I've always been impressed by the beauty of calligraphy. Its amazing how even the simplest of words becomes art when written in calligraphy. When I found out my local Paper Source had a class, I signed up immediately. Literally, I was the first and only person to sign up in the fall. Between planning weddings and making cards it felt like a perfect addition to my skill set. The class was postponed a few months and after great anticipation I attended the first of two classes this week. What I quickly realized is that just because you are crafty or have nice handwriting does not mean you'll be good at calligraphy. Like any skill or art form, it takes practice and patience.
During our first class we covered the basics - terminology, our tools, how to put the pen to paper and lower case letters. Our teacher, also named Michele (great name, even with just one l), demonstrated the entire alphabet for us and then sent us on our way. While I was thrilled to learn we were using real calligraphy pens and ink (as seen below), it was really hard for me to even draw a straight line. Come to find out our ink was too thick. Once that was remedied I was on my way working on the alphabet.
After a few times through the alphabet, Michele encouraged us to connect letters by writing out words. Here's what I came up with... clever, I know!
The best and worst part of the class was when Michele watched each student write the alphabet. I was having flashbacks to elementary school spelling tests with all the red corrections - yikes.
In this case the red corrections were very helpful. When I struggled with a letter, she'd demonstrate the letter in red and have me follow her leed with the pen and ink. Although I have a lot of red marks where I'm in serious need of improvement, I'd like to highlight the areas where I did the letters correctly and received an x of approval!
The biggest things I learned in the first class were how to hold the pen correctly (it's different from how I normally hold a pen) and to slow down. To me some of the movements of calligrpahy felt like cursive. What I learned is that my cursive is extremely rusty, therefore not a good form of comparison, and most importantly that calligraphy isn't cursive. Calligraphy is artistic and requires slow, deliberate pen movements not loopy, quick cursive letters.
In an effort to inspire us to practice our calligraphy, Michele showed us her skills by writing our names. Even on lined notebook paper, look how fun this is...
We left class with a large stack of practice paper and a felt tipped calligraphy pen to practice (easier to manage than the pen and ink). While I won't be addressing wedding invitations any time soon, I will continue to practice my letters and admire the professionals with a greater sense of appreciation for this fancy lettering!