Friday, October 29, 2010


The other day, my friend Teri asked me if I'd seen Pilot Pen's new program that lets you write emails in your own handwriting.

"Whaaaa?" I sputtered. "How did I not know about this?" I raced to the computer and nearly hyperventilated when I saw the website. It's that cool.
(Pilot Handwriting screen grab)

Like most of you, my penmanship rarely gets a workout anymore. Honestly, I do lament this, but what can one do? I have boxes of gorgeous Smythson stationery which are used mainly for thank you notes these days, because let's face it: email has increasingly become the 21st century way.

But wouldn't it be odd and delightful to use your computer keyboard to reacquaint yourself with your handwriting?

Pilot's website has a chic little video that shows you how to do everything and in about five minutes, I was indeed "writing by hand on the computer."

You just print out their template, fill it in...

...upload it via your scanner, webcam or digital camera...

...and presto! The computer instantly processes it into your own personal typefont.

Here's the template I wrote and scanned onto my computer...

...and here's a sample letter that I typed out for you all.

I still have to figure out how to get my lowercase letters to connect, but all in all, it's pretty darn cool. I'm looking forward to writing some chatty emails to long-distance friends and having them take on a whole new dose of personality.

* * * * *

Postscript: And now moving from bespoke handwriting fonts to bespoke Halloween costumes...

This is what happens when you let your son watch "Project Runway" with you.
("Percy Jackson" gladiator breastplate. Sewn by me.
Conceived, designed and superintended by my son.)

After avidly watching the last two seasons of the Bravo show with my husband and me, Luca was horrified when he caught me trying to slip a boy's gladiator costume into my Amazon shopping cart.

Luca: Mom, no! That's totally lame. We have to make it from scratch.
Me: We do?
Luca: Percy Jackson would not wear a costume from Amazon.
Me: He wouldn't?
Luca: No. And that guy...whatshisname?
Me: Tim Gunn?
Luca: He would say to "Make It Work."
Me: He would?
Luca: (exasperated) Fine, I'll design it and you just sew it up.
Me: Oh, really?

You get the idea.

It actually worked out fine -- that is, after our little contretemps over the faux leather vs. real leather at the fabric store. (At $19/yard vs. $85/yard, the faux leather won, although it's still a sore point with him.) A little stitching (by me), a lot of micromanaging (by him), and he's been wearing it ever since.

Happy Halloween!


Everyday Goddess said...

I'll have to check out the Pilot Pen site, that looks like a lot of fun.

I have a child creative designer too. She is going as the spirit of autumn.

This includes lots of brightly colored leaves that we dipped in wax, attached to tulle worn as a veil, I'm still in completion mode, how many hours until Sunday?!

Susan E. Harris-Gamard said...

Yes, Pilot Pen looks so cool! I love that your son appreciates good design. My own son will be wearing a $20 store bought Bat Man costume :( Count you blessings! My homemade costumes stopped at Pre-K.

Acanthus and Acorn said...

Let's hope the piolet pen is friendly to the less tech savvy becausenothing is more wonderful these days than receiving a handwritten note!

Ten years from now I guaranteed you will cherish every stitch and conversation with Luca over this festive collaberation!

Miss Whistle said...

Of course I'm going to download the pilot handwriting stuff immediately. I try to write by hand whenever I can (I actually quite like my handwriting; think about how long we took as teenagers to perfect it!) but it may be a losing battle. We must all fight it together!


Miss W

Chedva @Rooms and Words said...

this is so friggin' cool!
I love the costume. Kudos to Luca for designing, and to you for putting up with him! It came out lovely, and we all adore Percy Jackson here.

pve design said...

I salute my pen and my sword to you and crown you knight of not only the word, but the sewing machine.
Now I do hope he has a horse out back to blaze the hills of Hollywood.

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Bravo, indeed!! An amazing job on the costume. I'm a witch again this year. ... Somehow that doesn't sound quite like it should.

And I love the Pilot Pen thingy. I do lament the loss of the beautiful individuality of handwriting.

Miss Whistle said...

Predictably, I'm now addicted. And a little sad that you can't download your own font. I called mine "Bumble" -- catchy, huh? Or maybe I'm doing something wrong.

Miss W xx

Anonymous said...

I'm already busy with my handwriting.
Thanks for showing and telling.

Joanna said...

You've inspired legions of paper freaks (myself included) to check out this Pilot Pen program! Now I have to actually improve my handwriting....

Sensible Footwear said...

What fun Pilot Pen looks? I shall have to go and have a look!

Super costume by the way.

Rose said...

Ooh, my BF has a Bamboo tablet. Perhaps I can do my own font on it!

The costume looks so great. My mom would make our clothes, and even allow a bit of micro managing. But, she drew the line at Halloween costumes! We either made them ourselves or let her have complete creative control.

donna baker said...

They are going to have to re-write the etiquette books now. It will be okay to send thank you notes and missives by e-mail. And I used to wear a white bed sheet I put together myself. You're a good Mom.

Angie said...

This is wonderful! And oh wow do I miss Halloween with the kiddies- and Luca especially! His costume is fantastic, well done- and the Tim Gunn comment- perfect! "Make it work" is such an apropos mantra right now:)

Anonymous said...

I believe this is the first year, in 25, that I am not going to be sewing a costume :D
Instead, I will be creating my handwritten alphabet. My son told me this week that he thought I could do it, if I would just buy an iPad.
Thank you for showing me another way.
BTW... your costume is perfect. I hope he wears it throughout the year.

Alcira Molina-Ali said...

This Pilot Pen deal is an absolute revelation, though sadly too many years in a French school with a lazy eye forced my penmanship to stage a coup!
However, the idea is incredibly romantic and ingenious, especially in light of things one may write then regret later. At least if it's digital chicken scratch, no one will be the wiser.
Bravo re the pleather breastplate -- happily that's one discerning little chapr you've brought into the world and he knows good when he sees it; )
Cheers, Alcira

Angie Muresan said...

Oh, how cool! I am heading over as soon as I am done reading you.

Unknown said...

This pen site looks awesome! I was pretty much beginning to lament the fact that I have lost my handwriting! And I rem making small things with mom and dad too when I was a kid, it's an absolute joy!

Jane Kilpatrick Schott said...

Thanks for my project of the day! FAB!

Karena said...

Lisa I could not even beging to make that gladiator costume. The handwriting is wow! I will try that out, very personized.

Art by Karena

Dianne said...

Luca has style!

24 Corners said...

What *will* they think of next?! Definitely have to check this out...I just recently tried writing with a glass "quill" pen and the dipping in the ink had me mesmerized, it was the best feeling writing all fancy like that, I'm going to try and keep it up and also now, try to get fancy with the Pilot fonts. rock! We need more gladiator-hero styling in most definitely, with the help of mom..."made it work"! I'd love for you to pop over and visit my crazy pumpkin bunch...I'm sure they'd love to meet you!
(oh, and were you as disappointed as I was with the PR outcome?? Mondo was my guy!)

Happy Halloween!!!
xo J~

froogal said...

The Halloween costume brought back some sweet memories of design time spent with my son, including the year he micro managed the process which after purchasing the fabric of his choice he said ..."now I will lie down on the fabric and then I will tell you where to draw"!

...can't wait to try the handwriting on Pilot Pen!!!

Design Elements said...

very interesting! I'm now addicted but it's cool!

k.c. said...

i have a feeling i'll be spending a lot of time on the pilot pen site. thanks for posting - i'm inspired!

Maryline said...

The handwriting on the computer is cool. I can't wait to check it out later.

Reza Mahani said...

Part of the beauty of hand-writing is the time you take to do it, which makes you pause and get back to the present moment ... this is unfortunately completely missed ... I suggest you write with hand a few minutes a day, instead of making your emails difficult to read, remember that email is typically for fast communication :)

abby jenkins said...

I have always wanted to create a font! Very cool.

That gladiator vest would sell like crazy at Barney's! Bravo!!

Dumbwit Tellher said...

Your Luca won my heart! And..yes, Pilot Pen is fabulous. I do miss that penmanship & cursive writing has become a lost art. Tell Luca he's one talented lad.


Willa said...

That is so cool!! Thanks for posting this. I will have to check this out.

Slim Paley said...

Dear Lisa
I simply love the idea of being able to create your own handwritten font for emails, et al. My husband had this idea soooo many years ago. Of course it got filed in the "Here's Another Great Idea We'll Never Act Upon" file! Then a couple of years ago I did find a program, much like this one,and again,like you, was hyperventilating with excitement. Alas, it would not accept my penmanship for whatever reason. I tried, in the words of Mr. Gun to "Make it work" all day- no luck. You have prompted me to try it once again. Perhaps my penmanship has improved, or the program will just feel more kindly towards me now. We shall see!

PS. with regard to getting the small case letters to join up, I thought about tracing a continuous whisper thin pencil line across each box and writing every letter so that it begins and then trails out of the box on that line, and then erasing the line before scanning.
A little constrictive but worth a try!


Megan Taylor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Megan Taylor said...


Pilot Pen is brilliant! I've always been a little obsessed with my handwriting - ever since I learned cursive in grade school - do they teach that anymore?

A year ago, when I was sans job, I found an ad for a position on Craig's List asking: do you have beautiful penmanship? Do you have excellent customer service skills? I like, YEEEEESSSS. It ended up being for an engraving/customer servive position at the jewelry company Janine Payer!

I went for an interview and sure enough, they liked my handwriting! Part of the interview involved engraving little baby words (Emily Dickinson and Rumi poems, for example) on small pieces of jewelry. The operation was very intense - I wore ear muffs for the noise, used an electric engraver, and had a cushion for my elbow!

I nailed it the first day, but come day 2 of the interview process I panicked - and my hand wouldn't stop shaking!!! Needless to say, I didn't get the job!

All in all, it was a fun experience. I'll never forget my two days as an engraver...


jhon said...

nice post reading love it

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