectionist (yes, I’ve been one since I was five), I needed that for the future of my skill.

What both of these samples show is my insecurity about my newly learned calligraphy skills. The words are crooked and you can see where I’m shaky and hesitant and sometimes even frustrated. At the same time, you can see my eagerness to learn and get better. So now until May, I’ve off to practice copperplate on my own. I only hope that while I’m off learning paper making across the planet, I will have the time to practice and get better. As Karen says, “the great thing about calligraphy is that you determine how good you are by the amount you practice.”  I think my first post-calligraphy class practice will be today on my lunch break…it’s just 15 minutes.

Oh, and before I forget, I had mentioned back when I started the class about reviewing an exhibit at the NY Public Library on Fifth Ave called “Three Faiths.”  The exhibit is now closed (it closed on the 27th), but I did manage to quickly view it (it was crowded the day I went). If you didn’t get a chance to see the exhibit, but are interested in learning more about the exhibit, you can read about it on the NY Public Library’s website. It’s chock full of information and photos.

All I can say is that the arts of writing, calligraphy and making books are beyond words of explanation. I could use the adjectives “beautiful” and “gorgeous,” but that doesn’t do what I saw justice.  Walking through the exhibit showed me the history, talent and beauty of the written language through the eyes of three religions — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.  It also showed me faith. As I told my good friend Lauren after viewing several Cathedrals in France in 2003, “I have no doubt there is a God. Nobody creates this kind of beauty without a strong faith.” At that time, I was seriously doubting God and faith as a whole. What those churches showed me is that faith leads us to do some incredibly amazing things. This exhibit did the same in addition to exciting me (I was surrounded by old books!), made me more curious to learn about adhesives and book binding and other styles of calligraphy and helped me see a bit clearer my passion and interest. My faith (not necessarily in religion because I’m not extremely religious) is leading me down this path…where is yours leading you?


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s2 stationery & designs

A rule-breaking designer, artist & entrepreneur who's passionate about paper and handcrafting stationery. I also write, travel, and focus on eco + social good.

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