Getting your calligraphy out there – a weekly challenge!

It’s a scarily big step to go from practising calligraphy at home to showing to people – and getting your first ‘wow’ from a friend or a client.

One of my lovely calligraphy students just told me she has a 90 day goal of getting a first calligraphy client – which makes me so proud! She inspired me to come up with some baby steps – ideas to slowly filter your calligraphy practice out into the big wide world, so it becomes that much easier to share it with people – and eventually, to sell your craft!

Here’s a little list of ideas to help you share and publicise your calligraphy. I’ve written it as a weekly challenge, which I think will be a lovely way to start.

  • Week 1 – write a beautiful envelope and send it to a friend (maybe put a photo inside?) the key is to make it the best envelope that’s ever landed on their doorstep!
  • Week 2 – write yourself a little motivational postcard and pin it on your wall where you’ll see it every day. Write another and send it to a friend who needs a boost! Extra points if they share it on insta 🙂
  • Week 3 – write someone’s birthday card and envelope in calligraphy.
  • Week 4 – write a beautiful envelope and send it to a friend at their work. This way, colleagues will see it, the post people in their office will see it, and they’ll say “oh, my friend Caroline is a calligrapher”
  • Week 5 – write a beautiful name in calligraphy for a child you know. This could be your son or daughter, your cousin, sister, nephew or niece or a friend’s child. The rule: they have to be 12 or under.
  • Week 6 – gift someone something. Buy a cheap frame in a shop (for under £5), write a calligraphy quote and decorate it with a few flowers, then gift wrap it and give it to someone.
  • Week 7 – Create something especially for instagram. Make it impactful and take a great photo (throw some flowers or leaves on it!) – then share it on your insta with some hashtags: #learningcalligraphy #calligraphypractice etc – use at least 10 hashtags so other people learning calligraphy will see it too!
  • Week 8 – Invent an imaginary client. Perhaps it’s your dream customer – a bride-to-be or parents decorating a nursery for their little one. Pretend they ordered something, and make it for them. Pop it on instagram and say something like “a cute little invite designed for a summer wedding” – and remember those hashtags!
  • Week 9 – perfect your photography skills. Beautiful images of your work make ALL the difference. Gather together some little props (silk ribbon, flowers, pens, stamps, cute little stationery bits) and teach yourself how to do flatlays. (Insta is your friend if you need to research this!)
  • Week 10 – Create your brand name. Whether it’s your own name or a name for your business, having this in mind and writing it beautifully makes this little calligraphy project into something serious and exciting! It doesn’t have to be perfect, and it doesn’t have to be your logo forever… but just writing ‘Honey & Bee Calligraphy Company’ for real will be kind of a big deal!

I’ll be running an intermediate modern calligraphy workshop on the 17th of August in Manchester. If you’ve done a little calligraphy and would like to try some fun projects, and chat with me about turning your calligraphy into a business, I’d LOVE to see you there!

It will be a friendly, chatty, small class with tons of advice and personal attention for everyone so we can take your calligraphy to the next level!

Tickets here – www.bymoonandtide.com/listing/631828056

 

These beautiful photos are by Kathryn Hopkins

How to write your name in 22 carat gold calligraphy

Almost a year ago I had an email from another calligrapher who’d seen my gold leaf name on Etsy. She asked how it was done – it’s tricky to add gilding to anything so fine.

I’ll be teaching a calligraphy workshop in Coniston (in the Lake District) on the 21st of March and I decided this would be a lovely project to share with people. It’s deceptively easy with the right tools, and only takes a little patience to master!

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll have seen this in my Stories – applying gold leaf is really satisfying to do – and to watch! I wanted to share a more detailed tutorial for you to follow if you’d like to try this at home.

You will need:

Kölner Miniatum Ink is basically a glue with an inky consistency so it flows relatively easily through a calligraphy nib. It doesn’t sink into paper so it gives a raised effect to your finished gilded letters.

Practice a couple of times with the ink on ordinary paper to get a feel for its consistency, as it is thicker than normal ink. You’ll need good light to see it on dark card, so sit near a window or have a table lamp to the side of you.

Write your name on the card and then quickly clean any glue / ink residue from your nib. Too slow and your nib will get all stuck together!

TIP: Clean your nib very, very regularly when writing with Kölner Miniatum Ink – at least every minute, but preferably every 30 seconds or so. It dries and sticks FAST!

Leave your calligraphy to dry for approximately 20 minutes, until all the pink bits have disappeared and the ‘ink’ is transparent. Don’t leave it too long though, as the ink should still be tacky for the gold leaf to adhere to it. As a general rule, apply the gold as soon as the ink is clear.

Take a piece of transfer gold leaf and place it onto the name you’ve written. Hold it still while you rub slowly, pressing with your finger around the edges of every letter and stroke so the gold covers even the thin hairlines of your calligraphy. You can do this twice to get a more thorough coverage of gold leaf.

Remove the transfer sheet and ‘tidy up’ all the loose bits of gold around the letters. Poke the edges and corners within each letter with the tip of your brush to remove the rough bits around the sides, and give your name a little polish with the brush so it shines!

There are still a handful of places left for the modern calligraphy workshop on the 21st of March. Click here for information and to book your (full day) ticket.

For morning (beginners) or afternoon session tickets visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/swallows-amp-artisans-16890265992

Christmas preparations at By Moon & Tide Calligraphy

With less than nine weeks until Christmas, we’re busy making plans and stocking up (pun not intended!) on gift tags and calligraphy kits for the festive season!

I’ve been working on some exercises for those of you learning calligraphy, and shared this Christmas card design on my social media. I love it because it’s deceptively easy to write, and teaches 3 important aspects of modern calligraphy:

1 – the technique of moving smoothly from a thin to a thick stroke

2 – the trick of seeing through the window* when your ink is about to run out

3 – the importance of not rushing! (this video is a time lapse – it actually takes over 3 minutes to create this card design)

It’s also wonderfully Christmassy!

I’ll be teaching this as a practice technique AND a Christmas card design in my calligraphy class on 7th December in Manchester. There are still tickets available and I’d love to see you there!

Link for info & tickets – www.eventbrite.co.uk
Facebook group for updates on this event – facebook.com/events/2242810669287323

Family tree calligraphy – bespoke family trees available in the UK and worldwide

In my years as a professional calligrapher I’ve written hundreds of family trees – mainly via my Not On The High Street store, where I sell small format, modern family trees with hand calligraphy. These are wonderful Christmas gift ideas with a very special personal touch – it’s coming up to busy season and I can’t wait!

I also write bespoke family trees for larger families – these are mainly the more traditional family tree layout, and often written in a more timeless calligraphy style. I use gothic lettering for titles, occasionally adding gilding or a little colour on request. Names are added in a Copperplate style flowing script with flourishing detail. Any dates can be included in a more formal italic or gothic lettering style, as per your wishes.

Family tree sizes range from A3 to A1 in size, depending how many names you have, and the required layout for your tree. I’m happy to advise – please don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions, and I’ll be happy to help!

To order your calligraphy family tree, please get in touch with me – hello@calligraphy-for-weddings.com and I will be delighted to help you.

 

The family tree calligraphy arrived today and I’m super pleased as I’m sure my parents will be when I present it to them.
Thank you for all your hard work and huge thanks again – it’s fabulous 🙂
With Kind Regards
Maria x

Calligraphy on a massive scale – Wolf & Us

One of the best things about having a creative business is the opportunities to share and swap!

I’ve been lucky to meet amazing creative people across Cumbria. Last week I went to see my friends Jen & Ed’s cafe Wolf & Us at Wolfhouse in Silverdale, and to write some signs and menus for them.

Wolf & Us is a welcoming, homely and beautifully styled space. The café is popular for its quality coffee and delicious cakes – and with regular barbecues and a new pizza menu for the early evenings, it’s only going to get better.

Cat pictured for scale!

Jen asked me to write a few chalkboards for drinks menus and welcome boards. The largest was the size of a door – as big as me! Writing it was a fun challenge involving plenty of masking tape and very careful measuring. The trick is to divide the board into sections – 6 in this case – before measuring the space for each line of writing.

I’m really looking forward to seeing all the boards on display at Wolf & Us, and to trying their pizzas as soon as we possibly can!

To hire me to write chalkboard calligraphy for your wedding or café please email hello@calligraphy-for-weddings.com

How to master chalkboard calligraphy

Chalkboards, blackboards – my memories from school are very different from the art I see on Pinterest and Insta nowadays!

Not only has their name changed – is ‘chalkboard’ an American thing? a wedding thing? – but their purpose has too. Chalkboards now are for welcoming guests to your wedding, for displaying your seating plan and setting out the order of the day for all to see. They’re also lots of fun to write!

The key thing to know is that ‘chalkboard’ is misleading. No one writes on these things with chalk: you need a good quality white marker – ideally a few, in different sizes. I use POSCA brush pens and white bullet tip markers.

Whether you’re writing a 7 word welcome sign or a table plan for 100 guests, you’ll need to plan your layout before you do anything else. Scribble a rough plan on paper first. Aim to fill the entire chalkboard with your wording – don’t leave a huge space at the top or bottom, and try to space your words evenly. This is how I do it.

Writing chalkboard calligraphy – step by step

  1.  Do a rough pencil sketch on paper
  2. Divide your layout into sections, e.g.
    ‘Welcome’ = 1/4 of the board
    ‘to the wedding of’ = 1/4 of the board
    ‘Charlie & Sam’ = 1/2 of the board
  3. Measure the board and mark these sections lightly in pencil – using dots or tiny lines at the edge
  4. Using masking tape, divide the board into sections
  5. You probably won’t want to write exactly where the dividing lines of tape are, so use more tape to create lines to ‘write on’
  6. Very gently, and in a soft (e.g. 7B) pencil, draw your letters to make sure you have enough space
  7. Write outlines of your words with the POSCA pen, then thicken what would be downwards strokes by adding more white ink to the sides of the letters. You may find this is easier after the ink dries
  8. Remove your masking tape and voilà! A beautiful wedding chalkboard sign

Are you keeping your calligraphy a secret?

I wonder how many of us have a hobby we do for our own artistic pleasure, and which no one ever sees. In my online workshops I make a point of framing little pieces of work – it’s very much about celebrating every small victory and seeing your own progress – but I wonder if anyone actually does this, or if we all pack away our practice sheets and stick them in a box or drawer until next time…

Jenny Jones Photography

I have a little challenge for you. Next time you’re in a charity shop, antique shop – or even in a high street store which sells cheap frames – buy one. If it has a mount, even better. Keep it with your calligraphy stuff.

Then at the end of your next practice session, get a single sheet of A4 paper, draw a rough circle right in the middle (the size of a roll of sellotape), and write a tiny quote inside it. Song lyrics or titles are great for this. Let your ink dry for a minute, trim the edges, pop it in your frame and hang it on your wall.

Calligraphy should be seen. It doesn’t have to be perfect as you learn – so display and be proud of what you’re learning!

If you have children in your family, write their names in calligraphy. My 10 year old niece loved seeing her name on a card! A delighted smile is so encouraging – and we all need positive feedback like this as we hone our calligraphy talent.

Write envelopes – and send them. Post them to your friends and distant relatives, to companies (Innocent, Lush and Aussie packaging all mention how much they love letters!) – anyone you can think of!

Image credit: Jenny Jones Photography

Calligraphy isn’t something to hide away. People love it – and by sharing your talent you might just inspire someone else to have a go. More importantly, you’ll grow and enjoy your lettering more with a little positive feedback.

If you’re not already putting your calligraphy online, do. Pop a photo on instagram with a calligraphy hashtag ( #learncalligraphy #lovecalligraphy) and join a group or forum (@flourishforum) for inspiration and to meet other new calligraphers.

Ready to stop hiding your calligraphy? Go find your frame, and have fun!


Join me for a calligraphy workshop in Manchester: online booking & info – modern calligraphy workshops

Buy a modern calligraphy starter kit and begin your calligraphy adventures today!

Hope Is The Thing With Feathers – Emily Dickinson

Hope is the thing with feathers by Emily Dickinson in calligraphy

Sometimes I just like to play with my pens and inks, to write a practice piece simply because I enjoy the writing process, with no restrictions on size or letter style.

This poem – always a favourite – is in a very straight (not slanted) calligraphy style. It’s ultra modern and trendy. The letters are curvy though, giving them tons of character and adding to the rhythm of the words.

“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –

And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –

I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

This is poem is available to buy in my Etsy shop for £49.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/621556891