I recently posted a blog post: My Instagram craft inspirations and had also posted very similar wording on my Instagram feed.
Charlotte mentioned that she was interested in teaching herself Calligraphy but wasn’t sure where to start.
This inspired me to write these 2 posts. Thank you Charlotte, for the inspiration to write to these, I hope it helps. 😊
LONG POST WARNING: This is quite a long post so I’d get a beverage, hijack the sofa and settle in for a read 😊
Part 1 – Starting out with a blank sheet of paper.
As I’ve mentioned in a few of my blog posts Calligraphy started for me via Instagram.
There are so many beautiful artists out there, showcasing their work, but that can also be hard when you’re first starting out. This is my first and most important tip:
1) Don’t compare yourself to others and hope to achieve perfect work from scratch
I’ve done this so many times when I’ve been working on my crafting projects, not just my calligraphy, but card making and watercolour painting too.
The pictures you see on social media, I’m sure, have come from hours & hours of practice & many previous mistakes, trials, errors & successes.
SO, to start teaching yourself calligraphy (or any other craft for that matter); Do it because you want to, because you enjoy it. If it becomes a chore then have a rest from it for a bit. I’ve found that’s as good a thing to do as to keep plugging away at it when it isn’t working.
2) Initial calligraphy bits and bobs
- Cartridge Pen
I found that to start getting used to calligraphy it’s worth starting off with a relatively cheap calligraphy pen that looks like a cartridge pen.
This helps to get used to writing with a different nib rather than using a traditional cartridge pen, but it’s not such a big investment if you find you don’t want to continue further once you’ve had a few tries.
You can buy the pen on it’s own or some come in sets with a variety of nibs.
I think it is quite good to get one with different nibs but it depends what you are looking to do at the start. Different nibs give different effects and it’s good to start with the options of changing nibs for different projects.
Another good thing about this type of pen is that the cartridges are standard, so if you already own a cartridge/fountain pen then you can use the same ink without needing to buy anything special.
Paper can catch you out with calligraphy as not all papers cope with ink so well, and have a tendency for the ink to ‘bleed’ into the paper.
I have ALOT of paper for my various crafty projects, but I’ve found out a number of times with many pieces going in the recycling pile, that not all paper likes ink 😉
To start off I would recommend making a small investment here, with good quality paper. As the ink won’t bleed it will help you concentrate on writing, how the ink is flowing, and means you won’t have to throw so much of it away.
There are lots of paper pads out there!
I have a couple of different pads from various brands, some more expensive than others, but I think you can find good quality paper in craft shop own branded pads, especially for learning with.
I would recommend: 90gsm weight paper and if possible I would start out with dotted paper. I find this helps to learn to write each letter at the same size, within the dots.
If you are starting out with a cartridge/fountain type pen, then ink colour is really up to you, the world is your oyster, as they say 🙂
I would just share a note of caution though; as you have a full ink cartridge in your pen you may want to practice with a blue or black, or a dark colour, as you’ll be using this colour until the cartridge runs out (As I found out when I starting using a red cartridge, wanted to change to black but couldn’t as I didn’t have anywhere to store an open ink cartridge 🙂 )
- References and guides
The internet is full of guide books on Calligraphy and you can also find a selection at most craft / book shops. I would have a flick through them if you can as everybody learns differently and what might be a great book for me might not be for you.
I would say though:
Try to find a book that explains the different types of letters
Explains the order & direction that you need to write the different parts of the letters
Has guide pages or ‘drills’ so that you can practice the various strokes at your own pace
3) Practice, Practice and oh…… a bit more practice
The key thing I have found with calligraphy, even when I think it has started to sink in a bit, is that you need to keep practicing.
Trust me when I say that some days go better than others. Sometimes the pen just doesn’t feel right, I can’t get the right seating position or the winds blowing in the wrong direction 🙂 At these times, put down your pen and try again another day.
I think it can be quite easy to get despondent with calligraphy as it is hard to master, but you can master it! You just need to stick with it.
Now I’m the type to sit at my craft desk, see a wonderful picture on my phone and want to recreate that from the off, and I did try to start off like this.
But the art to getting your calligraphy writing to look how you want is to practice the basic strokes.
Really learn how to hold the pen so that it’s comfortable for you, how to sit comfortably with your fore arm on the table, which direction to have your paper pad (I always have mine at an angle, never straight on).
The guide books will really help you with this (unless like me you go straight to the middle to find the ‘how to write’ section……and then have to go back to the beginning)
4) Picking a ‘script’ or type of letter style
As with the books everyone has there own style and so I don’t think it would be right for me to say; Start with X, Y, or Z.
There are so many styles of letter to try, but you should focus on mastering the basic strokes first as these are fundamental to all the different styles.
Have a play around with the different styles, some might suit you and others may not, you never know until you try.
5) Cut yourself some slack & enjoy it!
Keep practising but promise me you won’t beat yourself up if you;
don’t get it straight away, it doesn’t look like the picture in the book, it doesn’t look like the one on social media, it doesn’t look like the one I did yesterday.
It takes time.
But as long as you still enjoy writing and it doesn’t become a chore then it will start to take shape for you.
I hope this has been helpful as a starter for ten.
My second post will move onto pointed pen calligraphy.
Thank you for sticking with me, this was a bit of a long post, but I hope you enjoyed reading it.
Happy crafting! (and hope to see you for Part 2) 🙂