Design: Have you tried Modern Calligraphy?

Design: Have you tried Modern Calligraphy?

In the spirit of trying new things – I recently headed to the beautiful The Tartan Blanket Co. HQ for an evening workshop. In the company of my wonderful friend Jo (and furnished with a large glass of red wine) we settled down to receive an introduction to Modern Calligraphy.

Hosed by Rachael and Cara of Paper Parade – we were soon learning about the different types of inks and pens available, exactly how we should be holding our pens, and the trick to getting thick and thin lines with a dip nib. As opposed to a traditional font – like copper plate – modern calligraphy is far more free flowing; but I soon found that it’s still pretty precise!

Rachael and Cara explained that they had been learning calligraphy themselves for just over two years – resulting in them opening a studio in Morningside. Some subsequent stalking has led me to discover a stunning range of greeting cards, gift tags, and other bits of stationary.

They were quite happy to demonstrate different words and letters which really gave an insight into how much time goes into each of their products. I imagined that someone ‘practised’ would just write words at speed but actually, the care they take over each letter is incredible. After only five minutes of trying calligraphy myself, my hand began to hurt and I realised just how much work they must put in.

I was really grateful for their patience and level of explanation – I began by making the tiniest of marks, praying that at least some of them would be neat. But with their encouragement I soon had the confidence to put more pressure on the nib and really began to enjoy myself.

Cara and Rachael sent us home with our own nib, holder and ink to continue practising everything we had learned. So practice is exactly what I’ve bene doing since…

Practice makes perfect?

That evening when I got home I spent some time just copying letters from the worksheets we have been given. Finding it addictive – I also spent my lunch break the next day writing out words that just came to mind!

Then a  few days later – faced with the task of writing 25 Christmas cards for the children in Katie’s class –  I thought I may as well do the envelopes with pretty writing too. I doubt any of the recipients – aged five – were impressed with the effort but it was a great chance to practise!

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Having missed out on the workshop Charlotte asked me to write some names for her Christmas name setting as well. Although happy to help – I was slightly worried I’d mess up! She had chosen a thicker card that I found really absorbed the ink and caught the thinner nib as well. I’ve found that it really is something you warm up into and finding the right angle for your pen can just take time. I was much happier with the names I wrote last – and if I were doing it again would practise more first!

The future?

Picking up on my desire to practise it more, Mike has bought me enough ink and nibs for Christmas for me to start my own business. So the obvious way forward is just to find more projects!

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He also found this great book by Lucy Edmonds which contains loads of information and has been a great reminder of everything I learned from Paper Parade. It takes you through everything you need to do step-by-step taking you through to forming your own style of Modern Calligraphy. I loved that each section has pages with dots or lines giving space for you to practise as well.

Mike has given me loads of different nibs, brushes and self-inking pens as well; so it’s been a great chance to revise, practise and continue to try out new things.

Has this made a difference?

Recently I wrote about my desire to actually find things that make a difference to my life. I found that succeeding in my resolution to read 52 books in a year was just under whelming. With calligraphy, I similarly have to find time for it – to just relax and focus on in (perhaps with a coffee in hand) – but I feel a much greater sense of achievement.

I really enjoyed helping Charlotte with her table setting – although I still would’ve liked to do a better job it was nice to be able to help a friend. I wrote a thank you note for a colleague (with a sneaky bar of chocolate) and imagined that she’d really enjoy finding it. In short, I’m finding it’s a skill that I can practise that makes me feel happy and means I can hopefully pass that happiness to others. I may not be starting a business a time soon but that’s a nice place to be!


Have you ever tried Modern Calligraphy? This isn’t a sponsored post – I paid to attend the workshop –  but if you’d like to try (and are local to Edinburgh) then keep an eye out on the Paper Parade website for details of their workshops.

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