• Leah Sacks

Calligraphy Capers

For my post this week, I decided to write about my latest attempt at finding a hobby. You may have seen my previous post about some of the things I was entertaining myself with during the pandemic. While I liked those things, two of them were TV shows, which means that I quickly run out of episodes and am left with boredom. While I retain whittling as a hobby from that previous post, I tried out calligraphy this week.

I've always had a little bit of a fascination with "older" and "ancient" things. For example, I like doing archery in the summer, I almost had a minor in Medieval and Renaissance studies, and my favorite thing I inherited from my grandparents is a metal seal for pressing into wax in my grandfather's initials (that happen to be the same as mine). Stay tuned for a post about that some time in the future. As a result, you may not be surprised my my interest in calligraphy, which I think many consider to be a slightly "older" activity. In truth, in turns out that calligraphy is a hobby of both the past and the present, though it very much depends on the style of calligraphy that you are doing. All of the calligraphy styles that I looked at are confined to the english language, so if you are looking for other languages, this is not the post for you.

Calligraphy is a combination of thin and thick strokes, light and heavy pressures, that give the letters character and form.

Modern Calligraphy

I started my adventures in calligraphy on YouTube, as expected when one cannot venture forth from their home, and was immediately introduced to what I now know is called "Modern Calligraphy." Modern calligraphy is smooth, contains many loops, and looks very decorative. This is the type of writing often used on holiday cards and the like nowadays. It consists of a set of "basic stokes" that are combined together to form the letters of the alphabet. Each of these strokes employ what I've discovered is one of the main principles of calligraphy. Calligraphy is a combination of thin and thick strokes, light and heavy pressures, that give the letters character. The basic strokes of modern calligraphy use the practice of light strokes (thin) whenever you move your writing utensil upward on the page (upstroke) and heavy strokes (thick) whenever you move your writing utensil downward on the page (downstroke). Notably, Modern Calligraphy, while appearing similar, is not just cursive with the application of light and hard strokes. The "basic strokes" must be combined together, which is what gives the writing a standard, repeatable, consistent look.

This type of calligraphy, this combination of thick and thin applied to the basic strokes, can be done with different writing utensils if you use some tricks. For example with brush pens, pencils, and colored pencils, you can simply apply more or less pressure to the utensil to get the thin and thick strokes. For a Crayola marker, as shown in this video by the Happy Ever Crafter, you can simply use the tip of the marker for the thin strokes and then the side of the marker for the thick ones, so you have to rotate your hand. In contrast, for a Sharpie marker, like in this video by the Happy Ever Crafter, you have to manually add the thicker portions of the letters.

I decided to try out the basic strokes and the one word (gain) that I know how to connect some of the letters together (which is a whole other process to learn). Here you can see some pictures of my first attempts with a pencil. You can even see where I messed up and scratched it out at the bottom. These are the basic strokes that I am showing here.

One of the things that I didn't know about calligraphy is that you don't just learn calligraphy and then all of a sudden you can do calligraphy. You have to practice is order to actually get good. So since my first time trying it, I have practiced on two other occasions and I plan to keep practicing. I'm also considering taking a "class" on modern calligraphy where I get workbook pages to practice the strokes and learn how to connect them together to form letters and words. Here you can see my first attempts with a colored pencil and a sharpie, which I tried on practice day 2, as well as my pencil practice from practice day 2.

Today was my 3rd day trying to do calligraphy and here are my results. I used a green colored pencil and then I tried using a pen in the same manner you use a sharpie, with mixed results. You can also see the hints of placed where I messed up (toward the right of the image). I got a little too rushed and sure of myself and messed up. I've been told (in YouTube videos) that going slow is very important to calligraphy. I think I need to work on that.

Other Styles of Calligraphy

One of the things I didn't realize when I started out with the intent to learn calligraphy is that there are actually several different styles. Two of the well-known others are Roman and Gothic. Here are some examples of lower case letters in Gothic style and a stylized version of the Roman calligraphy style in capital letters. Finally, there's an image of someone comparing some of the strokes done in different types of calligraphy. All three images are free use from Wikimedia Commons.

These types of calligraphy are often done with a "calligraphy pen" or a fountain pen. These pens have a flat tip or nib that allows you to have a wide stroke as you move the pen down and a thin stroke as you move it sideways. In my interest in learning calligraphy, I have acquired one of these pens (and three nib options!), shown here, but I have yet to actually try it! Plans for the future! I also things that I will try more of a real fountain pen, so look out for more information on that in the future! If I write that post in the future, I will link it here.

Sneak peak for next post: Space Day!?....Yuri's Night?....Paper writing?...Arc GIS?...Who knows?

For this post, I watched a lot of YouTube videos such as those linked in the post above, but here is also a link to the channel for the Happy Ever Crafter, who was my main source as well as their website:

The Happy Ever Crafter

YouTube Channel:


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