The Calligrapher's Life

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A Beginner’s Style

Completing last week’s homework provided an unusual opportunity to work with Copperplate and re-visit italics. When I started practicing italics over two years ago, markers and refillable pens were the writing tool of choice. For some reason, I lacked the confidence to try italics with the dip pen, but learning to use this tool for Copperplate has disciplined me while writing italics. I’ve noticed fewer mistakes, which is a nice change of pace.

Thinking about the past two years, italic lettering wasn’t always easy. While cleaning out some old papers in the art cabinet, I found the original italic practice sheets. I’m amazed how advanced my lettering skills are since those first pages were designed.

Italic lettering is the best style for beginners. It’s also known for its familiarity compared to other forms of calligraphy.  When most people see an italic letter…calligraphy comes to mind.

Italics originated in Italy during the 15th century and increased in popularity because of its quick and easy form.

Today, italics are used for lettering manuscripts to addressing envelopes. In most cases, the lettering is traditional, but its versatility allows the calligrapher to add flourishes creating a more formal appearance.

If you plan to try calligraphy, start with these five simple steps:

  1. Purchase a calligraphy kit with markers or refillable ink pens included.
  2. Buy or find practice paper with approximately 16 lb. weight or more. (If you’re not sure about the paper weight, ask your art/craft store for assistance.)
  3. Choose a designated place to write – like a desk or table. If it’s angled, it’s ergonomically better.
  4. Pick good lighting for your desk. A bulb with reduced glare produces great visual results.
  5. Start with italic lettering to get acquainted with a new way to hold your pen. You’ll learn to adjust strokes which produces good lettering.

The points above should help beginners. Remember to practice lettering and practice patience. You’ll get better with time. I guarantee it. Have fun lettering!


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