learning hand lettering
I think I was about 12 years old when I bought a calligraphy kit from a book store. Perhaps it was this one?
Anyway, I remember sitting on my floor, in my bedroom, trying to draw pretty letters. Then I spilled ink everywhere and I pretty much gave up on it right then.
I’m a real go-getter, aren’t I?
I learn better by being taught how to do something instead of reading and teaching myself. So I should have known that reading a book about how to do something artistic was going to be a huge fail.
::fast forward a few decades::
Hand lettering is everywhere. And dang, it’s truly an art form. I’ve been dying to learn how to do it, obtain the right tools, and watch a pro hand letter before my very eyes.
I came across a class teaching just that (with tools included) at Gather and signed up right away.
A lovely, talented woman named Karm taught the class. She integrated a little calming exercise into the beginning of our time together which turned out to be pretty useful since a steady hand and still composure are essential for pretty writing.
We had a few different brush sizes, water, ink, and plenty of paper to practice on.
This was my first sheet.
Remember in grade school when you would cover up your test with your arm so your punk neighbor wouldn’t copy your test? Yeah I wanted to do that with my first page.
Whew I needed a lot of work. At that point I was thinking, “It’s just not in the cards for me, is it? I’m just not artistic like this!”
After much observation of Karm working her magic, I was able to churn out a few pretty letters amongst the mess.
Then it came time to write our mantra on the heavy card stock paper. You don’t know pressure until you go to hand letter on a real piece of quality paper. Everyone in the class was putting it off, myself included.
Finally, I went for it. I looked over my shoulder, saw that no one was watching, dipped my brush in the ink, and started writing. My intention was to write “it is well, with my soul”.
I got through “it is well” and was pleased enough. I just knew in my heart if I kept going and added “in my soul” I would ruin the whole piece with the letter “l” at the end. I just knew it. So I left it alone.
While I was working on my paper, I glanced up at the materpieces that Jordan was creating. Girlfriend can write. It was really fun to watch her process. Everything she writes is stretched out and airy. I tended to cram letters together and write a little bit smaller.
The class came to a close too soon. It was so refreshing to sit with other women and work on a skill we all wanted to either learn or get better at. Rumor has it there will be another class in the fall, and if there is you can bet that I’ll be there again.
Are there new skills you’ve been dying to learn? Hand lettering was just one on my list. I’d love to learn how to make the perfect pie crust. I would also love to learn how to paint. Graphic design would be fun to learn too.
It’s tempting to just stick to my to-do list during the day, instead of indulging in purely pleasurable things that may even take away from time spent on the to-do list, but man it was good for my soul to take a little breather and do something new and relaxing.
It might be my new “wind down” activity in the evening, instead of sitting on my iPad. A little bit more productive, don’t you think?
I hope this encourages you to go out and learn something you’ve always wanted to learn, no matter how bad you think you will be at it. I bet you’ll be glad you tried it.
Beautiful! I’ve always loved the way my grandma writes and have tried copying her birthday cards for years… I don’t think I’ll ever get it.
This class looks like so much fun, I wish there was one closer to where I lived, I’d be there in a heartbeat!
Keep up the pretty work 🙂
Yes, keep up the pretty work! This may be a great way to write a recipe/blog post.
From your whole food-y!
I can’t help you with the painting or graphic design, but I used to watch The Barefoot Contessa all the time and her pie crust is amazing! Her two secrets which I use every time – butter and shortening must be COLD and she mixes the dough in a food processor. Super scary the first time I tried it, but now it is so easy to blend some “from scratch” pie dough. Your handwriting was beautiful! I had a calligraphy set when I was a kid too! You brought back such memories of wanting to write elegant letters.
In my 20’s I once took a 2 week break to Mallorca in the Med (not as far flung as it sounds as I live in the UK!). In preparation for the responsibility of doing my brother’s wedding tablescapes, I took with me a tuition book, a pad and all the kit I could muster with a view to being the ultimate calligrapher by the time I returned. I know. Rock n roll eh! I was useless, like you I need to be shown. I used a font on the computer for his wedding! I have never mastered it, but now I may look around me and see if I can find a course nearby. Not likely as we live in the middle of the English countryside, but we live in hope! As an aside, I needed a physio recently. the only one within 15 miles is an equine physiotherapist!! Such are the challenges of where we live. x
Do you think this could transfer over to paint and paintbrushes or just ink? I love making hand painted wood signs but end up tracing or stenciling because my lettering is sub-par. Wondering if this would help.
I don’t see why not!
Kate, I am just getting into hand lettering in chalk. Check out my blog for an “Illinois home” sign I just did. I have a free printable on there too. I just finished a “forever young” piece I’ll be posting in the next few days. It is so relaxing to do this type of art. Keep it up!
That is so beautiful! I would love to learn something like that. I LOVE writing in cursive and think it’s ridiculous that that is not a skill they teach in school anymore.
You did great! Isn’t it so much fun!! 🙂 I’m addicted.
Great job! My mom does calligraphy- it is tough! Yours looks awesome as is- perfectionism is overrated 🙂
How did you find the class? I would LOVE to do this, but I’ve never seen it offered anywhere.
I found it through Gather, a local shop. Otherwise I probably wouldn’t have known about it.
I completely agree with you about taking the plunge and trying something new. I recently took an upholstery class – I’d always wanted to and finally found someone who offered a DIY workshop. I was surprised by what a confidence boost it was to learn a new skill!
I was totally the kid trying to learn calligraphy in my bedroom as well! Imagine where we could be today had we stuck with it. I think I may need to go try one of these classes! Thanks for the inspiration!
I majored in illustration, but I actually have terrible handwriting! I would love to take a class like this. I also just bought Ana White’s book “The Handbuilt Home” and really want to try my hand at woodworking. It would be so awesome to make a farmhouse dining table and tell people that I actually did it!
joythebaker.com has an amazing pie crust recipe! and she seems like a funny, lovely person, too.
Love this! Go you! I have been taking the Sean Wes hand lettering classes. It is so hard but a lot of fun.
My friend does this and it’s so amazing to look at. The first time I walked into her room and saw all this little scribbles of word and mantras, I thought it was a really lovely idea. She’s a really big fan of Rob Ryan, so I think that’s why she likes it so much. Lovely post, really different and interesting xx
I saw your post on instagram and immediately bookmarked Gather so I will know when their next workshop is. I have always wanted to try my hand at Calligraphy.
Aww, I saw this posted when I was at your workshop at the Gather a few weeks back. It almost made me break out in a sweat as my handwriting is HORRIBLE and I’m thinking I would need weeks and weeks of this class. Looks like you got the hang of it after only a little practice! Impressive 🙂
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I have worked on lettering a little on my own and am overwhelmed even by the supplies available. Did Karm happen to give you a starter list of items?
Also, you might want to try Ree’s pie crust – The Pioneer Woman’s website has a cooking section and you can find it there with detailed instructions. Several people referred to it on a Beth Moore group post requesting favorite family recipes two or three years ago at Thanksgiving. Ree’s name would come up repeatedly in response as having the perfect and fail safe pie crust when others would post a pie recipe and then say they had to buy their crust or they could never make a crust like their Mother. With so many references, I had to try it and ended up spending hours reviewing recipes and photography info on her website. The pie crust is perfect. Just like almost everything else I’ve tried from her website. It turns out great, but I’m so awkward at transferring it to the pie plate. Baby steps.
So pretty! And a great first go! Hand lettering is something I really want to learn but like you I think I need to be there with others in that environment to really pick it up.
Creative! I have always wanted to learn how to do this 🙂 I think I will try just like you!
I have always loved to scrapbook but would love to be able to go to classes and learn how to use all my tools that I’ve bought and “self taught” myself to use.
I love to hand write notes. People say I have beautiful handwriting and it doesn’t take me any longer to write, I just mix capital letters and lowercase. When I was in grade school I wrote a diary that represented a girl coming over on the Mayflower and made up my own old fashioned script. I am a foreign language teacher and it is important that my handwriting is precise and clear for my students to be able to read.
Keep practicing your handwriting and develop your own style. I have even changed my signature to reflect my own style.
I can’t tell you how happy this post makes me. I love so much seeing folks learn a random new skill! We so often put our children in tons of activties to learn new skills and you so ararely see adults doing the same. It can also be so satisfying and give you such a sense of purpose which does wonders for your self self esteem.
7 weeks after I had my second baby I decided I was going to learn how to play the Ukulele. It sounds crazy, I know, but I was still on maternity leave and had extra time with my 3 year old at school during the morning and my little one being so content that I wanted to do something useful with my time. I had always wanted to learn something musical again (used to play sax when I was younger) because I love music and the boys love music. I started playing and now I so love being able to say “I play the ukulele!” People are usually so pleasantly surprised it’s half the fun. 🙂
I would love to take that class! You’re right. Hand lettering is everywhere. I had pretty much resigned to using photoshop to mimic hand lettering because I will never be good at it. Maybe there is hope for me yet. I can do pretty good if I can copy something and if it is erasable because there is always lots of correcting. It looks like you got pretty good at it.
Beautiful! You should also check out Kristen Henderson Calligraphy. She is a phenomenal calligrapher and “letterist” in Charlotte, NC! She also does classes if you are willing to drive a little bit 🙂 She did the hand lettering and calligraphy for our wedding invitation suite.
You’ve convinced me to check out Gather. I’m bummed that I missed the hand lettering class but it sounds like they’ll have one again in the fall. After reading your post, I signed up for their watercolor class. Thanks for the review!
I’m so proud of you for doing this!!! I’ve wanted to try forever, and haven’t built up the courage. 🙂 I’m the kid that writes, re-writes, and re-writes things. I can’t imagine the patience this takes…
Hand lettering/ calligraphy is something I’ve wanted to practice and do well at. It’s a bit in vain though to what my career is about to be, a doctor.
Carolyn | BLOG
I have ALWAYS wanted to do fancy hand-lettering myself! I’m so glad you got to take that class; looks like fun. You’ve re-inspired me!
I love the way calligraphy looks! I’m glad that you got to take a class. I’ve definitely been wanting to try it out.
You did fantastic!! So cool that you are looking to learn a new skill. Interestingly enough, I recently picked up a calligraphy book as I’ve longed to have that beautiful handwriting since I was a child. Your post inspires me to find a class as, I too, learn better when taught. Thanks for the great post!
hi! love your job! Which kind of brush do you use? 🙂
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