Issue#24 Merry Christmas Eve!

Spencerian writing

Issue 24 | 24 December 2023

Merry Christmas Eve! Eat cake, drink eggnog and have a whole lot of fun :)

Today’s is a short issue due to many factors I will not burden you with. But before that I have to share with you this article on the origins of Japanese pocket pens. Seeing as how one of my current favorites is also a Sailor pocket pens, possibly from the 1980s, this is especially fascinating.

Today’s issue focuses on Karthik’s article about his first steps in Spencerian, especially his struggles with the hand position.

Stepping into Spencerian

Karthik Subramaniam

Following up on my adventures with soap and glycerin, I was disabused of some of my mistaken notions in a conversation with @Manofadventure. It turns out glycerin acts as a lubricant in ink too, contrary to what I'd written earlier. More information about the different ways to lubricate "dry" inks safely is present here. I am yet to resume my experiments with ink, having been (pleasurably, for a change) busy during the week, staring at some disassembly in crash. It is not often that one gets to do something like this at work, and so I'm extracting as much pleasure from this event as I can.


While I have read a fair bit that has been written about the trinity of nib, ink, and paper coming together, I was completely ignorant of the physical aspects of writing technique. Among other things, writing for any period of time longer than a few minutes would make my fingers hurt. I knew I was missing something, but I did not know what it was.

Somewhat unrelated to the above, I have long wanted to write with better form, spacing, and sizing of letters. In the interests of bettering my writing, I recently acquired a book. There do exist excellent references on the topic that can be read on a computing device, such as Dr. Vitolo's Script in the Copperplate Style, which I was referred to by someone much accomplished and highly experienced in these and other matters. However, being the Luddite that I am, I preferred getting hold of a book that I could hold, touch, and read. In the first few pages of the Spencerian book, I found the bit about holding the pen interesting : "...wrist is above the paper, and the hand resting lightly on the nails of the third and fourth fingers".

When I tried holding a pen in the prescribed manner, I found that the position was very uncomfortable, and I was simply unable to write. What was more, even when I attempted to write in this newfound, and as yet unnatural position, I found myself exerting pressure on the pen. This was a happening of some concern, as I do possess a few nibs that need gentle handling if anything. I was completely confused, until KSingh9 shed some light, in the form of a link to a page long dead on the internet (thank goodness for the Internet Archive!): papernalia. Reading the contents of that link, and practising some of the exercises over the past few weeks has resulted in noticeable improvement to my handwriting. Another tip from TotemKiWa that helped quite a bit was to use a pencil for writing practice. As yet, I am nowhere comfortable with the position prescribed in the Spencerian book; I still write with part of my palm and wrist planted on the table, albeit planted less firmly than before. I find comfort in the fact that a few weeks of practice have helped me write better than earlier, without the process being physically painful. I have a long way to go, but the journey seems to have started reasonably well.

FP Doodles

Nandini Ramchandran | Instagram

FP Doodles

Tarun Durga | Instagram

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