The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting, Cursive and Calligraphic
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"This book has all you need to improve your handwriting in cursive and calligraphic"
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I first bought this book several years ago, but have since lost, misplaced it or given it away. As my handwriting has deteriorated from computer use and lack of practice, I felt it was time to get back to calligraphy. Imagine my frustration when I couldn't find the book! Now that I have it again, my handwriting continues to improve.
This book is very effective and does just what it says. It has clear, effective, and easy-to-follow instructions and excellent practice sheet templates. I've found that tracing the letters is the best way to learn how they should be formed, and this book makes it easy. The practice sheets are normal (8.5x11) size, so you don't have to mess with resizing on a computer or copier.
The results are pleasing and beautiful. And my everyday handwriting is more legible and pleasant to read, without looking like it was written by a high school cheerleader or an obsessive-compulsive neatnik (No offense to high school cheerleaders or obsessive-compulsive neatniks, it's just that that's not the way a middle-aged man is expected to write!)
The only negatives about this book are: (1)that it seems too short (it would be nice to have more information), and (2) that it teaches only one style of calligraphy. But, once you've learned everything in this book, you'll have a good basis for learning more calligraphy.
I sincerely wish that it was back in print, so that I could safely recommend it to anyone hoping to improve their handwriting or learn calligraphy. But, if you happen to find it, BUY IT QUICKLY! You won't regret it. (And if you do, let me know, I might take it off your hands!)
Then Mr. Eager entered my life and what a revelation! I took myself through the book as if I was new to Italic, zealously practiced speed drills and after a time I made myself write everything in Italic. I found that both my "artistic" script and ordinary handwriting were tremendously improved.
When I started a new round of teaching, this book was at the core of my curriculum. Later -- and especially in my classes for children -- I added in Inga Dubay and Barbara Getty's excellent series of books -- with terrific results.
Then, after several years away from teaching I was appalled to find Eager's book-- as well as the Dubay/Getty series -- to be out of print and unobtainable. I was horrified. A had a semi-major stroke two years ago and felt for a time that I had lost too much control for calligraphy and without this book, didn't have the heart to start again.
But will wonders never cease... I visited Amazon today and these wonderful resources are available again. I'm thrilled and can't wait for my new copies to arrive. My "hand" may never be as polished as it used to be, but I look forward to the joy of putting pen to paper and writing beautiful letters again.
For those of you wanting to study calligraphy -- run, do not walk, to your computer and order these books.
And for those of you in elementary education who are convinced that there's no role for cursive handwriting (despite its proven benefits) because if takes "too long" to teach the Palmer method after kids have learned "ball and stick" printing, please know that there is an alternative to both that can be taught right from the beginning, is far easier to learn and delivers great results.
If you think I sound like a crusader about Italic, you're right. For so many years as a child I struggled -- and failed -- to learn "proper handwriting". I was an "A" student otherwise but I never got better than a "C" in penmanship no matter how hard I tried. But then, after 6 weeks of italic study, my handwriting was quite literally remade into calligraphy and a lifelong love of the craft was born.
While I don't for a moment maintain that everyone who studies Italic will become a professional calligrapher,I can safely say that everyone who spends some quality time and practice with "The Italic Way to Beautiful Handwriting" or the Dubay/Getty series will see dramatic improvement in his/her own handwriting.
And for those who believe that handwriting is an unnecessary skill in these days of digital communication, I can only ask this: why you would deprive yourself of a skill so easily -- and quickly -- learned?
Update 2009-06-23. I've been practicing from this book for 15 minutes a day for the past two years. Handwriting looks great. The appendix on pen grinding also helped me to sharpen my Lamy 1.1-mm italic pen, saving me money.
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