Introduction to the book
Just a few years ago, it seemed as though no one could pronounce the word calligraphy, much less define it. Only a handful of artists were quietly keeping this age-old art alive. But all that has changed. Today, nearly every art-supply store sells calligraphy pens, calligraphy markers, special paper, and dozens of books teaching you how to use them. There are lots of calligraphy classes in schools and craft shops all over the world. But most of these books and classes are for adults, and very little is offered especially for kids.
Now it's your turn. This book is for you!!
There's no reason that kids can't learn to make beautiful letters, unless it's that you are all so busy! Kids can study and practice calligraphy with as much pleasure as painting or dancing or music. It is a skill and an art, but most of all, it's great fun! With a little effort and practice, anyone who can read and write can learn the art of beautiful writing.
But why should you learn calligraphy? Like any other art - drawing, painting, playing the piano - calligraphy helps you make your world more beautiful. A handmade birthday card, a poem written with beautiful letters, stationery printed with your name, or your friend's name hand-lettered in your own calligraphy, will make you feel good. And it makes a wonderful gift for your friends and family. It's an art (and a craft) that you can practice all alone on a quiet day, or with friends in a group, helping each other earn this fascinating art form.
WHAT IS CALLIGRAPHY?
CaIligraphy means "beautiful writing" and refers to many other alphabets besides the ABCs we are all familiar with.
Thousands of years ago, Egyptians wrote with pictures called hieroglyphs. Chinese writing was also created from pictures that make up more than 40,000 characters. Chinese writing is much older than ours and has no alphabet. Other styles of writing, such as Hebrew and Arabic, have developed through the centuries, and all have their own alphabets and their own histories.
Some alphabets are no longer used, such as Mayan and Aztec, and exist only in ancient manuscripts that we can see in museums and art-history books. Other alphabets, like Greek, Arabic, Hebrew, and Russian, are used today as much as our own.
Our alphabet comes from the Roman Empire and is about 2,000 years old. For almost 1,500 of those 2,000 years, all writing was done by hand, which means that all books were done by hand - letter by letter, word by word. (You can imagine how long it took to make a copy of a book and how expensive it was!) For much of that time and even until the I800s, people wrote with a quill pen, made of a feather, usually from a goose or a turkey. People sometimes also used wooden blocks carved by hand for printing words or pictures.
Until around 1200, most writing was done on papyrus, which is made from a plant, or on parchment or vellum, made from animal skin. Paper had been used in China for more than 1,000 years before it was used in Europe. After the invention of the modern printing press in the mid-1400s, paper was used because it was too difficult to print on parchment or vellum.
The printing press changed bookmaking considerably, but secretaries and other educated people continued to use calligraphy for writing letters, keeping records, and making important documents.
Today calligraphy is considered an art. Many people study it in special classes, mainly for the pleasure of making something beautiful. Calligraphers look at handwritten manuscripts and books from the past for inspiration and information. They continue a tradition that is an important part of our civilization.
1st edition, 2007, Paperback, 128pp, full colour throughout, 21.6 x 28 cm