The One Where I Give Calligraphy A Go

And get really annoyed at the letter ‘M’


Here’s the thing, when your hobby becomes your job your extra-curricular activities get a little light on the ground. Beefing up that list again was one of my New Year’s resolutions and I’ve done an alright job at it. I’ve joined the gym and go regularly (and bore Mark each time I come home with my new PB’s – poor lad), I read more than I have in years and have quite the cookbook collection and I enjoy baking and cooking under their guidance. This weekend though, I tried something new. I needed an activity that I can do on a Sunday, from the sofa, that isn’t napping (a.k.a my favourite hobby) and I think I’ve found it in the form of calligraphy.


Writing is something I’ve always enjoyed. Despite me taking after a wealth of my Dad’s characteristics (big face, hairy everything), I did pick up my Mum’s neat writing. Thanks Mum! I still remember getting extremely over-excited when I got my ‘Pen Licence’ in Year 4; you had to write in pencil, until your handwriting was deemed acceptable enough to write in pen. It was a proud moment. So when Lily took an interest in calligraphy recently, my ears pricked up. Then I saw that the London-based Quill, were holding a beginners workshop in Brighton and it seemed rude not to purchase a ticket. Lily ended up coming along too and we spent last Saturday practically in silence, having a very relaxing two and half hour introduction into the world of curly, swirly writing.


Here’s the thing with calligraphy – it’s hard. The teacher’s hand softly grazed against the paper and made it look like a piece of cake. Lily is a natural too and there I was scratching out letters, stabbing the paper with my nib and making holes in it. It’s not one of those activities that you can breeze into and be bloomin’ brilliant at it right away, it’s definitely one of those that requires a wee bit of practice. Tracing letters through the page and it’s a breeze, but take the guide away and freehand? Yeah. I was all over the shop. However, despite me being pretty pants at it, it was still an enjoyable afternoon. It’s a skill that in order to hone you need to switch off from everything else and focus. We didn’t look at our phones once during the session and it was kind of glorious.


The kit for calligraphy is simple. All you need is a nib, a nib holder, some ink and some high quality paper. Simples. The Quill class came with all the aforementioned and some lettering reference material too – in fact if you ever get the chance to do a class, I can highly recommend. The actual principles are easy to remember too. The idea is that you apply more pressure, creating thicker strokes whenever you’re writing in a downwards motion and that you ease off the pressure, creating thinner strokes whenever you go up. I felt like I bossed the warm-up of practicing simple lines, curves and circles, but actual letters are a whole different kettle of fish – cue the smudging, shaking and stabbing of the page.

Afterwards we dragged the guys round an art shop as I picked up some extra supplies for my new hobby (more paper and gold ink – you know, so essential). Right now I still look like a four year old practising the alphabet, but I’m hopeful that it will start to look legible soon. I’m sure my Year 4 teacher would suggest that I’m best to practice in pencil for now. I ain’t no Pen Licence standard just yet.