• Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    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 2024 revamp! I know that you’ll love making this meaningful project that doubles as quality calligraphy practice.

    Pointed pen calligraphy ampersand art created using sumi ink,  Brause EF66 nib, and an oblique pen holder.

    Whenever I think of approachable pointed pen 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 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.)

    How to Frame Artwork on the Cheap | The Postman's Knock
    Calligraphy ampersand art is fabulous for adding warmth and interest to your home decor.

    To create this calligraphy ampersand, you’ll need a tidy little collection of supplies:

    1. Make an Ampersand Pencil Outline

    To start, you’ll need a piece of drawing paper that has been cut to 5″ x 7″ (12.7 cm x 17.8 cm). 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.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial | The Postman's Knock
    I prefer to use drawing paper for this tutorial because it has enough tooth to give you nice, crisp calligraphy strokes. Watercolor paper is also a nice choice.

    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.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial | The Postman's Knock
    You can find this free printable here.

    I prefer Constantia Bold font ampersand, so I used a light box and a mechanical pencil to trace that ampersand onto my 5″ x 7″ piece of paper.

    Tracing the ampersand outline using a light box
    If you don’t have a light box, a well-lit window will work just as well to complete this step.

    Once you’re finished, your outline should look like this:

    Pencil Ampersand Outline

    2. Make a List

    Now, 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.

    List of memories
    My calligraphy ampersand art focuses on a friendship, but you can also make an ampersand that celebrates a family.

    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!

    Writing in the ampersand
    Sumi ink is awesome for this project because it makes jet black, clean strokes. The ink dries just right: it’s not too shiny, nor is it too matte.

    Continue to snake up the curve of the ampersand with fairly small words from your list until you reach the top.

    Calligraphy in the ampersand outline

    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.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    Now, focus on filling in the upper left pocket of space with something from your list.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial
    It’s okay if you need to rely on hyphens to make your words fit! The point is to densely fill in the ampersand outline.

    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.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    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.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    Now, focus on filling in the upper right pocket of space.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial
    Feel free to incorporate some sans serif words if necessary. Block lettering (like sans serif) takes up less space than calligraphy, so it can fill in awkward crannies.

    Finally, use calligraphy (and hand lettering, if you’d like) to finish the rest of the ampersand.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    4. Erase Your Pencil Guidelines

    Once your ink has completely dried (it’ll just take a few minutes), 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.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    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).

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    Why Kaitlin Style Calligraphy?

    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.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial

    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!

    Pointed pen calligraphy ampersand art celebrating family

    In the photo below, you can see the first ampersand that I ever made. It’s just a fun little piece that celebrates the things that my husband and I enjoy. It hangs in my office.

    Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial | The Postman's Knock

    I hope that this tutorial inspires you to take out your pen and create! If you’re new to pointed pen calligraphy, take TPK’s beginner calligraphy course, and in just a couple of weeks, you’ll be at a level where you can make this project. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comments. ENJOY!


    Lindsey's Signature | The Postman's Knock