Ornamented T-shirts

Befitting approach?
People who have never given a thought to letterforms still use them for ornament.

Divisive passion

Sentimental legacy

T he alphabet is as much an element of human civilization as our cathedrals and railway lines. It is a part of our lives, like the clothes we wear and the songs we sing. We make letters that express moods; we have given them a tone of voice. Like painting, they involve color and composition. Like music, they have a range of emotions. To some of us, they are our songs.

Even if we agree that expression is a part of the alphabet, and agree again that is sometimes comes before legibility, we still have many things to disagree over. One that divides people is approach.

One view is that the only legitimate way is to imitate medieval methods. This means that you should write with a feather. You should work on vellum if you can afford it, on hand-made paper if not (even if it only differs from a comparable machine-made paper in the direction of the fibers). You should approach the job with reverence, and possibly make your own ink. All this is said to be justified by regarding writing, illuminating, and lettering as medieval crafts.

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Scots rule 2