After seeing beautiful pictures of modern calligraphy on instagram, I decided to sign up for an Introduction to Calligraphy class by Eleanor Winters organised by The Letter J Supply. Truth be told, I thought we were going to learn the basics of using the nibs and inks, and come back being able to ink words in free style calligraphy.
It was far from it really, and far more interesting!
We travelled back in time to the 18th and 19th century to learn about how calligraphy started out and the different evolution of styles. We also learnt about the different nib holders, nibs and how to care for them. The more Eleanor Winters taught us, the more amazed I was at how calligraphy is a very disciplined art. She shared with us that she practised Copperplate calligraphy for twenty years using grid guidelines before finally writing without its help, and was very precise over each letter and its proportions. The height of each letter is proportionate to the pen; wider pens are for long letters and thinner pens are for short letters. When writing, the pen angle (angle of the pen nib to the horizontal line of the paper) has to be fixed in order to produce a consistent and precise letter. Each letter has three portions: the Ascender (top of the letter), X-height (middle of the letter) and Descender (bottom of the letter). The proportions of each section is dependent on each font.
We started off using a calligraphy marker pen before progressing to using the actual nib and ink. Calligraphy is tough. I think I could count the number of “correct” letters I managed to write with two hands. By the end of the entire workshop, my hand and arm were aching and I’m pretty sure my muscles developed further from this! It really got me thinking how people wrote long manuscripts and books in the past with their hands. Now, we have computerised fonts and printing machines. Behind all the romance of calligraphy was extremely hard work.
Am going to keep practising and hopefully get better with each stroke!