Wednesday, 25 February 2015

               Crossed Letter a la Jane Austen



 
I'm a confessed Janeite---otherwise known as a Jane Austen devotee. The Regency Period is such a beautiful era with empire gowns, fine furnishings and literary wonders such as Jane Austen. I've been to the town of Bath, the “in” place of the Regency A-listers, several times and it's a place filled with history, culture and atmosphere. If I could go back in time I would love to visit Bath during the Regency hayday, but since I cannot, I live vicariously through Jane Austen's novels and more specifically, her characters.
 
One of the challenges for  Lettermo is to write a Jane Austen Letter, which dictates you write your letter with ink and pen or a quill if you dare! I'm getting more proficient with my dipping pen and have recently written several letters in this fashion. Then I saw a swap on  Swap-Bot to write a crossed letter a la Jane Austen. A crossed letter is a frugal way of saving on postage by writing your letter and then rotating the paper 90 degrees and writing again across what you have just written. I've seen crossed letters and they look a bit confusing so I was curious how difficult it would be to actually write one and found myself joining the swap.
 
This past weekend I set out my pen and ink...I'm not brave enough to cut a quill...and began composing my letter. Writing the first “page” was easy enough, though when I turned my paper I have to admit I was very nervous of ruining what I'd just written and creating a mess. And for good cause as I dripped ink once I turned the paper and there was no help but to start anew. Sigh. I began again and sailed through the first page, turned my paper, held my breath and wrote my first line across the existing lines. Once I had gotten a few lines on the paper it became easier, then disaster struck as my sleeve brushed across the page smearing one entire side to oblivion which was very vexing. I had forgotten to move the ink to a more strategic position and had begun reaching across the letter to dip my pen. Sigh.
 
I felt sure after all the experience I was getting that my third attempt would be the charm as they say. I'd already written this letter a couple of times so I had quite a flow going after I pushed up my sleeves, repositioned my ink and forged ahead. When I finished, I thought it looked respectable, but the final test would be presenting it to my husband for approval. He is a lifetime member of the Brontë Society and was involved in original research which allowed him to see letters written in this manner. I was pleased when he told me my missive was quite authentic looking.
 
Reading the letter was not as daunting as I imagined. Once you fix your line of vision on the specific lines, which ever way they have been written, the writing done in the other direction seems to fade into the background amazingly.
 
The next challenge was to fold and seal my letter. This should have been the easy part! I folded the letter relatively easily but the wax seal was not so forgiving even though I practised beforehand. I got the wax seal affixed in the end but I concede a bit more practice is needed in that area!

It was an interesting experiment, though I don't know if I'd want to write all my letters in that fashion, although I do have an unopened pack of aerograms...hmmm







11 comments:

  1. You earned a gold quill award for your determination and success. Congratulations. Mrs. Duffy and I tried and met with a small degree of frustrated success, but nothing like yours.

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  2. Once I got better at using the dipping pen and making sure I didn't smear or drip anything, it wasn't as difficult as I imagined. My next challenge will be to cut a quill and try writing with it. I found an owl's feather in the garden that looks sturdy enough to be used as a quill. I'll keep you posted on progress!

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    1. Oh my! Miss Anna! You NEVER cease to amaze me!

      Lovely post, I must try the crossed letter challenge! I love any excuse to practice my Spencerian script ( I know, past the regency era...so I guess I need to have more "copperplate" going!). I'll have to check into the swap bot challenge.

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    2. Thanks for sharing. I'll try letter crossing again, some day soon. I'm trying to master the Spencerian script with a dip pen. I've held onto a giant feather, too afraid to try to cut it. I bought a book with step by step instructions, so maybe I won't be too afraid to try making a quill now. Please, keep me posted. I'll wait for you. :)

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    3. The owl quill wasn't quite as strong as I thought so I'll have to look at my feather collection and see if there are any other contenders.

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  3. The swap date has ended, but never fear, it would be my pleasure to write you a crossed letter.

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  4. Cowardly I dropped out of the swap,I must admit.I was contemplating using a different color ink after the page turn.I have seen antique letters that were turned a 3rd time....I cannot read either.Bravo ANNA!

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  5. It's not as difficult as you think really. Give it a go, just for practise and you'll see.

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  6. thanks for posting the 2 color ink letter:)

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  7. You're welcome. I thought I may do two colours but I know I would have gotten confused and mixed them up and didn't want to take that chance. Once I start writing I sort of get lost in the conversation.

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  8. Your crossed letter writings are a work of art! Gorgeous !!

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