I have been teaching calligraphy to Middle School students since they were
called Junior High students.
My best guide has been the book by John W. Cataldo, Pen Calligraphy/Course
One, Davis Publications, 1979. It is filled with beautiful examples. It has
excellent beginning exercises to learn how to control the pen and develop
the 45 degree pen angle before doing letters.
Cataldo divides the miniscules (lower case letters) of the Chancery Cursive
letters into groups that use similar strokes: ilb, oec, hmnr, dagy, tkf,
jpq, uvw, sxz. I introduce each group in that order with special
instructions about the pitfalls they should notice.
Students practice the letters in those groups and then begin making words
after each group practice. Words can use only the letters we have practiced.
Practice of correct forms before writing words does make it possible for
everyone to learn this style so that they can use it for posters and other
projects beyond my art class.
We master the miniscules before practicing a couple of styles of capitals.
They make lists of names of people, places, or objects, using all 26 caps.
Then I assign the final project: a quote or quotes totalling 25 words or
more. They choose from quote lists that I have or song lyrics or poetry.
When everyone has completed the 25 words, we make enough copies for everyone
in the class and use stab-stitch binding to make books of their work.
I ask students to practice calligraphy on a drawing board resting on their
laps, leaning against the edge of the table. We have used felt-tip and
speedball nibs. I have photocopied guide sheets for various sized nibs that
they paperclip behind their white paper. When the guide sheet is removed, it
looks like the calligrapher was able to write evenly sized letters on a
straight baseline. The guide sheets include base lines, ascender lines,
descender lines and breather spaces between lines.
For left handed students, we use the same nib as right-handers, but the
guidesheet and lettering paper are turned 90 degrees on the drawing board,so
that the top of the page is on the right side of the board. This makes it
possible for the lefters to hold the pen at the correct 45 degree angle.
I love teaching calligraphy!
.../| Red ship full of paint
../ | collides with blue ship.
./ | Blue ship full of paint.
/___|____ ...Sailors marooned!
Art and Technology Teacher
North Winneshiek School
Decorah, IA 52101