Modern Envelope Calligraphy Workshop Recap

Today, I got to do something I love: teach! I really love teaching groups of people a new skill or ways of approaching things. Most often, I get to speak on things like marketing/advertising/branding in deathcare and wellness professions, or how to run a better yoga business, or creating content for your website. And I love teaching on those subjects. Today was fun for me because I got to teach an old-school skill: calligraphy! Calligraphy-Workshop-Cincinnati

I called the workshop Modern Envelope Calligraphy because we were going to use envelopes in combination with a 'modern' style of calligraphy. The 'modern' part basically means we're not sticking to traditional models. For those of you who are professional calligraphers, please know that we had a discussion about the importance of being familiar with traditional calligraphy models and that one can not truly 'break the rules' until one is first familiar with them.

That said, in this 90 minute workshop, we covered a lot.


We reviewed all the tools at hand. I got to show off all my nibs, fountain pens (even the antique fountain pens!), my inks, papers and all my envelopes.

We looked at traditional models of calligraphy and started to identify patterns in angles, 'thicks' and 'thins' and what nibs produce what kind of line.

I first had my students just freehand their names on my favorite 25% cotton paper over and over. I went around to each person individually and got a good 'gauge' on their natural ability. Some were heavy-handed naturally, others naturally wrote at an angle, others wrote straight up and down. Once I had a good gauge on where each student was, I was able to provide better feedback for that individual.

Cole's Shoes

The main theme for 'corrections' was this: consistency.

We wanted consistent angles in every single letter. We wanted consistent 'thicks' and 'thins' in the letterforms. We wanted consistent widths in the letters and we wanted consistency between repeated shapes (o's and a's, for example.)

We talked about 'listening' to the paper to hear the rhythm of our writing.

Brause Blue Pumpkin Nib

We used a Brause Blue Pumpkin nib (pictured above)  in this workshop because it's favored by a lot of professional calligraphers for this style of writing. Plus, it's not difficult to use, has a good amount of flex in the nib (which is what gives you the 'thicks' and 'thins' in the strokes of your letters) and holds a pretty good amount of ink.


We then moved on to writing one word: apple. I like this word because of the double P which teaches you consistency (getting them to match) and it has an L and an E which teach you how to not make your L's look like E's. Everyone wrote this word several times and I gave feedback to each individual.


We then moved on to writing addresses on envelopes. We talked about what you can and can not do with an envelope (i.e. where is it OK to put a stamp, how much space you can actually take up, etc.) I shared my 'tricks' for making great use of the front of an envelope and my 'shortcuts' for making your envelopes look super fancy without necesarily needing a lot of calligraphy skill. :)

We then chose two of our best pieces from the workshop and each did a 'show & tell.' I then offered a tad more feedback to each individual.


Everyone left with a big packet of information I gave them, a Brause Blue Pumpkin nib of their own, and hopefully happy tummies. I served tea and cookies throughout the workshop. And, the whole thing was set to a backdrop of music by classic crooners (think Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin) and we enjoyed the fragrance of a giant bunch of lilies, too.


I'll be hosting some more workshops soon. I'm going to run the Modern Envelope Calligraphy course again, and I'll be offering a Leather Fortune Cookies workshop too!