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Spencerian For Left Handed Writers

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I really love the look of the Spencerian script, and would like to spend some time practicing this style of penmanship. Unfortunately, I feel at a great disadvantage being a left handed writer.


If it is possible for a left handed writer to learn Spencerian, what differences would one need to consider when looking at oblique holders, nibs, etc.


Thank you for consideration to my questions.


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Hi Rick


Welcome to the world of Spencerian script. I'm right-handed, so I haven't paid too much attention to the discussions of left-handed writers, but I do know that some have suggested that sinistral writers can dispense with oblique holders and just use a straight holder. I have also seen a left-handed oblique on this forum that was made by Musinkman for a poster (do a search). I guess it may depend on whether you're an overwriter or not. (Is that the correct term?) Nibs and paper would be the same, though maybe a quicker drying ink may be of help. You're not alone in this, so I'm sure others will contribute some suggestions. Given that there was a well-known handless Spencerian penman, being left-handed is perhaps not such a handicap when it comes to this script.



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I'm left handed and write Spencerian. I would recommend Brian's (Musinkman) custom built holders or the PaperInkArts Left handed oblique holder. For the nib, anything will do as long as it's suitable for Spencerian. If you're an overwriter, then you may want to start practicing being a sidewriter, where your hand is to the side and not above your writing, as I have done.


If you're an overwriter and find it easier that way, I would suggest looking at the videos of John DeCollibus, one of IAMPETH's Master Penmen, who is a left-handed overwriter.



If you'd like to see some of my work, here's a link to my Instagram;



Finally, here's a picture of how I hold an oblique holder




Hope This Helps

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I'd forgotten about the PIA left-handed oblique. I think you have to specify it when you order their oblique holder because they don't (or at least they didn't) have it on the website.


Deathbringer, the PIA left-handed holder comes only in the original straight rod-like form doesn't it? Or is it now also available in the hourglass form?


PS. I love waching John DeCollibus write but I absolutely hate those wipes he (or should I say Joe Vitolo) uses in his videos.

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I am a left handed over-writer; I found the oblique left-handed holder to be extremely uncomfortable. I use a straight holder and write from beneath the base line, which was (for me) less an adjustment.


The adjustment has an interesting benefit; because it is unnatural, I find myself using less wrist and more arm movement while writing.


Off topic, but when using broad-edge nibs, I finally gave up and shifted to right hand. After an initial period (about a week) of torture, I developed the ability to be respectable...and the same benefit of less wrist and more arm.


The most important thing for a 'sinistral writer' (I'm going to have to remember that one, dhnz) to do is to experiment. I have seen examples of left handed calligraphy from a wide range of styles. One over writer (I don't remember her name) uses an acrylic 'bridge' to keep her hand off of the work in progress.....and then I saw this:

http://www.johnnealbooks.com/fullsize/3830/61. Keep trying; you will find out what works for you.



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Another question if I may, is in regards to tablets of lined practice paper. I've read where you can download and print samples off to use for practice. Then again, there seems to be some concern with the printer and drivers used to get a true copy of these practice sheets.


So I was wondering if there were 8 1/2 x 11 tablets of lined practice sheets for purchase? Hopefully a paper that is conducive to the use of EF nibs.

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Greetings from a rather far away place and time!


I just thought I could add some input into your conundrum of left handed writing. On this forum, I tend to lurk, but I occasionally pop in to see penmanship news and sorts to help people.


I don't know how committed you are when it comes to systematic mastery of Spencerian (I don't like calling it that, I prefer calling it ornamental penmanship), but what I can tell you that is if you want to start from the ground up life I did, you should practice arm movement.


For most people of the 20th century, they often learned cursive, or business writing was what it was called back then. Masters of the past often had a perfect cursive form, and thus, their skill with using the pointed pen rested in the arm. I cannot emphasize more this concept of arm movement. It has been nearly a year since I have gotten an interest in penmanship, but I have not seen a more greater improvement when I started using arm movement.


In other words, you will need to kill your fingers absolutely in terms of movement. Your script may suffer at first, but the effect is evident when you become better at it. For a shaded script like this, what matters is the grace and freedom of your lines, and in contrast, the thick shades that will accompany your lines. This is where the beauty in this script lies: the contrast.


My setup may differ from other left handers, but it is essentially what is recommended in "The Zaner Method of Arm Movement, Manual 144". My setup is at a slant; my paper is slanted, and my left hand is slanted along with it. Right handers slant counterclockwise, I slant clockwise. In this way, I don't need to use an oblique holder, but some, like M.P. DeCollibus prefer it so. Its kinda up to personal preference, but when it comes to movement, arm movement never fails. When you use your arm, your ovals will look rounder, and your forms more graceful. But still, some left handers will delineate and choose otherwise.


Anyways, my setup is in the attachments. One of the pictures shows my setup as it is rotated, and the other shows why I feel so strongly when it comes to using the arm. I have a really, really round flat oval. The paper is Drawing Paper Medium Weight from target, the ink is Higgins Eternal diluted down to 40% with water, the holder from Brian smith, and the nib is the Principal EF.


I hope this really helps.



In Ornamental Writing, the beauty of light line and shade must be harmonious.

... The best ornamental penmen write each word one letter at a time, the best they can, the same as you do.

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Iso, thank you for the tips and encouragement! The arm movement over just the wrist movement might be a tough habit to break! I'll be working on that one for sure.


And your writing looks very nice, I'm sure there has been hours, days and weeks worth of practice that has gone into that effort.

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