Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Try Calligraphy: All the Cool Kids are Doin' It

Difficulty - 3/5
Duration - 5/5 (As long as you like, really)

So, you're bored. Uni's over, all your friends are away home, you've caught up on Season 3 of Orange is the New Black on Netflix and so there's nothing left to watch. Why not try a hand at calligraphy? Hell, you probably already know how to read and write so half the battle's done for you.

If you can't, please get the person reading this to you to hurry up with teaching you to do it yourself.
A friend of mine introduced me to scribbling words in fancy ways back in the spring and was even kind enough to lend me his Pilot Parallel calligraphy pen and some ink to get myself started. I swear, aside from knitting I have yet to find another pastime that is more gloriously mind-cleansing than calligraphy. It is the most zen thing even; just turn your head off and write down the first thing that comes to you.

I had watched quite a bit of Black Books that day.
Now, the important thing is to get the basics down first. Start big and then work down to smaller sizes of text; you'll notice your mistakes better if the letters are larger. With that in mind, pick up a broad spring loaded pen like the aforementioned Pilot Parallel (this post is brought to you by Pilot) and practise on lined graph paper. Once you've chosen a script to work with and feel like you're getting the hang of it, you can pick up a cheap fountain pen with a couple of different widths of nib for doing smaller work.

Right. You've got some kit; now for the writing. Get yourself a book that goes through how to construct each letter in a script nice and thoroughly. I've been using The Art of Calligraphy and it's great; super concise, easy to understand, and totally not available as a PDF for free...ahem.

Start with a script that you both like the look of and is nice and simple to begin with, but be sure to double check what kind of pen is best for each text. Then, practise.
Lots of it.
Repetition is the name of the game. Start with just going through the alphabet, focussing particularly on the letter O as it usually features a lot of the major components of the script, particularly size and scale. Pangrams will also be your best friend. Then start doing the thing with random words.
I was hungry this time...and apparently thinking of ice climbing.
I even practised while revising:
My train of thought when writing words will be studied for millennia to come.
The last challenge you can go for is trying to write longer or larger scale works and new and interesting fonts.

Some Mervyn Peake in Chancery Italic.
My first super big endeavour is writing The Higwayman by Alfred Noyes for a special lady friend's birthday in Fraktur, with the fancy big capitals in the boxes and everything. I even did the good old dipping paper in cold tea trick to make it cool and old-looky.

"Oh my, would you look at all these papers haphazardly strewn over my desk in an aesthetically pleasing fashion..."
The bottom line of it all is relax, enjoy yourself and mess around. Writing is something we all do every day, and it's nice to step away from the standard of typed text and hark back to the days of pen and ink for a while. It'll shine a new light on something you've never really stopped to think about before.

Happy writing!

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