I have to confess that up until a couple days ago, I hadn’t picked up a nib and ink for nearly three weeks! I have mentioned that you can’t ‘will’ yourself to become better at lettering, you need to put the time + effort in; although I believe that sentiment wholeheartedly I did find myself wishing I could get better without having to pull out my supplies. The holiday season took a lot out of me with work, visitors and such, so I never had that extra energy after my 12-15 hour days to pull out my nibs and get cracking. I was also plagued with a bout of extreme insecurity, after practicing some legitimate calligraphy exercises and my letters looking more like a ransom note than calligraphy, I was feeling a bit dejected. Monday I started playing again and I even gave those ‘ransom’ notes a second look, you know what? They weren’t as horrible as I remembered! There may be hope for me yet. Some of the tools that have helped me get back on track are finding some guidelines that are a good size for me, I have a download available for you if you want to use the same ones (they were made for Copperplate practice). I have found a paper that I really like practicing on, it’s smooth, but not too slick (formerly I tried mixed media pads and bristol paper both were a little tricky) the paper is made by Canson and is the Pro-Layout for markers; bonus is that it is semi-transparent so you can slide your guidelines underneath and see them nice and clearly–so helpful! I have become more and more attached to using the weirdly shaped oblique pen holder with the Zebra G nibs, I didn’t use it for the above lettering (this was the Blue Pumpkin another current favorite), but I am finding the oblique pen helps me with angle and being a little more fluid. It seems I naturally want to letter like Frankenstein would (if he was into calligraphy and all) just choppy and uncoordinated, so the oblique pen holder has given me a little more fluidity in my strokes. The last thing I will mention is finding exemplars to study and re-create, these are usually alphabets with both upper and lowercase samples, sometimes you may find some with words (I once spent a few hours writing out the word ‘minimum’ to practice connecting). The Paper Bride has a really pretty + simple alphabet/practice guide that you can download here.
In my limited experience with lettering I can tell you that the tools make a big difference, if your paper is too slick or has too much texture you may run into problems with how your nib reacts to the substrate (paper). Calligraphy can be a relatively inexpensive hobby (as compared to my photography one), I am not including classes in this but quality nibs, holders, ink and paper can be procured for under $20, so don’t skimp on your tools. Let me know if you have any questions!
P.S. I had The Directory nice and loaded with resources for you for this post, but I must have accidentally deleted it (still learning how to use this here blog) so I will work on getting that updated again this weekend.
Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She is obsessed with hand lettering and also enjoys taking a photo or two. She recently moved from the city to the country with her husband and two pups.