I’ve been looking forward to making a beautiful calligraphy birthday card all week. It’s for a TPK reader who just turned 15 years old (and is deftly making her way through the intermediate course — go, Quinn)! As I brainstormed ideas, I needed to make sure that the card checked a few boxes: first, it had to be eye-catching and inspirational. Second, I wanted it to have a festive feel. Finally, it needed to take well under an hour (i.e. one toddler nap time length) to make from start to finish.
A couple of days ago, I released the Dancing Pen Calligraphy Medallions Worksheet set, so I’m in “medallions mode” right now. I love calligraphy medallions because they look intricate, but they’re simple to make if you just take it one step at a time. Thus, this birthday card uses a calligraphy medallion as its base design, and I threw in some text and extra embellishments for a dose of festiveness! Here’s how to make this card:
1. Gather + Prep Your Supplies
First, take a piece of black cardstock and cut it down to 11″ x 5.5″ (appx. 28 cm x 14 cm). Then, fold the cardstock in half. If you have a bone folder, use it to make the card’s crease crisp and clean!
Next, cut out the template from the Dancing Pen Medallions Worksheet. Center the template on the card, then trace around it with a white pencil. Finish up by dividing the template it into eight equal parts as shown in the worksheet.
2. Draft Out the First Strokes
Normally, there’s no need to draw pencil drafts for calligraphy medallions. In this case, though, it’s best to draft out the first strokes to ensure an orderly birthday greeting. So, go to page 4 of the Dancing Pen Medallions Worksheet (“Foxtrot Medallion”), and use your white pencil to make a draft of step 1 on the card.
3. Add Ink
Once you’ve got your pencil draft, grab a Nikko G nib and white ink. Use those supplies to write the the eight lines of the “Happy Birthday to You” song along the upstroke lines of the shapes you just drafted. (Divide the lines of the song as shown in the photo below.)
Next, use a high-flex nib (like the Brause EF66) and Arabic gold watercolor to trace over the rest of the stroke. I like to use an oblique pen for this step because it seems to keep my hand out of the way!
Once you’ve traced over the pencil draft lines, use your gold watercolor to complete step 2 of the medallion (per the worksheet).
Now, use white ink to complete steps 3 and 4 of the medallion instructions.
4. Erase and Embellish
Once your ink has dried, use a black eraser to erase any pencil draft lines. Then, use your white ink to add several dashed lines to the center of the medallion. If you want to, you can use your white ink to enhance your gold curlicue strokes by drawing parallel downstroke lines. This will give the medallion a more layered look.
5. Send Your Card in a 5.5″ x 5.5″ (14 cm x 14 cm) Square Envelope
The square dimensions are part of what makes this medallion calligraphy birthday card card interesting! To complement the square component, try sending the card in a square envelope. You can either purchase 5.5″ x 5.5″ envelopes (I see some on envelopes.com), or DIY your envelope using the template from The Letter Writer’s Complete Resource, which is what I did.
To me, this is the perfect birthday card: festive, impressive, and easy to complete while a toddler (with a particular affinity for spilling ink) is fast asleep! I hope that you try your hand at making one, too. Have a great weekend, and thanks so much for creating with TPK!