Spencerian and Me

What is Spencerian Script?

I’m kind of late to the Spencerian Party in the Instagram Calligraphy Community . . . It’s been going for a couple years now. It is a minimal and classic pointed pen script, developed for quick and easy writing of documents. I am still learning about it. This script is written with a pointed flexible nib in what’s called an oblique holder, that is, a pen with a little elbow that holds the nib at a fixed angle for the scribe.

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When I joined Instagram and started checking out what other people posted about calligraphy, I saw a lot of Copperplate Script, or English Roundhand as it is originally called. At that time, I hated any kind of cursive calligraphy, thinking it to be boring and simple, too delicate to care about. Then I started learning about its intricacies and variations. Damn was that simple elegance hard to achieve and damn was I hooked. I wrote the script with a straight holder, as that’s what I had and one of the most impressive and inspiring teachers I follow, Sir Paul Antonio, also writes the script with a straight holder. Later I would learn from him that Copperplate was originally written with a quill, which is essentially a straight holder.

So How Do We Get to Spencerian?

Man I thought it was ugly when I saw some of the really polished calligraphers post their work. Little to no variation in the line weight or form, all on the same line, large fancy capital letters. Hardly legible. Ugh. I didn’t see the appeal. Until my muses started posting videos of their drills, or practice writing exercises to establish whole arm movement and muscle memory (which I hope I still have). I noticed the motion — a steady, rhythmic bouncing with intricate turns and lots of straight lines. My favorite. I looked more closely at the script and loved the tightness of the turns and the consistency in form that you don’t always see in Copperplate. I almost always prefer straight lines over curves, letters or no letters.

Calligraphy Goddess Nina Tran did a few Periscope broadcasts showing what she’d learned and I picked up the movements and the lowercase letters quickly. Happily, I got busy with other projects and had to leave off practice of the new script. I now have an exciting commission coming up — I’m recreating a historical letter and this script would be perfect for the subject.

You can follow along as I learn on Instagram and keep an eye on your inbox for the finished piece and the process photos! Thanks for reading!

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