decorated colorful letters in headings in styles of calligraphy
Calligraphy Blog

Styles of Calligraphy

decorated colorful letters in headings in styles of calligraphy

Calligraphy Letters 

In calligraphy, styles of writing are known as "Hands". On computer the kind of typeface is known as a "font".  Mistakenly, people refer to styles of calligraphy as "fonts". But now you know the difference. 

Most people have computers now and are aware of the many choices of fonts you can use to write text. It's fun (at least for me) to pick different fonts to write letters or emails. Just don't get carried away and combine too many in any one document you're writing!

"Old English"

Very often people ask me if I can write "Old English". But this too, is a misnomer. It's actually not "english" at all!

NY TImes Heading is not Old English

"Old English" style is actually know to calligraphers as "Black Letter".

Probably the most well-known lettering style of The New York Times is thought of as "Old English". The capital letters are very fancy with thin "hairlines" running through the letters and all sorts of decorations.

Before paper was invented you had to write on something! The obvious choice was something that would last and could accept ink or paint. Animals skin was used. That's actually what parchment is

Because getting parchment ready for writing was so time consuming and there was limited skin available you couldn't waste it with a lot of blank space.  So a lot of words had to be compressed onto one animal skin. The result is a page that looks very black because the letters were squished together.

Very often the paint was scraped off the animal skin and reused! Modern scientists now use Xray and other methods to see the very faint lines of older writing beneath the new lettering on the parchment!

Using Leading Letters


Even when I don't write an entire text with Black Letter style (Old English) I like to use a leading letter written written in the style. It will be a larger letter, and often it's decorated or boxed with gold behind it. The use of gold in a leading letter is called "illumination" because it makes the letter "light up"! That makes it stand out and look beautiful. 

But if the style of the calligraphy is more contemporary I like to use a modern looking leading letter with color that's in the piece. Personally, I don't like to repeat the old style but adapt a letter with a contemporary look. But of course, I can do any kind of letter you prefer!

Contemporary leading letter W with gold background
Leading letters are decorated first initials for business award

Celtic or Uncial Style of Lettering

This style comes from the Book of Kells in Ireland. Since there were many scribes who wrote, there were variations in the look of the lettering. But most of it did not have "capital" or "lower case" letters. The letters were all the same size. That also helped with spacing between the lines. The Book of Kells was highly decorated and its origin was religious text.

The lettering below is the Celtic hand. It actually has a contemporary look to it, although it is really very ancient!

celtic-uncial style of calligraphy example

Italic Style of Writing

Italic is my favorite calligraphy hand. The term "italic" has been adopted in computer language to mean leaning to the right. But it actually comes from the first known writer of this style, Ludovico Vicentino degli Arrighi, who lived in Italy during the Renaissance. 

I use this style all the time because it is so adaptable. It can be made to look very "tailored" or very "flourished" according to your taste. 

comparison of tailored and flourished calligraphy lettering

Italic writing has also evolved. One of my favorite styles is called "Gothicized Italic". The reason for that name is that the curve at the top of the lower case letters looks like church windows from the Gothic design era!

Isn't it gorgeous? And there are many texts which just look so much better using this style of calligraphy- especially when they are religious texts or ancient ones.

Gothicized italic style of calligraphy

The capital letters are VERY ornate!

Gothic capital letters in calligraphy are very ornate

(I'm not 100% sure, but I think these are John Steven's letters- credit where credit is due!
I am a great admirer of John Stevens!)

Copperplate Calligraphy

pointed pen nib used for copperplate and modern calligraphy

This style of calligraphy known as "copperplate" is really different from the other styles. It is made with a different type of pen nib. The thick and thin parts of the letters are created by putting pressure on the nib which causes it to open slightly. That makes the ink flow out thicker than when the pen nib is pushed upwards creating "hairlines". 

Parents letter to their newborn written in copperplate calligraphy and framed

Copperplate calligraphy takes a LOT of patience and can be hard on the hand and wrist. It's known as the style of the Declaration of Independence. There are many 
Master Penmen who practice this style and do very ornate decorations with it. I am not one of those! 

"Modern" Calligraphy

OK, I'm going to admit being a snob. But many people are taking one online class in "calligraphy" and claiming that they are professional calligraphers. It's called "modern calligraphy". Very few people can actually do this well. If you read this post you'll know what to look for in quality modern calligraphy. Don't get stuck with something that you can't read! 

Your Favorite Style of Calligraphy

When you order calligraphy I ask you many questions. You may not realize what style you prefer. I have a way to help you figure out what style will work best for you. I'll ask you questions about your decoration in your home, what type of clothes you like to wear, what kind of art you like? Then I'm more able to make suggestions and show you examples. In fact, the best way is to look at examples on my site and save the different examples so we can collaborate together and come up with a design and style that you will really love!

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New Baby Birth Certificate with baby's photo boxed and placed on a pretty background
Calligraphy Blog, Gift Ideas, New Baby Gift

Decorated New Baby Birth Certificate

The Perfect Gift for a New Baby

The perfect gift for a new baby is a decorated calligraphy birth certificate!

Having a new baby, whether it's your first of fifth (or more) is time for a celebration. And when you want to get a really unique gift (everyone ends up getting clothes) calligraphy is the answer to your dilemma. 

colorful calligraphy new baby birth certificate

You don't have to worry about the size, or how long the baby will wear your gift before they outgrown it. A decorated baby birth certificate can also match the newborn's colors and designs in the nursery. That's because you get to customize and personalize this calligraphy art.

Personalized Gift for New Baby

When you choose to get a custom designed baby birth certificate you can add any colors, text, photos, and whatever you like. Many people like to include the name of siblings so they don't feel left out when the new baby arrives. 

New Baby Birth Certificate

Fill In Print New Baby Certificates

If you have a smaller budget check out the options in pre-made backgrounds for the artwork. Of course I will add more limited personalization, but it's less expensive that a totally custom baby birth certificate. There are some designs that may be your choice for a new baby boy or a girl. 

Parents Message to their new baby

For a first born baby, this is a very emotional time. I loved writing out this beautiful letter the parents wrote to their first child. They also had an amazing photograph where I was able to superimpose the calligraphy right on their photograph. But if you don't have a photo like that, I can still add your photo to the birth certificate. 

Parents letter to their newborn written in calligraphy and framed

Favorite Poem for New Baby Birth Certificate

My favorite poem in the world.. ok maybe not my #1, but definitely top 5 is from "The Prophet" by Khalil Gibran. I cannot read this poem without having tears come into my eyes. It is such a pleasure for me to do a new baby birth certificate with this poem. 

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.

Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet

Really, isn't it amazing? You should get this book of poems because they are all so moving and true! And this first photo of the mother and father with their newborn is so perfect, don't you think?

Calligraphy poem The Prophet on Children for baby birth certificate in calligraphy

Include First Family Photo in Baby Birth Certificate

If the family is lucky, there is often a nurse or someone who can take the first photo of the new arrival meeting their parents for the first time. I LOVE being able to include this type of picture in the certificate. It's such a joy to see the happiness all around- (even if the baby is crying). It's so emotional!

new parents with their newborn in calligraphy birth certificate

Name Poem for New Baby Gift

A name poem can be another unique gift for a new baby. It's also known as "acrostic" poem. Because my calligraphy services are all customized, I can either add a photo of the baby or any background of your choice. Of course the text would be very different than this love poem below. Here's a great link to generate an acrostic poem. All you do is enter the name and gender! 

There are also "name definition" poems that could work really well as a new baby birth certificate gift. Find the origin of the baby's name, and the meaning. It can make you wonder: does the baby grow up to fit the name? Then the parents should be very careful about picking a baby name carefully. 

Acrostic Love Poem for Rachel in calligraphy with beautiful leading letters

Poems About Baby Boys or Baby Girls

There are lots of sweet poems about baby boys or baby girls. They can be general about their characteristics, or even religious.  The example above is entitled: "Why God Made Baby Boys". Here are poems about all sorts of occasions. If you want to find a poem that fits, all you have to do is ask Dr. Google! Nowadays we don't need the World Book Encyclopedia anymore. We have everything we need on our fingertips! 

Children Love to See Their Names

Another nice thing about these decorated new baby birth certificates is that children love to see their names written out. That's one of the first things that children learn to write: their own names! Having a beautiful calligraphy birth certificate for them can encourage them to learn to love calligraphy, and have a nice handwriting. Who knows? Maybe they'll want to grow up and be a calligrapher! LOL

But seriously, we can design the perfect unique gift for the new baby in your life, or the lives of someone you care about. And I know they will love this gift. Look below, and you'll see that you can also get it already printed on a surface that will make it ready to hang, right out of the box! 

New Baby Gift Completed Quickly

I know you'll want to have a gift to give to the parents for their new baby as soon as possible. Don't worry, I can generally get your gift done quickly. It can also be mailed directly to them if you live far away. Just contact me, and we can get started right away! 

And give the new baby a cuddle from me!

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Calligraphy Blog, Calligraphy Services, Custom Calligraphy, Gift Ideas, Love Poems

Custom Design

Husband wrote this poem and wife had it written in calligraphy with original background image

Designing Custom Calligraphy

A custom design of an image to go with a poem takes a lot of thought and planning. It’s almost like a puzzle. I have to figure out how to bring out the meaning and combine the text design with a background that reflects that meaning visually. Custom design definitely takes time and experience.

This wife had a vision for a poem her husband wrote. We talked about it for a while trying to come up with a plan. Unfortunately there was no stock photography or even hand drawn images that fit what she envisioned.  Luckily, I was able to come up with a design that combined a few different photographs and combine them with Photoshop Magic. Yes, designing custom calligraphy backgrounds can take a lot of time, and therefore they tend to be expensive.

Sometimes I’m only adding a moon and stars to a dark sky, or doing slight changes that don’t take too much time. I really enjoy creating custom background designs for calligraphy. 

BIble verse in calligraphy for anniversary gift on gorgeous background from Barbados


Using Your Imagination for Calligraphy Design

Custom calligraphy designs take time, and even using your imagination to come up with the perfect design. My client said he wanted an “elegant” border design drawn around the love poem he wanted written out in beautiful calligraphy. Then he used the term “gothic”. But because “elegant” and even “gothic” can mean different things to everyone, I asked him to give me an example, either in my calligraphy gallery, or by visiting sites for photographs and designs. Then I was able to do a good search with keywords, for the type of flowers, colors, designs he preferred, and either a photo or a vector design (drawn by hand or computer) will appear to give you lots of choices.

watercolor border design with love letter anniversary gift in calligraphy

Personally, I wouldn’t have described this as “elegant” or gothic – but he was happy. And most important his WIFE was thrilled! I’m so happy when people write back to me to let me know that the custom design I came up with for them made their recipient happy. That’s one of the best parts of doing calligraphy. 

Once we have an agreement on an elegant border design, then I can start laying out the calligraphy design. I can also customize the border design, whether it is a vector or a hand drawn design. I can draw the type of flowers (or objects) you prefer and adjust the colors, size, etc.

Another wonderful option is using your own photography. However, make sure that you are taking pictures with the highest resolution in order to get a sharp print. Although the picture looks great on your computer or phone screen, it won’t look good when it’s printed unless the resolution is set to HIGH, and you have good lighting and a steady hand!

Not Creative?

Many people say they are not creative; but you still know what you like, and what you don’t like! I like to work with my clients to collaborate on the perfect gift. Remember also: when you are getting a gift for someone, it’s THEIR taste that’s important. You can think about how they dress, what colors they wear, the flowers or even season they prefer to help you come up with a design that reflects their taste.

Don’t give up because it’s not going fast enough! I’ll help you through the process, and then you’ll have a wonderful art piece of beautiful calligraphy, or any other type of personalized unique gift  that will always please you every time you see it!

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Valentines day gift of saying I Love You in calligraphyems are nthis includes a selfie of the couple
Calligraphy Blog, Love Poems, Marriage Proposal

Say I Love You

The Importance of Saying "I Love You"

How many times have you walked away from a situation saying to yourself: 

"I SHOULD have said________"

Well, that is the one thing you DON'T want to have in your mind and heart after someone you love has passed away. You can live the rest of your life with regret. Think of all of the people in your life who you love. It's not just a spouse, but oftentimes a dear friend. It's been said that there are many different kinds of love

This is a wonderful poem by George Eliot (a woman writer who had to use a man's pseudonym to get published) about the love of a friend.

famous Poem by George Eliot about love of a friendabout friendship by George Eliot written in calligraphy

Writing I Love You Is Easier than Speaking

If you are a person who has trouble uttering the words, "I Love You", then write them. Write about your feelings, and how it may be hard for you to say them out loud. It can be a very freeing experience for you. And those words, on paper last a long time. Calligraphy is a beautiful way to immortalize those feelings by giving them to the person you love. 

Marriage Proposals Written in Calligraphy

I have written words of love for many people over the years I've done calligraphy. I've even written marriage proposals. Would you be surprised if I told you that EVERY ONE of them got a resounding "YES" answer? 

Birthday calligraphy with surprise marriage proposal with photo of the to be bride
Suprise Written marriage proposal in calligraphy with selfie

A Teacher Changes Lives by Encouraging Words of Kindness

Inspired by this story below, I had an idea that I have that could be a terrific calligraphy gift would be to have your words written in calligraphy, and then scanned, and reduced to the size of a credit card. That can be laminated, and carried in a wallet. Your loved one can carry YOUR heartfelt feelings with them always!

This is one of the most beautiful and moving stories. I will be surprised if you don't tear up after reading this short story about how fellow students words had a lasting impact.

One day, a teacher asked her students to list the names of the other students in the room on two sheets of paper, leaving a space between each name.

Then she told them to think of the nicest thing they could say about each of their classmates and write it down.  It took the remainder of the class period to finish their assignment, and as the students left the room, each one handed in the papers.

That Saturday, the teacher wrote down the name of each student on a separate sheet of paper, and listed what everyone else had said about that individual.

On Monday she gave each student his or her list.

Before long, the entire class was smiling. "Really?" she heard whispered. "I never knew that I meant anything to anyone!" and, "I didn't know others liked me so much," were most of the comments.

No one ever mentioned those papers in class again. The teacher never found out if they discussed them after class or with their parents, but it didn't matter. The exercise had accomplished its purpose. The students were happy with themselves and one another. That group of students moved on.

Several years later, one of the students was killed in Vietnam and his teacher attended the funeral of that special student.  She had never seen a serviceman in a military coffin before. He looked so handsome, so mature. The church was packed with his friends. One by one those who loved him took a last walk by the coffin. The teacher was the last one to bless the coffin.

As she stood there, one of the soldiers who acted as pallbearer came up to her. "Were you Mark's math teacher?" he asked. She nodded: "Yes." Then he said: "Mark talked about you a lot."

After the funeral, most of Mark's former classmates went together to a luncheon. Mark's mother and father were also there, wanting to speak with his teacher.

"We want to show you something," his father said, taking a wallet out of his pocket. "They found this on Mark when he was killed. We thought you might recognize it."

Opening the billfold, he carefully removed two worn pieces of notebook paper that had obviously been taped, folded and refolded many times. The teacher knew without looking that the papers were the ones on which she had listed all the good things each of Mark's classmates had said about him.

"Thank you so much for doing that," Mark's mother said. "As you can see, Mark treasured it."

All of Mark's former classmates started to gather around. Charlie smiled rather sheepishly and said, "I still have my list. It's in the top drawer of my desk at home."  Chuck's wife said, "Chuck asked me to put his in our wedding album." "I have mine too," Marilyn said. "It's in my diary"

Then Vicki, another classmate, reached into her pocketbook, took out her wallet and showed her worn and frazzled list to the group. "I carry this with me at all times," Vicki said.  Without batting an eyelash, she continued, "I think we all saved our lists."

Tears rolled down the eyes of the humble teacher.  We encounter so many people in our lives, and it's a precious joy to see the good in all those journeys.

Also, CafePress and other stores can take your sentiment, my calligraphy, and print it on a coffee cup, a mouse pad, reusable shopping bags, and tons of other items. Get creative! Don't keep those words silent in your head. Share them, and feel good! 

Expressing love and gratitude is YOUR path to attracting it back to you. Increase the love by sending it out with your words.... and having them personalized with your photos and written in calligraphy makes them even more special. Contact me to get started!

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making art lowers stress - painting for stress relief
Calligraphy Blog

Can Art Save Your Life?

Art Relieves Stress

We are all under so much stress from the Coronavirus, Covid-19. Stress increases the cortisol level, the stress hormone in your body and can make you sick or exacerbate any illnesses that you have. Art is relaxing and is the antidote to stress! 

So, you may find out that making art can save your life. You need to have a stress relief practice right now that will lower your stress level. Creating art can relax you and relieve stress! So yes, doing an art project, no matter how "uncreative" you say you are, can lower your stress and may even save your life.

making art lowers stress - painting for stress relief

Stress from Social Isolation

Social isolation is necessary to prevent the spread of Coronavirus, but it is very stressful. Some of us are even quarantined waiting to see if we will develop symptoms of this horrible virus. But all of us who are responsible are practicing social distancing and not spending time outside our homes with others nearby. You may be bored out of your mind or worrying about catching Covid-19 and dying. That creates stress. But becoming a couch potato, a TV watching zombie or an iPhone addict will do nothing to allay your fears and help your health. But doing art can actually help your health!

masked woman feeling trapped from covid-19
bored cat on a couch
man bored from social isolation from Coronavirus

Learning Art can be Stress Relieving

You don’t have to be any kind of creative genius. In fact, just picking up a pencil to draw, or a crayon or paint brush to paint is a calming activity. It may even remind you of how much fun it was when you were in elementary school. Those were times before you judged yourself harshly on your creativity vs. other school mates. You just did whatever you wanted, and your mother probably put it up on the refrigerator door!

child creating art with crayons

Making art is relaxing! Making art, just for the sake of expressing some thoughts or view of what you see out your window can lower your stress level. That’s correct! Doing art is can help strengthen your immune system and it's fun. And right now, that’s exactly what we all need.

Art Therapy

Scientific studies have shown that making any kind of art, at any level can reduce the stress hormone cortisol in your blood! When your cortisol level is lower your body can fight off illnesses more effectively. You can think more clearly. Your mood is improved. And there are so many other positive effects.

Get inspired

Youtube is a wonderful way to learn so many different things! All you have to do is a search for how to draw, do watercolor, sculpt with clay. One of the benefits from learning how to draw is that you learn how to observe the things you want to create on paper. Yes, we “assume” so much in life, but drawing is really learning how to see. And no, you don’t need to draw a straight line! Most of nature does not even have straight lines! So if you’re drawing a tree or a flower there won’t be any straight lines to draw.

Learning Calligraphy

When you learn how to “see” a letter it will be the first step in learning calligraphy! It’s hard to believe, but there are many “rules” to creating letterforms. You have to see the shape of the letters, the width, height, what the serifs look like, where the letters branch and connect. Drawing them first with a pencil will help you when you’re ready to pick up a calligraphy pen.

exemplar of construction of calligraphy letter forms with rules how to create letters

In fact, I encourage my students to learn how to draw the “negative space” in the letters. That’s like drawing a donut hole! But it actually shows you how the letters are supposed to look and will help you tremendously when you start using a calligraphy pen.

calligraphy piece ruined by spilled ink and splatter

If you’re stuck in bed, you probably don’t want to use a messy dip pen with ink! Once you know what the letters look like, the next step is learning how to hold the pen so you can make thick and thin parts of the letters. That can be quite a challenge in the beginning. The pen nib has to be held at a constant angle from 30-45º. When you consistently hold you pen at that angle, no matter what part of the letter you are writing you will create thick and thin parts of the letters.

What Style of Calligraphy?

There are many styles of calligraphy. I recommend starting with an easy “hand”. In computer terms, that’s a “font”. I love Italic which is what I generally use because there are so many ways to adapt it. I can write it with compressed ascenders and descenders (the parts of the letters that go above the “x” height of the other letters). I can slant it more, or make it straight. I can flourish it, or keep it tailored.

Picking A Good Teacher

That’s going to be the hardest thing to do on Youtube because there are so many inferior videos of calligraphy. My very good friend Joanne Fink has done a good video to teach you how to write calligraphy.

Don’t give up, don’t be hard on yourself. Remember a baby keeps getting up from falling when they’re learning how to walk.

Use your time to Learn Something New

Learning to make art during the time of social distancing is a good way to have a new hobby and calm yourself and lower your stress level! It takes a lot of practice, but you have time now!

calligraphy takes time to practice

And if you want to try calligraphy and get feedback on your progress and what to do to improve, just contact me for “cyberlessons”!

Stay safe- Be well!  Practice art for stress relief!

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First anniversary love letter with selfie of the couple superimposed on photo background from Hawaii less expensive option computer font with calligraphy
Calligraphy Blog, Calligraphy Services

Less Expensive Calligraphy

Robert Frost poem with hand calligraphy & computer font less expensive option

Why Is Calligraphy Expensive?

Yes, most people know how to write with a pen, so why is calligraphy expensive?  Many people say their handwriting is terrible (unless you went to Catholic school where the Nuns taught handwriting!). But calligraphy is not "handwriting". There are rules and skills which take years to learn. Even a master penman (I don't like using sexist terms, but there is not other one to use at this time) has to take time to design a layout, draw lines for lettering, plan and write out text.

Some people think that it takes the same amount of time to write calligraphy like you would write a sentence in a notebook. That may lead someone to think that they're paying a lot of money for something that takes me no time at all.

"I just want nice writing on a cream colored piece of paper", they say. 

When I hear that I realize that people think that I have nice handwriting. I don't. And I realize that they want a lower cost alternative instead of paying for a more expensive piece of actual calligraphy art.

It's taken me many years of study, learning and practice to get to a point where I can write something that I call "calligraphy". (some people mis-spell it as "caligraphy'. It has 2 "L's").  And I want you to understand why it does take time to both learn and write out your text in calligraphy which you can learn all about by reading here. 

Photoshop Makes A Less Expensive Option Available

One of the ways that I'm able to have options for you to save money on the cost of calligraphy is because I have learned how to use Photoshop. It has literally taken me years to learn this program and I'd still say I have a lot more to learn! But using Photoshop has given me the ability to combine your photographs or selfies, or images that you love with calligraphy.The hand calligraphy I write is then superimposed on whatever background images you like, and printed with a giclee printer. AND, it also gives me the opportunity for another less expensive option! 

An Even Lower Cost Option to Save on Cost of Calligraphy

Many people have very long texts and not big budgets.  Are you looking for a less expensive alternative to hand calligraphy that still looks great? I don't want to turn them away, but it still takes me a long time to create a beautiful custom piece of calligraphy for you. That's why I've come up with a great alternative that has some hand calligraphy for headings, personalization and other parts, but has the longest parts of the text in a beautiful computer font. And I can still include your own photograph. It's a great option, and people love it!

These pieces can be printed like my other entirely hand-calligraphed calligraphy pieces on a variety of surfaces. It gives them a totally custom look- especially when the titles are made to stand out with flourishing. 

Write to me and let's get a great design from a real professional calligrapher with design skills that will make YOUR calligraphy a favorite gift for someone you care about or for yourself. It still does take time, but it will cost a lot less than having your entire text written out in hand calligraphy!


Song lyrics from favorite music in calligraphy and computer font with graphic microphone
1st Anniversary marriage vows written in calligraphy combined with computer calligraphywith selfie of the couple in Hawaii
Best man's speech in calligraphy and computer font to save cost
couple's photo with hand calligraphy combined with computer text saves time and lowers the cost for first anniversary gift
Musical quotes with calligraphy & computer font saves time and cost
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Calligraphy Takes Time

The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr written in calligraphy on a background of red rose petals

How Much Time to Write Your Text In Calligraphy

Some people think that it takes the same amount of time to write calligraphy like you would write a sentence in a notebook. That may lead someone to think that they're paying a lot of money for something that takes me no time at all. "I just want nice writing on a cream colored piece of paper", they say. When I hear that I realize that people think that I have nice handwriting and it doesn't take time to do calligraphy. I don't have nice handwriting and it take time to do professional calligraphy! That's why it seems costly.

How Long Does It Take To Learn Calligraphy?

It's taken me many years of study, learning and practice to get to a point where I can write something that I call "calligraphy". (some people mis-spell it as "caligraphy'. It has 2 "L's"). When I took my first calligraphy class I was really excited to learn how to write those beautiful swirly fancy letters. Little did I understand that calligraphy isn't just about learning how to write individual letters!

First you have to find a really skilled calligrapher. A calligrapher is also known as a scribe. They also need to be a patient and caring teacher who is willing to tell you the entire recipe. What I mean by that is: I've had teachers who leave out the most important ingredients to make really beautiful letter forms.

You need not only learn how to write letter forms

  • you need to learn about 
  • what kind of pen,
  • nibs (the tips of pens) 
  • ink (I use paint called gouache),
  • paper,
  • letter spacing,
  • how to draw lines,
  • how to erase lines,
  • how to correct mistakes (next to impossible without ruining the paper)
  • and so much more!

What Does A Calligrapher Need To Learn

When I took my first calligraphy class back in 1979 (OMG!!) I was given a list of items to purchase. I needed special paper, a T square, pencil, special calligraphy pen. a variety of size nibs, and ink. Besides that it was helpful to have paper towels and wear an apron! I quickly learned that writing calligraphy took time. 
Spilled ink, splatters and mistakes are easily corrected in modern calligraphic technology

How Long Does Calligraphy Take To Write?

pointed pen nib used for copperplate and modern calligraphy
various calligraphy pen points are called nibs

Calligraphy done well takes time! It takes years of practice to be able to pick up this weird shaped pen and write a consistent and beautiful line of writing! The pen I use to do most of my work is a "dip pen" that has a nib with a square cut across the top. When someone sees this pen and tries to write with it they have a lot of difficulty making the paint flow!  You can't press too hard or the ink won't flow

You have to learn to hold the pen at an angle between 35-45 degrees. That's what make the thin parts of the letters, called "hairlines". And holding that same angle also creates thick parts of the lines. It gives the flowing beauty of the letters that almost look like a ribbon. There are very few harsh straight lines in most calligraphic hands. And it takes a lot of time to practice and learn.

This is an exemplar of how to form italic calligraphy letters. It takes time not just to learn what they look like, but to be able to form these letters consistently!

Practice Doesn't Make Perfect

Many people use the phrase practice makes perfect. But that's not actually true. You need to have a great example to copy when you are practicing. And there are many styles of calligraphy! Getting feedback from a master calligrapher who can look at your letterforms, and spacing critically and get you feedback is essential. That of course, is how you learn to make beautiful and perfect letters as much of the time as possible. Calligraphers are not computers that reproduce the same exact letter every time, but we sure do strive for that perfection. 

Look at this example below to get an idea of what a professional calligrapher does to learn and practice writing calligraphy. 🤣

calligraphy takes time to practice

(this is an example of the calligraphy "hand" called gothicized italic. It's called that because the arch of at the top of the letters mimics gothic church windows of that time.)

Why Is Calligraphy Expensive

Yes, most people know how to write with a pen. Many people say their handwriting is terrible. But now you've learned that calligraphy is not "handwriting". There are rules and skills which take years to learn. Even a master penman (I don't like using sexist terms, but there is not other one to use at this time) has to take time to plan and write.

Options to Save on the Cost of Calligraphy

Many people have very long texts and not big budgets. Are you looking for a less expensive alternative to hand calligraphy that still looks great? That's why I've come up with a great alternative that has some hand calligraphy for headings, personalization and other parts, but has the longest parts of the text in a beautiful computer font. And I can still include your own photograph. It's a great option, and people love it!

Write to me and let's get a great design from a real professional calligrapher with design skills that will make YOUR calligraphy a favorite gift for someone you care about or for yourself. It does take time!

Song lyrics from favorite music in calligraphy and computer font with graphic microphone
1st Anniversary marriage vows written in calligraphy combined with computer calligraphywith selfie of the couple in Hawaii
Best man's speech in calligraphy and computer font to save cost
Musical quotes with calligraphy & computer font saves time and cost

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Own personally written poem with wonderful background
Calligraphy Blog, Calligraphy Services, Love Poems

Your Own Poem in Calligraphy

Own personally written poem with wonderful background

Your Own Poem Handwritten In Calligraphy

Do you love to write your own poems? A poet is a person who has their own unique vision for a subject and can put it into words. A wonderful thing about people who write their own poem is that they have a visual image for what that poem brings to mind. That makes it a lot easier to find the perfect background that will elevate your poem and make it both beautiful and meaningful. If you want to the find a great visual image that compliments your poem go to this site (and I have others as well). Enter keywords that describe what you imagine and save the photos. (Make sure you save the photos with identifying information so you can find them again)

This is fake calligraphy done by a computer

This is fake calligraphy done by a computer

Your own poem written in custom calligraphy with the perfect background

This is real handwritten calligraphy

Real Handwritten Calligraphy

A customer of mine was unhappy with the results of "calligraphy" that he had purchased. 

He loves writing, but had never had his words written in calligraphy. He explained that his poem was inspired by a very realistic dream he had.

Not wanting to make the same mistake as the first calligrapher I asked him to send me a picture of the calligraphy. It was NOT calligraphy at all! Someone claimed that a computer font was calligraphy and sent that to him and charged him for real calligraphy! I was so angry!

At first he only wanted the plain parchment looking background. But there were so many wonderful images in the poem that I wanted to do justice to it. So I encouraged him to use artwork. I found a wonderful piece of art that went perfectly with his poem's imagery. And the final touch was adding the white dove to the piece. It brought his dream to life!

He was thrilled with the result and has since ordered a second print of the poem. I'm so glad that I was able to bring his own poem to life!

Light Color writing on dark background in calligraphy

As you can see from these calligraphy pieces below, writing calligraphy in a light color on a black or dark background makes the lettering "pop" and look really beautiful!

Husband wrote this poem and wife had it written in calligraphy with original background image
Personally written Love poem in white on black
Personal poem about a night primrose with a dark background
Tim's own poem -

A Poem written FOR you

Have you ever had someone write a poem for you? Are you lucky enough to have romantic partner who is a writer or poet? My then boyfriend wrote me a poem and sent it to me via email. I actually printed the email with his photo. BTW, we have been together over 20 years, and I'm sure that poem had something to do with it! (and thankfully, he doesn't smoke those stinky cigars anymore!)

Writing Your Own Poem For a Gift

Have you written your own poem for a gift? Instead of handing them a sheet of paper, why not have it written in calligraphy? You can also include your photo with them, or a background of your choice.

husband wrote love poem to his wife- in flourished calligraphy

Your Own Love Poem

Some people are great at writing their own love poems. The words just seem to come to them naturally. Although I prefer to use graphics or  photos for backgrounds I guess the purity of black writing on parchment background doesn't take anything away from the love expressed in a love poem that you've written yourself, or received. These two are very moving.

he wrote this poem for her
Sweet self written love poem with scroll work

Not A Full Poem but A Saying

I just love how this old photo and "grandma's writing" was incorporated with her "saying". This grandson wanted this keepsake for the memory of his beloved grandmother who had just passed away.

This is a great example of "Cindy's  Words of Wisdom". They are quite funny! Do you have your own "motto" or words of wisdom that you say frequently?

Funny Words of Wisdom by farm girl in calligraphy
keepsake of grandmother's own sayings
family gift to son who wrote his own poem and won an award

Having A Loved One's Own Poem Written In Calligraphy

A family was so proud of their son for winning a poetry contest that they contacted me to write the poems in calligraphy. I'm sure it meant a lot to him to have his family honor his own award winning poetry!

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bad handwriting - penmanship can be learned
Calligraphy Blog

Handwriting, Penmanship &Calligraphy

bad handwriting - penmanship can be learned

How is Your Handwriting?

Your handwriting says so much about you. It’s almost like your body language that you’ve written down! Everyone’s handwriting is unique- just like them! And there’s even a science of to interpret what your handwriting means about your personality. It’s called “graphology“. Your handwriting is not just about the words you are writing, but gives hints into your personality! Are you letters small and compressed? That may say something about your feelings of self-confidence? Is your handwriting sloppy? It can be that your hand-eye coordination is challenged, or that you are in a rush. If that’s how you write all the time, perhaps you are a sloppy person. 

On the other hand, so many people admire beautiful handwriting and penmanship. Even though it’s not a historical, handwriting it can still be called “calligraphy”. That’s because the definition of calligraphy is the “art of beautiful writing”. Most people can learn to improve their handwriting and develop good penmanship. But learning calligraphy takes more skill and developing an artistic eye for letter forms.

Learning Calligraphy

I have taught children how to form letters in the style of italic calligraphy. Learning calligraphy takes practice and a good teacher who can encourage children and not embarrass them with mistakes! Even regular handwriting can be beautiful and legible if it is taught that way to children in school. You must not rush when writing with a calligraphy pen!

Education is Lacking in the US

Unfortunately, we are cutting out teaching so many important skills and the arts in the schools. Parents should encourage the schools to teach children art and good handwriting. I have had jobs to re-write job applications for people who were embarrassed at their own penmanship! In truth, we do perhaps, unconsciously judge people by their writing. So, take your time when writing, and encourage your children to write beautifully.

There are so many people who write books, and there are some who are better at the craft than others. I don’t like to say anything disparaging, but there are a couple of writers who I would go to last:

Margaret Shepherd, and Ken Brown are a couple of substandard people who teach lettering. If you would like an opinion before purchasing a book, you can write to me with the name, and link, and I can take a look at it to see whether I would recommend it.  Unfortunately, it’s buyer beware as in all things.

Good Book for Learning Calligraphy

This book was edited by my good friend, Joanne Fink who is one of the top calligraphers in the U.S. It’s not expensive and gives you some wonderful help in learning calligraphy. I recommend that you purchase this book if you want to learn calligraphy or even to learn what makes beautiful handwriting and lettering.

Eleanor Winters is a great teacher. I have taken a course with her when I lived in New York. This is a fun book that teaches children how to do calligraphy and even has fun activities for them. And YOU may learn it as well!

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Business Calligraphy, Calligraphy Blog, Custom Calligraphy

Business Calligraphy Certificates

Mission Statement of Dental Office

Business Certificates, Resolutions, And Mission Statements

Every business should proudly display their Mission Statement in their lobby. It tells you customers, not only about your business, but the ethics and what your business stands for. It should be an impressive, large piece that tells your customers they have chosen wisely to use your business!  Having your business certificates, awards and resolutions written in calligraphy makes a statement about the value that your company places on these important words and on the people who have worked for your business. It impresses me when I read about the contributions of people who receive these awards! And, it really looks impressive.

Retirement certificate in calligraphy
Award for National park with decorated leading letters
Happy retiring staff receives calligraphy hand lettered certificate

Company Logo Can Be Included in Business Certificates

Because of the improvement of technology and giclee printing, all awards can now include company logos and designs in the exact colors of your company brand. 

Business Awards that are REALLY Exemplary

When a staff member or retiring long time employee or high level CEO leaves a company they deserve acknowledgement of their contribution to your company. 

Gold Leaf Leading letter in business award
Outstanding Lawyer Award
decorated first initials for business award
Contemporary calligraphy treatment for award for the Honorable Senator Boxer

Certificate Completions

If you have pre-printed certificates that are type-set, I highly recommend leaving a LARGE space for the recipients name. That's what they really want to see. I put special care and detail into making their names stand out on the page. Whether you like "Old English", or a more contemporary look for your business awards, resolutions or certificates, the choice is yours!

ps- I can also help your company to design your typeset certificates, and then just leave the name of the recipient and the date of the award. That's a cost saving measure, but the recipient still appreciates the extra effort of having their name calligraphed. 

Printing For Contemporary Look

If you are not looking for an "old world" look with a heavy wooden frame, I have some really great looking alternatives to traditional framing. The text can be printed on metal, canvas and wrapped, acrylic, wood and other surfaces. Look at the examples. Then your calligraphy will arrive at your office ready to hang. 

Quotes for Entrepreneurs

There are some exemplary quotes by great sales people, politicians, statesmen (and women) that can make your office very impressive for visitors. The quote you choose says a lot about what is important to you. Who wouldn't want an amazing piece like this in their office?

This famous quote by Teddy Roosevelt ends with the famous lines:

"..if he fails, at least fails while DARING GREATLY so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat." - Theordore Roosevelt
Quote for entrepreneurs office

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