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Cranston, Rhode Island's Scribe Calligraphy Sustains Breathes Life Into An Enduring Art Form

By Paul Rowe

The ancient art of calligraphy dates back to roughly 600 B.C when letters were chiseled in stone. Roughly translated as "beautiful writing," calligraphy has continually evolved over the centuries, transforming itself according to the materials used to include the "unical" alphabet commonly associated with the Book of Kells around the 7th century. Throughout the 7th century calligraphy was used for religious books, documents, and record keeping.

Later, during the reign of Charlemagne, the Carolingian hand was developed. From Carolingian script came what we know today as the Gothic hand associated with illuminated manuscripts. Today, the most modern and popular hand known to our technological age is Italic, which originally rose to prominence during the 16th century.

"All of these hands were rendered with a broad tipped tool, be it chisel, reed, or quill," Scribe Calligraphy owner and artist Jane Parillo Rollins said. "Today's lettering artists avail themselves of these historic tools as well as more modern instruments such as fountain pens."

Today, with so much computer lettering out there, what Rollins does sets her apart as an artist. Many of the clients who seek out Rollins insist on hand calligraphy for addressing their invitations and for inclusion in the invitation design itself.

Through Scribe Calligraphy, Rollins provides decorative lettering for walls, citations, and custom artwork that simply cannot be produced by a computer. Professionally, it is important for Rollins to foster a perception of calligraphy as a viable art form. In the past, lettering was developed from function. Today, thanks to artists like Rollins, calligraphy has evolved into as true an art form as any painting or sculpture.

"I feel strongly that exposure calligraphy is important not only to the general public, but also to the art world," Rollins said. "The advent of computers has resulted in a de-emphasis on the importance of one of the most personal facets of our being: our handwriting."

Beginning as a freelance calligrapher, Rollins is now the proud owner of Scribe Calligraphy Studio and Gallery located on Main Street in East Greenwich, Rhode Island. Outside of Scribe Calligraphy, Rollins also takes pride in her positions as founding member of West Bay Open Studios and as an elected artist member of the Artists Cooperative Gallery of Westerly.

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About The Author

Paul Rowe is a graduate instructor of writing and master's student of Literature at...

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