October 17, 2010 10 Comments
In my role as calligraphy tutor, I frequently teach left-handed students. I am presently teaching two classes, and out of twenty-six students three are left-handed (normal ratio of left-handers to right-handers is around 10%, so 3 out of 26 is about right).
Having learned calligraphy the hard way, being almost completely self-taught, I would recommend that anyone (right and left-handers) who wants to learn the craft should attend an evening class. Books can tell you what to do, but there is no substitute for having a competent tutor demonstrate the numerous pen-strokes, and who can elaborate on calligraphic techniques and the characteristics of various alphabets.
I’m right-handed, so not being ambidextrous, it’s more difficult for me to teach calligraphy to a left-hander. Because of this I have found the book Left-handed Calligraphy by Vance Studley to be very useful… both to me and to my left-handed students… and I would definitely recommend it as an essential resource.
While reading online reviews of the book, I was dismayed to discover that one reviewer had awarded the book a single star out of a possible five, and had commented…
“What I wanted was a book that would have script styles suitable for a left-hander. Right-handed styles come out all wrong if they are done by a leftie as the broad and narrow strokes are all reversed. Money wasted.”
I totally disagree with this review. Contrary to the reviewer’s comments, there is no such thing as a dedicated “left-handed script style,” just as there are no dedicated right-handed script styles. That’s why the reviewer couldn’t find any such scripts in this book.
ALL calligraphic alphabets can be learned by both right and left-handers. It’s just a bit more difficult for a left-hander to achieve success. Although it’s no substitute for formal tuition, a book such as Left-handed Calligraphy will explain essential information such as how a left-hander should write with an oblique nib, and with their paper sloping. Calligraphy takes time to learn, and demands determination, patience and a lot of practice whether by a left or a right-hander. Success is not achieved overnight.
My single reservation about the book is that it is a wee bit old-fashioned in its presentation (the newest edition was published almost 20 years ago) but in a world dominated by right-handers, left-handed calligraphy books are thin on the ground. Therefore I would definitely recommend that left-handed incipient scribes grab a copy of this book while they can.
There is a new source of information for left -handed calligraphers at Bill’s Space. In Bill’s words, “Here I have begun a collection of links, videos and articles of interest to the left-hander, hoping it will make life easier if they can find hints, tips and encouragement all in one place.” Definitely worth a visit.
For a list of left-handed calligraphy books and pens, visit Anythingleft-handed.co.uk.
Read the musings of a left-handed calligraphy student here.
Discover the many ways to write left-handed here.
Watch an interesting YouTube video called Writing Left-handed here.
And finally, anyone who thinks that calligraphy can’t be mastered by a left-hander should look at Gaynor Goffe’s work here. Simply amazing!