My first 194 Days of Calligraphy

On August 30th, I took a 2-hour Calligraphy workshop at Wordshop in Denver. It’s been six months since I first used a pointed Calligraphy pen and I wanted to share my growth!

Why Calligraphy?

I wanted to add hand lettering to my design skills. I always felt like I was lacking in typography layout. I took a few classes on Skillshare and some other places, but it just never clicked.

I realized I needed to understand the basics of how letters were formed. In researching this I stumbled across this video of Jake Weidman, in which he talked about Calligraphy.

At the same time, I was also trying to use my computer less when I wasn’t working. I needed some no-screen time and I thought that Calligraphy would be a pretty analog thing to do in my spare time.

In the beginning, I had no real idea what I was going to use Calligraphy for – but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to learn how to make letters all proper.

Day 1

The first day I used a pointed pen I was hooked. It was everything I needed in my quest for an analog hobby. The nib, the holder, the paper, the sound of letters being formed, it was all perfection.

I went home after my first class and showed Keith and my mom the amazing skill I had just learned! I was so proud! Look at these letters!

Days 2-60

I immediately got frustrated.

I have this problem where I pick up new skills extremely fast. It really irritates my friends.

I did not pick up Calligraphy fast.

I was having this problem where my letters looked like a child drew them. They weren’t the elegant forms that I was accustomed to seeing from other Calligraphers.

I thought maybe it was my ink. So I decided to go buy some different ink. Nope. NIBS! I’ll go get new nibs! Nope, all that did was frustrate me even more because they were “too soft” and the ink would flow off them too fast and I’d have puddles of ink on my paper.

Many trips to the art store later – I basically gave up and didn’t look at this stuff for weeks.

Days 60 – 90

It was almost Christmas! I had been practicing my letters diligently and figured out the problem was the grid sheet I was using! I was trying TOO hard to follow the angle on the sheet that I wasn’t paying any attention to the letter. Once I figured that out – everything clicked.

The best thing for my Calligraphy was Christmas. I forced myself to make 50+ hand calligraphed Christmas cards for my friends. They were a little obscene, but they were pretty!

Side note: I had this grand idea to start a company called “Elegant Expletives” that would be expletive greeting cards. Turns out I just want to make pretty things for people who want them. Siloing myself to pretty things filled with swears was not good for me.

It also got me using watercolors – which I have NEVER used before. Christmas was a learning experience for sure. I learned about addressing envelopes and all the layout issues that come with that. I learned about different paper types and how they react to different inks and watercolors.

It was enlightening for sure. So I took this enlightenment and decided to take a break.

Days 90 – present

I needed to focus on what I wanted to do with my calligraphy. I LOVED the response my friends had about their Christmas cards. It made my heart happy that they were delighted to receive such a personalized piece of mail!

So that’s what I’m going to focus on – making people happy with Calligraphy.

I’ve started a little Etsy shop to sell some of these little pieces of happy. It’s under the name Caralligraphy because I love the play on words!

I’m starting out by selling ‘punny’ cards, which are just full of cute puns! Valentine’s day was a great time for me. I sold a lot of cards – more than I thought I was going to!

My friends have been so supportive of this adventure and I’m so pleased I can mail them goodies every so often.

When I get frustrated with something I sometimes need to be reminded how far I’ve come. It was only six months ago that I started this journey, and I’ve come so far.

“No one wakes up an expert”

This is something I have to tell myself every time I spill ink, snag a nib, misspell “birthday”, or screw up an envelope.

Here’s to the next six months!