Write Beautiful: a class in modern calligraphy

I’ve always admired people who can make their handwriting look pretty. I’d love to have perfectly neat writing and be able to produce gorgeous handlettered designs. Alas, I’m more of a hasty scribbler. My writing was once described as ‘boyish’, which is a strange adjective to go for but definitely wasn’t being used as synonymous with ‘artistic, tidy and frameable’.

But I do, of course, believe that words can be beautiful in themselves. It’s why I write novels. What’s more, I think a lot of us feel that way, hence the popularity of inspirational quotes on Pinterest.

So this weekend I booked onto a three hour modern calligraphy workshop, to try to learn how to make words look as good as they sound in my head.

Calligraphy, n.

from Ancient Greek kalos and graphos, i.e. ‘beautiful writing’

First of all, let me show you how lovely the set up was for our workshop.

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Yes, that’s free coffee and chocolate buttons on the tables

The class was held above the Barn Cafe at the local farm and our teacher was Hilary Kemp of Chassy Calligraphy. I’d recommend whiling away some time looking through her designs because they’re just amazing. And she was a very good instructor.

Here’s a peak at the beginners’ exercises in our workbooks.

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Once I’d got to grips with the pen (Is that a pun? Was it intended? I’m not really sure) I found these exercises to practise upstrokes, downstrokes and simple combinations to be so relaxing. I have an A4 page covered in them!

Now it turns out modern calligraphy takes a lot of practice and three hours was not long enough for me to become a master of the art. However, I did have a go at writing out a quote from A Map of the Sky for fun at the end of the workshop.


‘We’ve all been washed up on this sea of unfinished stories’ – A Map of the Sky

In this age of Instagram I’d love to have something flawless to take a picture of and show off straight away, but the reality is I’m going to have to put in a lot more time on this. I’m excited by how much I learned in the space of a Saturday morning though, and will definitely be continuing to practise.

In the meantime, I have ink to wash off my hands!


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