Here in the US, cornucopias are associated with Thanksgiving because of the abundance that they represent. The horn-shaped baskets often hold harvest-related goods like wheat, fruits, and vegetables, which gracefully spill out of the cornucopia. For today’s tutorial, I decided to show you how to make a calligraphy cornucopia, which you can use to enhance envelopes, place cards, sketchbook pages, and more!
1. Gather Your Supplies
Before you get started, you’ll need to gather a few supplies:
I almost always start my projects with a pencil draft because they’re great insurance against mess-ups. To make this draft, start by using your white pencil to draw a fairly tight oval with a stem just to the right of the center of your envelope. The oval should be about 1.25″ (3.2 cm) in diameter.
Now, add curved lines and a curly vine to your circle as shown below.
Now, draw a triangular collection of small circles to the right of your pumpkin to signify a grape bunch. Then, draw two leaves at the top of the bunch.
Next, draw the cornucopia behind your pumpkin and grapes. To do that, start by making a semi-circle to the upper right of the fruits. Then, connect a long triangle to the semi-circle. The long triangle should curl at the end and reach upwards.
Now, make seven or so curved lines that hug the contours of the cornucopia. Then, draw three curved branches with leaves behind the pumpkin.
Once you’ve drawn the branches, make a series of flourishes (i.e. curly lines) to fill out the space.
Continue to draw branches and flourishes until you’re satisfied with the draft.
Set your gold watercolor aside for now. Then, dip your nib in the white ink and trace over the pumpkin and the grapes with nice, smooth downstrokes.
Now, use a light touch to add thin, curved lines to the pumpkin. Try to focus the lines along the top and the bottom of the pumpkin, and apply them sparingly to the middle. It’s also a good idea to add little dots to the left side of each grape to represent highlights.
Continue to draw over your draft lines until you’ve added white ink to everything but the dots and the cornucopia.
4. Add Gold Watercolor
Now, use your gold watercolor and a dip pen to fill in the cornucopia with “phone cord” flourishes that face alternating directions. Try not to let the sections of flourishes touch. Maintaining clear segments will result in a clean, professional look. Once you’re finished filling in the calligraphy cornucopia, draw over the little dots with gold as well.
5. Add the Finishing Touches
Finish up by writing your recipient’s address on the left. I’d use a pretty calligraphy style like the Janet, which complements the cornucopia’s elegance. Making your own guidelines and slant lines will help you to produce polished calligraphy.
When you’ve finished the address, add another flourish to fill in the space underneath the recipient’s zip code. Then, add more dots of gold to give the piece some cohesiveness. Wait for the inks to dry (overnight is safest, but I was okay with thirty minutes here in Colorado), then gently erase your pencil draft lines with a black eraser. Finally, add a postage stamps to the top of the envelope that feature autumn colors! To ensure safe passage in the mail, consider waterproofing the paper.
6. Enjoy Your Calligraphy Cornucopia
Once you’ve finished your calligraphy cornucopia, take a second to enjoy it! The combination of gold and white inks is just stunning, and I love the abundant look of the calligraphy flourishes — perfect for Thanksgiving.
Regardless of your dip pen skill level, I encourage you to give this tutorial a try! I suspect that you’ll surprise yourself — and I promise that your chances of success rise exponentially if you take the time to make a draft. Thanks so much for reading, and happy holidays!