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The Calligraphy Lesson

I’m a member of an international group that has a bit of fun with history, particularly the medieval European kind. We re-create the props and sets and costumes to have ourselves a little pageantry, and some of us enjoy honing our skills and diving deep into authenticity.

I had a session at my home this Saturday, for period writing, what most would call calligraphy. About seven other members, most of my prior acquaintance, with varying degrees of confidence and curiosity and related experience, sat at my dining room table as we explored the quirks of quills, metal dip-pens and modern markers; the idiosyncracies of Uncial, Carolingian Minuscule and Textura Quadrata.

Everyone left with more of a skill than they had. One guy took to it well enough, but is already known in the Society for something else, so I’d be surprised if he pursues it any further. One was a total self-admitted non-crafter, but had fleeting skillful penstrokes that I pointed to and cheered a little too loudly. One took this occasion to intend to “get back into it,” but had a bad habit I couldn’t get her to recognize, let alone fix; I felt bad that I couldn’t devote more attention to her. One girl I knew was already an old hand at it, and was entertaining herself at her own pace.

But one woman, who I’d not met before, surprised us all.

She glanced at the ductus (the model letters), and started in. She formed words, something we didn’t even get to with the group. The letter spacing was pleasing to the eye. Her work sparkled.

She told me she’s already a stickler for penmanship, for herself and her kids. So she came with an aptitude. But this was her first exposure to medieval writing. She rocked it. She knew she rocked it. And she lit up.

She’s been posting in the Facebook group I made for future gatherings every day already, eager to start, eager for the arrival of her copy of the book, and some equipment from a favorite shop. Genuinely excited.

And now I’m marveling at how satisfying the experience was for me. Don’t get me wrong: if she hadn’t attended, I’d still have had a great time. But this was on a whole new level.

It’s easy to over-state the future, and to let one’s imagination go bonkers. This may not amount to anything; it’s totally up to her.

And yet…

Suppose someone came to my living room table on a cold February Saturday, and I changed her life?

Quite a heady brew, this Teaching stuff.

I see the appeal. I also see the symbolism of the torch or the oil lamp, signifying education.

I wonder what else I could teach…

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One Comment

  1. What I find remarkable about this whole thing is that there isn’t someone who could have convinced Rick to do this before. I hope his experience with teaching this workshop will convince him to do it again and expand upon it to maybe offer an advanced technioques workshop.

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