As I have mentioned ad nauseum, thanks to Instagram, I have been able to find a great group of calligraphy enthusiasts who share my love for pen and ink. Back in February, I learned that two of my favorite calligraphers, Joi Hunt (Bien Fait Calligraphy) and David Grimes (Masgrimes), would be hosting a workshop down in SoHo. I knew, instantly, that I had to figure out a way to make this happen.
I hustled to get a little extra copywriting work and excitedly secured my place for “A Foundation in Script Writing with Bmas Calligraphy” (at the early bird price!). Then I just had to wait for March 12 to get here. Being the nut that I am, I started to get nervous about going into the city by myself. I think the last time I went into NYC alone was back in 2004! Yeah, it had been a while. I had maps, I had apps, I had Plans B and C. Luckily for me, absolutely nothing went wrong. The weather was perfect, my timing was great, and I didn’t get lost.
I was also not the first one there (something that usually happens). I immediately recognized two other IG friends. It is always weird and wonderful to meet people in real life that you only know online. Surreal, in a way (but a good way). We made our way up to the workspace upstairs at the Lofts at Prince. David and Joi greeted everyone and both were so warm and welcoming! I felt nervous and awkward meeting these calligraphy rock stars, but they were awesome.
Once everyone arrived, we did introductions and then got into the meat of the workshop. As the title would indicate, we focussed on foundations. That is, we studied five strokes and how to manipulate the tines on our nibs to form these strokes correctly.
It is not as easy as you’d think. It was seriously a whole lot of study and work (that I am still continuing). David did a fabulous job diagramming the strokes and explaining everything. Joi and David were more than happy to answer our questions, as well as spend time with each student in the class. This one-on-one time was, in my opinion, what really made this workshop stand out. To be able to watch an expert calligrapher (though both are so modest, I’m sure neither would want me to use the word “expert” — but yeah they are!) show you how to make a V-stroke, and have their work on you practice paper? Pretty damn cool.
The information I left with was so worth the price of the workshop. (And beyond that, I made new calligrafriends — and how can you put a value on that?!) I have been thinking about my letters in a whole new way: not as letters, but as a series of strokes. What cemented this type of thinking a was group exercise we did towards the end. David wrote a word and then, in groups, we wrote the word one stroke at a time. Each person drew a single stroke and we passed the sheet along until one by one, the word was finished. You can see my group’s work on one of the sheets in the photo above. (Allegory is like 26 or 27 strokes!.)
We also discussed Copperplate vs. Engrosser’s Script vs. Roundhand. We talked about nibs, about vintage nibs (and Joi gave everyone their very own vintage nib — I love this Blanzy 2552 below!), about paper, about pen holders, about ink… So much material was covered!
My only regret was hastily leaving without getting a photo with Joi and David. Studying with these two lovely people was such an honor and I am feeling so encouraged and inspired to continue honing my calligraphy skills and look critically at my work to find out where I need to focus so I can improve. I hope the Dynamic Duo find their way back to New York for another workshop in the future. I would definitely attend!
I’m going to be perfectly honest with you: I do not have awesome self-esteem. Like I wrote in my last post, I’m always comparing myself to others, seeking perfection (which, really, can almost never be obtained). In this age of social media, it’s so easy to let yourself feel down about whatever particular interest is important to you at the moment. Trying to lose weight? Someone will always work out harder, weigh less, eat better. Into decorating your planner? Someone is always going to have more money to buy nicer embellisments, have neater handwriting, be more organized. It doesn’t end, does it?
So when I really started practicing Copperplate, I was caught off-guard by how incredibly welcoming, helpful, and encouraging the online calligraphy community is (especially on Instagram). Artists freely share information on Periscope, they answer your questions, they will demonstrate a stroke or a letter multiple times so you understand. It is so very cool and so refreshing! And I think that’s what’s kept me working on it even though I am far from great. As the saying goes, “Don’t compare your Chapter 1 to someone else’s Chapter 20.” We all have to start somewhere and keep plugging along.
Since I’ll be spending all day at a workshop tomorrow studying the fundamentals of Engrosser’s Script, I thought it was a good time to compare where I am right now to where I was a few months ago. When I first brought home my dad’s old dip pens, I fooled around a little bit, wrote out a Richard Brautigan quote, and then got frustrated and put them away for quite a while. That’s the example on the top. Underneath is an example that I wrote in December 2015. Markedly better, but no shade and a lot of improper letter forms.
And here’s the sample I wrote out this morning. Still so far from where it needs to be, but much better than just a few months ago!
It is definitely encouraging and a good way to remind myself that I’m making improvements every time I pick up that pen. I know that having instruction from two incredibly talented calligraphers (David Grimes and Joi Hunt) is going to make a big difference in my work. I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes!
Well, time just got away from me today and by the time I had a chance to take a photo of the yarn I’m using for my scarf, the light wasn’t any good. So that will have to wait until tomorrow. In the meantime, I’m just sharing today’s photo from the extended #handletteredABCs challenge on IG — writing the entire alphabet. This was probably my fourth or fifth attempt, and right around the letter “v” I realized that my dinner was starting to burn. That explains the funky-looking w, x, y, and z!
Still, any practice is good practice, and a blog post is still a blog post, right? I just wanted to keep my word.
For now, I’m calling it a night. I have tea and a donut and my cozy bed calling my name! Crochet stuff tomorrow, I promise!