Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Pen and Ink Musings

There is something indescribably magical about about the hand-written word. Have you ever been in an antique store, and opened up an old book or postcard, and thrilled at seeing a hand penned script scrawling across the page, perhaps declaring to whom the book once belonged, or recalling a long-forgotten event? It's like having a little glimpse into someone's life, seeing each unique hand.

I'm not against modern communication. In fact, I'm very thankful for it! I love being able to call, text, and email friends and family at any time, and hear back from them almost instantly. That is a great blessing, if used properly. But - I don't want to loose sight of hand-written communication, records, and drawings, etc. I think all these things are so beautiful and have been neclected for far to long. They are due for a revival.

So, I'll share with you a few of my inspirations and goals in this area, and some of the things you can do to bring back the art of pen and ink.

 Write a letter.

Whether it's a handmade birthday card, a newsy catch-up letter from a friend, or even a long awaited love-letter, there's always a special "something" about recieving a letter in the mail.

Emails and texts are so...casual, so ordinary. Years after you have recieved a certain email, do you go back and pour over it, sigh over the wonderful typefaces? Um....no. Not really. Emails are read, they are useful, then they are forgotten. Chances are you won't even have your electronic messages years from now, as they will have probably been deleted...or lost in a computer crash.

Old-fashioned letters are a different thing. They can be kept, and treasured, taken out of their box and re-read years from now and not loose any of their charm. And, yes, I do keep a box where I store all the letters I wish to keep.

I have an especial fascination with trying to write letters the old-fashioned way. Unlined paper, homemade envelopes, writing in my fanciest script - perhaps even using pen and ink and a wax seal. 
Here are a few fun and helpful articles on the subject of letters from the olden days....


It has long been my goal to keep a journal regularly. Oh, I do have many journals I have filled over the years, but I have not been good about writing in it every day. Something I want to change.
I always take inspiration from reading diarys and accounts from my favorite eras (one of the best is 'Sarah Morgan, the Civil War Diary of a Southern Woman') and thinking how thankful I am that they took the time to write down a day-to-day record of the things happening in their lives. Even the most 'mundane' details are extremely interesting to me (what they were wearing, cooking, what was inside the shop in town....etc.) as a student of history. That's how I try to think about my own journaling. Even if nothing particularly 'epic' is happening, small details and everyday happening are just as important - or perhaps more so because it is these little details that are often forgotten as years blur our memories. And though I don't plan on anyone else reading my journals, it's a neat journey to the past for me to go back and read some of my old volumes, I am always surprised at how many little things I would have forgotten, had it not been for writing it down at the time!

I've always wanted to try other types of journaling too - for instance an inspiration/ephemera/sewing scrapbook/diary. This could include fabric and notions swatches fo future projects, inspirational magazine or book clippings, quotes and sketches. This would also be a fun way to experiment with collages and color combinations, either for future artwork, interior designs, or sewing projects!


I have an intense need to draw, and I often feel like I fail, because I push that desire to the back of my mind, 'just until I get this one job done'......Mainly the only type of artwork I do now is dress sketches for upcoming projects.

One of my main goals this year is to paint, draw, and sketch more and varied subjects.


To really write well, you need to have a good vocabulary. The best way to learn? Read - read challenging books. Books of information, books of fiction, books of history. Books that were written well before our present century.
(Sir Walter Scott, Jane Austen, and Charles Dickens are always a good place to start for the fiction side!)

I could never stand the though of a kindle or electronic book. I realize that they can be useful...and I know they have a place. But I have adamantly refused to have one. Nothing could ever replace the feel and experience of opening a book for the first time (or the fiftieth....:), flipping through the pages, and discovering the adventure anew.

Don't like your cursive hand? Think your artwork skills could be improved? Signature is sloppy? Don't have enough discipline to actually finish that long read? (and I'm talking to myself, here) There is only one way to get better - practice, practice, practice. If you become confident with your pen (or pencils, or paintbrush....) all of this will be so much easier and fun!

I'd love to hear your thoughts on old-fashioned paper arts, journaling, penmanship, reading and art. Any tips, ideas, or reccomendations?


maggieree said...

Wow. What a post! I appreciate your thoughts and encouragement to continue an art that seems to be getting lost amid this modern age's "advancements." I so enjoy writing to like-minded young ladies and it's such a great way to keep in touch. I like your thought about reading to expand your vocabulary. This is definitely something to keep in mind and I like to “adopt” nearly forgotten words from old books and even historical type films and use them in conversation and letters. It’s fun. :) I look forward to reading a couple of the articles that you linked to also.
Always remember also that the written letter is such a special way to encourage others in the Lord and inspire them in their journey along the straight and narrow path. May He bless you in this!

Lilac Bud Gal said...

I'm so glad you posted about this!! I agree with what you are saying. Emails and whatnot are nice, but there really is nothing like the thrill of finding a letter addressed to you! And even better when it is handwritten! (I sometimes type up my letters, print them, then send them.)

I love keeping my journal. It is so special. I like to think about who might read it 70 years from now. Maybe a young girl exploring in the attic will find my old trunk and get my journal and read it. Who knows? And I absolutely LOVE finding written things in antique shops! So wonderful.

So, thanks for posting about this! :)

Kristin said...

Thank you so much for this! :) I am glad to see that others feel the same way I do.

I love letters...I love the thrill of getting something in the mail, anyway, but a handwritten note or letter! I save nearly all of them. :)

I've been journaling regularly since I was about thirteen. Journaling has helped me sort out thoughts and feelings and document my life. I journal mostly for myself, but I have to admit that I hope one of my children or grandchildren someday might be interested in reading about my life. I read a quote once about how more special it is to leave your descendants something like a journal rather than just tarnished silveware or old furniture. I have a few notes, scrapbooks, cards, etc. written by my grandma and I treasure those so much...I hope I might have a granddaughter someday who feels the same way. :) And my recent journals are not just writing- they're sort of art journals with clippings, pictures, fabric, and other bits glued in.

As for art, I used to love to draw and still like it okay, though I'm really insecure about my sketches. :) I do want to try out watercolors, though- they have such a gorgeous old fashioned feel.

I will also never use any sort of electronic book. I have no desire to read on a piece of plastic in my hand. I'll take the real thing, thank you very much.

Loved the idea about practicing, as well...I'm not too crazy about my cursive writing, and I do need to practice. But I used to compare it to other people's beautiful writing, and I've stopped doing that because my handwriting is, I think, a reflection of me. :)

Goodness, sorry for the book sized comment. Could you tell I really love this post? :)


Hana - Marmota said...

My way: handwriting Psalm 119 into a journal.
I love writing with ink, and do it rarely now, so that was my solution to that (and other things).
And I sign all my books. I agree with you - seeing signatures in old books is nice. So I do them in mine.

Rozy Lass said...

My mother sent some money to put in our children's stockings and in all the rush I forgot to do that, so on Christmas afternoon I showed them the money and handed them a thank-you card saying that when they gave the card back to me I'd give them the money. I spent a whole morning writing thank you cards after Christmas including to my own children and husband so I could model for them the behavior I wanted. I love getting letters and cards (with handwritten messages) in the mail. The few letters I have from my grandmother are so precious to me as she died when I was only 11, and I didn't get to know her very well. I've kept a journal sporadically for the past 37 years (I'm 54) but one of my New Year's Resolutions was to write DAILY. There is so much I don't want to forget, and so much I want my posterity to know. I would love to have a journal from either of my grandmothers. I guess they were just too busy raising families and serving in the church. Not having them is what motivates me to keep writing. I believe it will be valuable to someone someday.

I'm so thankful you're promoting the old-fashioned hand written communication. Future generations will bless those who leave a written record.


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