The Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial first appeared on the TPK blog in January of 2016. It’s one of my very favorites, so I decided to give it a 2020 revamp! In this version, you’ll find brand-new photos, specific instructions, and examples of ampersands past. I know that you’ll love making this meaningful project that doubles…
Whenever I think of calligraphy projects, my mind immediately goes to this calligraphy ampersand art. Making it is an act of love and a serious mood booster! As you write down the memories that you and a loved one have shared, it’s hard not to blissfully lose yourself in the project. You can make this ampersand art in your sketchbook, frame it for display in your home, or give it as a gift! (I’ve done all three … seriously, I love making these, and I know that you will, too.)
1. Make an Ampersand Pencil Outline
To start, you’ll need a piece of drawing paper that has been cut to 5″ x 7″ (127 mm x 178 mm). It’s important to use 70 lb. drawing paper or higher for this tutorial so your calligraphy ink doesn’t bleed! 32# laserjet paper would also work, but drawing paper has a more luxe feel, which is a consideration if your calligraphy ampersand will be a gift.
Next, print off the ampersand art template, which you can download by clicking here. The template includes two different ampersands. You can choose the one you like the best and use it!
I prefer the ampersand of the Constantia Bold font, so I used a light box and a mechanical pencil to trace that ampersand onto my 5″ x 7″ piece of paper. If you don’t have a light box, a well-lit window will work just as well!
Once you’re finished, your outline should look like this:
2. Make a List
At this point, you’ll set your ampersand outline to the side. Get out a notebook or a scrap piece of paper, and make a list of the memories, shared interests, and recurring themes in the relationship that you’re using this project to celebrate.
3. Start Writing
Now, get out some calligraphy basics: sumi ink, your favorite pen, and your favorite nib. (For me, that’s an oblique pen with a Brause EF66 nib.) Start in the left corner of the serif, and rotate your paper to follow the contours of the ampersand’s curve as you write in Kaitlin Style calligraphy. At the end of this post, I’ll explain why Kaitlin Style calligraphy is the best style to use for this project!
Continue to snake up the curve of the ampersand with fairly small words from your list until you reach the top.
Once you reach the top, start making your way down the left side of the ampersand with larger calligraphy. Write until you reach the bottom right of the ampersand.
Now, focus on filling in the upper left pocket of space with something from your list.
Then, fill in the middle of the ampersand, preferably with fairly large calligraphy. Varying the size of your letters will help to give the project some visual interest!
Next, use small calligraphy (or short words) to fill in the rest of the serif as well as the lower right corner of the ampersand.
Now, focus on filling in the upper right pocket of space.
Finally, use calligraphy (and hand lettering, if you’d like) to finish the rest of the ampersand!
4. Erase Your Pencil Guidelines
Once your ink has completely dried (~3 minutes … sumi dries quickly!), use a good eraser to gently erase your pencil lines. Take your time and be careful! You don’t want to erase overzealously and end up wrinkling the paper.
5. Enjoy the Result!
Once you finish erasing your pencil guidelines, the ampersand is finished and ready to display or give as a gift. I love this piece because it serves as a reminder of the activities, memories, and special places you share with your “&” person (or people)!
You can experiment with using different calligraphy and hand-lettering styles for this tutorial. However, I find Kaitlin Style calligraphy to be organic and easy to use when you want to fill in space! As you fill in the ampersand with words, you’ll find spaces that need to be filled. Those spaces can usually be addressed with a lingering cross stroke (like on a “t”), a playful descender (like the tail of a “y”), or a connecting stroke that dips way up or down.
Other calligraphy styles are more rigid with positioning, but Kaitlin Style — and similar whimsical styles — gives you the freedom to play!
Other Examples of Calligraphy Ampersand Art
This is a project that I return to again and again when I want to make a quick, meaningful gift. I created the ampersand below for my brother’s family on a cream-colored paper. It features large calligraphy and plenty of flourishes!
In the photo below, you can see the first ampersand that I ever made. It’s just a fun little thing that celebrates the things that my husband and I enjoy! It hangs in my office.
I hope that you enjoyed this tutorial revamp! This calligraphy ampersand art is one of my very favorite projects, so I want to make sure you always have quality instructions detailing how to make it. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. 🙂 Happy creating!