Though I started this book before posting my summer reading goals, so it doesn’t count, it is a book I opted to review to go outside my normal genre of reading and explore a craft. I was not disappointed! This book is a great book for people who know nothing about calligraphy—like me—and want to learn more. Check it out!
Simply Calligraphy by Judy Detrick (find it here!)
In high school, I was obsessed with my own handwriting. Journaling daily, I grew to perfect it and be able to change it at will, but I was always jealous of others’ handwriting and wanted to be able to make mine more beautiful. I never invested in calligraphy because by the time it drew my attention, Etsy was filled with people selling cute cards where—suddenly—calligraphy is a household skill it seemed, and I didn’t want to do something everyone else was doing. Were people simply blessed with this talent, or did they learn it somewhere? Who even knows. I may never try handlettering or calligraphy for profit, but at least now I can say that I tried learning it myself!
Simply Calligraphy is a beautiful, short book at first glance. It’s a good size and width for propping open with a few weights and being able to reference the pages while practicing lettering yourself. The book is paced nicely with simple exercises beginning with the most basic concepts and letters and gradually adding more advice to different ways and skills to practice. She uses technical terms to describe the strokes with illustrations on the opposite pages, and I was happy to find the book isn’t too technical for a true beginner to understand. A glossary of terms may have been helpful to reference, but yet it doesn’t seem that serious of a book. There is an index at the back, though, for being able to find the concepts you learned.
Some of the details she provides are lovely. I appreciated the simple history of how, for example, the capital forms of the letters developed over time in Italy, without going into depth at all. I also had no idea of the history of numerals, so I appreciated that bit of info as well, and am glad they are included! The illustrations also paired nicely with the simple text for each page and concept. Nothing is too hard to understand, especially with the examples.
One con I would point out is that this book is about learning and practicing only one simple form of calligraphy—as if the title wasn’t enough for me to realize that though! I expected a little more advanced concepts and perhaps other methods, and she briefly mentions them before the end. However, in the beginning Detrick does state that this is the form of calligraphy that has been passed down since the Italian Renaissance. It’s very much the beautiful script you would see in an old monastery, which I loved. She points out that this book is to be only a reference point for beginners and lists helpful resources in the back for supplies and further learning to those who desire it. Her bio indicates she is very knowledgeable about the subject and is the perfect person to write this book.
In all, this book is as advertised—a beautiful, simple book for beginners to learn and practice the ages-old art of calligraphy. If you’re at all interested in learning even what makes calligraphy so unique, I would encourage you to take a look! I’ll definitely be referencing this in the future when I want to try my hand at making cards, etc. So watch out, pen pals! 😉
I received this book free from Blogging For Books as part of their Book Review Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Blogging for Books review can be found here.