When we first heard about this book from the excellent All Things Stationery blog, we knew we had to take a look – and thankfully the publishers (part of Penguin) were kind enough to send some review copies our way. Here’s what we made of it…
New Year’s Resolutions can involve all sorts of horrid self-denying ordinances and temporary punishments, but a rather better promise to yourself is to take the time to develop handwriting that you’re happy with, and maybe even a little bit proud of! Dipping a toe into the world of ‘modern calligraphy’ is not a bad way to get started, and Chiara Perano has been offering direct assistance through the day courses she runs at her base, mysteriously entitled ‘Lamplighter’, in London. This book sprang from those courses, apparently, and like them aims to offer a user-friendly and accessible way in to going beyond hasty squiggle to mastery of the mystic curve.
Modern calligraphy is a little hard to define exactly, but broadly speaking it’s calligraphy which you can use in the here and now, without the hours and hours of tiresome exercises that stylistic dictators like Spencer would require, and with results that look a bit less like an obscure nineteenth-century legal text. This book assumes that readers will attempt to follow Chiara’s letter-forms with a dip pen, and provides plenty of practical advice on how to do so. Alternatively, it’s perfectly possible to play along using a flex-nibbed fountain pen (as Sarah and Scribble did with their Heritage 912s),
This is fun to work with, and the encouragement to write directly in the book feels nicely transgressive. The number of letter-form options doesn’t become overwhelming, and the examples map out just what route the nib should take – it’s easy to follow, and there is lots of encouragement to practice, experiment, practice some more, and arrive at a style which is very much your own.
There are a few improvements which we’d like to see in the next edition including more FP-friendly paper (we’re told this is in hand already), a better proportion of content to filler (there are a rather cheeky number of practice pages), and perhaps a move to a loose-leaf format (maybe bound with Atoma discs?) so that it can properly fold-flat for writing in. But these are relatively minor quibbles in what we felt was, overall, a…
Getting hold of a copy for yourself is easy enough either straight from the author’s own website or via your book retailer of choice; the ‘street price’ is around £9, which looks like decent value to us. You can download the handy guide sheets to print here.
For more detail see:
- Sarah’s review and photos
- Gillian’s ‘how to’ test / review
- Scribble’s quick review written in the book itself
Thanks to Ebury Publishing for sending some review copies to us in time for Christmas experimentation!