The Art of Penmanship
A handwritten note is universally praised as an exquisite gesture, personal and elegant, and even a meditative practice and artform. And I agree, to a degree. With my handwriting merely readable at its best, but not aesthetically pleasing, and no more than a doodle at its worst, my unpopular opinion is that not everyone should be sending handwritten invitations, letters, or ‘Thank you!’ notes.
If this detail is important to you, your company, or your client – working in PR I’ve had to do this more times than I care to remember – make sure it’s done by someone with beautiful handwriting, or at the very least give yourself time to do it. We no longer live in a time when people dedicated time every day to cultivate this skill.
Still, judging by the number of online articles and classes my search for ‘handwriting art’, ‘penmanship’ and ‘calligraphy’ returned, I am hopeful that this everyday form of art will not fade away too soon and even I might get the chance to practice it when I’m an old retired lady, writing letters to my young self or to whoever would care to read them.
After four months of working from home mainly in loungewear (gasp!), with the occasional nice top and jeans for meetings, I have decided something needs to change. I normally enjoy dressing up, even for work, and this endless loop of house clothes is becoming more and more uninspiring. I have started a treasure hunt for chic, yet comfortable dresses and jumpsuits to wear around the house, suitable for work (from home), for running after my son, for doing house chores as well as going for walks and grocery shopping. I’m thinking of natural fabrics like cotton, linen, poplin; midi and maxi lengths; A-line, wrap or shirt dresses, ruffles, and bright, fruity prints. Find inspiration in my selection.
Last week I read The Miniaturist, the debut novel of Jessie Burton. I don’t read so much contemporary literature, always preferring the classics, but I previously read Burton’s The Muse and I found in it one of my favorite quotes ever: How the future was perfect because they hadn’t lived it yet. I love this mantra for the dreamers and the ambitious, of which I certainly am one.
The Miniaturist got mixed reviews when it came out but it sold over 1 million copies and it also got a TV adaptation starring the lovely Anya Taylor-Joy (playing Austen’s Emma in the 2020 adaptation).
I am no critic and for my part the book (a period thriller telling a story about lavish beauty, privilege, forbidden passions and dangerous secrets) did a wonderful job of keeping me engaged, making me feel what the characters were feeling and leaving me with the good type of answered questions, the type that make me imagine what might have happened next.
Follow Jessie Burton on Instagram for great book recommendations, her eclectic home interiors, and garden, her passion for Frida Kahlo, and snaps of her two cats.
While scented stationery of any kind might bring back high school memories of glitter gel-pens and teenage diaries, this find is far from that glitz and kitsch. The most recent Scented Pencils of ‘la Maison Caran D’Ache’ ed. No 9, infused with the “Alps Spirit” scent, are created in partnership with candles and ambient fragrances specialist Mizensir and ‘reflect the splendour, authenticity and purity of the Swiss mountains’.
This is an exquisite petit plaisir for oneself, but would also make for a distinctive gift. Previous special editions of la Maison can be found on their website and elsewhere on the web and include noble and rare woods and aromas to take us back to our school benches or to evoque the Bois du Tibet.
And another lovely gift idea courtesy of la Maison Caran D’Ache is this old-school pencil sharpener that I think would add style and sophistication to any desk or artist’s studio.
Artist Crush – Ann Carrington
I only very recently came across Ann Carrington’s art and I am simply mesmerized. I won’t pretend to have the knowledge or right words to actually say anything about her pieces, I simply encourage you to go to her website or her Instagram for, among many other wonders, immense flower bouquets made of vintage cutlery, giant bugs and spider webs made of metal and beads and pirate ships made of pearl necklaces. Exquisite doesn’t begin to cover it. Her work is displayed in museums and galleries worldwide and she has fulfilled many private and public commissions.
Although there isn’t any real scientific research behind this article, the insight resonated with me and I hope it will inspire you too. We all have exquisite things we’re saving for the perfect occasion or a special moment. Wine, candles, soaps, clothes and jewellery, perfumes, crystal glasses, books – there are countless examples but probably very few reasons not to enjoy these any day, every day.
A spontaneous indulgence can turn a random day into a special one through itself, when maybe everything else seems banal. It gives you more power to shape and create your world, instead of waiting for a serendipitous moment.
I neglected to share the source for the rare word of last week, so I’m taking this opportunity to mention another entry I love from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, which includes beautiful new words to describe obscure emotions – this is precisely the type of find that made me want to create these letters! Watch a Ted Talk by the author, John Keonig, here, and visit his YouTube channel.
Sonder is the realization that each random passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own. As a self-centred person, I am most often surprised by this feeling when simply passing people in the street and I find it humbling, inspiring and irritating at the same time.
If this letter has offered you a moment of inspiration, kindly forward it to others who might enjoy it too. And if you have been forwarded it, write back to let me know if you would like to receive the following ones.