Calligraphy takes time to make, and that’s part of its appeal! Writing offers a “creative timeout” that can be relaxing and therapeutic. That said, sometimes the creative timeout can drag on for a little bit too long! If you’re working on a large project, especially, it’s nice to have a few calligraphy shortcuts up your sleeve to make shorter work of your task. In the tips that follow, you’ll learn five ways to ensure efficient, pleasant calligraphy creation!
1. Choose Your Calligraphy Tool Wisely
It’s important to remember that different writing utensils require different amounts of time to write a word. While faux calligraphy makes for a great introduction to the world of calligraphy, it’s not exactly an efficient writing technique. In the photo above, I used a stopwatch to time myself writing “hello!” with three different writing utensils: a Pilot G2 pen (and faux calligraphy), a dip pen, and a brush pen.
The faux calligraphy I created with the Pilot G2 pen looks similar to the calligraphy created with the dip pen. Despite that similarity, the faux calligraphy took nearly a minute longer to make than the dip pen calligraphy! The brush pen calligraphy was even quicker; it only took me 15 seconds to make that “hello!”. No matter what project you decide to take on, it’s important to realistically approach how long the project will take to make based on the writing instrument you are using. For large projects such as wedding envelopes, try to use a dip pen fitted with the nib you feel most comfortable writing with! Alternatively, you can go the untraditional route and break out the brush pen for your envelopes.
You can write just about any calligraphy style with a brush pen. I especially love how Janet Style calligraphy looks in the photo above!
2. Write With a Standard Ink
Finetec is fun and watercolor calligraphy is oh-so-nice and creative, but non-traditional inks require a lot more time to work with. Yeah, they look cool … but, take it from me: if you’re addressing 150 wedding envelopes with Finetec gold (as I did in 2014, pictured below), it will take a very long time. Conversely, the piece pictured above was created with iron gall ink and didn’t take long at all to make (you can learn how to make an envelope like it in this blog post).
By “standard ink”, I mean anything that you can dip your nib into (versus painting the ink on the back of the nib). The ink should be thin; viscous inks — like white ink — take comparatively more time to work with.
Some of my favorite time-efficient inks include:
- Iron gall inks (I’m loving Walker’s Copperplate)
- Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay Ink in any color
- Sumi ink
- Winsor & Newton inks (make sure you use these on high-quality paper; otherwise, they’re guaranteed to bleed because they are very runny)
3. Write Whimsically
Whenever I want to write more than a few words, I generally defer to whimsical Kaitlin Style calligraphy. Kaitlin Style is an artistic, free-spirited style that doesn’t require pencil guidelines. That makes it a great asset to your calligraphy shortcuts list! I love it for making calligraphy-focused wall art, like the “Things to Remember” list pictured here.
Kaitlin Style calligraphy is also great for envelopes! You save a lot of time by not having to draw pencil guidelines. If you notice your word is starting to slope down, you can simply self-correct with the positioning of the next letter in the word!
Conversely, when you use a style like the Janet — which, don’t get me wrong, is totally gorgeous — you do have to draw pencil guidelines. The pencil guidelines let you know how tall letters should be, provide you with a baseline, and keep everything looking orderly. While the guidelines are infinitely helpful, they are also rather time-consuming.
The nice thing about the Kaitlin is its lack of order, which translates into less fuss. It’s definitely going to be your go-to style if you’re a bit short on time!
4. Justify Your Calligraphy to the Left
Left justification is one of the best calligraphy shortcuts out there! Everyone loves a perfectly centered envelope, but they take so much time to make. It’s difficult to make sure every address line is perfectly spaced! If one address line is slightly off, it ruins the whole thing. You can remedy that risk by justifying all of your calligraphy to the left.
There are a few tricks for making a natural-looking left-justified envelope. You can, for example, include an illustrated element on the left side of the envelope such as lace. Alternatively, you can write the address at an angle from the bottom left corner, as shown in the “starry” embellished envelope below.
Of course, it’s not necessary to do anything special with the calligraphy. The Janet Style envelope pictured here looks great without any frills!
If you have a large batch of envelopes to address, then left-justification is most definitely something to consider! Regardless of which calligraphy style you decide to use, not having to center the text will save you a lot of time.
5. Make a Rubber Stamp
If you find yourself writing the same thing time and time again, you might consider making a rubber stamp out of your calligraphy.
I use a rubber stamp to put my website address on any TPK-related packages. Rubber stamps are great for making mail look personalized and artistic! Calligraphy stamps are also fantastic for non-business pieces. For example, I often use custom calligraphy stamps to make quick and beautiful return address envelopes for wedding invitation suites. The photo below is of a heat embossed return address envelope that was made using a custom rubber stamp!
I generally work with rubberstamps.net to have rubber stamps made. First, you’ll want to digitize your calligraphy, then you upload the design to their website! For detailed instructions on how to do so, you can check out Video 3 in Lesson 2 of the Digitizing Artwork & Calligraphy eCourse.
While it’s not always possible — or even desirable — to speed up your calligraphy creation, it’s still nice to have a few tricks up your sleeve just in case! If you have any questions about any of these calligraphy shortcuts (or if you have your own to add), please let me know in the comments. Otherwise, thanks very much for reading, and have a wonderful day!