Picking up my pen

Calligraphy practice

Just about 10 years ago I came home from a visit to my parents’ house with a small box of my dad’s old calligraphy stuff. Like most girls who grew up in the 80s and 90s, I had spent plenty of time playing around with “calligraphy markers” and block lettering. I always enjoyed that and couldn’t wait to see what would happen with an actual dip pen. The result was this (December 11, 3013): 

December-11-2013 Calligraphy

Yikes! I would play around a bit but it was not until 2015 when I really got serious about it. This time I decided that I was ready to put some effort into it. I started to follow calligraphers on Instagram, I purchased the right tools, studied up, and found myself in love with Engrosser’s Script. This was when “modern calligraphy” was gaining popularity — you know, the bouncy beautiful letters. But as trendy as it was, I was drawn to this classic style.

In 2016 I invested in myself and took a calligraphy workshop taught by the incredibly talented David Grimes and Joi Hunt. That course completely changed the way I thought about lettering and it pushed me in the right direction. Here’s a sample that I lettered in June 2016:


Well, around this time we encountered a series of life events that started to change things: layoffs, new jobs, kids’ school activities, a pandemic… it was like someone had set up dominos and one by one they kept falling. I didn’t have the energy to put into a lettering practice, so by the end of the year it fell by the wayside.

In 2021 I tried a modern calligraphy boot camp, but… it just didn’t feel right. So the pen nibs and bottles of ink were once again relegated to a shelf in my craft room. But lately I have started to get the urge to dust everything off and begin again. So that’s what I did yesterday. 

I mixed up a new batch of walnut ink, I printed out a fresh set of guidelines, I prepped a new nib, and I spent a quiet hour noodling around, becoming reacquainted with the feel of my oblique pen. It wasn’t pretty (certainly not by my standards), but I reminded myself of how long it had been.

Calligraphy practice

In a way, though, it was like riding a bike — I hadn’t forgotten everything. 

Calligraphy practice

A while back there was an Instagram challenge called #handletteredabcs and I’ve decided to work through the alphabet again. Today was a sheet of minuscule a. This took about 30 minutes and I was still working too fast. I need to focus on slowing down, breathing, and my pen grip.

Calligraphy practice

I know I said I was throwing in the towel on Blog365, but maybe I won’t after all… at least for another 35 days since I have 25 letters and 10 digits to go! 😉

… Anyway, I’m excited to start this journey again and see how my work progresses over the next few months! Expect a lot of calligraphy content in the next few months!

One thought on “Picking up my pen

  1. Debbie

    I love this! It brings back so many memories of having my own pen set and discovering this fancy way of writing. I also had the wax seal set, with 4 colored wax candles and a letter stamp to seal my initials. Maybe I can share these skills with my granddaughters some day. I’m excited for you to be doing something you love. It looks like you’ve still got it!


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