Calligraphy tools laydown

Copperplate Calligraphy

I told myself I would wait until I finished my current projects before taking on something new. I have a ukelele to practice, code to write, latin plant names to memorize, a full-time job, freelance work — oh, and friendships to maintain.

Finishing my current  projects, I could then guilt-free start a new one + that would be the reward! Except, I totally worked calligraphy into both of my current design projects – necessitating the need to start NOW. Eighty-odd dollars later, here I am. Not all that much of an investment into learning something new, but you know… I do this a lot … and often.

Despite my inability to patiently wait until I have time to learn something new, I’m really enjoying the process. I’m moving very slowly through Eleanor Winters’ Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy: A Step-by-Step Manual. I like the repetition of drawing familiar letterforms with new technique. I have one of those elementary school notepads with the blue & pink lines that I practice in. I sit down with a clear mind & no real pressure or investment in perfection and practice one or two movements until I’m tired – about 30 minutes.

I also have Molly Suber Thorpe’s gorgeous book, Modern Calligraphy.


Thorpe walks through the basic supplies you’ll need, troubleshooting commonly encountered beginner’s problems, and shares her learned experience which is both insightful and reassuring. Thorpe’s book is full of project ideas and lots of letterforms to draw inspiration from. Where Thorpe’s book leaves off, Mastering picks up. I need things to be structured when I learn and I want every detail laid out. Mastering walks through key beginning strokes and how those become letterforms and then how those letterforms combine to become words, etc.

Because I was impatient and had to start THIS INSTANT, I bought a $12 Speedball kit from the local art store. It was great for getting a feel right away and not loosing momentum. But, the nibs were crummy! Once the gum arabic and higher quality nibs came in the mail – everything got so much easier! I thought I was never going to be able to draw a circle, but nope, having quality supplies just makes a huge difference and doesn’t cost more. Lesson learned.

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