I regularly hear "I won't be able to do calligraphy - I'm left handed". I find that interesting because in my experience lefties are great at finding ways to do whatever they want to, even if it needs a bit of extra work (stringing your guitar the other way), investment (left handed golf clubs) or perseverance (handwriting).
And calligraphy is no different.
Being a leftie myself, and generally quite stubborn, I don't like not being able to do something, so I put together a few tips to encourage other leftie calligraphers.
1. There are plenty of top calligraphers who are lefties (Tony Curtis, Angela Dalleywater, Gaynor Goffe spring to mind.)
2. Calligraphy is no different to any other activity for a leftie - we each need to find our best way, which includes suggestions from others, but in the end what works for me will be my choice.
3. Comfort is critical - whether you’re a leftie or not. If you’re not sitting comfortably with both arms and hands in comfortable positions the lettering will never be good.
For me, for broad edged pen work this means having a sloped board and having the writing lines running from 10 o’clock to 4 o’clock, and moving the paper often so that the bit of paper I’m writing on is moving to where my hand is.
I find that my “sweet spot” for writing is in front of my left shoulder, rather than in the middle of my body.
The heel of my hand rests on my guard sheet which is just below the line I’m lettering.
4. Equipment can often help. Left handed nibs are cut so that the rh edge is slightly longer than the lh edge. This just helps with getting equal “touch” on the two corners of the pen. When using a double pencil a leftie will do better if the right hand pencil pokes out a little more than the left handed one. It’s critical for all beginners to work out how to get the two pencils making marks of the same heaviness - any difference in weight on the two pencils will cause issues with a pen.
Zig pens and pilot pens are usable for a leftie, but they might find it better to move straight to a dip pen with a lh nib.
I don't do this, but I think a right handed nib in an oblique holder (see image) might work too.
5. What sort of leftie? I hold my pen so that my hand is below the writing line with my pen pointing away from me, but there are also lefties (including Tony Curtis) who have a “hook” style - their hand is above the lettering with the pen pointing towards them. I’ve never taught anyone who writes “hook” so don’t have so many tips for them.
6. There’s various articles (such as on the CLAS website http://www.clas.co.uk/left-handers.html) and even a whole book written by Vance Studley - but they’re only suggestions for things to think about.
7. It’s not going to be easy straight away - but then it’s not easy for right handers either.
8. Sometimes lefties have it easier too - for pointed pen (copperplate etc.) then the lefties generally have it easier. (Not sure about “hook” writers.)
If anyone has any tips to share back with me I'd appreciate them.