• Calligraphy Christmas Ornament Tutorial

    This calligraphy Christmas ornament is the perfect holiday keepsake! Make it on hardy 140 lb. watercolor paper, and it will last for many holiday seasons to come.

    Calligraphy Christmas Ornament Tutorial

    Every year, I make a calligraphy Christmas ornament to add to my growing collection of tree baubles. It’s not a difficult project, and the ornaments last for years (as long as they’re kept away from little hands — like any ornament). Today, I’ll show you how to make a calligraphy Christmas ornament yourself, and I hope that the project becomes an annual tradition in your house, too!

    1. Make a Christmas Ornament Cutout

    First, take a piece of 140 lb. watercolor paper (I like Strathmore), then use a sunny window or a light box to trace around this ornament template in pencil. Then, cut out the shape that you just traced.

    Calligraphy Christmas Ornament Tutorial
    If you prefer a different ornament shape, feel free to use that shape instead! You can search for “Christmas ornament outlines” to find a variety of ornament silhouettes.

    Next, use a large hole punch to make a hole in the top of the ornament. Try to center the hole the best you can.

    Hole Punch

    2. Make a Calligraphy Pencil Draft

    Once you’ve punched the hole, use your pencil to draw two sets of three curved guidelines. Then, draft out a calligraphed holiday message on those guidelines, and connect plenty of flourishes to the calligraphy. (I used Janet Style calligraphy to give the ornament an elegant look.)

    Pencil Draft on Calligraphy Christmas Ornament
    For more information about making natural-looking flourishes, visit this article.

    Now, embellish the ornament with various holly leaves, berries, stars, and pine boughs.

    Pencil Draft on Calligraphy Christmas Ornament
    You can randomly place these embellishments throughout the ornament. Don’t worry if negative space remains! We’ll fill it in later.

    3. Add Watercolor Calligraphy

    Moisten 2-3 tones of green tones on your watercolor palette, and use those greens and the watercolor calligraphy technique to trace over the calligraphy draft. (I used Hooker’s Green Dark, Viridian Hue, and Sap Green from my Winsor & Newton Cotman palette.)

    Making Watercolor Calligraphy
    If you aren’t sure how to use watercolors to write calligraphy, read this tutorial!

    When you’ve finished tracing over the calligraphy, use your dip pen to add color to the embellishments.

    Making Watercolor Calligraphy

    Finish up this step by painting the top of the ornament with silver watercolor, then fill in the stars with gold watercolor.

    I used silver and gold watercolors from the Finetec Golds Palette for this step.

    4. Reinforce Your Strokes

    When all of your watercolor has dried (~5-10 minutes), use a good eraser to get rid of your pencil draft lines. Then, load silver watercolor onto your nib, and use that silver to create reinforcement strokes. I normally create my reinforcement strokes to the right of downstrokes, but I’ll make an exception if space is tight (like on the “B” in “Bright”).

    Calligraphy Christmas Ornament Tutorial
    You can learn how to flourish with reinforcement strokes in the Intermediate Modern Calligraphy Online Course.

    5. Add Filler Strokes

    Now, use a pencil to draw small, curved strokes that fill in the negative areas remaining in the piece. Pay special attention to the edges of the ornament, where you should put plenty of these strokes.

    Then, use your dip pen to draw over the strokes with the same green watercolors that you used for the calligraphy.

    Calligraphy Christmas Ornament

    Once your watercolor has dried, you can apply Microglaze to your new Christmas ornament (as described in the How to Waterproof Paper article) to protect it.

    6. Add Twine and Hang

    To finish up this project, thread your favorite ribbon or twine through the top of the ornament. Then, hang it on your Christmas tree!

    Calligraphy Christmas Ornament Tutorial
    140 lb. watercolor paper is strong and hardy, so this ornament will last for many holiday seasons to come!

    I love this project because it serves as a blueprint for many different ornament concepts. You can play with the shapes, the holiday messages, and the colors to make unique ornaments. If you’re feeling ambitious, you can even make a batch of calligraphy Christmas ornaments for your friends and family as a 2020 holiday keepsake! I encourage you to have fun and experiment. Thanks very much for reading TPK, and have a fabulous and creative weekend!


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