I always remember my Dad learning calligraphy when I was little so that he could write on a certificate for his goddaughters christening and even back then it intrigued me. Combine that intrigue with a love of all things stationery, and you can imagine how happy I was when I saw that Alison from Mint Green Calligraphy was holding a modern calligraphy course a few weeks ago at The Smallprint Company! I didn’t hesitate to book my place!
The Smallprint Company’s studio is on Friary Street in Derby. They specialize in letterpress, stationery, design and illustrations, and they hold workshops too should you wish to get an insight into their fabulous creations
On this occasion though we were here for calligraphy! My friend and I arrived just ahead of our 10am start time and were greeted by Alison who had already set up our work areas with everything we would need for the class…
…and had personalised each of our calligraphy kits to take home!
We started off practising with pencil to get a feel for the style of lettering and where we should use a lighter or heavier touch. I really struggled at first to be consistent with the size of my letters – as I went along each letter was getting bigger and bigger! Alison suggested using the lined guide paper for a while and that definitely helped me control the size. We also tried using a thicker, softer pencil which for me made the different strokes easier to write
After a while we were ready and eager to progress to ink! We used Sumi ink which is Japanese ink – it takes a little while to dry so we would need to be a lot more careful than when using pencils
When I first saw the nib we were going to use, I wondered how on earth that fine point would create the beautiful lettering like Alisons! It was only when you pressed the point more firmly onto the paper that the nib split in two, allowing more ink to flow and create the thicker lines. We used a light touch on the upward strokes and a heavier touch on the downward strokes
The style of the letters in modern calligraphy is also something that takes time to get your head round, as they aren’t all the same as your normal handwriting and they have added flourishes and extensions to help you join the letters up. Luckily Alison had provided us all with crib sheets to refer to, and was on hand to guide us through anything we were unsure of, offer words of encouragement and tips to make our writing smoother and flow more easily
I also found that I preferred some letter styles over others – I loved writing ‘o’ ‘d’ and ‘h’ but found ‘r’ ‘f’ and ‘k’ particularly difficult, somthing that I assume will improve with practice
I can’t believe how fast the two hour class went – a sure sign that we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! I loved learning a new skill and although I have slacked off practicing at home due to a busy couple of weeks and then going on holiday, I have a mostly free schedule this weekend and I plan on setting up camp at the dining table with a cup of tea, my ink and paper and writing to my heart’s content!
If you want to see how the professionals do things, then check Alison’s Instagram!