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

Places left for my calligraphy workshop in Coniston on 21st of March

I’m really looking forward to another modern calligraphy workshop at Swallows & Artisans next week – there are just a handful of places still available, for both the morning and afternoon sessions (or the full day).

We’re calling it “Beginners to Winners” modern calligraphy – if you’ve never tried your hand at calligraphy before it’s the perfect opportunity to learn a new craft. I’ll show you how to use a modern calligraphy pen, and we’ll learn a simple alphabet first of all. The morning session includes a little quote / greeting card for you to take home.

The afternoon session will be a chance to explore what you can achieve with your new found calligraphy skills! We’ll write our names in 22 carat gold leaf; we’ll have a go at beautiful flourishing, writing with colourful inks and more.

Image credit: Zehra Photography

Morning session tickets (& info) – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/beginners-to-winners-modern-calligraphy-am-session-tickets-55649287517

Afternoon session tickets (& info) – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/beginners-to-winners-modern-calligraphy-pm-session-tickets-55649511186

Full day tickets (& info) – https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/beginners-to-winners-modern-calligraphy-full-day-tickets-55650086908

Images by lovely Zehra Photography

Calligraphy workshops SALE extended!! Save on my Manchester classes if you book by Friday!

What a week it’s been! So many lovely things to make and plan; so little time! As a thank you for all of your wonderful comments and for supporting my little calligraphy business, I am extending the sale of my 2019 calligraphy workshops until Friday!

SAVE 10% on any of these Manchester calligraphy workshops if you book BY FRIDAY*

Click on the links below to find out more and book your places!

 

Friday 22nd February 2019
Click for details – Absolute beginners’ introduction to modern calligraphy
Book your places

Saturday 27th April
Click for details – Wedding calligraphy workshop
Book your places

Friday 21st June
Brush lettering workshop
Book your places

Saturday 17th August
Intermediate modern calligraphy workshop
Book your places

*offer ends 30th November 2018 and is subject to availability – only 16 students per class in February and June, and 12 per class in April and August.

Gift vouchers are now available – if your order is a gift for someone, just let me know by including a note with their name when you order!

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

Essential supplies and kit for modern calligraphy beginners

When I decided to start a calligraphy business one of my reasons was the low setup cost. Writing costs almost nothing – the main investment is your time. But what are the very, very basics you’ll need to try calligraphy?

I wanted to write a short & sweet guide to learning modern calligraphy from scratch. I hope it might help and encourage you to dip your toes in calligraphic waters!

Image: Emma Pilkington Photography

Day 1: your kit

If you were to start calligraphy as a brand new hobby next weekend, this is what you couldn’t do without – your most basic shopping list.

  1. Decent printer / copier paper (at least 100gsm)
  2. A dip pen and nib (straight or oblique penholder and a pointed nib – I recommend the Nikko G)
  3. Ink or paint – basic ‘Calli’ ink, or watercolour / gouache paint

Your total spend for that first day doesn’t need to be much more than the price of your lunch.

Image: Emma Pilkington Photography

Making those first marks on paper is simple – but you absolutely must have the right nib (a pointed one with the right amount of flex for beginners – most ‘G’ nibs are fine) – and a penholder it will fit.

I like Nikko G nibs – they’re reliable, well made and not too sharp, so they’re easy to use.

Speedball oblique or straight penholders – the black plastic ones – are affordable, comfortable to hold and easy to use.

Paper is important. Cheap papers (80 or 90gsm) will cause your ink to ‘bleed’ on the page, which is so frustrating when you’re trying to practise.

Likewise inks can cause bleed issues. I recommend Calli inks because they’re widely available even in high street craft and art shops. They’re OK quality wise, and certainly good enough for practice. Avoid cheap fountain pen inks and Indian inks though – some are very poor quality and will cause bleed on your paper.

If you’re arty and have watercolour paint or gouache lying around at home, these work just as well as ink. Mix to a runny consistency with water and off you go!

Find beginners modern calligraphy tutorials online and enjoy!

Try my online calligraphy workshop for just £30

Buy my book here… An Introduction to Modern Calligraphy

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!

Mindfulness and calligraphy

I lose myself in writing. Pen and paper is my happy place. Many of you will too – there is often a moment, halfway through a calligraphy workshop, where I’ll look around and see a calm has settled on the class.

Image credit: Jenny Jones Photography

Calligraphy kind of needs concentration and the ability to drift off in equal measure. A little focus is essential in those first hours of learning. But once you understand how your pen feels as it flexes in your hand and glides across the paper to make letters, you can relax a little and let instinct take over.

Your lettering will love you for it.

I don’t know if this is mindfulness – it almost seems contradictory to the notion of self-awareness, to lose oneself in lettering. But to allow your thoughts to drift as you write is a good – a wonderful – thing.

Consider: at first students try super hard to ‘master’ the calligraphy pen. It’s tricky at first to know just where to apply pressure, to add ink, to turn the corner in a letter. But in my workshops I encourage conversation. I comment on students’ work to build confidence. I ask questions; students ask me questions about my background and life, and conversations flow… and while we talk, we relax… that initial focus on every detail of a letter becomes more instinctive, more natural.

Image credit: Jenny Jones Photography

I really find it helps to think of other things when I practise calligraphy. My escape is a musical backdrop – soothing or thought-provoking as fits my mood.

A relaxed environment helps too – a glass of wine, an empty desk, a cosy jumper – because soft sleeves just glide across a tabletop! – and will help you to focus on our letter shapes or think of other things as you write in your little oasis of calligraphic calm.

Calligraphy has its very own kind of focus – and it’s a very natural, peaceful one. During my workshops students will often misspell words, even their own names. It’s a good thing! Following the movement and flow of a nib is kind of hypnotic: watching it flex and glide from one letter to another is distracting in the most wonderful way! And for me, focusing on that beautiful flow instead of the order of letters an achievement in itself.

Image credit: Jenny Jones Photography

The art of modern calligraphy isn’t all about precision – it’s about beauty, and relaxation, and the pure enjoyment of lettering.

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

How do calligraphy nibs work? A visual map to explain the magic… Part 2

In my last blog post I explained about calligraphy pens, how they work and the different types. Today let’s have a look at the nib itself.

Photo credit: Jenny Jones

Nibs are pointy little silver magic wands. A genius combination of design and gravity makes a pointed calligraphy nib one of my favourite inventions in the world.

The curve of the nib is what holds the ink up. It’s a simple trick of gravity, surface tension and viscosity – you can even ‘scoop’ ink up with your nib as if it were a spoon!

Photo credit: Jenny Jones

Modern calligraphy nibs are split down the centre, and the two halves of a nib are the ‘tines‘. Ink flows down the centre slit to make marks on the paper.

As pressure is applied to the tip of the nib, the tines split and it’s the distance between them which determines the width of your letterforms.

The shoulders of a nib affect flexibility. The broader the shoulders, the less flexible your nib will be. Some of my favourite nibs have shoulder slits – the Blue Pumpkin for example. Shoulder slits add flexibility by effectively narrowing the shoulders of the nib.

The final part of a nib is the vent. This is a tiny hole in the centre of the nib, designed for air and ink flow – but actually forming a magic little ‘window’ to indicate when ink is about to run out. Just before you need to re-dip your nib, the ink in the window will  ‘pop’ like a bubble, leaving the window clear.

Photo credit: Jenny Jones | kits available on Etsy

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