New Hobby | Calligraphy

photo 1 In the many elementary schools I attended, handwriting received a grade. My handwriting grades were pretty good in primary school, and I was always happy to receive a ‘E’ for excellent in handwriting.  I come from an immigrant family, so my parents were oftentimes uncomfortable with writing in English. Even though I knew they could totally do it, I was happy to write out envelopes and “thank you” cards as they dictated. More than over a decade now, I have been typing everything and not writing anything. Sure, I have to write down notes and make lists, but who hand writes anything anymore? Everything is done in email or clicking on small icons on phones. My hand written words have suffered, and now look more like a doctor’s prescription note. (So glad those prescriptions are now typed.) I decided that I wanted to take up calligraphy as a hobby. I went to my local craft store and bought some materials. It was a bust. The ink didn’t flow correctly, the nib was all wrong, and I couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong. What did I do? I took a calligraphy class last year with the amazing and beautiful Maybelle Imasa-Stukuls at the Makeshift Society in San Francisco. She provided everything that we needed to start. The right type of paper, ink, pen, and nib for all us enthusiastic beginners. I realized that it was imperative to use the correct supplies and to practice, practice, practice. photo 2 I took a quick snapshot of her desk set up admiring all her work and simple examples that she demonstrated. And then it was our turn to try it out. At first, I was so happy to find that my pen was working! Sadly, my handwriting wasn’t doing me any favors. As I wrote and rewrote again and again, I realized what typing for so many years had done to my writing. It sucked. photo 3 For a while after my son went to bed, I would bring out my calligraphy supplies and practice. If it was a particularly bad day, practicing calligraphy became cathartic. I was hooked and even had my first wedding invitation assignment. I mixed black and white ink to make a beautiful gray pigment that went perfectly with the blue envelopes. invitations By no means will I ever go into calligraphy as a professional, but it has become a great hobby. Since I can’t really practice piano after my son goes to bed, this is something I can do in the evening hours. Unfortunately, I do suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, so I need to take many long breaks away from this activity. But always refreshed and happy to go back to it when I’ve recovered. Processed with VSCOcam with g3 preset

IMG_6087For black ink, I mostly use Kuretake Sumi Ink. It is very rich and dark, and flows beautifully. Higgins Eternal black ink is also a very good one to use. For white ink, I have used both of Dr. Martin’s Bleed Proof White and Pen White. I’ve also used both for mixing with black to make gray, and it worked out great. The only thing about white ink, is that you should add distilled water to your desired thickness. For nibs, I suggest reading this awesome post on Besotted. I use the Zebra G and the Blue Pumpkin nibs, and love them. For small and super fine line projects, I have loved using the Hunt 102. Also note, that not all paper is the same! The smoother the better. Nibs will oftentimes catch on the fibers in paper, so find real practice pads to start.

{All images by Nancy Cho for Uncle Owly.}

 

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