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One World Cinema

Sharon Abella and her blog 1worldcinema report on the industry from New York and th emany festivals she is attending, she is a regular contributor to


"Bernard Maisner"

The word "Calligraphy", is derived from the Greek language, "kallos", which translates to "beauty" while "graphe"/"writing", and is one of the most romantic and expressive ways to portray a language on paper. Some of the earliest writings were recorded on papyrus with reed pens, while medieval manuscripts were written on vellum. These formal characters and writings have been exhibited in museums, galleries, libraries, and private collections throughout the ages. The varied styles range from Roman Rustic, used in the 1st to 6th Century, Uncial-from the 3rd to 6th Century, Artificial Uncial-from the 6th to the 10th Century, and Early Gothic to Gothic Littera Bastarda from 11th to 13th Century and on.

Cooper Union College of Art graduate, medieval scholar, lecturer, painter, and internationally acclaimed calligrapher and stationer, Bernard Maisner, has been published in a myriad of well respected magazines worldwide, has created invitations for upper echelon functions, has made appearances in major television programs, as well as, starred in major Hollywood blockbusters, standing in for Johnny Depp, in "Sleepy Hollow", writing for Sean Connery in "Finding Forrester", played Daniel Day Lewis's hand in "The Age of Innocence", and most recently made the hand written props for "PS-I Love You".

Q- "Can handwriting and calligraphy be attributed to one another?"
A- "Handwriting and calligraphy are different things, and, by the way, my own handwriting is actually quite atrocious. Calligraphy is learning specific historical hands, the various lettering styles throughout history. My skills skills permit me to do any kind of lettering and writing, from medieval illuminations to graffiti." "From monk to punk".

"Italian Renaissance and Italic styles were written with a certain type of pen, while Roman Square capitals were letters inscribed using brushes and then carved into the Trajan's Stone Columns. Italic is widely used by Calligraphers today. Copperplate style was developed in the 1800's in Europe, while Spencerian is an American style created in the 1900's. I used to teach medieval illumination techniques and use of gold leaf in illuminated manuscripts at 'The Cloisters Museum of Art". "There are many different writing styles, you can tell by looking at the writing what century it was written in and what country it was from." "Most people were illiterate and writing was done by professional scribes. Later on, the general population began to learn to write, when commerce really started to grow, and people were no longer slaves to the king."

Q- "What tools were used?"
A- "Medieval and Renaissance books were written with quills."

Aside: A nib is the part of a quill which comes in contact with the writing surface in order to deposit ink. Its origin dates back to ancient Egyptian times, and were made of metals like copper and bronze."

Q-"What mediums were used to write on?"
A-"Before paper, writing was done on animal skin, also known as parchment. A quill works really well on parchment. When paper was perfected during the Renaissance, other tools worked well, like a metal pen nib."
"When paper was invented in the Renaissance times, other tools worked well, like a metal pen. With the invention of printing presses in the 1400's, books were able to be mass produced. Before then, authors like Dante, had to hire scribes to calligraph his works page by page, letter by letter."

Q-"What do you think of modern day times of typing, texting, and emailing?"
A-"I think there is very little emotion in them, and physical documents, like postcards, and hand written letters will disappear completely."

Q-"What type of paper do you use?"
A-"100 % cotton papers. It has a great feel and won't deteriorate."

Q-"Tell us about wax seals. What were they used for?"
A-"Wax seals were a security feature, the letter was not able to be opened unless the seal was broken, therefore, it allowed someone to know if the letter was read or not." 
Me-"Sort of like 'Certified Receipt'.
A-"I collect wax seal handles and antique handles. I go antiquing down the Jersey shore."

Q-"Where can some of your works be purchased?"
A-"I sell stationery at "Bergdorf Goodman". "In a set of 8 engraved and hand colored cards, each one is different."

Q-"Tell us about the film process and roles you played?"
A-"I went to the set for "The Age of Innocence", which was being filmed in Troy, NY, and over to Brooklyn, where Michelle Pfeiffer and Daniel Day Lewis were being filmed. Daniel and I had to hold our hands up to one another to be sure they matched well." "I showed Martin Scorsese, or "Marty", styles of turn-of-the century writing he might like and he would chose which was most appropriate for the film from his point of view."

Q-"What traits do you need to do a good job?"
A-"I can change my handwriting to look more masculine/feminine, to show more emotion. Like an actor who has to express different moods, the writing has to have a personality, and the director must decide which will fit the film. I presented 12 different styles to Scorsese, and he decided on one."

Q-"What were some of the challenges you faced?"
A-"In 'Sleepy Hollow', directed by Tim Burton, I wrote on camera as three different characters. As two people signing the will -one was a farmer and the other a nobleman, and the other as Ichabod Crane, Johnny Depp's character. Even though all you saw was the cuff and my hand, I was made up by wardrobe from head to toe." "I have to visualize, and memorize the lines and signature styles of the handwriting. For ECU's or 'Extreme Close Ups", the camera has to track the writing of the pen."

Aside: "I was disappointed because Scorsese was happy with the first take, and I wanted to be on the set all day long."

"I was did writing as Johnny Depp's hand in 'Sleepy Hollow' that year "People Magazine" chose him as the sexiest man alive, so I like to think I had the sexiest hand alive that year."

Me: "Johnny Depp is still considered the sexiest man alive, so your hand must still be considered sexy too."



Comments (3)

very moving... this country

very moving... this country needs more great men like Maisner.

I agree. He sounds very sexy

I agree. He sounds very sexy too!

very moving... this country

very moving... this country needs more great men like Maisner.

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