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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: The fine art of calligraphy

© Another Day in the Country

For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve wanted to learn how to really do calligraphy.

I’ve made stabs at this fancy, controlled writing form, but don’t even qualify as a novice. Meanwhile the urge to learn is still present.

This urge manifests itself in my fascination with pens. I love pens. Ink pens are especially enjoyable, and even when I get practical, I look for a certain brand of pen to buy for general writing purposes — pens I can recognize if I find them laying around as “that’s my pen.”

I don’t really like ballpoint pens unless they have little roller balls on the tip or perhaps if they are filled with gel so that they glide over the page. I prefer a pen with a lid, a cap, a covering so that it doesn’t leak in a pocket or accidently streak across my white pants of its own volition.

At the same time, I’m always losing the pen cap. I find extras in my drawer and, like storage canister lids, they never fit the pen in hand.

My latest stab at learning calligraphy happened about a month ago. I saw a book at the library called “Calligraphy School,” and checked it out. I brought it home with an armload of other books to read, stacked them on the little chair by my bed (where I do most of my reading) and forgot about it.

Book after book came off that chair, was read (some better than others) and returned to the library. The calligraphy book still sat on the chair at the bottom of the heap. There just never was a right time to read it.

The other books were stories that I could pick up and lay down just any old time. The calligraphy book was an action volume that required me to find my calligraphy pen and some paper and get serious about learning to write in this fashion.

Perhaps I’m a day late and a dollar short for learning calligraphy? It isn’t exactly the rage. People rarely write these days. There’s a lovely calligraphy font or two on my computer. It just doesn’t make sense to have calligraphy writing as a goal.

It isn’t that I haven’t tried to learn before. Even this time, I had to check the library book out twice.

In the past, I’ve bought all kinds of calligraphy workbooks — even kits complete with different sizes of nibs and a variety of colored ink. The ink in the pens dried up and when I tried to get them working again, I discovered the ink in the bottles was coagulated. These little calligraphy kits I have stashed here, there and everywhere are almost antiques. Of course, I’m rapidly fitting into that category myself, so we won’t let that stop us.

Today, facing a deadline of needing to check out my library book yet again, I finally opened up the calligraphy book.

“Laying the Foundation,” was the first heading and I turned the page. Here was the picture of a lady sitting at a writing desk with both feet on the floor and a neat, taped down sheet of paper in front of her. In her hand, held properly, was that lovely black ink pen, filled with ink, property flowing, that I’ve so long envisioned in my calligraphy dreams.

And then I looked again. “What? That’s not a pen, it’s a pencil!” You have to plan ahead, measure, rule, calculate before you even start to practice, and then with a pencil — not the pens that I really love?

I paged back to the beginning to discover the list of what I would be needing: Pencils (HB or B), drawing paper, metal ruler, triangle, soft eraser, pencil sharpener, craft knife, fine sandpaper, blotting paper, masking tap, board, t-square, and this was before I cleared a space on the desk and emptied off the chair.

No wonder I don’t do calligraphy. One has to be dedicated to the craft, reserve a quiet section of time, find an adequate light source, and secure peace of mind before you even go for the rudimentary supply list. Not a single calligraphy kit (since I’ve already admitted to owning several) has those things in it. The kit has a pen, nibs, ink and a tiny little pad of lined paper with an instruction sheet.

It’s another day in the country and I can tell that if I am truly going to learn calligraphy, I’m going to have to check this book out yet again!

Last modified April 20, 2016

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