The Calligrapher's Life

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Challenging Paper vs. Novice Calligrapher

As a novice calligrapher, I take every opportunity to practice my skills, but find more pleasure when I know someone else has a chance to enjoy it. Although my homework projects allow me to show off my new talent, I love to create birthday and holiday greetings to share with family and friends.

Over the past week, I’ve been working on a project that displays my calligraphy and crafting skills. My sister planned an intimate party for her closest friends and family and she hired me to design, construct and write the lettering for the cover and card interior.

At first, the project appeared to be simple. No more than eight invitations with one line on the front and several lines inside (I needed the practice.) Then, the entire job started to feel like an event in itself when she chose black cardstock for the invites.

Staying optimistic and hopeful about this new challenge, I agreed to work with the paper, not taking into account the time it would take to create decent writing without major mistakes.

After working on a practice sheet with the pointed pen, it was quickly evident the paper would not respond well.  When I broke the news to my sister, she wasn’t thrilled with placing adhesive lettering on the card’s exterior, so I thought of a better idea.

Since I was comfortable with gouache, I practiced writing with a small paint brush on an extra sheet of cardstock. At one point, I wasn’t sure what possessed me to try it because I almost gave up. With each hour I practiced, my frustrations grew trying to write on a such a challenging color. Sometimes I’d write the letters too big or too small, or write them with a visible slant.

So, last week, I thought my problems were solved when I asked a fellow classmate how she addressed her envelopes on black paper.  Can you believe her secret for writing so beautifully on black cardstock was…practice? Yes, she said consistent practice makes the lettering show up evenly.

Well, her answer burst my bubble. I counted on a surefire secret to writing so evenly on black paper and now I was back to square one.

So, I did just as she suggested and I spent the entire week practicing the two words for the cover of the card until I became comfortable with the outcome.

 After a week of paced writing, I’m happy to report that my efforts paid off tremendously. The invitations are complete and the brush calligraphy looks better than I originally imagined.  In the beginning, I struggled and loss patience, but the whole experience proved that calligraphy is an art form anyone can master with patience, determination and steady practice.

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