The Calligrapher's Life

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Headaches in Numbers

Copperplate calligraphy managed to stump me.

During the past two weeks, perfecting the lower case (miniscule) letters proved challenging yet exciting. So, lately, I’ve been feeling pretty good about my letter design.

But, now the honey moon is over.

In last week’s class, our new lesson involved numbers and upper case (majuscule) letters, which I assumed would bring greater joy in my quest for learning the Copperplate hand. On the contrary, my excitement diminished within less than fifteen minutes.

As my fellow students and I followed along, Ms. Close demonstrated each number design on the whiteboard with balance and ease. “One day, I’ll be that good”, I thought while daydreaming.

With each pen stroke, the number challenge became increasingly difficult to master. Unlike the lower case letters, the numbers require more coordination and pen control, so I did my best to keep the pen steady and add or release pressure as needed. As a rule in Copperplate, a correct number design requires tapering of the lines from thin to thick and ending in a thin line. Believe me, it’s easier said than done.

After trying several lines of numbers, frustration set in the moment I realized most numbers were designed incorrectly. At one point, fantasies of dropping my pen and leaving the classroom crossed my mind.

Drawing with a steady hand takes patience and practice, so I must remind myself on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, before I could get a full grasp on the number design, our instructor quickly turned to the upper case lettering. The upper case letters were a confidence builder for me, so I had no qualms about changing gears and moving on. Unlike numbers, creating the letters transformed my calligraphy into mini works of art.

Now I realize numbers are my weakness and I need to practice them until they’re perfect.

Although Copperplate lettering feels like a struggle at times, practice will improve my skill. In the meantime, I don’t want to lose my love affair with the Copperplate hand.

This art is a fascinating and fun challenge that I don’t want to give up, no matter how much I struggle with it.

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