Thursday, 14 September 2017

International Literacy Day 2017 with Viking Direct

title page Viking Direct
As part of International Literacy Day, Viking Direct sent a selection of bloggers a stationery hamper with the aim to get as creative as possible and share a favourite quote or piece of literature.
The hamper was amazing; inside I discovered some metallic sharpies, a selection of paper, a poster hook, fabric pens and a little tote bag to decorate using some letter stencils. I was surprised to find some tea. Literacy inspired, no less.

stationery from Viking Direct

What instantly grabbed my attention was the beautifully presented calligraphy set, complete with an assortment of silver nibs and a little ink pot. The calligraphy has a feather quill too, which I stroked under my chin whilst I thought about how to get started. Blank pages can be a bit overwhelming, particularly if you have to up your handwriting game with actual pen nib and ink. I felt a little bit Shakespearean!

calligraphy set Viking Direct

If you haven't heard of International Literacy Day, I will let you know a little more about it. Firstly, it is celebrated each September. This year it was on the 8th September. I personally believe that it is relatively understated. It certainly doesn't receive as much recognition as World Book Day, for example, despite it being declared by UNESCO over five decades ago. But nevertheless, it is an opportunity to celebrate literature of all kinds whilst bringing avid readers, communities, schools and more together.

info from UNESCO
It is also estimated that 94-115 million children worldwide do not have access to an education. So UNESCO is a valuable organisation to try to address these issues whilst also uniting people with a love of literacy.
Back to my little project. Seeing as the calligraphy set had me hooked, I set about practising different styles of handwriting. I've always been quite fluid with my style of handwriting and I am capable of changing it and adapting it to suit my needs, or my creative mood. Exam papers, for example, would have upright handwriting at the beginning and get gradually more slanted as I raced to finish my answer. Sometimes there were more flourishes than usual; I even recall adding three little dots à la Tolkien above my letter a's. As a mother of three children between the ages of 8 months and 5 years who works from home writing and blogging, I rarely have the opportunity to actively write much. I type everything. I long for notebooks but as soon as I begin to use one, the children descend with their colouring and once I have started tearing out sheets of paper I may as well hand it over. So, to transition from the biro (which I often have to find in the kitchen, despite owning so many pens) to a delicate silver nib which requires ink application, was an interesting change.

styles of handwriting with pen and ink

One of my favourite books is 'Cider with Rosie', by Laurie Lee. I even had a reading penned by Laurie Lee at my wedding which was apt as we got married in the Cotswold's in Gloucestershire which is where Lee was born and made it even more fitting.
The first chapter, 'First Light' is so descriptive and thought-provoking, detailing Lee's reaction as a young three-year old to arriving in his new village. In addition to trying to concentrate on my pen skills (or lack of), I also did some fairly simple botanical illustrations which kept in keeping with the extract I copied.

calligraphy drawing grass

at work using calligraphy pen

 Laurie Lee extract

There are obviously so many fantastic and classic quotes to use, but I absolutely adore 'Cider with Rosie', so it was my first choice to copy an extract from.

displayed poster

I forgot how messy calligraphy can be, judging from the state of my fingers after I had finished! I would like to experiment with different nibs when I have quiet evening to myself; I love to listen to the scratching of the nib against the card. The flow of the ink doesn't look too dissimilar to a ball-point pen, so perhaps a square edge nib would provide a different look.

If you could choose one favourite book and one favourite quote or extract, what would they be?


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