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Teaching Yourself Calligraphy

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 5 Jul 2013 | comments*Discuss
 
Handwriting Writing Style Writing

“Calligraphy” literally means “beautiful writing” and is today recognised as a particular form of handwriting. However, calligraphy is more than just good penmanship. Western calligraphy uses the Roman alphabet and was the premier method by which books were written prior to the development of the printing press.

Today, many artisans excel at calligraphy and many private individuals enjoy the craft of calligraphy as a hobby, or even turn their writing abilities into a money making venture. In order to teach yourself calligraphy, you must know what type of supplies you will need, learn how to use a calligraphy pen, adjust to shaping the letters and, finally, practice your writing until you attain the style you desire.

Stocking Up On Calligraphy Supplies

Cartridge calligraphy pens and dipped ink pens are both popular calligraphy supplies for beginners. Cartridge pens dispense ink through the nib whereas dipped ink pens require the nib to be dipped in ink. For absolute beginners, cartridge pens may be somewhat easier because the chances of ink spills, drips or splats are much lower. Cartridge pens also clog less, which may make learning to write with them less frustrating.

A calligraphy marker may also be a potential tool. These markers come with inked nibs permanently attached and so negate the need for nibs, ink and ink cartridges. Calligraphy paper is also useful for practicing handwriting, while nice parchment or fine rice paper is usually reserved for final pieces. Most beginners will also require a book of calligraphy or other suitable method of learning to form the letters.

Using a Calligraphy Pen

Calligraphy pens do not offer the same smooth writing style as the ballpoint pens that most people use every day, so practicing with them in an individual’s normal handwriting is usually required before moving along to learning calligraphy.

Calligraphy pens are not forgiving and will reveal any shake of the hand, change in pressure, difference in angle, stroke or backstroke that is made in contact with paper. Movement of the hand and/or fingers will also cause the nib to shift, so different widths of lines will be made.

For these reasons calligraphers need steady hands and confidence in their work. Learning how to glide a calligraphy pen over paper will go a long way towards allow a beginner to feel confident in his or her skills.

The Art of Shaping Letters

Calligraphy comes in many different styles, but all of them depend upon different line widths and flourishes to shape letters. Many individuals teach themselves calligraphy from books or websites that offer guidance on how to put together pen strokes to shape a letter.

While writing, the length and direction of each stroke must be taken into account. The angle of the pen nib is also important, as is the spacing between letters in a word. Some calligraphy kits are available with guides and/or stencils to help individuals get a feel for their new writing style.

Practicing Penmanship

Once an individual feels confident in shaping letters, all that is left is to practice his or her new style of penmanship. Writing names, address, verses, rhymes, songs, poems and samplers are all good methods of practicing letters and words in a particular calligraphy script. When it is felt that one script is mastered, the individual can then move along to another.

Many calligraphers often find it helpful to obtain a type of formal certification in calligraphy so that they can advertise their skill and make money such as through writing wedding invitations or programmes. Others may find that they enjoy teaching calligrapher to other interested students. There are many possibilities for calligraphers, but they all depend upon learning new styles, keeping a steady hand and, most of all, producing beautiful handwriting.

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