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The Power of the Handwritten Word

Apr 23, 2014

by Lisa Butterworth

Etsy.com handmade and vintage goods

In a digital era with smartphones in our pockets and keyboards at our fingertips, there is something undoubtedly alluring about handwritten words. That irresistible appeal has inspired Etsy sellers, who are harnessing the inherent beauty and meaning of handwriting in a variety of powerful and sentimental creations.

Handwriting tells of a time and place, of a person; it holds a romance and a gravitas, whether it’s a love letter, a generations-old recipe, or simply a forgotten to-do list, discovered in a library book or the pocket of a vintage coat. It is intimate, like stumbling upon a secret. “Handwriting has a personality, like fingerprints,” says Etsy seller Karen Hazarian of K Pepper Jewelry. “No two person’s handwriting is alike.”

For Etsy seller Kendra Rousseau of Soulful Simplicity, her creative connection to handwriting began in a very personal way. “When my father passed away, I found myself not wanting to throw away anything that he had written,” she says. “The ability to take those notes and wood burn them into pieces that are beautiful or functional gives me a way to continue to feel his love and presence.”

Edi Royer, who etches notes into cutting boards, frames, and scrapbooks, notes that incorporating handwriting into a custom piece lets customers honor family histories. She says, “I love nothing more than engraving a grandmother’s recipe for her grandchildren to cherish for years to come.” The uniqueness of handwriting can be used to celebrate the present as well. “My most fun piece was a very large brooch [I made] for a lady who turned 100 years old,” says Hazarian. “It had signatures from each family member.”

While today handwriting tells stories of people’s pasts, it’s difficult to know if it will continue to do so in the future. As digital means of communication take over, handwriting must become an act of consciousness to endure. “I have to hope that even 50 years down the line people will still take the time to leave that special note tucked away in a lunch box or scribble sentiments on a birthday card,” says Caroline Gargiulo, who makes charming jewelry with handwritten details. “Writing is beginning to be viewed as an art form now more than ever.”

Handwritten Engraved Cutting Board - Personalized Bamboo Cutting Board - Your Recipe Engraved
Handwritten Engraved Cutting Board - Personalized Bamboo Cutting Board - Your Recipe Engraved
$29.00 USD
Two Heart Handwritten Memorial Necklace
Two Heart Handwritten Memorial Necklace
$103.00 USD
Personalized Handwriting Leather Bracelet, Small Leather Cuff, Unisex Memorial Bracelet, Custom Writing Jewelry - Thin Leather Cuff
Personalized Handwriting Leather Bracelet, Small Leather Cuff, Unisex Memorial Bracelet, Custom Writing Jewelry - Thin Leather Cuff
$99.00 USD
Custom Wood Burned Handwriting on Wooden Frame
Custom Wood Burned Handwriting on Wooden Frame
$35.00 USD
FREE Shipping-Personalized signature necklace, handwriting necklace, Sterling silver customized jewelry, gifts for Mother's day
FREE Shipping-Personalized signature necklace, handwriting necklace, Sterling silver customized jewelry, gifts for Mother's day
$27.99 USD
4x6 Custom Wood Burned Handwriting on a Decorative Plaque
4x6 Custom Wood Burned Handwriting on a Decorative Plaque
$45.00 USD

82 comments

  • annettesi

    Anna Simakova from Bagheerra said 2 years ago

    Lisa, I enjoyed reading your blog so much! I have thought about the power of the handwritten word, but I have never read any publications on that before ( I did not even search or met them). But now I realize that it really has a power. Because imagine: you are given a birthday card with the words typed in it... Of course the person who gave it to you read it and accepted that this words are about you and are the best wishes for you, but those are only accepted words and the only words from heart in the card are "Best wishes, (Name)" or "Love (Name)". I strongly recommend people to give the birthday or any occasion cards with the hand- written words in it. Anyway, why do we have to give cards with typed words in it if cards are themselves expression of that a person is special to one and those who give the cards should put a piece of soul and heart to this small piece of paper to show that somebody is really significant to him/ her by writing with his/her own hand.

  • valeriephoto

    Valerie from valeriestitchery said 2 years ago

    I completely agree. Handwriting really is so evocative, in ways we often don't even realize at first glance. Some of my most treasured possessions are letters from members of my family who have died. Reading them again now, I can hear their voices.

  • expressyourself

    Natalia Snemis from expressyourself said 2 years ago

    Amazing handwriting words!

  • FreshFromtheFlame

    FreshFromtheFlame from FreshFromtheFlame said 2 years ago

    I love a handwritten note! I prefer a handwritten letter to an email any day. I try very hard to get people to send handwritten notes instead of an email to me. I literally just had a conversation with members of my family this weekend that I love to see their handwriting and I love to see misspelled words and crossed out words and arrows pointing to where I should read next. So much more human than an email, so personal and heartfelt. I have kept the letters my nieces have sent to me over time and I love to see the progression of their personal handwriting style. I will always choose pen and paper over the computer and love the fact that even if the power is out I can still send a letter and let people know how I feel about them! The items above are a beautiful way to show love for an almost lost art, handwriting.

  • gooseberrystudio

    Suzi Tarman from gooseberrystudio said 2 years ago

    What a wonderful idea, to be able to preserve handwriting from a loved in many meaningful forms!

  • ShoeClipsOnly

    kathy johnson from ShoeClipsOnly said 2 years ago

    These are beautiful items! Touching Mothers' Day Gifts! Thank-you for sharing!

  • memoriesforlifesb

    Edi Royer from memoriesforlifesb said 2 years ago

    What a great piece! Thank you so much for featuring my cutting boards!

  • kathyjohnson3

    Kathy Johnson from kathyjohnson3 said 2 years ago

    I love handwritten cards and notes, I have a fireproof box I keep all my kids' cards in that they have made me over the years, that's how precious they are to me! Great post!

  • elainedillard1987

    Elaine Dillard from AldaandCompany said 2 years ago

    I love these creations so much! My shop was born entirely out of the power of the handwritten word. I made placemats for my mom a few year's ago out of my grandmother's handwritten recipes and they were such a hit that I decided to open a shop to transform others' handwritten recipes into placemats and tea towels. I love looking at our kitchen table and seeing my grandmother's handwriting. It reminds me of many fond memories of her and of meals we shared around her kitchen table. I have enjoyed transforming others' recipes into similar keepsakes and knowing the joy that it will bring to them too. I enjoyed this post and seeing all of the other creative ways that people have preserved their loved ones' handwriting.

  • SquirrelCrkCreations

    Squirrel Creek Creations, LLC from SquirrelCrkCreations said 2 years ago

    In the digital age when everything is typed, the look and feel of writing is becoming something of a rarity. I like seeing so many ways to capture it and display it! I've always been embarrassed by my messy writing, but this article gives me a different perspective! It's unique to me, and as long as I can type when I need to be clear and concise, I can scribble away by hand!

  • kustomkitsch

    Erin Elowe Proctor from saturn5studio said 2 years ago

    Somebody actually told me that they don't teach cursive in school any more! I don't know if this is true everywhere yet, but it made me really sad to hear. My grandmothers beautiful handwriting was what inspired me to start making handwriting jewelry (as I realized that my own scribbly writing would never reach that level of elegance). Written words from loved ones, and drawings done by little ones are so precious. I've found that these little moments are just as valuable and important to capture as a photograph, maybe even more so. I put photographs onto jewelry too, but there's something extra special about an individual's handwriting that is so deeply personal and meaningful, especially in an age where we type way more than we physically write.

  • EmeraldCut

    Deanna from EmeraldCut said 2 years ago

    This was a great, much needed blog post to read! More deeply personal than the revealing writing found in books, handwriting is quite like the uniqueness inherent in a fingerprint, as Karen beautifully states in the article. For me, handwritten notes are like a lingering kiss on the cheek. Once merely ephemera, now--with these unique handwritten items--the handwriting of loved ones left behind on paper will last for years to come, etched into metal and wood. Love it. Thanks for writing this entry, Lisa!

  • LittleGussy

    Kasia B from ShesGUtSSY said 2 years ago

    Handwritten notes are as precious to me as snail mail letters. It feels like a dying craft. In a technology obssesd, digital world anything handwritten is definately worth preserving

  • LedaDesign

    Leda Design from LedaDesign said 2 years ago

    These are wonderful items!

  • FieldsOfVintage

    Fields Of Vintage from FieldsOfVintage said 2 years ago

    Lovely idea and designs.

  • claymeadream

    Diahann Mangoni from ClayMeADream said 2 years ago

    I agree with you! Handwriting things are more special, gives a beautiful and sophisticated look! Congratulations on your shop!

  • EdelweissPost

    Patrick from EdelweissPost said 2 years ago

    "Keep Cursive" --- This is what I write with my finger {in cursive} into the dirt on the back windshield of my car. It's my own bumper sticker of sorts, and a soap box I stand proudly on.

  • catherinemaria

    Catherine Maria Charalambous from BouncyTree said 2 years ago

    Stunning designs. The written word must never be lost

  • seasidecloth

    seasidecloth from seasidecloth said 2 years ago

    Always a sweeter, deeper emotion is achieved when a heartfelt note is written.

  • scrapavenue

    Kim from PaperTraits said 2 years ago

    Love the fact that there are Etsy artisans striving to preserve the written word! I would be out of business otherwise!!!

  • ArtisanSoapInVegas

    Cristy Ramos from ArtisanBathandBody said 2 years ago

    This is a wonderful topic! Past will never be forgotten for what it has been written through the years/ centuries!! I just started thinking on a soap with a personalized handwriting message!! Have to practice this!! Wonderful selections as well!

  • redpandascloset

    Romina from RedPandasCloset said 2 years ago

    These are cute! I did get a custom order request once, for handwritten jewelry, because I engrave & stamp on my items. I wish sometimes I had a laser engraving machine instead of just a stylus for engraving!

  • TheCupcakeMarket

    Julie Lynn from imjulielynn said 2 years ago

    Wow! These are all so cool!

  • jizbasusan

    Susan Jizba from TheWeaverOfWords said 2 years ago

    I love handwritten words!!! I have a special affinity for the old vintage letters when sentiments were expressed in an elegant script....then again, I also really love the simply scraggly handwritten note... I think I just love words that are written by hand and come from the heart... those are the best kind of all! : )

  • arcsinejewelry

    Christine from arcsinejewelrydesign said 2 years ago

    Words must be in the air because today, without seeing this blog, I put together a treasury including poetry printed on clothing and jewelry! This is a beautiful collection and I particularly love the wood burned engraved pieces. It's true, there's just something special about handwritten words, especially from loved ones.

  • MegansMenagerie

    Megan from MegansMenagerie said 2 years ago

    This is such beautiful art! What a great way to make keepsakes!

  • RenataandJonathan

    Renata and Jonathan from RenataandJonathan said 2 years ago

    Pretty collection!

  • kristinlarsonjewelry

    Kristin Larson from kristinlarsonjewelry said 2 years ago

    A blog post close to my heart; this was wonderful to read! I am a metalsmith, and when I first opened my jewelry shop on Etsy I was etching my nature inspired drawings onto silver and making jewelry. My dad passed away unexpectedly months before I opened my shop. For over a year I played around with designs to make something for my sister to remember him. One day I was going through a box of his things and I found a list he had scribbled on the back of an envelope. It was a list of positive things in his life that he had written during a difficult time. The question that weighed most heavily on our minds when he passed away was if he knew how truly beloved he was. We had a great realtionship with him, but that question lingered. On the list, one of the items read "I will always have the love of my children". It was like I could hear his voice in his handwritten words. I knew instantly that this is what I had been looking for. So I etched the word "love" in his handwriting on a simple ring and sent it to my sister without telling her. When she opened the box and recognized our dad's handwriting, she was overcome with emotion and sobbed like a baby. Then she called me and insisted that I start offering handwriting jewelry in my shop. At first it felt too personal for me, but that is exactly the beauty of it. That is exactly the reason to do it. I have been making handwriting jewelry for just over a year now. Somehow I did not realize the meaning it would carry for people, the deep connection it creates. Like Karen mentioned, it has a personality, like fingerprints. It's like seeing the lines around someone's eyes when they smile, or hearing their distinctive laugh. The art of preserving handwriting has become very important to me. I write more handwritten notes now. The grocery list is in my best handwriting, and sometimes I send handwritten text messages via photos. I encourage those around me to do the same. We talk about getting back to the handwritten message on my Facebook fan page, and I love when people tell me that they are doing it. Thank you Etsy and Lisa for bringing attention to all the incredible artists here who are doing beautiful work preserving, and maybe more importantly, encouraging this deeply sentimental art form. Cheers to everyone!

  • PoshPrincessBows1

    Sheila Rinehart from PoshPrincessBows1 said 2 years ago

    Beautiful post, and so inspiring!

  • WhisperingOak

    Quality Handmade Items from WhisperingOak said 2 years ago

    When I see my grandmother's handwriting, I always feel a little sad that she is no longer here. A lot of memories come to me all at once. And reading old letters brings so many happy memories. I feel like I can almost touch the person. Saving these memories by adding a personal touch to your beautiful items is just so special.

  • tesscloset

    stacey from TessCloset said 2 years ago

    Love handwritten words! I always tell my 3 girls that the best gift is a note/ card that they have handwritten and drawn. I cherish items that they have created themselves and the notes that they have written me. Thanks for sharing all these beautiful items. I think it touches a special place in all of us.

  • Iammie

    iammie from iammie said 2 years ago

    Love these!

  • 777carolala

    Caroline Barbosa from OldSoulVintageltd said 2 years ago

    Wow, I didn't even know you could do that! What a great gift idea.

  • katherinedooren

    katherine Lenz from 214EVER said 2 years ago

    THE FIRST ONE IS PERFECT FOR THE MOTHER'S DAY GIFT AND THE FOLLOWING DESIGN ARE VERY BEAUTIFUL AND SPECIAL AND I LOVE ALL OF THEM AND WISH ONE DAY, I CAN HAVE THIS INTEREST IN TRYING ALL OF THESE DESIGN BY MYSELF!

  • Moondogjewelry

    Tony from RocknBracelets said 2 years ago

    Very refreshing to read about. I have abnormally great cursive handwriting skills. Thinking I could go very far after reading this. Thanks for the motivation! Tony@RocknBracelets

  • abconcept

    Coral Stig from abcoraldesign said 2 years ago

    The best ever post I read in Etsy. Thank you.

  • ASHYL

    Kerime Sevilen Mustafaoglu from ASHYL said 2 years ago

    Beautiful gift idaes, yhank you for sharing :)

  • AGORAA

    AGORAA from AGORAA said 2 years ago

    Wow! beautiful post, great gift idaes. Thanks for sharing - ♥

  • SilverInitialJewelry

    norah downey from WaxSealJewelrySource said 2 years ago

    Especially in this era of the digital note, the handwritten word is so cherished. I can't see myself saving and re-reading emails the same way. These artists offer such a priceless gift to those who take comfort in the words of loved ones here or gone.

  • boonwoodLV

    Klik Klak Blocks from KlikKlakBlocks said 2 years ago

    A wonderful blog post! Absolutely true - handwritten and personalized gifts are the most valuable and precious ones! The greatest ones as well! We feel it from our customers who love buying personalized and handwritten gifts that are created only for them and are one of a kind. Modern lives together with personalized. That's for sure!

  • ikabags

    IKA PARIS from ikabags said 2 years ago

    I completely agree. Handwriting words from our hard :) still I am missing handwriting letters from friends family members, for birthdays etc ...

  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat from mazedasastoat said 2 years ago

    Handwriting is a vital communication skill, it's only a matter for sentiment in technologically rich societies that no longer need to be able to do it. In 50 years' time, if we're very lucky, there will still be people who are able to write... if we're very unlucky, then EVERYONE will have been forced back into an analogue life.

  • lemongrasssoap

    lemongrasssoap from lemongrasssoap said 2 years ago

    Thank you for sharing your shop with us. Each gift is handcrafted and is truly a one-of-a kind item - which shows that a lot of time and thought went into the gift. The words come straight from the heart! :)

  • scp423

    Kisha Clark from SimplyCharmingParty said 2 years ago

    I sm so in love with these beautiful creations. I just shared this blog on my FB page. :) I Love Etsy Artist.

  • TheCuttingBoardShop

    Larry And Valeria from TheCuttingBoardShop said 2 years ago

    A wonderful collection! A handwritten recipe engraved on a cutting board is truly one of a kind gift. Enjoyed reading your post.

  • jax71896

    Jackie E. from NorthernCottageGifts said 2 years ago

    Wow! Beautiful handwritten treasures! Thank you for sharing with us. Blessings from Alaska, Jackie

  • bichobolitatey

    Tey Tey from BichoBolitaJewelry said 2 years ago

    Im working on some handwriting pieces with acid engraving, like on etchings. Can wait to see the results!!!

  • daydreamjewels

    Rosalia from daydreamjewels said 2 years ago

    Great gift Ideas !!!

  • LanaManisDesigns

    Lana Manis from LanaManisDesigns said 2 years ago

    Oh, how I miss handwritten notes and cards! It's wonderful to see these seemingly simple, but yet so powerful, things preserved in something more permanent.

  • JANNYSGIRL

    Natashja from JannysGirl said 2 years ago

    There is just something special about a personalized gift. To be remembered and treasured for a lifetime.

  • RomanceCatsAndWhimsy

    Darlene Jones from RomanceCatsAndWhimsy said 2 years ago

    Personalizing makes a gift so special. I had forgotten. Thank you.

  • isewcute

    June from isewcute said 2 years ago

    This is putting the 'hand' back into handmade! Inspiring feature!

  • graceosei

    Grace from AddisonMade said 2 years ago

    There is something so powerful about words especially when they are handwritten. Among the items that I treasure most are the handwritten notes, scribbles, letters and cards from family and friends. I have items that I have held onto since I was a child and each time I pick those up they transport me to a place and time that tug at my heart and often bring tears to my eyes. My mother wrote notes and letters to my sister and I and tucked them in our books, under our pillow and other spots that we would discover later. When she passed away in my teens, I would sneak away when I was going through a difficult time and seeing her handwriting felt like a hug. I have kept this up and chances are if you are in my life you will own something with my handwriting on it. You have captured it all so beautifully. Thank you.

  • Agasart

    Aga from AgasJourney said 2 years ago

    gorgeous and touching selection! Thank you for sharing

  • SymbolicImports

    Angel from SymbolicImports said 2 years ago

    Love the personalized feel, it keeps memories alive and just warms the heart & soul.

  • Emariecreations

    Samantha from Emariecreations said 2 years ago

    I really like how adding a personal message to pieces takes a gift from ordinary to extraordinary!

  • OpheliaJaine

    Jaine from OpheliaJaine said 2 years ago

    I so enjoyed reading your blog, Lisa. I too have a strong affinity for the written word. I also find it sad that it seems to be disappearing quickly from the world we live in today because everything can be sent by email or even a quick text. I also noticed that my son and other children today are not being taught how to handwrite their letters any longer. !!! I remember when I was doing my undergrad work and my professor in a creative writing course told us to please refrain from writing our thoughts and poems on the computer. To do it the old fashioned way - putting pen to paper, then if we wish, we could transfer the finished piece onto the computer and print it. She told us studies had already shown (this was quite some time ago) that computers actually do block writers to a large degree from expressing themselves. We ALL express ourselves much better when we are given paper and pen and most of all - TIME.

  • LittleSproutBaby

    Amy from ModLux said 2 years ago

    Love this post. I must share the story of how came to make the scarf shown above in the "personalized picks." I secretly snatched a birthday card from my husband's grandmother. I scanned and created a silk screen of "Love, Grandma xoxo" and printed it on jersey. I sewed the fabric into an infinity scarf and gave it to my sister-in-law for Christmas. When she opened the gift, the entire room exploded in emotion. I knew I had stumbled on something meaningful. Since then I've made many scarves with loved one's messages, signitures, love letters . . . These are my favorite scarves to make because they provide so much pleasure for the recipients.

  • Ebruk

    Ebruk from Ebruk said 2 years ago

    Thanks for sharing .

  • Motleycouture

    Motleycouture from Motleycouture said 2 years ago

    The power of the written word! Love this feature! Thank you for sharing!

  • goatpro

    goatpro said 2 years ago

    its true, they do not teach cursive im sure to the fact of digital. No one "writes" notes, cards, heck they barely mail cards any more, all congrats and happys come by email which to me is so sad. No personal touch or thought given. I have been away from my husband for two years May 1st and have sent a card every week for that period of time. Writings make us think about the person when we decide to send a written object i.e. note, card etc., then we think again about them as we write it and again when we send it. Sending an email for these occasions to me is so impersonal. it really isnt expensive, we waste more accidentally than the cost of a stamp to make someones day awesome. The written word is powerful, lets all use it more!

  • CinnabarAndSienna

    Richard Harvey Allsop from CinnabarAndSienna said 2 years ago

    a very interesting post

  • rachelcook1979

    rachel cook from tearsfrommermaids said 2 years ago

    So true...I wish I had loved ones precious hand writing before they passed on, treasure every moment...and remember them forever!

  • fainca0106

    Фаина Артюх from GiftsFromFayushka said 2 years ago

    Очень мило)

  • customphotopendants

    Lyndi from CustomSilverPendants said 2 years ago

    Thanks for featuring one of my bracelets! :) I just love making these. I can tell you so many amazing stories behind the handwriting chosen for these creations. I feel this amazing sense of connection with my customer when working on each piece.

  • unflappableproducts

    unflappableproducts from unflappableproducts said 2 years ago

    I save everything and just went through a trunk of letters some from family and friends young and old. Some deceased and some not but I have so many letters -lengthy letters-guys and girl friends-who had the time to write three page letters but we did and I treasure all of them.

  • PattiTrostle

    Patti Trostle from PattiTrostle said 2 years ago

    Wonderful designs!!

  • KendraRousseau

    Kendra Rousseau from SoulfulSimplicity said 2 years ago

    Thank you so much for featuring some of my shop items! This is a great piece that really resonates with me, and I really enjoyed reading it and seeing work from other shops that use handwriting in their crafts.

  • Kamifan11

    KAMRAN AFRIDI said 2 years ago

    Fabulous ,stunning and beautiful design particular that quote " I love you Mum" looking very nice.

  • NaZariJewelry

    NaZariJewelry from NaZariJewelry said 2 years ago

    I love these! ♥♥♥♥♥

  • SplendidLittleStars

    Margaret from SplendidLittleStars said 2 years ago

    What wonderful items! Handwriting is so special!

  • PetitDogApparel

    Erin from PetitDogApparel said 2 years ago

    Is a lost art! Inspirational items- I love handwriting. Personal and classic :)

  • harryskoylesart

    Harry Skoyles from HarrySkoylesArt said 2 years ago

    Great idea, unfortunately I would need a ghostwriter due to my horrible penmanship

  • ellabellamay

    Ursula Goetz from ellabellamay said 2 years ago

    Thank you, Lisa, for a beautiful post! Handwriting is one of the many little things that make us all unique!

  • BarDulce

    BarDulce from BarDulce said 2 years ago

    Great ideas. Can't underestimate the power of a personalized gift!

  • MakeMeUnique

    Tara from CrowdCapture said 2 years ago

    Great Post. Handwritten items are always special. I believe that people should love and feel confident in their handwriting. It shows their personality also and if someone receives that handwritten item it is a special and unique gift to them.

  • illuminativeharvest

    Jennifer Presler from IlluminativeHarvest said 2 years ago

    Handwritten is so emotional and beautiful!

  • juliedesa

    Julie D. Rousseau from HandwrittenSentiment said 2 years ago

    Yes! Thank you for showcasing this lost art of handwriting! Beautiful article with some very talented artists! I am also an etsy artist that works with handwriting, but I make special wall art canvases. It is so personal to people and it drives and challenges my creativity with each custom artwork I make. I think handwriting tells as much about a person as the actual words written. So unique!

  • experts1

    proimage experts said 2 years ago

    Amazing work..

  • korenkwan

    Koren Kwan from GarasuWonderland said 2 years ago

    lovely writing!

  • knicparr

    knicparr said 2 years ago

    Any suggestions for a gift like this for a man with his mother's or even father's handwriting? He's retired and doesn't wear a suit/tie so cufflinks or tie clip are out. I was thinking a letter opener with his mom's handwriting on the handle, but I can't find anything like that.

  • promomix05

    Ray Whitehouse said 2 years ago

    It is refreshing to read the comments about handwriting, I have studied handwriting analysis for many years, and the writers personality is very apparent in the script in so many ways. The writers conscious thoughts of which he/she is writing about, is running in tandem with their sub-conscious thoughts, which reveal various ' traits' telling the analyst much more about the writers than they wish to reveal, or maybe which they do not realise themselves. It is fascinating study.

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