Calligraphy

 

If you’re reading this, you are most likely the new owner of a calligraphy kit.

Welcome to the ranks. This is a skill that grows every time you pick up the pen.

This month I’m going to pass through a few tips to make this hobby more enjoyable, a look at getting started, and a few resources to take this hobby to the next level.

But first, let’s examine what came in your kits…

  • Vellum Paper
  • Grid Paper
  • Oblique Pen
  • Nib
  • Ink
  • Instruction Booklet

If you couldn’t wait for the blog, odds are good that you jumped into the instruction booklet. Smart move – it’s a great starting place.

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TIPS

  • Mind the nib – You know how when you do something and you get in the groove, you sort of forget the mechanics of what you’re doing? Yeh, don’t do that until at least after your first time doing calligraphy. I dropped the nib into the ink about 5 times my first attempt – I’m sure my whole neighborhood knew when it was happening due to my shouts… To prevent this, every time you need more ink, be mindful of the nib as it relates to the quill. If it doesn’t look like it’s positioned to where you started it at, slide the nib back into it’s original place. If you find yourself having to fish the nib out of the ink, I recommend disposable gloves.
  • Ink often – When I started out, I thought that you really only needed to add ink like once a minute. As I started to get the swing of things, it became apparent that nearly every stroke needed a reapplication of ink.
  • “G’s up” – In case you are having trouble setting up your pens like I was, make sure the “G” on the nib is facing up. You’ll know you set it up right because it won’t slip to the other sides and rotate with you, it will sort of lock in a bit

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SETTING IT UP

Open up the instruction booklet. This is such a great starting guide. Now that you have the “G up” solved for, you should think about how to hold the pen. The booklet says to hold the pen at a 45 degree angle. I think for me, I found the most success with the pen I held it a little bit closer than that – maybe like a 30 degree angle. I’m sure it’s whatever works for you, but just because the booklet says 45 degrees, don’t be afraid to carve your own path.

GETTING STARTED

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Ok – so you have your pen set up. You have the ink out. The time is now.

Dip the pen in, let’s get going. Go ahead and pull a scrap sheet of paper. I knew that my first attempt at all of this wouldn’t be the most beautiful, so I sacrificed a sheet of paper lying around the house. Here, the goal is to just get comfortable with how the pen operates. Try the upstrokes and down strokes from the booklet.

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You can see that i was eager to get going. I think it’s important to note here that in the top left, I was having trouble holding the pen correctly and doing the down strokes. I found that once I started hold the pen where it was at that 30 degree angle and stuck out wider, that down strokes became easier to do.

The little circle things (second part of the exercise) were really fun. This was where I started to have the aha moments of how the whole thing worked. It became challenging to see how it got thinner and thicker.

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Do the curly things until you feel like you understand the pressure and weight of the pen a bit more.

I was annoyingly eager to get into the alphabet, so I went on.

ALPHABET

Grab you vellum (clearish paper) and lay it on top of the alphabet. This is maybe the coolest part of the booklet, is that you get guidance on the direction to take your pen to make the letters. Seeing the letters like this really opened my eyes as to how you should write with the oblique pen. Follow the arrows and give it a shot… If you mess up, just keep going then come back later to perfect the style. I actually find the pens a bit forgiving.

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I would get the nib really full of ink then do those fat strokes. Ink would pour out, and anything that felt excess I would just pull into the other lines.

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For some people, I know my strokes will be too thick, but really just make it your own. This guide is simple to guide on where to be thick and where to be thing – make your own rules on what those should be. I did and I really enjoyed it. I mean come on – just look at that smile.

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For real though, I was actually pretty proud that I could sort of pull this off. It really opened my mind up to what I wanted to do with calligraphy…

THE NEXT STAGES

So for me, I sort of knew that I wanted to make more of calligraphy than just writing the alphabet. I had ideas of doing a mother’s day card (started on that last night) I also thought I might do a New Hobby Box in calligraphy (did that too), but I really wanted something that could test my skills. So, I decided to see if I could recreate a few of my favorite book/movie titles in calligraphy.

This part was really fun because there are no directions. You have to guess what strokes will lead to the output you want. I first started with Harry Potter, cause it’s Harry Potter, and the font is really cool. The lightning bolt in Potter was really cool. I kept going out of the lines, so I just adopted a version I liked and made my own. I next tried the Hobbit. I got a little too wide on the font, but you can see I still had fun.

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For me, I am going to be perfecting the Harry Potter logo. I’d like to one day have a version that I can frame. I really recommend picking your favorite book or movie with cool titles and trying to free hand them. I found it satisfying and a really cool way to mix writing and art.

So, I mentioned starting a mother’s day card. Half of the battle for me was finding calligraphy styles I liked and trying to emulate them. Don’t underestimate the power of a Google search when it comes to learning a style. There are thousands of styles to choose from.

FURTHER RESOURCES

How did you enjoy calligraphy? I want to see what you’ve created. Be sure to tag us on social, or share right here, so we can all check in on each other’s progress. Also, if you have found other sources, go ahead and drop them in the comments.

-Steve

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