After searching for a long while for some inspiration to use in practicing my calligraphy the other day, I began making a long list of some of my very favorite words. Words that either sound beautiful when you say them or they mean something beautiful. As I was making the list, I noticed that I’d listed a few that were colours (why yes, I do like the British spelling better), and decided to use those for the first round of practice. Lovely, aren’t they?
My sister’s idea to be pen pals has been so fun and has brought me more joy than I ever expected. It’s a perfect chance to practice my calligraphy and to fulfill my only New Year’s resolution which is to empty out my giant box of hoarded envelopes before we move to Spain. But more than that, I love that I am doing something that strengthens my relationship with my sister who lives so far away.
This was my first time using my gold ink, and I must admit that I felt rather classy using it. Gilded, glittering things must still be in my royal ancestral blood. It still surprises me how much I enjoy spending so much time and effort and supplies on doing something small just to brighten her day.
In this day and age of texts and emails, I feel a lot of pride that not only am I sending letters, but that I hand letter them with fancy inks and pens and letters. It is a lovely reminder to spend extra time doing small things that are important and that matter. When we are bombarded with so much electronic stimulus, it feels so cathartic and grounding to dip my pen in shimmery ink and create something that will be so welcomed by my sister.
This tired, busy momma of 3 boys will notice that I match the stamp with the color of my envelope. She’ll recognize how much time it took me and will be comforted knowing I spent all that time thinking of her when she’s only spent her time taking care of the boys. When she reads “I love you” on the front of that card, she’ll know how true it is. Such a small thing, a card in the mail, but oh how it matters.
I love that this is what my mailbox looks like as of late. Maybe if I’m lucky, the postman will notice that lovely letters matter to him too.
In order to keep in better contact, my sister had the great idea to become pen pals. I decided to practice my calligraphy for her card and I think it turned out rather nice. I’ve heard the post office takes much more time to sort and deliver hand lettered envelopes, but I think it’s definitely worth the wait for something so lovely to show up in the mailbox amidst all the junk mail.
New Baby & Wedding Congratulations
My best friends from high school just had a baby girl, Ruby, and I’m a little obsessed with how cute her name is. In fact, it was Ruby’s grandma that started my love for calligraphy in the first place, so it seemed only fitting that her card was the first I used my brand new white ink on.
While practicing the lettering for a card for my über talented friend who recently got married, I also made some mock place cards to show another friend who creates wedding bouquets and styles receptions. After sending her just a few examples she said she was definitely interested in collaborating on some future projects, so I need to work on my skills and portfolio pronto (also, it seems I need a bone folder for those place cards).
Practice Practice Practice
I’ve never been good at writing straight lines without guides, but luckily I can draw in pencil lines that erase easily once the ink is dry. They are faint, but you can see my lines best on the ‘hello there’ image. I’m also working on consistency with my spaces between letters and words and when writing letters like the double Ls and double Ps. Flourishes are probably my biggest weakness and I’ve been procrastinating practicing them. Even seemingly easy line extensions like on ‘love’, I can see I need to spend much more time working on those elements. But I still can’t believe how relatively easy and exciting it’s been so far. I love creating new designs and developing this talent and I’m really happy how it’s become a part of my identity.
I’ve only been practicing calligraphy for 6 days and these images were taken on days 2 and 4 so I’m pretty pleased how well it’s going so far. Granted I practice about a total of 2-3 hours a day when it’s typically a recommended 20-30 minutes, so my progress is a little skewed for what’s normal.
One of the best things about my calligraphy class, is that you upload images of your practices and my teacher, Melissa, will send feedback on what she sees. It’s really helpful as you’re developing your own style because she recognizes what works and what doesn’t and points out different techniques that may help it flow better.
As you can see from the pictures, I’ve got the basics down, but this week my goal is focusing on consistency. Consistency on the sizes and shapes of the letters, the spaces between letters and words, and the angle that I am writing at.
I also need to make some of my uppercase letters more uniform and consistent like making the Bs, Ps, and Rs look similar. But I’m loving the angular style of these letters.
You guys, I haven’t been this excited about something for a long time. I’m starting calligraphy lessons from Melissa Esplin at I Still Love Calligraphy. Ever since I watched my best friend’s mom hand-letter a poster in high school, I had this secret longing to learn calligraphy. Last week as I was browsing my Pinterest, I was falling more and more in love with all the pretty letters with their delicately, thin upstrokes and bold, black downward strokes.
This past year I have been exploring more talents and interests and have spent a lot of time working on developing a more defined personal identity. Over the years I’ve certainly done a lot of things that have shaped my identity like doing humanitarian work and all the design and crafts I’ve made. But then my people pleasing desires and other insecurities came shining through in the form of usually just doing whatever my friends or boyfriend was doing. After Jeff and I were married, I was surprised how much of my identity had been dictated by what others in my life wanted to do, simply because I cared more about my relationships and wanting to be loved. It’s still the most important thing to me, but I’ve learned to find some balance with it – I do things just for me now and my emotions are far less reliant on others.
After longingly coveting the hand-lettered envelopes and art pieces, the idea sparked into my head about an online calligraphy class I’d seen. I was reluctant at first to sign up because I was worried I wouldn’t be very good and the class was about $100. But I realized that sometimes I’m just afraid of doing things for myself then those other things masquerading as my real fears. When I signed up, I was so excited that I couldn’t stop thinking about calligraphy and looking at pictures online and finally went to bed about 4 am.
I ordered my supplies and they came in the most handsome packaging. Oh, the kraft tissue paper, twine, and that amazing tag! I already know that when my hand gets tired and I’m not progressing like I would want, I’ll just look at that tag and it’ll be all the inspiration I need to keep going. The best part is that it’s only about $30 to get your basic supplies to get started, but because Jeff is awesome, he encouraged me to get lots more.
After those supplies arrived, I organized my desk to start my lessons. I have 9 different nibs, 1 straight and 1 oblique holders, 5 bottles of ink, and a few notebooks of blank, graph, and tracing paper.
I definitely foresee getting more ink – some gold especially, and handsome papers to send letters. Perhaps even some brushes to do watercolor calligraphy.
The different nibs create such different effects. Some are stiff and as a result create thinner down strokes. Some are bold and thick and require a steadier hand because of the much heavier flow of ink. My favorite is called the Zebra G. It’s flexible and does really thin upstrokes, but because it’s flexible, I can control how bold the down stroke is.
When I was first practicing, I had printed out some guides and worksheets onto just regular printer paper. It looked so wobbly and my nibs would constantly catch on the paper. I was getting a little discouraged because I was practicing a few hours a day and I wasn’t making much progress. A few days later I switched to my fancy, expensive notebooks and I couldn’t believe what a difference that made. I was actually really impressed how good I was.
I’m so excited to have something that’s just mine and that this new hobby is small enough to carry with us on a motorcycle as we travel across the Mediterranean. It will help me keep in touch with my loved ones when we’re so far away. And since I’ll have so much free time to practice for the next few years, Jeff and I are already talking about adding a store to the website to sell some of my handmade and digital designs.