Sunday, May 4, 2014

Calligraphy Workshop

Yesterday I took a 3 hour calligraphy workshop at the Syracuse CoWorks in the Tech Garden.  The class was put on by Christie from Bedsidesign and it was a lot of fun.  She's going to be doing more workshops, so be sure to check her website for more information if you're interested.

I have no experience with calligraphy, but I love the look of hand-lettering (I have a whole board on Pinterest dedicated to it), so I thought this would be a good opportunity to start learning some new skills.  Eventually, once I practice more and get better at it, I would like to bring more hand-lettering into my artwork and even do some lessons on it with my students in my classroom.

Christie had put together a nice little package of materials for us to use in the class.  For three hours, she walked us through how to make the proper upstrokes and downstrokes to form letters in the Copperplate script style.  We covered lowercase and uppercase letters, and the time just flew by!  It was a great workshop and left me eager to learn more.

I really enjoyed practicing the uppercase and lowercase letters.  My own handwriting is nothing phenomenal.  Even way back in grade school, ages ago, when there was actually a grade for handwriting on our report cards, I could never earn anything past a B.  My handwriting got worse in college when I had to take notes down quickly in classes and lectures (this was just before laptops started becoming more common among college students).

Now that I'm a teacher, I tend to notice a lot of things with my students' handwriting.  Cursive handwriting is largely being phased out at the elementary school level.  There's a good read here on PBS - "Is cursive handwriting slowly dying out in America?"  In general, today's students spend a lot more time using digital devices, both inside and outside of the classroom.  They no longer spend as much time writing as they used to.  I notice this lack of skill in the handwriting of a lot of my students, and even in their manual dexterity when it comes to drawing and painting.  This isn't an across the board truth, as every student is different, but in general I'm starting to notice that it takes students longer to make confident strokes on paper with their pens and pencils.  

I've had several students tell me that they can sign their name in cursive for their signature, but that's about as far as their cursive skills go.  A few weeks back, I had several 10th grade students asking me to write their first names in my own cursive handwriting, which I personally think is severely lacking in form and style, because they thought it was cool to look at.  I think it's sad that students are no longer learning traditional handwriting skills.

Eventually, once my own calligraphy skills get better with practice, I would like to bring some calligraphy and hand-lettering lessons into my classroom.  It's a beautiful skill to have, and I think it's great to expose students to letter shapes that are not made on the computer.

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