So there I was working on my wife’s Purple Fret. She received it almost a year ago and asked me to “redo” it for her. I of course agreed. And yes, I kept putting it on the back burner. So there I was working on it. I was 3/4 of the way done and having a variety of issues that we scribes all face at one time or another. Nothing major, just minor things.
Of course my wife asked me to do the calligraphy in my least favorite script to write, Gothic Textura Quadrata. Beautiful script and I understand why she chose it, but frankly I don’t like writing in that script. But my love asked me to do it, so I did. I practiced pieces, did layout, she did her own illumination and I practiced pieces and finally sat down to do the calligraphy in fits and spurts and have been lurching along with it for a few months.
Sunday, I sat down to work on it in earnest and finish the Scroll for the love of my life. I decided halfway in to the work I had left that I should just go double check myself on a letter form or two. So I opened up the ductus and…
Felt like I was a hot piece of metal being forged on an anvil by an enthusiastic blacksmith. Not that I was doing the script wrong, but that I wasn’t really doing the script AT ALL. I was doing a gothic script and in my own hand. My own hand however was NOT the script really. It was more of a German script of gothic though not that either. Which as it turns out was a fortunate mistake for me to have made as my wife’s persona is German. But my hand of the script was the reason I was having so many issues. I was getting in my own way and cursing the fool who made up a script where you are almost required you to get in your own way and violate the tenets of ratio for the script just to make it readable.
Yup, I was cursing myself. A lesson re-taught. Go back to your fundamentals! There is nothing wrong with taking a script of calligraphy and making your own hand out of it. In fact you should do that! But get back to the fundamentals. Look at the original ductus every once in a while. If you want, you can make your own ductus for your hand. But get back to the ductus you are using every once in a while. It helps not only keep you focused but it will help keep the hand crisp and clean and looking the way it was designed to look. And it can help ensure you don’t end up cursing yourself.
Especially if you don’t like the script in question. We have a tendency to leave those scripts alone until we have to use them. They then become more difficult to recall, more difficult to do and then just continues the dislike we have for that script becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. And frankly we owe it to the reader of the work to do our best each and every time.
So to that end I still dislike doing gothic scripts of any kind but up above my scribal desk is the original ducti for the minuscules and capitals for Gothic Textura Quadrata and will be working on them. I obviously need to retrain myself on this script. And frankly the better I get at this script the more people I can serve with my skills. But also importantly if I am called upon to write Gothic I will be able to do so with confidence and skill. And a nice ancillary benefit will be that I am skilled enough to do it more quickly than I can now and that means I will spend less time doing a script I don’t doing. Kind of like getting really good at doing dishes when you hate doing dishes so that you can get them done and over with and get back to doing things you do like doing.
Regardless of what you think about various scripts you know how to do, get back to the fundamentals every once in a while. Look back at the ducti, reacquaint yourself with various nib sizes and inks. In other words. Get back to the fundamentals. Even if you’re excellent, you will always get something good out of it.