Undeniably inspired by the sewing lesson I had three months ago, I’ve been on fire to learn another new skill. So, I recently got into modern calligraphy. That’s something I’ve been wanting to do in the last couple of years but just never got around to actually doing it. But before I’m quite there, let me just say that I like to learn something new each day, and it is a lifelong aspiration. It could be as simple as memorising a new ‘big word’ I come across with in my daily reading, or it could be a more complex activity involving skill in making things by handwork like sewing. I do it not just to gain an intellectual knowledge and a new skill to do a craft, but also to unwind.
When I was in graduate school I took lessons on brush calligraphy, ikebana (flower arrangement), and tea ceremony. And before I got married I also did try my hand at many things — golf, all types of water sports, etc. — to find a new hobby. And one thing I tried that I absolutely enjoyed was pottery making — thanks to a friend who got me into her favourite pastime. It’s a wonderful recreation to get into. Very relaxing and therapeutic. Regrettably, I didn’t pursue it when I moved to the UK. Not only because I didn’t find a place to do it in central London, but it’s also a very costly and time consuming hobby. I might take up pottery making again in the near future.
Being left-handed, I imagined learning modern calligraphy would be a little bit challenging because I always tend to write in small letters.
I’ve done Japanese calligraphy before, and thought using a brush is fairly easy than using a dip pen. I was a little bit hesitant about doing modern calligraphy although it’s been on my ‘must try’ list for a couple of years.
It was my friend Rhodawho inspired me to finally do it. When she posted some photos on Instagram, I immediately contacted Lucy to find out if she has a modern calligraphy beginner’s class coming up in west London. I already got Lucy’s book for my birthday but never even finished reading it until I saw Rhoda’s Instagram post.
After I made the booking in June, I told my friend Joy about it and she was thrilled to do the calligraphy lesson with me. (Joy is a church mate of mine, and just like Rhoda, she is an incredibly talented lady). Thankfully, she was able to reserve a seat on the same class I signed up for.
So glad Joy and I were able to do it together, it was so much fun doing it with a friend.
I find modern calligraphy arduous, at least in the beginning. It is learning a new style of writing and I had to condition my mind to forget about my own handwriting. Just trying to write massive letters to practice A-Z was quite a challenge for me. But I went home after the workshop quite happy that I learned a series of techniques that will allow me to continue doing it on my own, and at the same time determined to practice it religiously and get better at it.
Lucy was very sweet and quite helpful in giving clear instructions on how to do it from scratch — putting the nibs on the dip pen, holding the pen properly, and so on and so forth. She went around and took the time to teach one of us, there was a dozen of us, and she practically did the best she can in such a short period of time, just two hours. I felt that it wasn’t enough and I plan on attending more of Lucy’s calligraphy classes.
On the first week I devoted half an hour to forty five minutes practicing the alphabets just about everyday. The second week was quite hectic; I didn’t get to practice except for an hour and I felt terribly bad about it.
On the third week I promised myself not to neglect my calligraphy practice and I just got on with it every opportunity I had. However, I got tired of writing A-Z and decided to write words like the attributes of God and then moved into scribbling full scripture verses. The repetitive task of writing the scripture verses can be meditative and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.
Despite my busy schedule, I have been able to practice religiously for 45 minutes everyday, except Sunday, in the last couple of weeks.
This week I started writing proverbs by using an antique mahogany dip pen. Although it doesn’t work like a new pen I still enjoy using it.
I am in the process of learning different calligraphy fonts and formats trying to come up with a personal style that I can hopefully develop. The goal is not to necessarily master modern calligraphy, but rather to continue expressing myself through this medium. I’ve always been fascinated by Calligraphy, particularly the Gothic and Medieval script. It is something I wanted to explore in the future but for now, I’ll focus on modern calligraphy. It’s been a month now since I attended Lucy’s class and I am making some progress albeit rather slow. I find it so relaxing and therapeutic, and I’m determined to continue doing it.
Soon there will be another post about my Victorian laptop. That is, the portable writing box that was popular in the Georgian and Victorian era.