Behind the scenes – modern calligraphy workshop in Manchester, 24th February 2018

As always, I offered a discount to any wedding photographers who’d like to come along to my last calligraphy workshop, and I’m thrilled lovely Emma Pilkington could join us on Friday! She took some gorgeous shots of all you new modern calligraphers at work – I thought I’d share the gallery with you here today.

If you’d like to join me for a modern calligraphy class this year, the next date is April 6th (online booking here) then we have more workshops in May, September, October and December. They’re all in Manchester – the photos show the classroom where you’ll learn the art of beautiful lettering!

Join me for a modern calligraphy workshop on one of these 2018 dates!

Friday 6th April

Saturday 26th May

Friday 7th September

Saturday 20th October

Friday 7th December

All workshops begin at one o’clock and finish at half past three. Click the links above to book, or see all workshops.

I’ll send you a booking confirmation in the post as soon as you’ve booked your place online. You’ll find the workshops in our little classroom at the Craft & Design Centre, around 10 minutes’ walk from Manchester Piccadilly station for easy accessibility from anywhere in the north of England.

A lovely personalised gift idea for Mothers Day (11th March)

If you’re struggling for ideas for a Mothers Day present this year, I can help!

These hand-finished family tree prints are a lovely gift for new mums, grandmothers and step-mums alike!

The modern family tree is a beautifully presented, informal record of your family at a moment in time.

With an original illustration by Welsh designer Amy Swann (who you may know from Kirstie Allsopp’s 2017 Christmas special), the family tree is perfect for springtime – there are even birds nesting in the tree!

Names are added by hand with a traditional calligraphy dip pen and nib, in archival quality ink which won’t fade.

Use our simple numbering system when you order online to put names on your family tree in the order they should be written.

Prices start from £49 with free delivery in my Not On The High Street shop.

Order today – and see your Mum’s face light up when she sees her calligraphy family tree on Mothers Day!

Click here to order your very own beautiful, personalised family tree!

New wedding invitation collections for 2018

Our new wedding invitations for 2018 are here! UK shoppers can find the collection of beautiful, personalised wedding invites in my Not On The High Street shop, while international customers can buy on (click the link to be taken directly to my store front!)

Each design has been carefully crafted with illustrative elements and calligraphy fonts to give you the calligraphy ‘look’ without the price tag of bespoke or handwritten pieces.

While I’m still writing bespoke invitations for smaller weddings, these wedding invitations are perfect for larger celebrations and couples on a tighter budget for wedding stationery.

My price list is here: Wedding invitation costs – By Moon & Tide

How I became a calligrapher – my story

I don’t think I was ever meant to follow a straight or conventional path through life. I was raised on adventure stories and grew up in the countryside as a bit of a free spirit. At school I loved languages while my friends studied art. Words were my thing from day one…

Photo credit: Jenny Heyworth Photography

My dad trained as a draftsman, creating precise technical drawings for a living. My mum is an artist with a love of abstract and a talent for watercolour painting. I see my calligraphy as a combination of my parents’ skills – a dash of precision from my dad and a little of my mum’s creative flair goes into every word I write.

Perhaps it was nature rather than nurture that brought me here then. It certainly wasn’t my degree in languages and marketing, although the latter does still help me to run my little business.

I graduated from Salford uni in the nineties and got my first job as a marketing assistant for a company making rubber stamps. It was sooooo dull! My next marketing job was no better, working for Kays catalogue taught me three things: I never wanted to be a manager; I couldn’t stand being part of a big corporation; and I had a bit of a rebellious streak. (That’s from mum too.)

When the company moved from Manchester to Liverpool I happily took voluntary redundancy. With £8k in the bank to start my business, I decided calligraphy was the career for me.

Now, I’ve no idea why I chose calligraphy. Looking back, it seems more than insane! I was struggling with depression at the time, but I don’t think I can blame that for my choices. What I do remember is skipping out of that corporate job on my very last day, and being genuinely excited to begin my new calligraphy journey.

People ask if I’d done calligraphy before. The answer is yes – but for a couple of weeks as a teenager – along with lacemaking and playing the flute. So why I chose to go back to lettering I’ve no idea!

I got lucky though. I was determined, and I had time to practice a lot. Writing was a full time job from the day I left Kays. I poured everything I had into learning calligraphy and at the same time taught myself to build websites and advertise my business.

Slowly I built my first brand, The Wedding Calligrapher. In 2005 I probably wrote for 30 brides and grooms, and this was before calligraphy was even on trend.

One thing I love about calligraphy and weddings is how quickly styles change. I started out making scroll invitations in a gothic, mediaeval style. I taught myself new styles, gilding, even dabbled in bookbinding and pyrography along the way. (I do want to go back to both of those and try my hand again one day!) From heavy mediaeval letters through to formal copperplate and spencerian I learned to transform my calligraphy style and business to keep up with trends. By 2015 I was writing modern calligraphy and developing my own organic lettering style.

By this time I’d worked on celebrity weddings, for Louis Vuitton, the BBC – and I was asked to write place names for Kirstie Allsopp’s Vintage Home book and TV series. From there I was asked to teach calligraphy workshops at Hampton Court – an expensive adventure which served as a huge confidence boost (teaching 100 people via a microphone and TV screen is so funny! I loved the buzz but felt as though I’d landed right back in the corporate arena so I decided twice was enough!)

As a practice run for my first Handmade Fair calligraphy classes I’d taught a modern calligraphy workshop in Manchester – a small class of just 14 – and I loved it. Meeting new people, watching them learn to use a calligraphy nib and being able to give everyone the attention and help they needed just feels right to me – and being able to pass on my love of letters and learning – on my own terms – is the best thing ever!

So that’s how I got here. A very random journey, a habit of saying yes and seeing where life takes me, and a dash of luck and opportunity!

Calligraphy is still changing fast. 2018 will bring a big shift in what sells and how to market lettering – so I have no more than an inkling of what’s to come.

But that’s me – that’s what I love about my job and I’m looking forward to the next adventure!