Collection of posts from Cyberscribes

The following is a compilation of posts about left-handed calligraphy taken from Cyberscribes, a Yahoo Discussion group.  Cyberscribes has over 2000 members and has some of the best calligraphers in the world as members. Click here to visit the Cyberscribes group.

Thanks to Andrew van der Merwe for compiling and providing these posts

Hi all,

A left-handed student of mine asks: Has there ever been a hand/script developed from the lefthand perspective? (i.e.-leans to the left, reversed pens angles, etc.)?

I would like to know what you've gathered on this subject. I give my lefties the Betsy Rivers-Kennedy to read and also some other handouts and compilations, plus direct them to Gaynor Goffe's site for inspiration.

Apparently Italic is the most difficult across the board.

Thanks for your thoughts!

Ann M San Mateo With a touch of spring fever...

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"A left-handed student of mine asks: Has there ever been a hand/script developed from the lefthand perspective? (i.e.-leans to the left, reversed pens angles, etc.)?"

The answer is NO ! I am assuming your question pertains to an actual alphabet being developed for left handed people who have to overcome certain obstacles such as " (leans to the left, reversed pen angles, etc)"

Betsys book is a good beginning, but if you are looking for inspiration, their are a number of calligraphers who are south paws. Here is the objective if you intend on showing other left handed works by other leftys.

You must first find out how they themselves hold the paper and the pen. Because Gaynor does not turn her paper 90 degrees, whereas I do (or did) so you can have 5 leftys writing in 5 different positions.

Now unless you know this and can simulate how Gaynor approaches it as opposed to lets say Lefty Fonterose the student may appreciate the esthetics of the piece of calligraphy, but has learned nothing about how to approach the essentials. 

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Hi Jerry and all,

I am sure my student is figuring out the various angles of the paper, arm, slantboard, and pen angle that are needed to write any given model. Deciding whether to push or pull a stroke, or make other adjustments is up to them.

What I believe he is asking is whether a leftie has ever invented a script that is easy to write for lefties. I think this is typical of a beginning student who has a good idea of what they want to achieve but is daunted by the task. I don't think lefties are alone in this. I always point to DaVinci's reverse left handed script. I also have the class do monoline exercises writing in reverse or mirror image as well as backwards (zyxw etc.). A lot of it is breaking habits and seeing the ink string new.

When I have the class cut bamboo pens they decide how to carve the nib, straight or oblique. This has been a good lesson because the lefties notice the difference appreciably between the straight and the left oblique. So getting to understand the complex geometry of angles that occur between body and paper is what I aim for, and as you say, each person is different. Just look at how we walk!

Cheers,

Ann

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Ann asks and Jerry responds:

>"A left-handed student of mine asks: Has there ever been a hand/script >developed from the lefthand perspective? (i.e.-leans to the left, reversed >pens angles, etc.)?" > >The answer is NO ! I am assuming your question pertains to an actual >alphabet being developed for left handed people who have to overcome certain >obstacles such as " (leans to the left, reversed pen angles, etc)"

As soon as I get permission I will send an example of Doug Eising's alphabet designed for left-handers to the GB. Doug is an Australian calligrapher, superb left-hander, excellent copperplate artist and broad nib specialist. I will send two lines of a larger piece of work so you can get the gist of it. Most of his work of course is done using right-handers rules but he did develop one of his very own back in the early eighties!

Gemma

Gemma Black, Calligrapher
 Web site: www.pcug.org.au/~gblack
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S I L E N T - L I S T E N six letters, two words, one meaning

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

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"As soon as I get permission I will send an example of Doug Eising's alphabet designed for left-handers to the GB. Doug is an Australian calligrapher, superb left-hander, excellent copperplate artist and broad nib specialist. I will send two lines of a larger piece of work so you can get the gist of it. Most of his work of course is done using right-handers rules but he did develop one of his very own back in the early eighties"

 

Gemma, do you have any idea what he means by right handed rules?

Does this person provide an explanation of why he had to develop an alphabet when one already existed. I can assume we are talking about the alphabet that we are all familiar with. Or are we talking about how to write a right handed alphabet as a left handed person. Or maybe he developed a left handed alphabet based on right handed principles that only a lefty can use.

OK , I am having to much fun with this. You know from our prior conversations, and I should know better from getting drawn into these discussions, that every time the subject of left-handedness comes up, something unique gets brought into the equation. Now we have a left handed alphabet developed by a left handed person. For what purpose?

I would be very interested in seeing this because personally, left handed people really do not need or never did require a different alphabet. What they need are qualified teachers who know what they are doing with left handed students. 

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Ah, Jerry,

Doug developed an alphabet where the pen-angle was aligned with the natural/comfortable way a left handed person would hold the pen with the direction pointed up into the right top corner of the page instead of the way a right handed person naturally/comfortably points their pen up to the left top corner of the page. He didn't have to develop this alphabet for any reason other than to show us what it looked liked if we hadn't tried it - pen-angles in reverse. The example I sent to the GB is now about twenty years old.

I totally agree with you, left handed participants need qualified tutors (left or right) who know what they are talking about - and if they don't they should find out or at least guide them to someone who does know! Hence good discussions such as these!

Gemma Canberra, Australia

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Thanks, Gemma, for posting Doug Eising's example. This is exactly what I had in mind to feed back to my student and am sure it is what he was imagining. It is a wonderful rhythmical script and shows what a good understanding of components can achieve. May I post it into my class discussion for this purpose? I checked for a website for his work with no results.

And Corinna, thank you too for reminding me about Margaret Shepherd's discussion of LH Italic. I have that one in my library.

This is adding good information to LH archives for tutors/teachers/instructors/letterati.

Ann M

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Well I have to admit, it certainly is interesting. Even has a flavor of Copperplate,

but what purpose could it possibly serve when attempting to teach a left handed student. Its a right handed alphabet , with very defined strokes , heading in a particular direction, and all the other necessary ingredients for using the broadedged pen. That includes almost every style of lettering with the exception of maybe Rustic.

Would this be acceptable if someone did something similar for a right handed person. I dont think so ! No one ever said this art form was going to be easy. The only people who seem to find it necessary to provide a crutch and that is what this lettering provides, are right handed people who are teaching left handed people.

The left handed student can find his center once he knows what has to be done. In most cases the lefty learns how to adapt himself accordingly. The problem with the left handed person is NOT THE ALPHABET. Their are other more important considerations that come into play.

Whoever this person is who developed this , may find it convenient for an Italic substitute, but I find it unacceptable. Apparently he seems to have the skills, and the dexterity. So what would be so bad if he utilized those efforts to provide examples of a variety of hands the way they should be constructed.

I think the left handed person would certainly appreciate that more.

I have rubbed shoulders with the best southpaws in this country. From Larry Brady to Bob Boyajian, Kate Atkins, Linda Lanza, Lefty Fonterose, Betsy Rivers, and allot of others who always managed to overcome, use creative methods and adapt themselves without having to be introduced to a less acceptable method of learning letterforms. The way it should be taught, just like it is for right handed people. 

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Gosh everyone, 

I don't think Doug ever meant this to be a substitute for Italic, or even as a teaching model. Seems it was invented "just because," in a humorous vein....which is a good reason. Why shouldn't people be allowed to loosen up and invent letterform according to various self-chosen parameters just to exercise the mind and explore new areas? Is it not enjoyable? It certainly illustrates the effect of writing with the leftie angle and his achievement of consistency and rhythm is remarkable. It doesn't masquerade as anything.

Ann M

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Ann the answer to your statement

"Why shouldn't people be allowed to loosen up and invent letterform according to various self-chosen parameters just to exercise the mind and explore new areas? Is it not enjoyable? It certainly illustrates the effect of writing with the leftie angle and his achievement of consistency and rhythm is remarkable. It doesn't masquerade as anything"

I am sure your students, right handed ones as well have their hands full (no pun intended) with just learning some basics. For the left hander as I have stated earlier, their difficulties have nothing to do with his letterforms.

We understand what has to be done. !!!!

Applying the maneuvers is another story. I can safely assume these students of yours are beginning beginners. I think the last thing you want to do is provide some legitimacy to this type of alphabet. Its not beneficial, nor does it help left handed people to "exercise their mind and explore new areas! " They basically know nothing at this stage of the course.

What you need to do is NOT show what Gaynor Goffe can do as a lefty, because the student does not even comprehend the quality and difficulties that Gaynor had to go through all of those years. We both know that they really could not begin to comprehend the quality of her work. the

What you should do if you want to inspire your students is to point out that their are many avenues open for lefthanded students but before writing can even be contemplated, a direction has to be identified first and foremost. From their you can proceed .

That would benefit them substantially. I can certainly provide some impetus if necessary. 

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Jerry and all,

Thanks for your clarification and discussion. Here's some more...hope it's not too long.

I am very happy with the encouragement and specific direction that I give my students, who come out of a 15 week course being confident of the next steps they need to take. I do a very thorough job, discussing the full survey of western letterform (and some eastern) and introducing the students to all the major hands. 

These students are required to take this class in order to graduate as Graphic Design majors. Some of it underlies their studies in typography. So I have a group of students who may be beginners in calligraphy, but are used to working with eye, hand and tools, and design projects, so they are not babes in the woods; some of them have sophisticated design tastes and some design expertise. Some have come back to school after 10-15 years in a career. I work them hard and they are required to put in at least 15 hours per week, so the results after about 7 weeks are not bad. Some don't quite make it "with a complete flourish", but even what those B or C students learn overall strengthens their other creative design endeavors, though hand lettering may not become their "day job". They all are proud of what they do, at whatever level I get them.

I agree with you entirely in that the understanding of calligraphy is in the head. It needs to be made clear that the rules must be followed in order to achieve results and even then years of practice will follow. If the geometry of how to write doesn't become clear to the student, it's a loss. And if the text doesn't read forward and hang together beautifully, black and white in balance, it misses. We need measurement, structure, grid, rhythm, balance, and nothing that doesn't fit or have a purpose; spaces and phrasing, weights and sizes, serifs of all kinds. We analyze scripts, compare rudiments of all scripts, discuss composition, and they complete 29 projects and much related practice and spacing exercises. I have created slide shows of modern and ancient work, and leave no stone unturned. It's a fairly complex course. But, it's online, so I always explain thoroughly what is to be done. I have videos showing me writing and talking about construction of the letters in each case.

But left-handed people do have a struggle with tiring of the wrist if they are not holding the pen correctly or positioning the paper. I talk about posture and cone of vision, ergonomic positions and lighting, and how much the head weighs. I give them a lot of information, and the student posts are equipped with a markup area so I can correct their spacing, letterform, and anything else I see. Each one gets specific and personal attention.

I can post some student work when I get it together if you want to see.

Best,

Ann M

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Hi Dave and all , I like your answer the best. Actually, Lefty Fonterose had shown me a very neat alphabet for lefties he invented that is very similar to Gwen Weaver's Weaver Writing. It is done with a pointed pen and takes advantage of the left- slanting oval the left hand naturally makes with a pen. Betsy

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I purchased a small paper back from paperinkarts.com called, "Insights into left-handed calligraphy" by Betsy Rivers-Kennedy.

Coincidentally I just had a private lesson last Sunday w/ a left handed student who had taken the group class and wanted some private assistance. This book is for Italic and small enough so I could photo copy all the pages for her to take home. I have had the best results by showing students the 3 different angles choices for holding paper, and letting them determine which feels more comfortable and then gives them the best results. (as I'm right handed).

Harriet Rose

Rose Calligraphy & Design

Website http://rosecalligraphy.com <http://rosecalligraphy.com/>

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Amazon has "Left Handed Calligraphy" by Vance Studley for $4.95 new. It's a smallish book (I have one just because) on the order of the Dover books :)

Mary Dee

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As a left-hander, I would say there are an infinite number of choices of paper angle. I'd suggest having the student start by putting down a piece of paper and writing in normal handwriting; the angle she/he has the paper is the angle it should also be for calligraphy. From there it's a matter of adjusting pen angle to suit.

I think a lot of left-handed calligraphers would say italic should NOT be the first hand to learn; it's complicated even for right-handers. Foundational seems to work better; it's more upright and uses a shallower pen angle which is easier for a left-hander to achieve (many teachers think Foundational should be the first hand learned regardless of being left- or right-handed).

In my experience, I've had to really be my own teacher since most right-handed teachers I've had (including some very good ones) have had a hard time really guiding me on details of pen angle and how to achieve the look of the letters. I do whatever I need to do to get the right look--- which for me means things like holding larger nibs like Speedball 0 and 1 almost totally perpendicular to the paper. I use oblique-cut nibs for just about everything (Mitchells and Brauses are available from John Neal, and Speedballs at least used to be available). I also do a lot of pointed pen, which is a natural for left-handers. We don't have to use oblique holders-- we're already oblique (in more ways than one!!!!)

Good luck to your student---- it will take a lot of experimentation on his/her part to figure out what works and is comfortable. Ask more questions as they come up----- LeeAnne in Maine, where I think it's finally time to take down our absolutely perfectly shaped Christmas tree. Sigh.

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Lefties have spent their whole lives problem solving so it is natural that each of us approach the challenge of letter angles in the spirit of exploration and "ah ha". With complete anticipation of success! yeah! Left handed is great for achieving hebrew letters, and lefties can lift their arms in the air to create a freedom of stroke ( after all, the best letters are done freely without trying to rest a pinkie or a wrist edge) and lefters have greater perserverance considering all the tears for smears that happen as you learn... thus the arm in the air..... lefters cut their own swath for sure. It is a great advantage if you have ever experimented with mirror writing... that would be a great demo for conference to partner with a rightie and start at the same point. Then there is the issue of to hooking the wrist or turning the page or actually writing upside down OR pulling the strokes from the baseline. Finally, I must put the old heart in the throat and make the point that it is ruffling the old feathers.....I read on here that an instructor copied Betsey River's book for a student. Considering the book is completely hand written this must have taken her some time and certainly must have put her in the spirit of an scriptorium, how well she must have familiarized herself with the material!!! I always retain well that which I copied by hand....but as this was done in a spirit of education, I am sure that it was done guilelessly, but please, please appreciate that the author deserves the revenues not just the credit. Knowing Ms. Betsey, and having sat at the feet of the Master (literally) she will kill me dead when she reads this, I believe the student should buy this book or do the loan thing. Yet, I am only joking to try to make my point without sounding like I am getting off on pointing out this problem. Teachers beware whose material you use and with whose permission. Maybe Betsey would not mind being the generous person she is, but I mind especially after having someone take credit for my heartwork in a national lettering magazine. so maybe I do have an ax to grind..hmm. Stand back friends! safety glasses at the ready? lol, Jen Grove Louisville,KY Blah blah bland weather, just gray as a sheet of glass..... --

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As to: Have you ever considered switching as an option?

Why would anyone do that? It's an acknowledged opinion that only left-handed people are in their (not "there" by the way) "right" minds :)

Mary Dee -- who may have been re-trained at a very young age but has no one to ask to confirm that :) So I am now a "righty" living on the "left" coast.

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Virginia, there's also a book by Vance Studley, *Left-Handed Calligraphy,* available as a reprint (the original was published in 1979) from Dover Publications for $4.95. Its ISBN is 0-486-26702-4.

Not being a lefty, I can't vouch for how helpful it is, but it seems very good and thorough. It covers uncial, foundational, italic, and chancery cursive alphabets, and it has sections on generally applicable basic points, along with specific advice for models, angles, tools, etc. for lefties.

Jerise www.jerise.com

 

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Jerry--- Your suggestion makes me quite angry. How do you know what left-handers are missing unless you're a left-hander to begin with? How do you know that learning to letter with my right hand would make it a more pleasurable experience? On whose terms? And why would I be a "better person" for doing something that's completely contrary to my body and the wiring in my brain? Of course it's possible to learn to write with one's non-dominant hand, and if any left-hander wants to, fine. Most left-handers have far better right hand skills than right handers do left because we're forced to use all kinds of right-handed things. But there's no reason on earth why a left hander should feel as if it's necessary to switch hands. It's perfectly possible to become an excellent calligrapher using either hand---- why should I spend an inordinate amount of time and energy to switch when at the end of the same amount of time and practice, I'd be a far better left- handed calligrapher than right-handed. Some of the difficulty beginning left-handed calligraphers have is that they're learning from right-handed calligraphers who don't know how to teach left-handers or how to translate pen angles and movements for left-handers. Why shouldn't we instead ask teachers to learn how to teach to the whole population, not just 90% of it?

Perhaps you should learn to write with your left hand???

LeeAnne in Maine

On Jan 12, 2008, at 11:28 AM, Jerry Tresser wrote:

> The problem is that there are concerns that go beyond lettering that > a lefty has to deal with. So an option to switch is not an > unattainable alternative. It would benefit substantially by > developing muscles that can perform if they are taught to. There are > 2 observations The first being that the switcher knows what has to > be done (lettering wise) and secondly the desire to fulfill the > obligation and not give up. It takes time, but it can be done and > done successfully. > > I would strongly recommend using a large straight poster nib , which > can be handled and familiarize the down strokes. The mind is a > beautiful thing and will retain the information for repeating > itself. That's the beginning. If you practice large and allow the > nib to be manageable, it may take time, but its well worth the > trip. Their are many things that left handed people will never come > into contact with when it pertains to lettering. Aside from the > fact that its a right handed alphabet, The rhythm, the flow, and > the non intermittent stoppage, that left handed people MUST deal > with, not to mention the eyes and how they have to perceive things > with the mind, make lettering a more pleasurable experience. Even > if the lettering is lousy to begin with, it will improve and > guaranteed, you will be the better for it. You just have to be > patient and have the time to devote, if you are seriously interested > in pursuing this art form. JERRY TRESSER

 

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>The problem is that there are concerns that go beyond lettering that a lefty >has to deal with.

Such as?

> So an option to switch is not an unattainable alternative. It >would benefit substantially by developing muscles that can perform if they are >taught to.

Are those anything like the muscles I've developed to drive a car, use most kitchen implements, button my shirts, and everything else?

>There are 2 observations The first being that the switcher knows >what has to be done (lettering wise) and secondly the desire to fulfill the >obligation and not give up. It takes time, but it can be done and done >successfully.

How is switching an obligation? More importantly, how in the heck do you expect a beginning calligrapher to have ANY interest in pursuing the art form if they're told from the start that they are not allowed to use what has been working just fine for their entire lives, up to this point?

>I would strongly recommend using a large straight poster nib , which can be >handled and familiarize the down strokes. The mind is a beautiful thing and >will retain the information for repeating itself. 

Yes, the mind is a beautiful thing. It's adaptable and has the capacity to find solutions to fit any challenge and any individual. The best teachers are, too.

>Their are many things that left handed people will never >come into contact with when it pertains to lettering. 

Such as?

>Aside from the fact that >its a right handed alphabet, 

And yet, right-handed people seem to do okay with Arabic and Hebrew, which are both written right-to-left. Or do you suppose that they're encouraged to switch as well? Oh, no, wait - only left-handers are expected to chuck the techniques that work out the window. My mistake.

> The rhythm, the flow, and the non intermittent >stoppage, that left handed people MUST deal with, not to mention the eyes and >how they have to perceive things with the mind, make lettering a more >pleasurable experience.

You're right, left-handers do perceive the world differently from right-handers. We've been shown in numerous studies and experiments to be more creative and to have better special awareness, among other things. As for the flow or rhythm of writing, I can safely say I've never had a problem with either of those; but then, I've been able to read upside-down since I was a child, so writing the letters upside down has never caused me any difficulties.

> Even if the lettering is lousy to begin with, it will >improve and guaranteed, you will be the better for it. You just have to be >patient and have the time to devote, if you are seriously interested in >pursuing this art form. JERRY TRESSER

Oh, so a left-hander has to switch hands in order to be "seriously interested" in calligraphy? Does that mean I'm not serious, since I naively continue to make my alphabets with the hand I've always used?

Have you ever switched hands as a writing exercise?

Are you left-handed?

Are you a teacher of calligraphy? Do you have left-handed students?

I have a better idea. You find a technique that works for you, and I'll find one that works for me, and we can both be happy without trying to imply that the other person's technique is wrong.

Heather

 

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First of all, so that we can set the record straight. I happen to be left-handed. I also switched to use my right hand for lettering purposes. It took many years but it was well worth it. I do not recommend it for everyone, but in order to have my letterforms evolve and in order to understand and fully comprehend rules governing principles that I felt necessary, I found it necessary.

The reason why I mentioned it is that it is also an option. Left-handed writers who decide to pursue studies have to as I indicated earlier, deal with problems that are more associated with defining the writing line, intermittent stop and go of moving the paper, trying to decipher sequence of strokes, and whole list of other difficulties. Basically you can have 10 lefties writing in 10 different directions. This really has nothing to do with lettering. What it deals with is a path that one has to utilize in order to compensate for their writing skills. Whatever means are necessary to achieve some credence of letterform then begins. This is reserved specifically for the broadedged pen user.

Their are rhythms, and flow and movements that literally become music when using a pen . This cannot be achieved by constantly stopping, moving the paper, or realigning or continuously defining the writing line. It actually stymies the writer. The only exception would probably be writing upside down, and its not a position that I would envy. But you do the best that you can. I mentioned that this is not for everyone, but something to take into consideration. If you are seriously interested in pursuing your calligraphic knowledge and need to get a clear understanding of the nuances of letterforms and the freedom of movement and speed, then take the information that I provided, because their are no alternatives. In the end, you will have greater limitations, a limited variety of instruments and papers that can give you a nightmare if you try writing against the grain.

These are things that I experienced and felt it was time to either free myself from these limitations or continue on the road of just accepting the fact that I could not look or study letterforms directly in front of my face. My life was always turned sideways because that is where my writing line was . I had enough.

The information that I provided is an opinion. It has helped me considerably, and I would recommend it not for beginners but for those who have a burning desire to get better. If you feel that your own approach is giving you the knowledge and strength that fits your bill , then by all means continue on your own course. But as they say, different strokes for different folks. Do what you want, but theirs no need to get upset because someone has different point of view.

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Jerry,

Thank you for clarifying your opinion. I unfortunately interpreted what you were saying earlier to mean that the only way a serious left-hander could improve their calligraphy would be to switch to using their right hand. I am glad that I was mistaken.

As for myself, writing upside-down does indeed solve all the problems you mention below. The broad-edge pen works best with a pulled stroke; for a left-hander, the pulled stroke runs right to left and bottom to top. 

Here's my story: When I was first working on my scripts, I tried writing the letters the usual way, top to bottom and all that, and found that I had to do evil things to my hand and wrist. Heck with that, I said, and tried writing the letters right-side-up, but the strokes from bottom to top; that was certainly better in terms of comfort, but my hand got in the way or my line of sight, so that I had to rely on memory and guesswork to line up serifs with strokes, for instance.

Then one night I thought to myself, hey, I'm already doing the strokes upside-down, what if I do the whole letter that way? So I turned my practice book around, did one alphabet to see if it was even possible, and lo! I could see to put serifs where they belonged! Behold! I didn't have to worry about smudging my work! Yea, verily! I didn't have to give myself carpal tunnel syndrome!

Even better, I turned the book around when I was done, and that single alphabet looked better than the prior four months' worth of practice. I took one look and haven't gone back to right-side up lettering since. That was in winter 1999.

I love showing this off in front of people who've never seen it before. For lefties, it is often an "ah-ha!" moment, and for right-handers, it's just fun watching them look bewildered and amazed at my *ahem* sheer genius. Explaining the whole pulled-stroke thing usually gets them excited, especially if they teach left-handers themselves.

In the past couple of years or so, I've tried to learn at least the principles behind several other techniques besides my favorite - you're right that one man's music is another's racket, so I wanted to be able to at least explain as many options as possible to any students I might get. Now that I have a better understanding of your point of view, I realize that yes, switching hands is also an option; admittedly it's one I'll never use, but if all else fails with a student of mine, then I'd be willing to offer this as a possible choice.

Thank you again for explaining what you were getting at; I appreciate it.

Cheers, Heather

 

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Gosh, that was a real rock-paper-scissors exchange! Who'd have thought Jerry'd be able to pop out left-handedness in the end?! Very impressive.

And what he has to say is not without merit. The credentials of the speaker usually matter less than the truth or falsity of the statement - though Jerry clearly has all the necessary cred. One's letters should always be a function of one's posture and technique and most writing styles are a function of right-handedness, leaving them difficult for left handers to do without making major posture and paper adaptations. In fact, I suspect left-handers tend to make such good calligraphers precisely because they appreciate the posture-technique dynamic behind letter forms more keenly that righters who have it presented to them on a platter.

Anyway, I'm really just writing to ask a question which I didn't have the courage to ask the last time this thread came up. I often work on lettering design by making all sorts of adjustments to my posture, paper position, etc. For example, I'll push my elbow out or cock my wrist or rotate my page or change my rhythm and see how that affects my writing. This way I come up with fresh stuff. Now my question is this: Why don't lefties more freely develop styles which come more naturally to them? A lot of work I've seen by lefters is quite innovative (I am reminded of Ganor Goffe's adaptations of Italic), but why don't they just break out altogether and say, "To hell with your right writing," and do their own thing more? Like how's about italic with a ruling pen or writing up the page rather than across, or developing some other, entirely new style? I dunno, and please excuse my ignorance if this is already being widely done, or if there is some obvious reason why not.

&rew - a righter who's father was a lefty with a beautiful handwriting

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Gosh, that was a real rock-paper-scissors exchange! Who'd have thought Jerry'd be able to pop out left-handedness in the end?! Very impressive.

And what he has to say is not without merit. The credentials of the speaker usually matter less than the truth or falsity of the statement - though Jerry clearly has all the necessary cred. One's letters should always be a function of one's posture and technique and most writing styles are a function of right-handedness, leaving them difficult for left handers to do without making major posture and paper adaptations. In fact, I suspect left-handers tend to make such good calligraphers precisely because they appreciate the posture-technique dynamic behind letter forms more keenly that righters who have it presented to them on a platter.

Anyway, I'm really just writing to ask a question which I didn't have the courage to ask the last time this thread came up. I often work on lettering design by making all sorts of adjustments to my posture, paper position, etc. For example, I'll push my elbow out or cock my wrist or rotate my page or change my rhythm and see how that affects my writing. This way I come up with fresh stuff. Now my question is this: Why don't lefties more freely develop styles which come more naturally to them? A lot of work I've seen by lefters is quite innovative (I am reminded of Ganor Goffe's adaptations of Italic), but why don't they just break out altogether and say, "To hell with your right writing," and do their own thing more? Like how's about italic with a ruling pen or writing up the page rather than across, or developing some other, entirely new style? I dunno, and please excuse my ignorance if this is already being widely done, or if there is some obvious reason why not.

&rew - a righter who's father was a lefty with a beautiful handwriting

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Andrew and all, your question about Whys? as far as I am concerned occurred many years ago. At least 25. When I took Sheila's retreat at her home. I began to realize that the premise of being able to at least follow the necessary steps in being successful MUST rely on the " Rules for copying a manuscript " by Johnston. This convinced me that if these 7 rules, were mandatory for learning any hand. Being a lefty restricted this basic obligation. It is NOT possible for left handed people( and I am not talking about beginners but this does includes all the well known names) to achieve these commandments because it is a right handed function that can only fulfill these basic obligations . It is not possible for a southpaw to comply. Their should be no argument here. Anything short of these rules can be summed up as some form of compensation and this is where the problem begins. That is why you can have 10 lefties writing in 10 different directions and the rules are thrown out the window. I was in that position for years !

I was with Betsy Rivers when she wrote her book. As a matter of fact I was a teaching participant for many left handed attendees at that convention with Betsy. It was somewhat heartbreaking. I just felt it was no longer an option for me to have my brains and eyes twisted. Their had to be a better way. 

I have no desire to go into whether you agree with Johnston's theory about these principles, but then again as I have stated on to numerous occasions, because it is a right handed alphabet, their are certain basic requirements that a lefty cannot nor will he ever experience what the right hand can accomplish. That is just the way it is. 

Their may be left-handed members who feel that these experiences are not for them. And they can letter just fine without them, That's fine also. Its something that I decided to do and I feel I am the better for it. My original post was to just provide another option that should be taken into consideration. Who knows even a beginner may want to take it into consideration as opposed to a teaching method that provides more failures then successes because of the obstacles that will continue to arise that are not letter related. Hope this information helps Andrew. JERRY

[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]

*******************************************************

Regarding Ginger=B9s comment about Larry Brady: Larry does indeed do spectacular lettering with his left hand, and Marsha Brady (his wife) does spectacular lettering with her right hand. Both Larry & Marsha are retired teachers, and anyone who ever studied with either one of them would probabl= y agree that they are excellent teachers. Ward & I visited them in Colorado a couple of months ago, and the 4 of us had a conversation about teaching left-handed students. Here=B9s the most astonishing & inspiring thing I got from that talk: Marsha said she learned how to write with her left hand in order to be able to teach left-handed students. When my mouth dropped open in surprise, she said =8B =B3why not? Larry learned how to write with his r= ight hand in order to teach right-handed students.=B2

It seems that if you want it bad enough, you figure out a way to do it, whether it=B9s writing with your left hand, writing with your right hand, and/or teaching calligraphy.

Linnea

*******************************************************

I've been reading the posts on handedness and thought maybe I'd take a minute to weight in here. I'm a right-handed writer who is ambidextrous ... one of those people who take the left/right brain tests and score smack dab in the middle. As a teenager, I used to amuse myself in class by writing, sometimes even backwards, with my left hand and there are many daily activities that I do with my left as well as right hand.

Which is why as a teacher of italic and foundational hands, I decided to teach myself to write with my left hand. I figured that I couldn't possibly understand the obstacles that occur putting letters on paper in a world that writes left to right, unless I tried it. I also wanted to be able to demonstrate with either hand. Here's what I learned:

First of all, it wasn't that big a deal to write with my left hand if I thought about the paper orientation (this will depend upon whether you choose the oblique cut nib or not) and DON'T write with your hand hooked over the top. I tried it and it's more trouble than it's worth. The only tricky spot is the connections that occur out of sight in some places because your view is blocked by your hand. Practice will allow you to feel the shape of the letter which is actually what we right-handed people should be doing anyway when we've mastered the letters. Just as a musician can hear the notes, we should be able to feel the letters.

Gaynor Goffe has one of the most beautiful fluid italic hands and she writes as normally as any right-handed person. I've taken three classes with her and she has no problem picking up anyone's pen at their seat and writing with it - no special nibs, just turns her paper a bit differently.

I've seldom taught a class that didn't include at least one leftie, but I think the most interesting was the one that had six people and three were left-handed. What are the odds of that? But they all ended up writing just fine.

Sandy

*************************************************

There's always the Leonardo Da Vinci's approach. He wrote in mirror image, right to left, and backwards. In other words, hold a mirror to his writing, and you can read it (of course, you have to know Italian as well). After seeing the exhibit in San Francisco recently, it became obvious he wasn't writing backwards to be "secret" or "mysterious", but because it made sense to his handedness. He was a leftie.

Karen

*************************************************

Wow, thanks for that. I never knew he was a leftie. It makes so much sense now. Its also a great example of the kind of thing my question is about. Why don't lefties do more of this kind of thing? There is such amazing creative potential in it, but I get the impression that the inclination is more towards squeezing into the right handed mould - not that learning rightie stuff has no value.

&rew

Karen Koshgarian wrote:

>There's always the Leonardo Da Vinci's approach. He wrote in mirror >image, right to left, and backwards. In other words, hold a mirror to >his writing, and you can read it (of course, you have to know Italian >as well). After seeing the exhibit in San Francisco recently, it >became obvious he wasn't writing backwards to be "secret" or >"mysterious", but because it made sense to his handedness. He was a >leftie. > >Karen

**************************************************

Wow, thanks for that. I never knew he was a leftie. It makes so much sense now. Its also a great example of the kind of thing my question is about. Why don't lefties do more of this kind of thing? There is such amazing creative potential in it, but I get the impression that the inclination is more towards squeezing into the right handed mould - not that learning rightie stuff has no value.

&rew

*****************************************************

Dear Andrew, don't know if this is handed related but certainly creative related... http://www.scottkim.com/inversions/

there was another younger guy who did this, a college student, he would = take commissions.... has a wonderful website but I can not find it right = now, it was on the list maybe a year ago? does anyone remember this = other designer?

To your excellent question about what may happen as an inspiration of = mirror writing or right braining, or handedness might flourish in the = lettering world.......heh eh I will make any "type" of ze joke. jen grove Louisville Ky WHo can't stay off this list. I gotta get a life lol.... *************************************************************

Hi all,

I am teaching a wonderful group of 6 adult ladies Italic in my studio. Don't you know a leftie snuck in. 

Help! I am open to any resources (books) or thoughts regarding helping this South-paw. 

Thank you!! Elaine, South Beach, Cool & Sunny

******************************************************

Sweetie Elaine, sorry in advance if I rant a bit to you, but seriously, the first thing you can do is change your attitude. 

Are you being self depricting saying that YOU find it difficult because you have to work harder to try and see things from a left handed person's perspective? Because that is what you have to do. Try using your unaccustomed hand. This "cry for help" has been heard on Cyberscribes MANy MAny times since I have been on here since 1998 and it is very aggrieving that it must be addressed so repeatedly!

First, change your attitude that left-handedness is difficult. Even if it is. Second, begin writing with your unaccustomed hand. Third, read Besty Rivers book. Thereby acquainting yourself with all the many options out there, (ie paper angle, pen angle,etc ) Fifth, don't translate your frustration with your misunderstanding to your student! Anyone can do beautiful calligraphy regardless of handedness. Look at Larry Brady. Sherry Keisel and Jerry Tresser. come to mind.

I really hope you grow in your calligraphic journey by having this student come around. There is so much to know. Left handers have been adjusting to the right handed world their whole life... just encourage your student to innovate and try things that work for her personally. Help her to see what pure letter forms are to be strived toward. She will be fine if she really wants to learn and does not use her handedness as an excuse to quit... especially, if you are sending the message that it is harder for lefties. Yet it is! oh gawd! I am in Reggie Ezell's class right now and I am having to do some major innovating. gads. I am scared outta my socks! 

Just remember to walk a mile in the lefties' mocassins. YOu can encourage them to innovate and figure things out for themselves to share the joy of making elegant and strong letters. best, jen grove who really does just about have her homework done for this month and is ready to do a happy dance.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: CalligraphybyE@aol.com 
To: cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 3:25 PM 
Subject: [cyberscribes] left-hander

Hi all,

I am teaching a wonderful group of 6 adult ladies Italic in my studio. Don't you know a leftie snuck in. 

Help! I am open to any resources (books) or thoughts regarding helping this South-paw. 

Thank you!! Elaine, South Beach, Cool & Sunny

***************************************************

There's an excellent book by Betsy Rivers called "Insights into Left Handed Calligraphy"

I'm left handed and had had difficulty teaching lefties who write with a hook. I sat with Betsy at a conference and her techniques were quite enlightening. The worst thing to do is try and do things backwards. Lefties are used to learning from a right handed world - it becomes very confusing - BUT Betsy's techniques work extremely well. I have used them at my workshops with great success. You can order this book from Paper and Ink Arts: www.paperinkarts.com

 

Please let me know what you think.

 

Deborah

*****************************************************

Dearest Deborah, Please explain what you mean by " The worst thing you can do is try and do things backwards." 

best, jen grove louisville,ky who wonders some that everyone be doing things backwards.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Deborah Basel 
To: CalligraphybyE@aol.com ; cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 7:34 PM 
Subject: RE: [cyberscribes] left-hander

There's an excellent book by Betsy Rivers called "Insights into Left Handed Calligraphy"

I'm left handed and had had difficulty teaching lefties who write with a hook. I sat with Betsy at a conference and her techniques were quite enlightening. The worst thing to do is try and do things backwards. Lefties are used to learning from a right handed world - it becomes very confusing - BUT Betsy's techniques work extremely well. I have used them at my workshops with great success. You can order this book from Paper and Ink Arts: www.paperinkarts.com

Please let me know what you think.

Deborah

From: cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com [mailto:cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com] 
On Behalf Of CalligraphybyE@aol.com

Hi all,

I am teaching a wonderful group of 6 adult ladies Italic in my studio. Don't you know a leftie snuck in. 

Help! I am open to any resources (books) or thoughts regarding helping this South-paw. 

Thank you!! Elaine, South Beach, Cool & Sunny

 

******************************************************

In my opinion, (and Betsy's), it is much easier to translate watching a right hander doing something normally, than watching a right hander attempt to do something the way that they think a left handed person would do it.

 

From: jsgrove [mailto:jsgrove@insightbb.com] 
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 7:54 PM 
To: Deborah Basel; CalligraphybyE@aol.com; cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com 
Subject: Re: [cyberscribes] left-hander

 

Dearest Deborah, 

Please explain what you mean by " The worst thing you can do is try and do things backwards." 

 

best,

jen grove

louisville,ky

who wonders some that everyone be doing things backwards.

***************************************************

Dear Deb and all, Lol. I know what you mean, I know several instructors who can do left handing with their right hand sitting opposite you. It is pretty entertaining but as you say not so instructional. Now, by "backwards" Deb, I thought you meant writing right to left. Watching someone right handed writing "normally" goes back to the premise that left handers have been "translating" (innovating, adjusting) in a righthanded world their whole lives and will accordingly apply their ability to adjust in the right handed ways o the world when it comes to learning to use the tools to do calligraphy. jen Who saw someone on the CBS Sunday Morning Show this very morning, writing with her feet mirror writing style! Whatta gal! ----- Original Message ----- From: Deborah Basel To: 'jsgrove' ; CalligraphybyE@aol.com ; cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 8:50 PM Subject: RE: [cyberscribes] left-hander

In my opinion, (and Betsy's), it is much easier to translate watching a right hander doing something normally, than watching a right hander attempt to do something the way that they think a left handed person would do it.

 

From: jsgrove [mailto:jsgrove@insightbb.com] 
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 7:54 PM 
To: Deborah Basel; CalligraphybyE@aol.com; cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com 
Subject: Re: [cyberscribes] left-hander

 

Dearest Deborah, 

Please explain what you mean by " The worst thing you can do is try and do things backwards." 

 

best,

jen grove

louisville,ky

who wonders some that everyone be doing things backwards.

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Deborah Basel 
To: CalligraphybyE@aol.com ; cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com 
Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 7:34 PM
Subject: RE: [cyberscribes] left-hander

 

There's an excellent book by Betsy Rivers called "Insights into Left Handed Calligraphy"

I'm left handed and had had difficulty teaching lefties who write with a hook. I sat with Betsy at a conference and her techniques were quite enlightening. The worst thing to do is try and do things backwards. Lefties are used to learning from a right handed world - it becomes very confusing - BUT Betsy's techniques work extremely well. I have used them at my workshops with great success. You can order this book from Paper and Ink Arts: www.paperinkarts.com

Please let me know what you think.

Deborah

From: cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com [mailto:cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com] 
On Behalf Of CalligraphybyE@aol.com

Hi all,

I am teaching a wonderful group of 6 adult ladies Italic in my studio. Don't you know a leftie snuck in. 

Help! I am open to any resources (books) or thoughts regarding helping this South-paw. 

Thank you!! Elaine, South Beach, Cool & Sunny

 

**********************************************

Some of Betsy's techniques involve working upside down and backwards with the left hand. David Hobbs from Hobbs and Tolley Studios in D.C. writes in that manner and he is an amazing calligrapher. Betsy's book has the best explanations and the best solutions that I've seen. However, I still maintain that a lefty who does not write with a hook is best taught calligraphy using standard examples and methods.

 

Deborah

From: cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com [mailto:cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com] 
On Behalf Of jsgrove

 

Dear Deb and all, Lol. I know what you mean, I know several instructors who can do left handing with their right hand sitting opposite you. It is pretty entertaining but as you say not so instructional. Now, by "backwards" Deb, I thought you meant writing right to left. Watching someone right handed writing "normally" goes back to the premise that left handers have been "translating" (innovating, adjusting) in a righthanded world their whole lives and will accordingly apply their ability to adjust in the right handed ways o the world when it comes to learning to use the tools to do calligraphy. jen Who saw someone on the CBS Sunday Morning Show this very morning, writing with her feet mirror writing style! Whatta gal!

*******************************************

Deborah, I would appreciate a little more information as to what you mean.

"In my opinion, (and Betsy's), it is much easier to translate watching a right hander doing something normally, than watching a right hander attempt to do something the way that they think a left handed person would do it."

*************************************************

I had two left-handed students in the same class once (they were friends and took the class together). We were using pens rather than markers. Tape nibs are cut at a slant so I keep some Mitchells left-handed nibs in my supplies for southpaws, but these ladies hadn't mentioned that they were left-handed (I'd taught lefties previously and all had mentioned their handedness prior to the class, so this was unusual). 

I didn't have my left-handed nibs with me for the first class but did have a marker so they could at least follow the first lesson. I brought the Mitchells to the second class and showed them how their nibs differed from Tape. 

Although I showed them a variety of ways to approach lettering with the left hand, neither of them put forth the effort needed to achieve any level of success. At the end of the class, one of them gave me a scathing review ("I can't believe I spent $75 and the teacher couldn't even show me how to do this" {$50 for tuition/ $25 for supplies, 6 two-hour classes: mind you, the bill for Annie's class on which I based my presentation was 10x that, plus supplies - I get ruffled when people complain about the cost of cheap classes}). After reading her comment, I used a marker and my non-preferred hand to letter a full alphabet - sure it looks pretty bad, but I keep it to show that if I can do that much, they can certainly do at least that if they try. But first, they need to know what the letters should look like. 

Therefore, I think the biggest challenge for an instructor is to be a relentless cheerleader for your students. Point out every area of success regardless of how insignificant it seems and build on it. One good stroke out of three letters shows me the student is able to do it! 

I have one right now who, although right-handed, is full of defeatist observations. I often say, "You've been doing this how long now, 20 minutes? And I've been at it for what, 20 years?" 

mouse

who no longer believes the old adage, "There are no bad students, only bad teachers." You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink. We may have to meet our students where they're at, but we can't make them move forward if they don't want to. 

Having said that (and sounding rather cranky), my main goal is that students should have fun. If they don't have fun, they won't practice, and if they don't practice, they won't learn. So even if they leave feeling a little frustrated at their progress, this is my parting thought. 

--- In cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com, "Deborah Basel" <Deborah@...> wrote: > > In my opinion, (and Betsy's), it is much easier to translate watching a right hander doing something normally, than watching a right hander attempt to do something the way that they think a left handed person would do it.

> > From: jsgrove [mailto:jsgrove@...] 
> Sent: Sunday, February 08, 2009 7:54 PM 
> To: Deborah Basel; CalligraphybyE@...; cyberscribes@yahoogroups.com 
> Subject: Re: [cyberscribes] left-hander 

> > Dearest Deborah, > > Please explain what you mean by " The worst thing you can do is try and do things backwards."

 > > best, 
> jen grove 
> louisville,ky 
> who wonders some that everyone be doing things backwards.

************************************************

Thank you so much for everyone who took the time to reply to my request. I knew I could count on this group for great advice. Seems there's a consensus on book which I will get my student. I know she will be thrilled with getting the personalized help she needs. Thanks again, Elaine, Sunny South Beach

****************************************************

Dear Jerry and all:

I was born a left-hander and my Dad insisted that I write with me right hand. I still remember standing at the blackboard in the first grade and the teacher taking the chalk from my left hand and putting it in my right hand. . . . As a result, I did learn and everything I was taught with my right hand I of course do. . . . . However, anything that was right handed and not taught to me I quickly learned to 'transpose'. . . . such as knitting instruction, embroidery etc. I have done this my entire life and am so used to it that it really is no problem and found it to be no real problem. Since I have always enjoyed working with my hands, I had no choice but to do this.

Of course, we go through phases and stages were left handed writing is in and then left handed writing is out. . . One of my daughters is left handed and we didn't change her. . . then one of the sons of my other daughter is left handed. . . as if nature kept the thread going.

Just wanted to put my two cents in on this lovely teaser day! Hope you all will have a good one. . . 

Lilo Meany

*************************************************

Hi Deborah and CSr's,

Betsy and I shared a studio for around 16 years in Norfolk and I can tell you - she taught me enormously. I'm a righty who probably was a lefty but again probably ambidextrous. When I started teaching many years ago my first class of eight students was comprised of three lefties and the rest righties. Since Betsy writes upside down and backwards (sometimes) I learned from watching her how to teach lefties who were not opposed to doing so. It's amazing how it works! Betsy has a wonderful sense of stroke definition and when she does work upside down she seems to think of each letter as a series of strokes. She has perfected the technique.

Betsy, I hope I've said this well.

Gwen Weaver

**************************************************

Sweet Lilo and the rest of the gang, Your posts are always wonderful and entertaining ! One really has to wonder why would anyone want to change a persons ability to use there opposite hand.. Your example is just one of many amazing incidents where right handed people seem to feel its necessary to rearrange a left handed persons perception of how they have to handle a particular subject matter.. It does not have to be lettering, it could be anything.. Apparently when you were a child, I guess it was OK to do that, in today's politically correct climate, it would not be advisable for any teacher to do that.

Being left handed and having the luxury of using both hands to letter with, is more of burning desire that I chose. Not suitable for everyone, nor recommended as an alternative, but as another option. That is what the southpaw needs . Options to define how they will write before they attempt to do so.. Once the writing line has been defined, then the nib can chosen to suit that writing line. Otherwise left to the righthanded teacher to make that decision will provide no relief.. So there you go ! Secondly, left handed writers may have more then 1 writing line. So it is possible for Italic to use a cut nib, whereas for Romans, I use a straight cut nib and change the writing line to suit that hand.. The play between spacing and writing also becomes a partner and DEVELOPED BOUNDRIES have to be set up to understand how to proceed to the next letter . Right handed writers use more of there eyes to make that determination, whereas leftys do not that have that luxury without additional aids.. A rather complicating situation.. But workable nevertheless..

Lilo, always a pleasure to hear from you and your thoughts. ! Sinistral JERRY 

*****************************************************

I am a lefty who writes in the position that a right handed person would use (no hook)

Left handed nibs are useless for me. I tried them, thinking that I might like them and they're horrible. In all fairness, I started doing calligraphy with straight cut nibs and still prefer those. I can even use a right handed (slanted) nib with more success than a left cut one. Consequently, I tend to start lefties out with straight cut nibs and introduce the left handed ones if they're still struggling.

Deborah

****************************************************

Dear All,

I am right-handed and have enjoyed following the left-hander thread. When a child I played writing L to R with the right hand and at the same time R to L with the left hand, or with a pencil held between big and second toes, all the fun stuff.

I haven't had any left-handed calligraphy students but as a junior school teacher of course there was sure to be a left-hander or two in my classes of 8-year-olds.

But one year a third of my class was left-handed. This interested me, so one day I determined to see whether they were left-footed or left-eyed as well. I took in my camera (no film) and got them, one by one, to hold it to their face as if taking a picture and noted which eye they used. Then to pretend to kick a football and noted which foot they used. 

I'm sorry that I don't still have a record of the results but do remember that they were a complete mixture. That is, no one used all left or all right. Just one of those useless bits of information!

I was interested to see Obama sign a document with his left hand - hooked was it?

Yours, Lorna Great Bookham, England *****************************************************

I, too, am a born lefty that was converted by nuns to a righty!=20 But, I've become ambidextrous in many things since. Wonder what percentage = of righties started out as lefties? Given two arms/hands, shouldn't they should both be used? Certainly one isn= 't just to hang there to balance the torso, eh?! lol! =A0 -richard-=20

--- On Mon, 2/9/09, Lilo Meany <smeany3@comcast.net> wrote:

Dear Jerry and all:

I was born a left-hander and my Dad insisted that I write with me right hand. I still remember standing at the blackboard in the first grade and the teacher taking the chalk from my left hand and putting it in my right hand. . . . As a result, I did learn and everything I was taught with my right hand I of course do. . . . . However, anything that was right handed and not taught to me I quickly learned to 'transpose'. . . . such as knitting instruction, embroidery etc. I have done this my entire life and am so used to it that it really is no problem and found it to be no real problem. Since I have always enjoyed working with my hands, I had no choice but to do this.

Of course, we go through phases and stages were left handed writing is in and then left handed writing is out. . . One of my daughters is left handed and we didn't change her. . . then one of the sons of my other daughter is left handed. . . as if nature kept the thread going.

Just wanted to put my two cents in on this lovely teaser day! Hope you all will have a good one. . .=20

Lilo Meany

*****************************************************

Elaine and all -

We have a left-hander in our guild group. She does awesome calligraphy work. She takes classes, but she has taught herself to use the pen the same way as right-handed calligraphers. She does not use what I think is called the "hooked arm" method.

It is very doable, and your student I'm sure will work around this and do a very good job. You are a good teacher to go to the resource we all know gives such great help to all of us.

Wilma from Montana

> Thank you so much for everyone who took the time to reply to my request. > Thanks again, Elaine, Sunny South Beach

****************************************************

By "backwards" Deb, I thought you meant writing right to left. Jen Grove 

 

There are left-handers who make wonderful calligraphy writing right to left. It solves the problem of dragging the hand over the wet ink and it just totally vexes my brain to watch it being done. 

 

Here is some information on Betsy's book. It was written in 1984. Don't know of anything better. 

B020. Insights Into Left-Handed Calligraphy Insights into Left-handed Calligraphy by Betsy Rivers-Kennedy. 1984. 32pp. 5.5"x8.5". Paper. $9.95. For left-handers and teachers. Covers four methods of writing: The Right-Handed Influence, The Sideways Approach, The Hook, & The Upsidedown Method. The best book available.

 

John Neal, Bookseller

Letter Arts Review, Bound & Lettered

www.johnnealbooks.com

1833 Spring Garden St, Greensboro, NC USA

800-369-9598 - 336-272-6139 - Fax 336-272-9015

email: john@johnnealbooks.com

****************************************************

I hope this contribution to this thread will be of encouragement to left handed calligraphers. Years ago when I tried to teach left handed calligraphers I struggled to help them but I soon realized that if I was to help them constructively then I had to experience writing with my left hand to see what they were experiencing. As a result I came to appreciate many of the problems of creating forms with a left arm and hand that were created by the right hand and arm. Visibility and smudging are obvious issues but from my experimentations and discussions with many let handed calligraphers over the years, especially Larry Brady for whom I have much respect, I came to the conclusion that the main problem was one of flow and movement. Right handed calligraphers are unfortunately spoilt by being able to 'finger write' as their finger bone structures allows them to do (this is extremely difficult to do with a left hand as it means working against the bone structures). To me this has always been a drawback for right handers not a bonus as it encourages technical stroke play and over finger manipulation and often too much technical showoffmanship. For flowing calligraphy the arm and wrist need to come into full play, Over finger manipulation prevents flow and controlled freedom and encourages individual stoke making rather than dancing with the pen. Left handed calligraphers can't get away with this so easily, but to me that is to their advantage as they need to learn from the early stages to use their whole arm, This is much more difficult but once mastered then flow becomes much easier. All calligraphers need to understand the basics thoroughly, but for left handers it is even more important as they need to learn how to feel the letters as visibility is often an issue. To help with the arm movement many left handed calligraphers will agree that having a wider board than normal is beneficial so that they can hold the paper much further to the left in order to help with maintaining a steeper nib angle. At first this is rather off putting as you can't fully see what is being written, but when the understanding of the letters in any particular script are better understood, and the control of the arm is better mastered then flowing calligraphy with feeling will eventually emerge. Right handed calligraphers can get away with not using the arm but flow and freedon will suffer, left handed calligraphers have'nt got this choice and that is why they struggle, so they need to be ecouraged to use their arm more. This will be difficult but the reward is well worth the effort. I appreciate that this advise will be harder for those who write with a hooked hand.

Ieuan

**************************************************

Hi all -

I've been following the left-handed thread with interest. I think we all need to get over the "I'm such and such handed" and that's all I'm able to do. Certainly that can't mean that our other hand is a shriveled up useless stump (apologies here to those who might actually have only one useable appendage). We are simply right or left dominant, some more so than others. There is really no reason one can't learn to write with either hand. Musical instruments are for the most part played with both hands equally and in some instance the left hand need more agility (think violin or guitar)than the right. I'm continually fascinated watching the new grandbabe as she, with great ease, uses both her hands to eat and play.

For whatever reason, I've always been fairly ambidextrous. I eat with my left hand, write with my right, etc. One of my great junior high pass times was mirror writing notes; although I now wonder how we ever thought the teachers wouldn't be able to read them? At any rate, when I first encountered left-handed writers in my adult education italic classes, I decided to experiment to see just how I could help them learn. I bought left-handed nibs, sat down and wrote. Slow going at first, but not impossible.

It was a great experience and one I highly recommend if you really want to be able to teach left-handers. You don't have to be great, but there's no reason you can't teach yourself to make a few decent letters ... you'll find things like connecting the stem of the "d" to its bowl (you can't see it under your thumb) a very enlightening experience. I tried writing both under the line, with the hook and backwards. The last two, I found, make little sense whatsoever. There are places where pushing and pulling strokes are reversed or nigh on impossible. And seriously, it's got to be easier to learn to write under the line than to even think about spelling everything in reverse.

I never had a left-handed person leave my class who couldn't, with practice, write italic perfectly well. Some students actually were better than the righties, they could leave behind all their bad handwriting habits and start afresh. It's not difficult, it's just different.

Sandy

 

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