Monday, March 25, 2013

My New Hobby: Calligraphy

Hi, guys. How was your weekend?!

Mine was pretty great. It was cold and rainy here in Atlanta, (Where are you, Spring?) but we still managed to have some fun, anyway. 

Recently, I decided to pick up calligraphy as a hobby. You know how you see all these cute invitations with funky, scrolly, whirly twirly cursive? Well, I wanted to learn how to do it. I've always loved fonts/lettering/writing, and I feel like I have a grasp on non-cursive lettering, but cursive has just not been my game. I looked into calligraphy classes, but after realizing that I'd have to take three levels of calligraphy to grasp the type of calligraphy I wanted to learn (which is something like an informal Copperplate), I decided to just try it out first, to see how it went without formal training. 

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I bought a starter pen kit (C) at Sam Flax (a Speedball set, with 6 different nibs), two different kinds of sketchbook/notepad things (one was gridded, and one was blank), and some black india ink. I watched a few Youtube videos, just to see how the pen was held, and what the flow was like, and also pinned a bunch of inspirational photos on Pinterest to reference while I was practicing. The guy I watched on Youtube (Of course I can't find it now to show you guys him!) had a lot more give in his nib, which looks like way more fun, but I still was able to get pretty swirly and twirly with my lettering. I'm sure in a class setting, I would learn to able to control my pen better, and keep it from splattering (SO annoying -- if you have done calligraphy and have advice on how to avoid this, please tell!), but I figure I will learn in time. 

In the mean time, it's a fun hobby to try out, and I'm sure I will learn more as I go. At first, my lettering was not pretty, but once I got rid of the gridded paper (let's face it, I don't do well with rules like that, haha) I was much happier. 

Here's one of my first attempts at my own name/address:
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not great. As time went on, I learned a little bit more about controlling my pen, and also letting go of the sense that I had to be on a straight line. This makes it easier. Also, I decided to start adding to the thickness of my line in some areas, which creates interest and a little visual weight to certain letters, like the first letter of each name, street, etc. 

a little better..

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(this is a friend's name. i was just looking out for anything and everything to write, and posting some stuff on instagram. She asked me to write out her name/address, so I did. :) )

And clearly, when I was having a little more fun with it, I wrote out Mika's legal name (hah)

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 a little graffiti-esque, no? I just made a lot of the lines way thicker with my pen by going back after I was finished writing it out. 

Anyway... I certainly haven't mastered it, but I feel way better about where I was, and teaching myself more and more about it. I have always loved doodling and drawing, and I need to incorporate that more into my daily life and even work. I'd love to get more into illustration. 

I also would love to go to some open drawing nights, if any of you know anywhere to go. I want to do some figure drawing. Any suggestions from any of you fellow ATL folk?!


  1. I found the Sumi ink to be the best! Combined with a good nib (I like Hunt & Gillott) the splatter reduces and you can control it better. Paper & Ink Arts online has great prices.
    Happy Lettering! -Michelle

  2. Thank you Michelle! I still want to take your class!! I really appreciate the suggestions - going to go to Paper & Ink now!

  3. oops, wrong person. but i really appreciate the input :)

  4. Kristen, I believe there is a class at Binders Art. I can't remember what it is called - Pen-ables or something like that.

  5. Of course you rock at it on the first try. ;)

  6. I might be the right Michelle - I teach Pilates/Yoga & you did my brother's cabinets/fireplace :) Good luck w/the calligraphy!

  7. Love it, I have always loved to seeing this type of writting!

  8. thanks, guys! I am definitely not great at it yet, but trying.

  9. Looks great to me!

  10. I have been wanting to try calligraphy for the longest time. It is just sooo pretty. It didn't even cross my mind about offering classes, but I just googled the Binder class in Atlanta (since I'm here too), and there are several....
    Keep us updated on your progress, I might have to go get a "starter kit" too. :-)

  11. dara - you should try! you never know! i looked into the classes, and was about to sign up, but decided to try my hand at it before signing up for classes, and it was fun to just sort of teach myself. i might try classes sometime soon, though!!

  12. I've decided I want to learn this too. Googled and found you. I'm in Atlanta too. Was thinking of doing it myself first before investing cash. Glad I found you.

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