Copperplate Calligraphy

I’ll be teaching an introduction to copperplate calligraphy workshop this fall at AVA gallery in Lebanon, New Hampshire. See below for the workshop description.  For more information or to register please contact AVA directly.
Introduction to Copperplate Calligraphy workshop at AVA gallery
instructor: Laura Di Piazza
October 26–November 16
Wednesdays, 6:00–8:00pm
Four 2-hour classes
Copperplate calligraphy is a pointed pen hand developed in 17th -century England. We will work with an oblique pen holder, pointed pen nib, India ink and practice pads with grid and slant lines. Our initial focus will be on the amount of pressure applied to our pens to produce thick and thin strokes. We will begin practice with minuscules and later majuscules, which will be grouped according to similar letterforms. All materials will be supplied.

Show n’ Tell Typography

Main Street Museum‘s 1st night event:  Show n’ Tell Typography at The Center for Cartoon Studies Friday September 2, 2011, 7pm White River Junction, VT. Speakers: Molly Howard of the Center for Cartoon Studies, Interdisciplinary Artist Laura Di Piazza and designer Taylor Haynes.

Ornamental Penmanship’s golden age spanned from 1850 to 1925. This “was a unique period in American calligraphic history. Beautiful penmanship was the rule of the day, and the flexible pointed pen was king” (Sull). The Spencerian system of writing was developed by P.R. Spencer in the mid-19th century. Spencerian is considered the first American hand. It is similar to the English Copperplate hand in that they both are scripts and lettered with a pointed pen. The English Copperplate hand is circular-based and each letter consists of thick strokes (shaded) as well as hairlines and is lettered with disconnected strokes. The Spencerian hand, with it’s oval-based forms and light or absent shading in lower case letters and many hairlines throughout the alphabet, is a more fluid hand and is faster to letter.

Ornamental Penmanship by Louis Madarasz
The Declaration of Independence

Copperplate is the main lettering style in the body of the Declaration of Independence and also among the signatures. John Hancock’s signature stands out. It’s likely because he may have been the first to sign it. His name is an informal synonym for ‘signature’. National Handwriting Day is held on his birthday January 23. Hancock was not a master penman, he was however the 1st and 3rd Governor of Massachusetts and the 4th President of the Continental Congress.

Many American’s (above 30 years of age) have a connection to ornamental penmanship through the many hours spent, in elementary school, learning the Palmer Method of handwriting, which was based on the Spencerian system of writing. The Palmer Method is far less ornate and faster to write than Spencerian.

Palmer Method

The Palmer Method, developed by Austin Norman Palmer, was adopted as the standard handwriting system in public schools in the early 20th century (New York City 1905).


Promoting the Art of Ornamental Penmanship:

International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting  |  Society of Scribes  |  AVA Gallery  |  Michael Sull, Master Penman  |  Masscribes  |  Association for the Calligraphic Arts  |  John Neal Bookseller  |  Paper & Ink Arts