For the Love of Letterforms


I love handwriting and fonts; when I was a kid I discovered that I can write backwards. Can you? Try it – when I tried it I could just do it (in cursive). My daughter just tried it, and she can do it too. So, maybe everyone can do it or perhaps she has inherited my obscure (and useless) talent!



And once, on a two-hour walk though a German forest with a friend, we killed time by memorizing the alphabet backwards – in English – without looking at it (there are actually instructions on-line on how to do this – but believe me, this was long before the internet and we made up our own instructions). I can still say it (with a slight hiccup around the letter J) even though it was 32 years ago when I memorized it. Memory is amazing, isn’t it?

In 3rd grade I had a beloved teacher who (in retrospect) I think was mildly crazy. Aside from having a mortician come into our classroom to describe embalming – he was one of my classmates parents, but still! – she told us we should write in cursive without letting our wrist touch the paper. WHAT? We had to unlearn the way we’d been taught the year before. Thankfully, I unlearned her method too.

Here are a few more tidbits from my writing world.

In 7th grade, a friend and I got interested in calligraphy and spent frequent lunch hours looking at books on the subject. We got some simple calligraphy pens and taught ourselves the basics.

My mom wrote with a fountain pen when I was growing up. Unusual I think, but I didn’t know any different at the time. My children spent several years at a Waldorf charter school in Portland, where they also learned to write in cursive using fountain pens.

Okay, enough about me. You all know that I’m fond of pop-ups, and I’ve been doing some research on pop-up alphabets. Here are the ones I know of, and I’d love to hear if you know of others (just letterforms, please).

Unfortunately, these pictures just don’t do the works justice, so I hope you’ll click on the links (below the pictures) or find ways to view them in person!



Alphabet I, by Scott McCarney

Alphabet I, by Scott McCarney

 And here is one of my dimensional letterform books, although not exactly a pop-up.





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I’m Helen Hiebert!

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