Are you thinking about learning calligraphy?
Learning calligraphy is something I thought about for years. At a few points along the line I did actually buy pens, calligraphy sets, books etc. But after a few trial sessions I gave up. I just couldn’t get any of it right. My straight lines wriggled and leaned over. My circles were oval. The curves were too big (where have I heard that one before). My pen just never did what my brain wanted it to do. You get the drift?
About 6 weeks ago my desire to learn calligraphy was cataputed from the far recesses of my brain when I found an old calligraphy pen and some leaky cartridges at the bottom of one of my craft boxes.
After reviewing my past failures I decided to start by searching for local tutors and classes. I found only three people in the local area who seemed to be working as calligraphers or teaching calligraphy. After a little more digging I found that there was a class running about 5 miles away and that the teacher is a prize winning calligrapher. Perfect. If this guy can’t help me, no-one can. A few phonecalls revealed that there was a place on the course so off I went to enrol.
I’ve now attended four, two hour, classes. At the beginning of the first one I nearly had a panic attack when I was presented with gothic letters and asked if I’d like to learn the script. Love to, but where do you start? With a little support I was soon practicing the lower case letters. At the end of the class I bought the beginners calligraphy kit from the tutor. This consisted of a sponge (in which I stand the bottle of ink so it doesn’t spill), ink, a pen, nib and reservoir and some paper. I went home happy.
The next morning I decided to try out the new pen. No matter what I did, I just couldn’t get it to write. I tried cleaning it in soapy water, altering the position of the reservoir and overloading it with ink. It just didn’t work. I could not get it to write. I decided that the pen was a dud and reverted back to my faithful cartridge pen. After another 6 days of practicing for 20-30 mins a day I returned to the class feeling proud of my progress.
At the beginning of the second class I spoke to the tutor about my problems with the pen. He immediately solved the problem. When I loaded the pen I’d not checked to see if the ink was filling the front of the reservoir. I had been leaving an air space so the ink would not flow to the nib. With this problem solved I immediately put my head down and started to write. Unfortunately I then spent an hour and 15 minutes splodging (ok, so maybe it isn’t a real word, I really did splodge none-stop) over the paper, the desk, the teachers handouts, my hands and everything else that came within 2 feet of me. It was not a pretty sight I can tell you. By the end of the second class I was spitting feathers. I was in a terrible mood, stressed out of my brain and convinced that I would never be a calligrapher. I felt defeated but wasn’t quite ready to voice it out loud.
That night I had a serious talk to myself in bed. (I have as degree in psychology. We all talk to ourselves. Believe me, it is normal). The splodging was a small problem caused by overfilling the reservoir and by pressing on too hard with the pen. All I had to do was stay calm, learn how to fill the pen to the correct level and control the pressure. Over the next 6 days I splodged and practiced. The splodges decreased and my confidence grew.
At the beginning of the third lesson I received a copy of the capital letters and set to work. It was difficult to know where to start on some of them, but the tutor pointed me in the right direction. Always start on the right and at the top of the letters. Work your way down and to the left. Just as you would with normal hand writing. After another weeks practice my letters were starting to improve.
By the forth lesson I was getting in to the flow of calligraphy. It is very intense. You need a great deal of patience and concentration to learn calligraphy. It’s also very restful though. You can’t stay stressed and do calligraphy. Once you make a start, it’s like your brain cools down. Meditation. Very restful.
I listen to people talking about calligraphy, painting and other arts and crafts. Often the comment, ‘It’s only practice.’ I disagree. In order to learn calligraphy you do need to practice. You need good discipline and perseverance. You have to constantly look for your own mistakes and find out how to improve your work. Having a good tutor will helps with all of this. They also provide the encouragement that you need on a bad day.
I’m looking forward to many more classes, improving scripts, learning new ones, incorporating colours, and learning about layout. I’m hoping that this will be the first year I don’t buy Christmas cards. I’m going to make them. I already have visions of beautiful lettering, attractive borders, a few seasonal sketches and and smiles from the recipients.
If you’re thinking of learning calligraphy, do it now. Find yourself a great tutor, join a group, learn some letters, make time, make mistakes, practice, improve, learn some more, then practice more.
Don’t forget to post stories of your calligraphy trials and tribulations here. Do you think we should have a calligraphy card completion before Christmas? Mmmmm. Must speak to Catherine and Rick about that….