I LOVE calligraphy and the current hand-lettered trend that is so big right now. So much so that I bought a set of calligraphy pens, nibs, and inks, and a couple of books on the modern calligraphy art. I figured, 'hey, I'm an artist, painting and calligraphy go hand in hand, easy peasy right?'

Wrong, very wrong.

I have a great respect for anyone who can make those tiny delicate letters you see on beautiful wedding envelopes. I mean seriously, who knew it was so darn hard? Now I don't think my hand writing is that bad in general, it's certainly not horrible. But you stick a calligraphy pen in my hand all of the sudden my fingers forget how to move and there are ink blobs all over the paper. 

So when I was contacted by my friend Marcie from Celebrating Love by Marcie to do calligraphy for a styled shoot we were doing together for our local Pursuit Community, I knew I had to come up with an easier way. I had an idea in my head that I had been playing around with and since she only wanted a few place cards and a cocktail drink sign we talked about my idea and I decided to give it a go. 

(The images below are actually ones I did today, because as my life goes, the day of the shoot was crazy for me and I ended up being late and crying in my car on the way because I was sure that if only I could do real calligraphy my day would have gone perfectly smooth and that my being late had ruined the shoot for everybody...it was honestly just one of those days.)


How to Fake Calligraphy

Calligraphy pen and nibs
Ink (my ink was dried up so I ended up using Winsor & Newton Gouache)


Preparing the Document

We wanted to use kraft paper so I cut some scrapbook paper down to size to so I could print on it. Once I had the text for the cocktail sign I set up a page on my computer (I used Adobe InDesign, but Word or something like that will work just fine). I chose a simple calligraphy font that I had recently purchased and styled my sign the way I wanted it.

Now, the plan was to have white ink on kraft paper so I made my text black and set it to a 10% opacity. Just dark enough that I could faintly see the lettering but light enough that it wouldn't show through my ink. 

Adding the Ink

I was out of white ink so I used some white gouache (I just diluted it with water until it was the right consistency). Dipping the calligraphy nib in the ink, begin to trace over the lettering on the page. I would suggest going very slow and be careful of the amount of pressure you apply to the nib. Don't worry if you have to start over a few times, I think I went through about a million pages the first time I tried. 


I ended up going over my letters twice. The first time the white wasn't showing up as well as I had liked (I probably diluted my gouache a little too much). 

Make sure you give the ink plenty of time to dry before you frame or stack any pages and voila! You have just faked your way through calligraphy. 

Now, I am not planning on adding any calligraphy services to the shop anytime soon (obviously) but in a pinch this method worked great for me (see images from the styled shoot below). And while calligraphy and hand lettering are still incredibly frustrating to me, I plan to stick with it and hopefully take some classes and workshops in the near future. 


Photo Credit - Amanda Summers Photography 
Styling - Celebrating Love by Marcie


Photo Credit: Amanda Summers Photography 
Styling - Celebrating Love by Marcie


Have fun creating and share your progress with me!