I’ve been piddling around with calligraphy since high school, when my good friend (and former high school art teacher) Blanche first introduced me to – among a great many other things that have remained life-long fascinations – the intriguing world of pens and inks and of stationary, stamps, and sealing wax.
Throughout my elementary school years, I can remember having sketched out in the margins of dozens of notebooks hundreds of iterations of my notion of what the ideal medieval castle would look like. But by the time I was out of high-school, my daily doodlings had switched from absentmindedly-drawn castles to compulsively-repeated alphabets – a habit that has continued into my sixth decade!
About thirty years ago, I finally got around to taking a couple of evening calligraphy courses at one of the local colleges. Later on, in 1979, part of my librarianship degree coursework was a class called “The History of the Book.” Some of the students in that class joined with a few of the local speakers (including some calligraphers) who the class professor (Julia Emmons) had brought in to talk with us about various Book Arts. Some of those professionals and some of us students subsequently founded what we decided to call The Atlanta Friends of the Alphabet.
Fast-forward to the spring of 2008. I was casting about for something to fill up some of the time I suddently found on my hands as a result of the ending of a 19-year relationship. After discovering that a member of the local Quaker congregation was teaching a calligraphy course at a nearby arts center, I signed up for that course, and taking it rekindled my longtime interest in All Things Calligraphic.
Not that I’m much good at it, even after all these years of dabbling in it intermittently. But still, it is fun, and is one of the few creative outlets I’ve ever been brave enough to explore.
I’m writing about this now because last night I attended another monthly meeting of the Atlanta Friends of the Alphabet – which, remarkably, still exists after all these years. My new work schedule will allow me to attend more meetings, and I’m looking forward to them. Many of the members of the “guild” (as they properly call themselves) are amazingly – and somewhat intimidatingly – accomplished calligraphers, but they’re also a very welcoming group of folks. I’m hoping that attending their meetings will encourage my renewed interest in what will always remain for me a semi-inexpensive hobby (rather than, say, a money-making skill).
Meanwhile, I continue to be an appreciator of fine calligraphy wherever I find it, and love the way it can be delightfully combined with other arts and crafts, some of them available even to non-professional beauty-lovers and beauty-makers.