Sunday, December 10, 2006

Whoa! A private school (the Mary Erskine and Stewart's Melville Junior School in Scotland) is having students use fountain pens to do their work. They say good handwriting is as important as ever and helps build self-esteem. I love it! I am encouraged! There may be hope for the world yet!

excerpt from the AP article:

Ten-year-old Cailean Gall has been using fountain pens in class for two years. It took the keen soccer player one month to master the pen and, like all pupils at the school, still has regular handwriting lessons.

"At the start it was hard because I kept smudging, but you get used to it," he said. "I still have to use a pencil for maths, and now I find it strange using the pencils. I like it because it makes me concentrate much more on my work."

Cailean now uses his fountain pen even for non-school work, but classmate Katie Walker, 11, prefers to use ball point and pencil when not in class.

"I use it for schoolwork and homework only," she said. "It is quite easy using a fountain pen once you're used to it. My parents say it's improved my work enormously."

The children learn a handwriting style developed by teachers at the school, which charges $12,500 a year. New teachers are also put through a course on how to write with pens — as well as refresher courses on literacy and numeracy — before they are let loose in classes.


Some people in wealthy nations argue that handwriting is becoming less important because of the growing use of cell phone text messaging and typing on computers, but the school disagrees.

In August, for example, examiners at the Scottish Qualifications Agency complained they had difficulty deciphering the scrawl of many students on exam papers used to determine admission to universities.

"We talk of the paperless office and the paperless world, but this is not true," Lewis said. "You still need to have proper handwriting skills."

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Where is my sumi?

I once read an account written by a woman who went to Tibet to a Buddhist monastary for a period of time. She said that while she was there many of her personal items disappeared: hairbrush, lip balm, eyeglasses, things like that. But on the last night they were all given back to her by the monks who had removed them surreptitiously as part of her training. I suppose the lesson was that we don't really need 'things.'

I like to think there is a similar explanation for the disappearance of certain things since we moved three months ago. How two large bottles of sumi ink could have vanished I'll never know. That large brown bottle sumi is the workhorse of my inks. And some of my favorite books--the ones that were on top of everything else! And an entire box of my kids' toys. I suspect monks have been creeping about my garage--where all that stuff should be--when we're sleeping. I'm hoping they give it back soon.

In particular I really need the rest of the mat cutter to finish up a freelance job...

Friday, December 08, 2006

It was over a year ago that I did this piece. I was using it to see what pigments can go on top of other pigments, and learned that Rotring airbrush pigments bleed horribly when written over a thick acrylic fabric paint. These are all song lyrics from Coldplay, Keane, and the McGarrigle Sisters. All just music I was listening to at the time! I think I will redo this piece...some things were working out nicely and some weren't. What was I thinking using that lavender?! Actually, the lavender letters were the first ones I did and as I went along they became incongruent. I think I will work on this some more, in January, and then put a picture up of the whole thing, maybe even ironed.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Sometimes I do psalms. This is part of one. I liked the way it felt as I was writing it, but then the paper ended...these things happen! Actually, this was part of a book I was making as a calligraphy journal. I got carried away and started writing before assembling the thing, and now pages are all over the place and cut up. The point of doing calligraphy in a journal was to not have to use lines. Which is why this lettering is all wavy and crooked.

This morning I was diving in my flat files and I found this. The paper is called something like 'Indian river' paper; it is made in India, I think, and comes from Daniel Smith in Seattle. The background is black sumi ink with gouache brush lettering on top. It was a larger sheet of paper, but I cut something out so there was a hole...that is why you can just see a portion!