In 2014, the TPK blog was two years old, and I occasionally wrote about my endeavors in learning calligraphy. It was difficult not to notice that readers really connected with calligraphy-related posts, which led to a revolutionary idea. “Why don’t you make a printable calligraphy worksheet?” my husband, Hernán, suggested.
The Inspiration for Printable Calligraphy Worksheets
In 2021, printable calligraphy worksheets seem like such a no-brainer. You can find worksheets (both free and paid) all over the TPK website, and worksheets abound on the internet. But, back in early 2014, printable worksheets weren’t ubiquitous. As far as I know, no one was making any printable calligraphy worksheets, and, to be honest, I was dubious about the idea.
However, Hernán insisted. “No, really! We had this workbook when I was in school called Coquito that taught handwriting. It was actually pretty fun to fill out.” We looked up photos of Coquito online, and I used those photos as inspiration to make a little two-page worksheet in Photoshop using scans of my calligraphy.
I had thought — incorrectly — that people wouldn’t want to go to the hassle of printing out a worksheet and then filling it out. Instead, the response was overwhelmingly positive. Readers wrote asking for more worksheets, and Flow Magazine ran an article about the calligraphy worksheet. That prompted me to make a much longer version of the Flourish Formal Worksheet, which I started selling in June of 2014 for $5.00.
As my calligraphy style repertoire developed, I created more worksheets. The worksheets got better as my calligraphy and computer skills improved! As I’ve gotten more and more user feedback, current calligraphy worksheets only vaguely resemble their 2014 predecessors … but I’m glad that I took the leap and created that first worksheet.
How TPK’s Printable Worksheets Have Changed
People have been filling out worksheets from this website for eight years now, so I’ve been able to implement eight years’ worth of feedback from users. Here’s how TPK’s calligraphy worksheets have changed:
- All worksheets (with the exception of Cocktail Casual) have slant lines. When I was a beginner, I didn’t realize the importance of slant lines, so I never included them in calligraphy worksheets.
- Worksheets come with optional Intensive Practice packets. Each calligraphy worksheet set has a core worksheet, then it has practice packets with pages that focus intensely on one character or word.
- Worksheets have an intuitive layout. When I made that first $5.00 Flourish Formal worksheet, I wasn’t exactly sure how to teach calligraphy. As I taught in-person workshops and got worksheet user feedback, it became clear how to effectively present information.
Printable Worksheets: Advantages and Disadvantages
I love having printable worksheets available on this website. It’s so cool that anyone, anywhere, can purchase and download a worksheet anytime and start learning a new calligraphy style right then! Worksheet users span the globe from the India to the UK to Australia and all the countries in between.
I also like that learners can print particular worksheet pages as many times as they want to. Repetition is so important when it comes to learning a new skill! It’s also nearly impossible to lose worksheet files (you can always email me if you can’t find yours), which can be nice for those of us with a tendency to misplace things. I’m really grateful to be able to offer many worksheets for free, which I couldn’t do if the worksheets were tangible.
The main disadvantages to selling printable worksheets revolve around technical difficulties. Many users don’t realize that their PDF reader isn’t up to date, so worksheets end up printing out wonky. The workaround is easy: update your PDF reader (or just download Adobe Reader for free). But still. It’s annoying to print out a worksheet only to be greeted with imposing black boxes.
There’s also the issue of paper. In the US, it’s easy to find laserjet printer paper that works well for calligraphy in the US. Outside of the US, though, it can take some trial and error to figure out which printer paper will work best for worksheets! (If you get a non-compatible paper, your ink will bleed.) The final disadvantage to selling digital calligraphy worksheets is a tiny issue with piracy … sometimes, TPK worksheet material shows up in for-profit packets that other people have put together. But, that doesn’t happen often because I think for the most part, readers are really supportive of TPK materials.
Right now, I’m working — very slowly! — on a cursive penmanship worksheet. The worksheet is based on the letterforms in this 1903 book, and it will walk learners through how to write elegant cursive. At the rate I’m going, the worksheet will be ready in early 2022, but it’s going to be worth the wait!
When it boils down to it, calligraphy worksheets are the lifeblood of the TPK website, and probably what the site is best known for. I never, ever could have imagined that would be the case! I essentially made that first printable worksheet to prove to my husband that his idea wasn’t a great one … and I’m grateful to have been proven wrong time and time again.
I want to end this with a little thank you to anyone who has ever downloaded a TPK worksheet, free or paid. With every stroke of your pen, you continue to inspire me. I hope that it was interesting to read about the story behind printable calligraphy worksheets! Write on, and look for a fun tutorial on the blog this weekend. The autumn weather has me chomping at the bit to get cozy and make a creative project!