World Children’s Day 2022

Every year we like to raise our voice, along with other organizations all over the world, in support of broader awareness of the rights of children. During economic downturns, ecological disasters and military conflicts, children are among the most vulnerable and suffer greatly.

We take this opportunity to introduce you to a group of university researchers who dedicate their efforts to bringing greater protection to children. Their work deserves much respect. The Interdisciplinary Research Laboratory on the Rights of the Child is based at the University of Ottawa. Their essay competition will be of interest to undergraduate and graduate students. They publish a blog in English and in French with inspiring and accessible articles.

Play. By Yvon, c1965. Source: CDIC-CIDE.

November 3rd is WDPD

The World Digital Preservation Day (WDPD) is an awareness campaign that takes place annually on the first Thursday of November. The day marks the significant and growing importance of digital information and celebrates those who have made a commitment to prevent the disappearance of digital documents.

The WDPD is an initiative of the Digital Preservation coalition (DPC), a charitable organization based in York (England), with offices in Glascow (Scottland) and Melbourne (Australia). Their WDPD blog includes articles from all over, including Canada. Of interest is also their categorization of twenty different “digital species” and risk classification for each of them. Among the categories, personal archives are considered critically endangered.

Source: Digital Preservation Coalition, 2 November 2022.

At your fingertips

Did you ever wonder if the way you hold your pen for writing is the most efficient way? This might surprise you, but there are at least four equally efficient ways to hold a pen. This is according to health reviewers Gregory Minnis and Rebecca Joy Stanborough, in a HealthLine article from 2019: A Gripping Tale: How to Hold a Pencil.

In it, dynamic and lateral tripod, and dynamic and lateral quadrupod grips are described as equally practical for writing. Their article includes simple exercises that will help toddlers progress, from a more primitive grip to one just mentioned. It also notably brings up the fact that other holding techniques are suitable for drawing, and that when it comes to drawing, one is well-advised to get creative with grip styles.

If you would like to take an art history tour of hands holding writing devices, have a look at the many examples in Howard Oakley’s Paintings of Writing 1 & 2 on his Eclectic Light Company website.

Proper way to hold a pen. The Popular Educator, Vol. 1., 1888. By John Cassell. Source: Wikimedia, 9 October 2022.

CDIC welcomes new board members

We are pleased to announce that two more dedicated people have joined CDIC’s board of directors.

Uday Kankanala is a Director in Transformation Office at CIBC. He is enthusiastic and self-motivated professional with over twelve years of experience working in Financial Services, Consulting and Telecom Industries. He strongly believes that children are very vital in shaping tomorrow’s world and likes to be part of organizations that, like ours, work towards keeping chilhood a priority. Uday chairs the Data Governance Committee.

Jin Tian completed her Bachelor of Commerce in University of Alberta. She is currently a CPA accountant with corporate and investment finance experience in the pension management industry. Jin has an interest in painting and drawing since she was a child. She knows that people’s drawings reflect their fears, joys and dreams, and let transpire their personalities. Jin now serves as CDIC’s Treasurer.

We welcome both super volunteers with open arms.

Spiderman, by Mathieu, c2002. Source: CDIC-CIDE, 2022.

Message from a bottle

After last week’s blurb about quills, it is hard to resist sharing a few words about vintage ink bottles. Small bottles of ink have been on the market for over two hundred years, and were for the most part made from blown or molded glass, sometimes from metal, or a combination of both. People and museums collect the early ones, and they are fairly easy to find on reselling platforms.

Jane Eastman of Winchester, England is a self-made connoisseur, and demonstrates great appreciation for them. She recklessly seeks and pulls them out of riverbeds, among other treasures. See several beautiful photographs of them, with extra historical background, in her Beach Combing magazine article “My indelible love for ink bottles.” The magazine’s channel has a video of her in action and it is quite an excursion.

As far as museums go, the Charles Dickens Museum has a bottle used by the famous author. Another bottle with a clever design is among the many others at the Corning Museum of Glass, in New York State.

Ink bottle, 1825-1875, AN 2013.4.3. Source: Corning Museum of Glass, 27 August 2022.

If it be your quill

A craft activity is a great way to convey a history lesson. A history lesson should be an opportunity to contemplate what has been long gone, as well as parts of the past that still persists in our time.

If you ever consider making a quill with your child, we suggest that you begin with the word processor in your computer. Have a close look at the many fonts available, and see if you and your child can differentiate the old looking ones from the newer ones. You will be quick to find Old English, Palatino, New Roman, Garamond, and the likes. They are the ones with stylish serifs.

Then, ask the child to gather as many different handwriting devices as possible at home. You might have ballpoint pens, felt pens, pencils, crayons, chalks. You might even have a metal quill. Ask the child to write the alphabet with each and compare the results. If you have one, use a magnifier to have a closer look. Make sure to observe the variations in the thickness of lines, as well as the presence or absence of serifs.

At this point, proceed with your quill making, to find out whether a quill will make writing in old style fonts easier. A good guide to use is one posted by the Rhode Island School of Design, aka RISD Museum on Instructible. You might also like the very detailed one by Liralen Li on this old Flick page, or one of the many videos online.

Whichever way you go about it, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, hygiene. If you take feathers directly from a farm, make sure to clean, sanitize and dry it thoroughly before you handle them with bare hands or before cutting carefully. Second, safety. For best results, the carving requires a short, sharp blade that gives maximum control. Use more than one feather, because your first attempt might fail, or you might want to try different carvings. Once your quill is ready, get some ink and write for fun, your own secret recipe for a magic potion. Try different kinds of paper, and hang on to the one that best suits your quill.

In the end, take the time with your child to browse books or the web, and see if you can find old style fonts. One fantastic recent book about fonts is The Eternal Letter (MIT Press, 2015) edited by Paul Shaw.

Trimmed and sharpened quill. Photo: RISD Museum. Source: Instructables.com, 19 August 2022.

Go, medievalists!

A couple of years ago in this blog, we introduced Onfim. This thirteenth century child whose drawing on a piece of bark had been discovered by chance, among other archeological findings. Thanks to a growing number of medievalists researchers over the past few years, the images left by medieval children are no longer left to chance.

The advances in child psychology have long helped parents and educators. They now benefit medievalists, and it is great news for children’s drawing conservation. Deborah Ellen Thorpe holds a PhD in Medieval Studies from the University of York (GB). In 2016, her article Young hands, old books: Drawings by children in a fourteen century manuscript, LJS, MS. 361, was published in Cogent Arts and Humanities (Taylor & Francis). In it, she meticulously and convincingly argues that the hands that drew three drawings in the margins of a centuries-old manuscript were those of children. Her observations are strongly supported by the works of several researchers in child psychology and arts education.

Other reputed medievalists, such as Seth Lere (Devotion and Defacement: Reading Children’s Marginalia, University of California Press), and Nicholas Orme (Medieval children, Yale University Press) have been instrumental in nurturing a growing interest in what medieval children have left us.

Drawing by a child in the margin of a 14th Century manuscript. LJS 361, Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts, University of Pennsylvania Libraries folio 26r. Source: National Library of Medecine, 9 August 2022.

Pupils on holidays

Optical illusions are so much fun. When there is a new one in town, it is time for an optical excursion. Give your dilating and contracting pupils a well deserved vacation right where you are.

Recently, three researchers have published their article The eye pupil adjusts to illusory expanding holes, in which they uncovered the new optical illusion pictured below. Bruno Laeng and Shoaib Nabil, both from the department of psychology at the University of Oslo, and Akiyoshi Kitaoka, from the same at Ritsumeikan University (Japan), “found that participants varied considerably in their perceptions of subjective expansion.” Among many other interesting observations, their study shows that pupils tend to react more to black “holes” than colored ones, in the test images. What about that? The dark side always has such an appeal it seems.

What is your favorite optical illusion? Did you know that there is a Museum of Illusions in Toronto, and in Paris and Lyon as well? Book lovers, get The new book of optical illusions, by Georg Ruschemeyer at Firefly Books.

The « expanding hole» by Dr Akiyoshi Kitaoka, Ritsumeikan University.
PHOTO: RITSUMEIKAN UNIVERSITY /AKIYOSHI KITAOKA. Source: Frontiers.org, 22 July 2022.

Interview with Roger Clark Miller

Musician, composer, conceptual artist Roger Clark Miller shared with us a drawing that he made in 1966, at fourteen. We are lucky that he is a conservationist and thankful he could show it to us and tell its story.

He calls it a GROB and considers it borderline appropriate. Indeed it feels juvenile in a full mid-teens sense, and it remains so to this day, according to the Urban Dictionary. However, little did I suspect before preparing this post, that GROB was not only the name of a German aircraft company, but also a funky philanthropic legal term (Gift with Reservation Of Benefit), as explained by lawyer Sian Davies at Co-op Legal Services in the United Kingdom. How appropriate! We are after all a registered charity. Please donate a GROB, or other gifts as you wish.

Interview with Roger Clark Miller. Source: CDIC-CIDE Youtube channel, 10 July 2022

Great Canadian Giving Challenge

Until the end of June, when making a donation in support of our mission, you also increase our chances to win $20 000. We rely on donors to grow the collection and to preserve items in the best possible conditions. Your donation will make a difference and help us bring fantastic images to our target audiences. Please give generously.

The Great Canadian Giving Challenge is an annual initiative by CanadaHelps, a registered charity just like us.

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