Calligraphy

Julia Child Quote

Since Mondays are all about calligraphy, paper, and crafts, I thought I’d start off with a post on why I do calligraphy, how I got started, and how I continue to practice.

I’ve always been interested in calligraphy because it was like writing and drawing. When I was younger, I thought it was something that needed to be done with a specially shaped italic pen. At that point, my experience was limited to the colorful markers that make up children’s calligraphy kits. I had nice handwriting, and so my calligraphy looked pretty decent–though it was soon given up in favor of different artistic pursuits.

Oscar Wilde Quote

More recently, I asked for a calligraphy pen or kit for Hannukah. My parents got me a calligraphy fountain pen with a variety of italic nibs. This held my interest for longer, but I found the fountain pen to be a bit troublesome and I really wanted my work to look like the pointed pen calligraphy which was becoming popular. You really can’t achieve those results with an italic fountain pen.

Some online investigation after I graduated college (and was supposed to be starting my novel), I found a site called Skillshare, which offered (and still offers) some online calligraphy courses. I enrolled in a class, and bought my first pointed pen. The rest, as they say, is history.

My first time markings with a pointed pen.

My first time markings with a pointed pen.

I took the class (though I still haven’t uploaded my class project–I probably should do that) and another class (ditto), and then I did my first real project. Of course, I didn’t really take pictures of it, because that would have been way too smart. Nevertheless, doing the envelopes for my friends wedding really showed me how much I love doing calligraphy. You can see what the font I created for her developed into on my Etsy site here.

I started my Etsy site not long after to continue developing my craft and to share my love of handwritten things with others. It also helps me to fund my writing (save the starving artists! Though my family and my Paul do a great job of feeding me) and gives me another creative outlet.

Practicing my name in different styles.

Practicing my name in different styles.

Pointed pen calligraphy is really more like drawing or even painting than like regular writing. I happen to be left-handed, and that makes it even more challenging. When everything goes smoothly, the ink is the right consistency, the nib is the proper one for the font and the paper, the motions are fluid and I slip into a kind of flow state. But that doesn’t always happen, and sometimes it’s a struggle to put pen to paper because things are constantly going haywire. There are some days you have to just step away because nothing is going right.

Victor Hugo Quote

But the next day everything seems to make more sense. It really is a craft–one that gets better with practice. It helps encourage me not to take the world and my work too seriously. And even though I see all the little imperfections and inconsistencies, it really does look quite lovely. Sometimes it’s hard to look at these early samples of my work, but it’s always good to know where you’ve come from and to continue to experiment and practice.

IMG_1673

If you’re interested in learning calligraphy, I recommend finding a class (either online or in a classroom). It won’t be perfect at first, not even close, but it gets better with practice. And if you’d rather leave the calligraphy to those of us crazy enough to do it, you can indulge your love of all things handwritten on my Etsy site (or troll around Pinterest–that always works for me).

Is there an art form you’ve always been fascinated by? What was it and did you pursue it?

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