The year has just started, and it’s time to start thinking about what you want to achieve in 2017! If one of your goals for this year is to learn calligraphy, then you can follow the instructions below to learn calligraphy in two months. As you’re learning, don’t forget to be kind and patient with yourself. Teaching yourself a new skill takes some time and self-discipline, but I know for sure that you can do it! Ready? Let’s go:
1. Compile a 3-Ring Binder for your “Learn Calligraphy” Materials
It’s easiest to learn calligraphy if you keep yourself organized! A binder will help you to keep your notes and your practice all in one place. I’d divide the binder up into two sections: “Notes” and “Worksheets”.
2. Get the Proper Supplies
Once you’ve prepared your binder, you’ll want to make sure that you have the right supplies to learn calligraphy. You can find a detailed list of these supplies in The Ultimate Modern Calligraphy Starter Kit, including nib, ink, and pen recommendations. Success comes a bit easier when you have the right tools! Remember to take notes as you are reading the starter kit post, and store the notes in your three ring binder. Just jot down anything that catches your eye, or anything important that you think you may forget in the future! For example: “Don’t forget to clean manufacturer’s oils off of new nibs!” or “Nikko G is the best beginner nib.”
3. Gather Preliminary Information
There’s a post on the TPK website called “The Beginner’s Guide to Modern Calligraphy“. It’s a must-read for anyone who is new to dip pen calligraphy! In the post, you’ll learn all the basics of calligraphy from how to insert a nib to how to grip the pen. Give yourself 20-30 minutes to read the post, watch all the videos in it, and take notes to put in your binder.
4. Complete the Amy Style Calligraphy Worksheet Set and Video Course
Amy Style calligraphy is a writing style that doesn’t have any slant to it. For that reason, I recommend the printable Amy Style Calligraphy worksheet set for those who are just starting out with a dip pen. If you don’t have to focus on achieving a right-leaning slant, you see, you can devote your energy to learning to exert and let up on nib pressure. You’ll also be able to concentrate on keeping both tines of the nib evenly on the paper!
The Amy Style worksheet has an optional video course component, which I would absolutely recommend. The video course will show you how to write with a dip pen, give you extensive demonstrations on connecting letters, and teach you how to calligraph an envelope. Again, as you fill out the worksheet and watch the videos, don’t forget to take notes! It’s much easier to remember things when you jot them down.
You should give yourself 3-4 weeks to complete the worksheet and video course. Work through the worksheet set and the videos at least 4 times per week, and make sure each practice session is 15 minutes or longer. If it takes longer than 3-4 weeks, don’t worry about it! You should learn at your own pace, whatever that pace may be. As you make breakthroughs, write them down in your notes! You might write, for example: “Don’t hold the pen at a vertical angle,” or “Remember to dip the nib in ink just past the hole in the nib.” If you finish the worksheet, but you don’t feel confident in your skills, print and fill it out again! That’s the upside of having a printable worksheet: you can print it out as many times as you need to in order to learn. On that note, you can use a three-hole punch to make the worksheet suitable for storing in your binder. Just make sure you take the pages out to practice on! You don’t want the metal rings of the binder to get in the way as you try to write.
5. Take a Week-Long Break to Test Out Your Skills
After you complete the Amy Style worksheet and video course, take a week to test out your new skills on a real-life application: envelope calligraphy! Choose two special recipients to send mail to (you can always check out the More Love Letters letter requests), and calligraph envelopes for them! You will know how to calligraph an envelope from the last unit in the Amy Style video course.
The mail you send doesn’t have to be fancy: it can just be a white envelope with black ink! If you want to, you can take it to the next level and make your own envelopes. Just make sure that you create both of your envelopes within the span of a week. Once you finish the second envelope, fill out the Not Your Average Calligraphy Drills Sheet.
6. Learn a Slanted Calligraphy Style
You can choose any slanted style from the TPK catalog (Kaitlin, Janet, Beth, Flourish Formal). However, if I had to recommend a style, I’d recommend the Kaitlin (pictured above), just because it also has a video course. (As a side note, my 2017 goal is to create a video course for all worksheet sets — but for now, the Amy and the Kaitlin are the two that have an accompanying video course!)
If you’re right-handed, an oblique pen will probably help you to achieve that right-leaning slant. Oblique pens are special pens that will help you to write slanted styles; you can learn more about them (and which one to purchase) in this blog post. The Kaitlin Style video course will show you how to use one!
Again, make sure you give yourself 3-4 weeks to complete the worksheet and video course. As you write, take notes and keep them in your binder along with the Amy Style and Kaitlin Style worksheet sets. An important thing to keep in mind at this point is that your goal is not to memorize letterforms. That’s a lot to remember with two calligraphy styles under your belt! Instead, keep the “Alphabet” pages from both worksheet sets at hand, and you can refer to them as exemplars when you create projects in the future.
7. Continue to Create Projects
Once you complete the Kaitlin Style video course and worksheet, you should be about two months into your calligraphy journey. Now, it’s time to delve into more challenging projects! Remember to keep the alphabets from your calligraphy worksheets handy for reference, and continue to use the drills sheets and implement your skills to keep your muscle memory fresh! Calligraphy is a “use it or lose it” type of thing. Here is a list of eight tutorials you can try out that will help you to use what you learned:
- Calligraphy Ampersand Art Tutorial
- Abstract Watercolor Bubbles Creative Envelope (from the Three Creative Envelope Design Mini-Tutorials post)
- “Things I Love” List (from the Four Artistic Calligraphy Variations post)
- Roses and Swirls Envelope Art
- Artistic Watercolor Birthday Card Tutorial
- Lace Envelope Art
- Simple Mother’s Day Card Tutorial
- Geographical Decorated Envelope (from the Three Decorated Envelopes Mini-Tutorials post)
Try to create at least one project per week, for a total of two months’ worth of creating. When you create the last project, compare it to the very first worksheet page that you filled out. You’ll be able to to notice a marked difference! If you’re interested in learning a third (fourth, and/or fifth) calligraphy style, you also can move on to another Learn Calligraphy worksheet.
8. Reward Yourself with Supplies as Your Proficiency Grows
As you become more and more comfortable with using a dip pen, you can branch out and try new supplies! New and different supplies will challenge you to step outside of your comfort zone and open the doors to creating varied projects. You can find a list of intermediate calligraphy supply recommendations by clicking here!
If you follow the steps in this blog post, you will be comfortable using a dip pen within two months. Remember though, that you will never stop improving as long as you are creating projects with your dip pen! I first picked up a dip pen five years ago, and I still find myself improving. Every single calligraphy-related project that you make is a building block, so keep making projects! I know you’ll be impressed at what you can achieve with some time and patience.
Thanks so much for reading TPK, and have a fantastic weekend!