I absolutely love Instagram and have spent many an hour scanning it for inspiration. During our wedding planning stage, my account was full of wedding suggestions…but since then it’s all illustrators, makers and puppies (super adorable pups)!
I started to notice images of lovely calligraphy and upon further investigation I discovered these were mainly pictures from workshops. It looked like fun and I thought that this could be a pretty useful skill to have in my Frog & Pencil arsenal, so I decided to give it a whirl!
Way back in early October I found a Beginners Modern Calligraphy Workshop with Quill London. Having zero experience but a love for typography this was the right choice for me, however there are other options for those who have a little skill already. It costs £49 for a 2.5 hour session with refreshments and you get to keep all the equipment you use which I think’s a pretty good price. Now, these guys are popular! I signed up in October for a date in early December, but you’ll be happy to know that they’re always adding new sessions.
Thursday 3rd finally came around and it felt good to get out of Norwich and head to London for the day. Our workshop was being held at West Elm, which is a store that sells gorgeous home wares. I was under the assumption that Quill were based in the shop. After wandering around a little confused trying to find their department, I stumbled upon people setting up the workshop in West Elm’s cosy coffee shop and we were ready to begin.
There were around fourteen of us and the bunch of girls I sat with were really friendly, chatty and all first timers like me; I instantly felt comfortable. It was pretty funny when the first thing we all did before sitting down was take pictures of the table…I wonder how many blog posts are up from this session?
Megan Riera led the workshop and began by telling us a little bit about her background. She then went on to explain that this workshop would be split into three parts. Part one: learning how to use the pen to create different strokes. Part two: copying the alphabet. Part three: writing our chosen word or short phrase. Megan also mentioned that calligraphy is actually pretty difficult when you first start…and she was right, it’s a tricky mistress!
It was a bit like Christmas having this lovely bundle of goodies to open and we were all given ink, the pen, a nib, paper and instructions for each section of the workshop.
For the first part we learnt how to use the pen correctly and how to adjust pressure to create different strokes. Key point being, apply pressure on the downstrokes and release pressure on the upstrokes. An additional important tidbit is to keep the nib pointing to the top of the paper as you move your hand up, down & across. Mine kept veering to the left, as if on auto pilot to write; my brain just could not get it.
I enjoyed this part but the curly-wurly symbols were problematic and I certainly had vortex envy to those who could make these look beautiful…but I was getting there.
Symbols and pressures ‘conquered’ we moved on to the alphabet. Watching Megan whip out letters effortlessly was pretty impressive…I’m still trying to master the squiggle!
We all cracked on with copying the alphabet and I loved some of those letters, like C, C is a breeze. However, B became my nemesis…damn it, that’s one tough cookie!
We came to the part of the session where we would start putting letters together to make a word or a short phrase. The night before I was thinking about short phrases to use and considered my tag line ‘creating bespoke stationery & other handmade loveliness’. Ha! Well that would have been hilarious and ridiculously long. I just about got to completing ‘Frog & Pencil’…but it’s good to be ambitious, right?
This was probably the most difficult section, stringing letters together. It’s how to join them and deciding which way to write the letter that was hard. To help with this, we were encouraged not to look at the alphabet we had previously been copying as that would hinder the flow and to try to scribe everything organically.
Megan helped me out by writing a few examples of ‘Frog’ to copy (I wonder if you can find which lovely ‘Frog’s’ are hers?) that I found extremely beneficial. I liked the concept of playing with spacing and the letters sitting at different heights alongside varying the lines weight, and I feel this will come after some practice.
The time just flew past and I thoroughly relished my workshop with Quill. The atmosphere was relaxed, everyone was lovely and Megan was supportive; I’d certainly recommend this session to anyone who is thinking about trying calligraphy.
I feel that this would be such a great skill for me to learn, especially for the future of Frog & Pencil. Once I feel confident, I can write pleasingly addressed envelopes for invitations or simply use my own crafted words in my designs; there is plenty of potential.
So with that, I’m going to practice little and often and hopefully it will start to feel more natural in the coming months. Thanks to Megan and Quill London, I had a lovely afternoon learning a new creative skill and I hope to sign up for the next stage soon!
I’m off to get inky fingers, have a wonderful Sunday.