Words and Wood Shavings

Last weekend I tried something completely different! I had a go at Modern Calligraphy.

Back in December, whilst I was busily buried under stacks of Christmas orders for personalised chopping boards, photo frames and medal hangers (thank you lovely customers!), I took a break to scroll through Instagram and I found that one of my favourite accounts @uncalendared was advertising spring workshops.

“Ooh!” I thought! I’d love to do something different for a day, maybe learn a different skill. Perhaps I could learn a transferable skill, something I could use in my work creating personalised gifts by engraving lovely pieces of oak.

So I went to see what was on offer.

I was hoping that there would be a calligraphy course, because if you follow Uncalendared (which you should!) you will know that Michelle does the most beautiful hand lettered, personalised goodies. Her feed really is fabulous, I heartily recommend that you check it out!

To my delight, yes, there was an “Introduction to Modern Calligraphy” workshop listed. To my further delight, it was being held in Marlow, a beautiful Buckinghamshire town on the River Thames, just 10 minutes drive from me!

personalised oak chopping boards

When I booked in December, I never imagined that on 3rd March, the date of the workshop, that we would have just had the “Beast from the East” snow storms hitting Britain and that the “Spring” workshop would be taking place in a snow covered barn!

personalised photo frames

The barn was a stunning set up. Beautiful high ceilings with exposed beams, something a wood lover like me always loves to see!

Michelle had laid out a little work station for us all with nibs, ink, a pen, pencil, eraser and a little glass with water in to rinse the pen. Lots of gorgeous little details which gave a real luxurious feel and made me feel as though I had got great value for money.

5th anniversary gift

We started off with Michelle talking through how to set up the pen, how to hold the pen correctly, and then she covered the principles of modern calligraphy.

The idea is that all your “up strokes” are quite fine, but when you do a “Down stroke” you should apply more pressure to the pen so the down strokes come out thicker.

Sounds simple right? Well the principle is simple – putting it into practice is another story!

So after being presented with the theory, we were let loose with our pens and ink!

First we started on a warm up worksheet, copying the strokes, swirls and flourishes. As you can see, I didn’t do too badly!

Then we moved on to lettering. It was definitely more difficult than I had imagined it would be but I was finding it very relaxing. The general consensus around the room was that it was a very soothing activity!

After lunch we got back to it. We had been asked to think of a phrase or quote that we wanted to write on a card. This was going to be for us to take home.

It was tricky to think of a phrase that worked for me because I’m not massively into motivational sayings.

I decided it was going to have to be something along the lines of not giving up.

When my machine was in for service in January, I received the bad news that the motor was on its way out and that it would cost around three times more than I had budgeted for it, I heard myself say those terrible words “I feel like giving up”.

I reached out to some fellow business women in a networking group I am a member of (www.thebusinessgirlsnetwork.com) they gave me the sympathy I required and encouraged me to get back up and carry on.

Which I did.

Guess what? I had a tremendous January (thank you once again customers!).

So there really was only one phrase I wanted to write.


You can see here where I practiced it. Over and over again!

I finally plucked up the courage to write it on my card.

When I did it, I realised that I had a large space on the right. So I added another word “Ever”.

I hadn’t practised that word and it came out better than the other ones that I had practiced so many times! There must be a lesson in there somewhere but I am not quite sure what it is?

Even though my finished card was not perfect, I decided that when I got home that I would engrave it into a piece of oak to make a little hanging sign for my office.

It can serve as a reminder to me that even though I am not perfect at everything, I should never give up. Ever!  

If you are interested in having a go at calligraphy, these are the products that Michelle gave us in our beginners toolkits.

This is a perfect shopping list for people starting out in calligraphy. (These are affiliate links)

Follow Michelle at www.instagram.com/uncalendared

Her blog website is www.uncalendared.com

She is also at www.mintlettering.com

Posted on March 13th 2018

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