Learning Modern Calligraphy with Quill

April 08, 2015

I first wrote this for So You're Getting Married last week.

Modern calligraphy is a real art and something I've been swooning over for a while now. In our digital world of emails, texts and tweets putting pen to paper and writing properly and beautifully is underrated. Learning how to do it has been on my wish list so when I had the chance to attend a workshop hosted by Quill - an online store dedicated to seriously stylish stationery - I jumped at the offer! Beautiful writing will take you far in life, whether it's for addressing your wedding invitations or just a love of pretty stationery it's a skill that is well worth learning. 

Quill run a number of workshops, mine was a beginners 3 hour class held at The Blacksmith and Toffeemaker - a pub is Islington. I thought it would be really hard, which to an extent it was, but after just a couple of hours I was impressed with what everyone in the class had picked up and we were all able to write phrases at the end.

Imogen Owen was our tutor, she's an established calligrapher who also runs her own letterpress studio. For £44 you'll have a three hour class, a kit to take away with you {including paper, ink and a pen with a nib} plus some yummy pastries and tea and coffee - crucial we were told to fuel our creativity.

Imogen makes everything look effortless, it takes a lot of practice. To start off with you need to get used to the feel of your pen, dipping it into the ink and then pressing down on the paper to make lines. The harder you push, the thicker your lines will be and by pulling up slightly you'll get thinner, less defined lines. It's worth practicing this for longer than you think as it forms the basis of your letters and words. Once comfortable with the lines we then moved onto curves with U shapes.

Before the class I thought I'd be a nightmare dripping ink everywhere or smudging my work but I need not have worried. If you're careful then there should be no reason for that to happen. 

Once we'd practiced our basic shapes for a while it was on to the exciting part - letters! We started by tracing a sheet with the alphabet on, and arrows showing us where to start, which was really useful and pretty enough in itself. I'd be happy just tracing for the rest of my life! But once we'd got our confidence we could practice them freehand. Again it's all about the pushing down for the defined lines. Mine didn't start out as beautiful as the printed sheet but after a few practices they were pretty close.

From the individual letters we then got shown how to put it together and start writing words. This was the really hard part and you need to get your brain in gear. Some people picked it up quicker than others, one girl next to me who's practiced a lot before was amazing! But this was my first time even thinking about perfecting my handwriting since primary school so I did have to concentrate.

The key really is to practice, practice, practice though. You won't be a master after one class but it will give you a good introduction to the basics. Part of the fun of it though is perfecting your own style. It's strangely therapeutic and something I can imagine getting out in the evening to unwind. In a world of emails, texts and tweets putting pen to paper and writing properly is truly underrated. 

I've still got a long way to go but it's a good start. And perfect timing for writing my Mother's Day cards the day after the class. Wish I'd learnt before we sent all of our wedding invites out, imagine how pretty the envelopes would have been! 

There's a level two class which will take your new skills further looking at composition and developing your own style. I'm tempted! Think I'll try and practice as much as I can first of all though.

For more information on the modern calligraphy workshops {or just to treat yourself to some of their gorgeous stationery} visit Quill London here for upcoming dates.

R <3 xx 

{A huge thanks to Phoebe at So You're Getting Married and Quill London for this class}

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