Type@Cooper - Calligraphy: Historical Hands

Calligraphy: Historical Hands


with Carl Rohrs




Tue., Jan. 26 – Tue., Mar. 29, 2016
6:30PM – 9:30PM
location: Letterform Archive Reading Room

This 10 week course will survey the history of writing from Roman empire to Italian Renaissance, introducing the important styles that span these times while learning a bit of the history along the way. We begin with the Roman capital, a surprisingly sophisticated style and a favorite in Imperial Rome. A look at more modern forms of Roman capitals will follow. Then back to Uncial, a simple rounded pen style of capitals that appears in different forms in manuscript books for hundreds of years from the late Roman period through the monastic tradition of the middle ages. Next, the Carolingian book hand, which was developed in the late 8th century to reform scholarship by the bishops recruited by Charlemagne, thus the name Carolingian. This was the hand used as they set a highest standard for retranslating and copying classical texts. Manuscripts written in these times were often elaborately designed although surprisingly still legible to the modern eye. It was revived in the renaissance by the humanists and served as the model for some of the earliest printed books. Carolingian is recognized as the source of the shapes of our lower case alphabet today. Edward Johnston used a late Carolingian model as the foundation of his teaching as he influenced the entire 20th century revival of calligraphy and generations of lettering artists. By the late 12th century the Carolingian hand was quite compressed, eliminating the curves and evolving into the 'Gothic' letter; more correctly called Blackletter. Blackletter took many forms in the following centuries and today is worn by beer bottles, heavy metal bands and tattooed bikers alike. And finally we’ll spend some time with Italic, the elegant hand of the Chancery and the courts of Europe. This course will give students an overview of the significant moments in the pre-type era of the Roman alphabet.


    Please bring these materials to the first class

  • pad of 14 x 17 smooth bond paper
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • 18" ruler
  • 6mm Pilot Parallel Pen


Register online




Instructor: Carl Rohrs

Calligraphy: Historical Hands
Carl Rohrs has been a commercial lettering artist and sign painter in Santa Cruz, CA since 1977. Teacher of Lettering & Typography and Graphic Design at Cabrillo College since ‘84, and U.C. Santa Cruz Extension. Teacher of modern calligraphy — and occasionally sign-painting and gilding — at workshops and conferences since ‘86 all over the US and Europe, as well as Japan, Australia and South Africa. Studied with Father Edward Catich, Hermann Zapf, Karlgeorg Hoefer among many others. Team teaching partners have included Julian Waters, Georgia Deaver, Susan Skarsgard and sign legend Mark Oatis. Former and current editor of Alphabet, the Journal of the Friends of Calligraphy.



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