As we watched police cars, ambulances, and SWAT vehicles race past our house, we had no idea what was going on. Then, the news made its way to us: there was an active shooter at our neighborhood supermarket. A market that my husband and I had shopped at the previous day with our toddler. As we processed the sobering news, the death toll was published: ten victims, including a police officer.
Being creative is one of my coping tools for tough situations, so I channeled my energy today into making a sympathy card to send to the officer’s family. I was not personally acquainted with the officer, but his sacrifice — and the senseless deaths of nine other people in my community — breaks my heart. After a fraught night of trying to sleep, I put in my headphones, turned on The Crown, and set out to make this handmade sympathy card. And while I hope you don’t have a reason to use this tutorial, it’s here for you when you do:
1. Draw a Pencil Draft
To begin, procure a dark-colored piece of paper (preferably handmade) and a white pencil.
Next, use your white pencil to draw a gingko branch on the upper part of the paper. The branch should extend halfway down the page.
Now, turn your attention to the bottom left of the page, where you’ll draw another branch. Finish up by drafting out lettering and calligraphy. “Wishing You Comfort and Peace” is a lovely sympathy card sentiment. However, you can personalize your message to fit whatever feels right to you.
2. Ink Over the Draft
Once you’ve drawn your draft, use Arabic gold watercolor and a straight dip pen (fitted with a Nikko G nib) to trace over the gingko branch illustration at the top.
Continue to draw until you’ve traced over all of the stems and leaves with gold.
Now, turn your attention to the lettering. For nice color contrast, use Bleed Proof White ink and your favorite pen to do so. Take it slow! Handmade paper often causes nibs to snag on the upstrokes.
Then, use your gold watercolor to trace over the gingko branch draft on the bottom left. Once you’re sure all the ink has dried, gently erase the pencil draft lines.
3. Make a Tasteful Envelope
Sympathy cards call for elegant but basic envelopes. Focus on creating calligraphy with a traditional feel … nothing too whimsical. For this envelope, I chose to write Janet Style calligraphy and Walker’s Copperplate ink. I put two serene postage stamps on the upper right to cover the additional fee for the wax seal that I’m applying to the back flap.
If you have need for this tutorial, know that it will be very much appreciated by the bereaved family. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to share this project with you! I’m feeling especially grateful after Monday’s events that I have the TPK community — and a beautiful, creative life.