Even as a child I loved illuminated manuscripts—those colorfully illustrated pages from ancient Bibles and song books, the words so beautifully written out. I assumed it was an art that died with the invention of the printing press.
I didn’t know that people still practice calligraphy, the art of beautiful writing, until (back in the 70s) a college classmate showed me her work. And when I received a wedding invitation addressed in calligraphy, I imagined the many hours the scribe must have spent hunched over a stack of envelopes. I thought it must be very tedious and difficult, but the obsessive compulsive side of me wanted to try it.
So I bought myself a calligraphy set. I confess all the ink cartridges dried out long before I ever practiced enough to gain any skill.
Learn calligraphy remained on my artistic wish list for so many years that I recently treated myself to a new, improved calligraphy kit and sat down to practice.I chose an alphabet (or hand) from the guide that came with my calligraphy kit and began my work. I reasoned that consistency makes for a more pleasing aesthetic, as it does in any skill. I learned how to make consistent French knots when an embroidery project required several hundred French knots to complete the curly hair of a Christmas angel. So, I figured all I had to do was copy the letters hundreds of times, and I would eventually know how to form them.
Easier said than done. Since my initials are ARH, I thought I would practice them first. Not a good idea. They are not easy letters to make. As I worked on R, I thought, I should be learning how to make P. When I can make a good P, it’s only one more stroke to turn it into an R.
The booklet that came with my kit didn’t offer step-by-step instruction. But since I’m a fan of YouTube tutorials, I did a search and began watching videos.
This one is really good, as it groups letters by the strokes used to create them:
Want to try it yourself? Here is a link to the lettering guide used in the video (thank you, Sakura, for making these available for free print-out).
One of my artistic goals this year is to practice calligraphy. I hope that by the end of the year I can post some completed works to show you.
If you’d like to see the work of a master, check out this video I posted a few months ago.
Do you do calligraphy? Do you have any on your website? Comment below, and add a link if you have one.