Noteworthy: Kate Gladstone The Handwriting Repairwoman

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Kate Gladstone teaches and remediates handwriting for individuals/audiences in the USA and elsewhere, as CEO of Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works. Kate is also Director of the World Handwriting Contest. Her preference for Rhodia (generally the dot-grid format) is on grounds of quality and Kate mostly uses it with 1.5 mm italic pens, often Lamy with a teal ink (Diamine Teal or Noodler’s Squeteague.)

RD What led you on this particular career path?

I came to this career because, at age 24, I was struggling to improve my own (then) slow, painful, illegible, and ugly handwriting — a consequence of dysfunctional education along with some neurological disorders (most of which had not yet been diagnosed) As I improved my own handwriting, people whom I knew encouraged me to teach others.

My success (teaching myself and then others) — particularly interested my father, who had experienced lifelong handwriting difficulties similar to mine: during and after his Palmer Method childhood. He was the one who most encouraged me: I formally opened Handwriting Repair (now Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works) with classes offered to hospital doctors as part of staff development and quality control initiatives — in several cases, the hospitals had been on the point of losing accreditation, and/or individual doctors had been considered at high risk of facing malpractice charges, because of the consequences of poor handwriting in healthcare.

For over a decade, until electronic prescribing became common (and brought problems of its own), healthcare practitioners composed about 2/3 of my clientele. Today, my clients are anyone from schoolchildren to teenagers — some of whom contact me on their own initiative, having found me on the Internet — to folks of any age who simply want their handwriting to work, for a change (and who therefore are willing to change it so that it will work)

Additionally, many of those aged 35 and under have discovered that they cannot read cursive — and that this has numerous personally and professionally embarrassing consequences. (Fortunately, one can learn to read cursive in about an hour, because one does not have to learn to write cursive in order to learn to read it. I have taught people as young as four to read cursive if they read print — teaching that I do either personally or through the free iPad app “Read Cursive,” on which I collaborated with the educational software company WebTeamCorp.)

Nowadays, I check every new client to see if he or she can read cursive accurately and fluently — or at all. I’d the client cannot read cursive, then I teach cursive reading along with teaching italic handwriting. (In fact, I teach cursive reading by showing how cursive derived, step by step, from simpler and more legible letter formations such as those still used in italic.)

RD Why is handwriting important to you?

Handwriting matters to me for several reasons:

/1/ It’s useful and important to have a means of making your thoughts, transactions, and communications permanent without an electric power supply. Doctors and others in New Orleans found this out the hard way during Hurricane Katrina.

Just days after the worst of the disaster was being overcome in one Florida town, their largest local hospital flew me in to give the doctors some emergency handwriting training because the hospital’s Medical Records staff couldn’t read most of the handwritten records the doctors created in the four days during which the storm had knocked out the hospital’s power system and therefore the computers.

Handwriting and disaster coalesced in another way on that trip — at the hotel where the hospital had reserved me a room during my visit. Guests arriving, including me, were not being allowed to check-in because check-in depended on electronic key-cards — which weren’t working: eventually, someone had the bright idea of going out to hunt up old, retired staffers and asking them how people had checked into the hotel before computer. The answer — the hotel’s ledger book — had been in the basement since the 1980s: under a thick layer of dust, which the retired ex-staffer fetching the book had to blow off before using to teach the other staffers how to use a handwritten ledger to check the guests in.

/2/ There is some research evidence (citations on request) that students who write by hand remember more, learn better, and think more actively about their work than students who use only keyboards. PLEASE NOTE that these gains appear in all forms of handwriting, including print-writing. This point deserves emphasis because too many promoters of cursive, when they quote the research, have quietly altered the reports’ findings to generate “scientific proof” that of a superiority for cursive. This would matter less if such documentable inaccurate statements about research were ‘t made — as they are usually made — to legislators and to other decision-makers,

/3/ A third reason that handwriting to me — at school, handwriting washouts (which I once was) are often jeered (even considered unintelligent) by peers, parents, and even teachers. No child (or adult) should be subjected to this still-permitted bigotry.

RD How can one get started to improve their writing? 

To get started on improving your own writing would be a column in itself — that subject needs and deserves more than one article. Here, though, are tips that most of us can use:

■ Cross lowercase t’s as you write them. Don’t wait to go back after the entire word is written.

■ Simplify the downstrokes of letters, by keeping them as free from curves as you can, and using only about a 5-degree to 15-degree slant to the right (too much slant causes poor legibility). A slight right slant is easier to read, in a left-to-right alphabet like ours, than a slight left slant.

■ Eliminate loops wherever possible. Simply retrace your initial stroke on ascenders, or lift the pen without looping on descenders. (Most adults who write fast but legibly normally eliminate some or many loops and joiners in their handwriting.)

■ Join letters with straight lines, not curves. For example, join o to n with a straight, short horizontal line.

■ Be aware of the research on speed and legibility, Current research (citations on request) show that the highest speed and highest legibility in handwriting belong to those whose writing is print-like and semi-joined: joining only where the joins are structurally easiest and least accident-prone.

■ Use very simple, even “print-like,” formations of letters, even when they are capitals and/or are joined. Remember, capitals form only 2% of ordinary prose text (they should not receive 50+% of the elaboration and effort)

■ Most people should position the paper so that its center is in front of the writing-arm’s shoulder. To keep it in place, and move it as needed after a few words, use your non-writing hand — perhaps with a paperweight or a stress ball.

■ Even if you do nothing else as you write, quietly ask yourself — for a split-second, as you finish each letter or numeral, “Did I make this letter well — unambiguously legible — and was it easy to do so without risking accidents in the handwriting?” If you can honestly answer YES to both halves of the question, require yourself to wrote the next alphabet-letter or numeral a tiny bit faster. However, if you must honestly answer “No” for both parts, require yourself to wrote the next alphabet-letter or numeral a tiny bit slower. This — even if just for a few minutes a day — is a powerful means of developing legibility and speed in your handwriting, and an equally powerful means of developing your ability to perceive and evaluate these features of your own handwriting.

Please visit Kate on the web at:Handwriting Repair/Handwriting That Works.

Read Cursive app is specially designed to help children (and others) learn letters, sentences, words, and stories in different and interesting style. In short, this app will help the users get familiar with cursive handwriting that is going to help them learn even difficult handwriting faster.

The Art of Journaling: Celebrating National Handwriting Day!


It’s National Handwriting Day!

Today, when you put pen or pencil to paper, I challenge you to be more focused on how you write. Maybe take a little bit more time to construct each letter, each word, each sentence, etc.

What does your handwriting say about you? 

According to this video, my handwriting says that I am well adjusted and adaptable, can’t stand to be alone and that I crowd people. (Wha??) I am apparantly artistic and creative, logical and systematic, confident, comfortable in my own skin. yet private and introverted. It also says that I am detail oriented, organized and empathic.

Let’s see how that analysis holds up from one source to another. According to this article, Here’s What Your Handwriting Says About You at Business Insider, I am a people person and want to be understood and noticed. I am ruled by logic rather than emotion, am pragmatic and very solid. It says that I have strong emotions and feel things very intensely. That I may have had my hopes and dreams squelched, (?!?) and love to travel. I am logical, methodical and make decisions carefully. I don’t like clutter, (ha!) pay great attention to detail, and am aware of boundaries. Hmmm…

Be sure to leave a comment below telling us what your handwriting says about you!

What is National Handwriting Day all about? The National Writing Instrument Manufacturer’s Association (WIMA) has designated January 23rd to be National Handwriting Day, the purpose of which is to alert the public to the importance of handwriting.

“Handwriting can add intimacy to a letter and reveal details about the writer’s personality. Throughout history, handwritten documents have sparked love affairs, started wars, established peace, freed slaves, created movements and declared independence.”

How to Celebrate National Handwriting Day at WikiHow offers handwriting inspired prompts such as, learning cursive, teaching someone else to write, and practicing your personal signature.

Interested in the value of cursive writing? Check out the Campaign for Cursive, an organization that believes that and writing is a life-long skill that should be available, taught, and practiced as part of a basic education for all children, regardless of whether they receive their education through public, private or home-schooling.

Rhodia Product Chief Visit

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I heard yesterday that the Rhodia product chief may pay a visit to the U.S. in early March to talk about product development.

I would like to share with her product ideas suggested by Rhodia fans and retailers. Can you please let us know via a comment on this blog post what new or enhanced product you would like Rhodia to offer.  Knowing the type of use you have in mind would also be helpful.

Thanks so much for your suggestions and support.


Week 12 of The Paper Project: Free Samples of Blank Papers!

Exacompta FAF Pad, Clairefontaine Triomphe and Graf it Pads

Exacompta FAF Pad, Clairefontaine Triomphe and Graf it Pads

The Paper Project puts FREE Exaclair paper samples in your hands – allowing you to try before you buy. Each Monday, we will be offering samples from 1-4 Exaclair products to the first 50 people who sign up within that week. There is no limit to how many weeks you can sign up, and each week’s participants will be notified via e-mail that the samples are on their way. 

Week 12 samples for the Paper Project include: 1 blank sheet from each of the 6×8″ Clairefontaine Graf it and Triomphe pads, and 1 blank sheet from the the 4 1⁄4 x 7 1⁄4″ Exacompta FAF pad

How do these papers compare for your every day needs? We can’t wait to hear!

If you have been chosen to receive samples, please come back and leave comments on the corresponding week’s page. We also welcome you to blog or share to your favorite social media sites about your experiences.

Tag #rhodiapaperproject on Instagram and Pinterest. If you’d like us to see your Paper Project blog posts, post your links in the comment section on corresponding week’s page OR to our Rhodia Drive Facebook page.

What kind of comments are we looking for?

  • Tell us what you like/don’t like about the paper: surface texture, ruling, ink, etc.
  • How do you like using pencil/pen/fountain pen on it.
  • Would you use it to write/draw/doodle/sketch etc.?
  • …and anything else you think we should know.

Need a few recent reviews for inspiration?

Rhodia Week 6 at bjw-draw

“My favorite paper this week was the french rule. I could not resist using the grid to create a drawing. It is a back ground and it is a map to a drawing. The blue of the ball point pen complemented the blue of the french rule. If you like graph paper this should be on your must try list.”

Fun with Paper Samples from Rhodia Drive  at K.C. Dockal: Scribbling by the Bayou

“European paper makers come through with great stuff. No big surprise there. Is this Big Box, grade-school priced stuff? No. They aren’t ridiculously expensive either. All three are worth giving a go if you love to write letters and/or draw.”

#RhodiaPaperProject Week 4 at Squirrel Sentiments

“I have tried several papers from several manufacturers and Exaclair remains my personal standard to which all other paper is compared.  The supercalendaring they do puts a smooth and buttery finish on the pages.  They achieve this while maintaining the paper’s ability to absorb ink, but not feather, and dry relatively quickly.  All this while holding international best in class environmental consciousness and sustainability.”

You can also check out the reviews that people are posting in the comment sections of posts from Week 1 Week 2,  Week 3Week 4Week 5Week 6Week 7Week 8 and Week 9

If you are viewing this post via e-mail or on a mobile device, you may need to visit Rhodia Drive directly to see the entry form. (Entries must be received through the form – please do not post your name and address in the comment section of this post to receive samples. Thank you!)

Noteworthy: Nibmeister Richard Binder filmed by National Geographic

Richard Binder on NatGeo

Did you know that there are only about half a dozen people in the world who do what Richard Binder does? With great pride and skill, Richard repairs fountain pens inside and out and restores them to pristine working condition. Most people know Richard as a “Nibmeister”  – a skilled person who can improve, repair, or even reform the nib of a fountain pen. He’s been honing his craft and repairing fountain pens professionally since 2000 in his home in Nashua, New Hampshire.

Please watch the National Geographic video below to watch Richard in action and be sure to visit his website which is jam packed with interesting articles, reference pages, and of course, customized nibs.

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Rhodia Drive is a blog about Rhodia notebooks and the people who use them. It’s a place where devotees of this “French orange notebook” contribute ideas, experiences and links on the latest tools, events and general notebook-related news.

Rhodia Drive attracts creative people passionate about their Rhodia. Designers and artists, writers and pen collectors, thinkers and free spirits—anyone who loves notebooks—come together on Rhodia Drive.