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Journaling with Purpose - World Calligraphy Day 2018

Learning modern calligraphy and hand-lettering is something that first caught my interest a couple of years ago. I would often see beautiful images on Pinterest and think it was something completely unachievable for me, especially as I hadn’t practised any kind of handwriting since leaving school.

Helen Colebrook

However, I was determined to have a go and see whether at the very least I was able to make my writing look a little bit better.

I started off with learning 'faux calligraphy'. I found this really helpful as I learned how the shapes were formed without needing to also master how to use a new writing tool.

This faux calligraphy was created using a Staedtler pigment liner. The first row shows a regular lowercase alphabet. On the second row I added a line next to each downstroke to get an idea of the shape I was looking for. For the final row, I simply coloured in between those two lines, which mimics the effect you would get in 'real' calligraphy.

Helen Colebrook

Once I had been writing like this for a little while I decided to progress to brush pens. These took some time to learn how to control, but they are much quicker to use than adding the thick downstrokes separately. You get the thick line by applying pressure to the pen as you bring it down the page.

I created this piece using a Tombow Fudenosuke brush pen with a soft nib. This has become the brush pen that I use the most often when creating headers in my journal or writing words that I would like to stand out on my page.

You can’t really mention brush pens without thinking of the Tombow ABT brush pen. They have taken the journaling world by storm.

Helen Colebrook

They have a much thicker brush which allows you to create really wide downstrokes. They come in a huge range of colours too, which definitely adds to their appeal. Honestly though, it took me ages to learn how to control these pens! I have spent many an evening writing out the alphabet to get used to applying and releasing pressure at exactly the right time. Fortunately, there are loads of instructional videos on YouTube and great books out there to help you on your way.

One tip from me is to make sure you are using good quality paper. I was so disappointed with my lettering when I first started out. The ink always seemed to feather and make horrible marks. I assumed that I was doing something wrong, until I thought to try out the pens on a different pad - Rhodia! It was certainly a relief to find out that it wasn’t entirely me at fault!

Finally, I decided I really wanted to try out a dip pen with an oblique nib holder. The thought of being able to pick from a different ink every time I used it spurred me on to try out this rather strange looking instrument.

Helen Colebrook

As different as this pen holder may look, the principles are actually exactly the same as writing with a normal pen. You apply more pressure on the downstroke to let the ink flow, and then ease up as you move the pen in an upwards direction.

This type of writing definitely adds interest to my journal pages and I also love to use it when sending cards and letters in the post.

In my opinion, modern calligraphy and hand-lettering is worth every minute of the practice it takes. The first time you create a piece that you are actually happy with is a really great moment and something you will want to come back to again and again.

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