California Calligraphy — practice list

Written with a watercolor palette as ink source.

Written with a watercolor palette as ink source.

I've got a new practice list to share! I've actually been using it for awhile now and it's become my default warm-up list that I've memorized.

Unlike the list I've used to compare my progress learning calligraphy it's easier to practice all the minuscule letters by just writing the list as Title Case. There is of course a word starting with each letter of the alphabet but also nearly every letter is accounted for within the body of the words. The two exceptions are the letters X and J. It's tough enough to find words that begin with X. As for the J, that was tough to find while fitting with the California theme I was going for. Luckily a minuscule 'y' holds the same properties as a 'j'.

Testing out a few different nibs.

Testing out a few different nibs.

Testing a new ink and practicing with an oblique nib holder.

Testing a new ink and practicing with an oblique nib holder.

One little note about the green practice sheet above. I wrote it with an oblique nib holder! That exclamation point is needed because for over two years I've only used a straight nib holder. Straight is the tool I learned to write calligraphy with and I assumed it would feel weird to use the oblique. Then a couple weeks ago I took a flourishing class which must be done with the oblique. I was surprised to find it feels pretty easy to go back and forth between the different nib holders.

Now for the full California inspired list for easy copying and google searching. This is also the moment when I realize how much I've been spelling wrong on my practice sheets.


Avocado, Bobcat, California, Desert, Eagle, Flower, Grapes, Harvest, Iris, Jasmine, Kelp, Lemon, Manzanita, Nuts, Ocean, Poppy, Quail, Raisons, Squash, Trees, Uncork, Volcano, Water, Xylonite (yes, this one is a stretch), Yosemite, Zest. 


Remember I share these practice lists so you can get to practicing all the letters without having to think of something new to write. They're not meant for imitating the letterforms themselves as I am also still learning and these are just evidence of my own practice.

Year of light

Happy New Year!!! 

With the entrance of 2015 I wrote a list with words and ideas that hang in the air from New Year's Eve into January. Every few months I make a new list to aid my calligraphy practice. It's helpful to have a go-to set of words for warming up the pen. I hope my lists can help you as well.

I always have a word that starts with each letter of the alphabet for practicing capitals. It gets a little tricky with some letters so you'll notice this list uses the year MMXV to solve for the "x word". And I couldn't help but arrange the words to tell a slightly poetic story.

Did you know you can see into the future? While researching words I went to wikipedia and learned that 2015 is the international year of light. It's more of a technical/science designation but I like the overall sentiment of the phrasing.

For search purposes here it is as text: Zero hour, Midnight, Ol' Lange Syne, uncork Proseco, celebrate new year kisses MMXV. Viva January. Bright early dawn. Acknowledge imminent future. Ritual testaments; wishes, quixotic goals.

And in almost alphabetical order:
Acknowledge
Bright
Celebrate
Dawn
Early
Future
Goals
Hour
Imminent
January
Kisses
Midnight
New
Ol' Lang Syne
Proseco
Quixotic
Ritual
Testaments
Uncork
Viva
Wishes
MMXV
Year
Zero

Costume randomizer and inspiration

If you can't tell, I love Halloween. As an adult who hasn't gone tricker treating door to door in years there's a few reasons I love it so much. It's a time of year that brings out the creative maker in even those who don't categorize themselves as a craftsperson. For the all year crafter it can be an opportunity to make something with a material not normally used or stretch a little further beyond comfort zones. With costumes there's a lot of forgiveness of imperfection because ultimately it's about fun.

While I don't trick or treat I still celebrate at an annual bar hop with friends. While the bars are a natural social setting there's something different about Halloween. Being dressed up creates an easy way to connect. You can run up to a complete stranger on the street and shout with excitement that you get their costume. You get to witness peoples creativity and there's lots of conversations about how something was made. There's conversations of all sorts. Stimulated by pop-culture and of the moment news stories.

With all the potential fun to be had it can still be stressful to come up with a costume in time. For that I've got some exercises to get the ideas flowing. First I present to you:

Costume9sec.gif
Costume5sec.gif

Sometimes it can be helpful to think about new twists on traditional Halloween themed characters. Or combine two of those ideas to make something new. A friend of mine once dressed as a Vampirate. I'll always remember it's punnyness and how she created something new out of two common go-to costume ideas.

Another brainstorming method is to start with a prop you already have. Think of all you can do with it. I love to start with a hat and think of all the costumes it could be incorporated into. You'll recognize some of the hats below from my past costumes.

Sometimes inspiration is instant. When I found the kids helmet at a yard sale I knew I had to be a 49er and the Ranger Hat was calling for me to dress up as my fav mascot Smokey Bear. The pirate hat however I bought on a whim because it was two bucks and found a unique costume twist for it later on.

Lastly I've got some rather strange ideas right here for you. In creating this seasons calligraphy practice list I had to go to the dictionary for some costume inspiration. I made up some character combinations you're unlikely to find in the Halloween aisle. These are costume words that run the A – Z gamut for practicing your calligraphy or if you feel inspired dress up as one of these!

Thanks Gritchelle Fallesgon for the photography of me in funny hats!

Celebrating a year of calligraphy with a summer word list

SummerWords001.jpg

It's my calligraversary! Myyy ca-llig-ra-ver-sary. And now I have an awful song in my head. Regardless I'm happy to say I've been practicing calligraphy for one year. The first 6 months was spent diligently practicing a few hours a week. And the last 6 months I've been less disciplined. I've mostly trotted out my new skill for creating notes for well wishes. I am so thankful that I did spend that chunk of time early on practicing. It felt like learning a foreign language. At times I needed to reference my notes to get my hand to translate the letter forms. But now I feel much more fluent and it flows pretty quickly even when I haven't practiced in awhile. 

If you've been thinking of taking up calligraphy and need some reasons to take the plunge I've got five for you.

It gives you a super power. You can instantly make something special for someone. Not that many people know how to do it, so, those who encounter your calligraphy will be wowed. 

It gives you a disguise. While on the topic of super powers my basic grocery list handwriting has not improved BUT I can quickly disguise that fact when I cloak it in calligraphy.

No spell check. Why is that an advantage? Well it's a good way to just practice good ol' fashioned spelling. I know I am very dependent on spell check but when I'm writing calligraphy I'm writing slowly and there's plenty of time to recognize if a word doesn't look right (sometimes). 

Endless possibilities. It's a skill. Like learning the basics of how to sew or knit you have a new medium to create from.

It's Cheap! You certainly can spend some dough on it but as hobbies go the basics are incredibly affordable. Paper, ink, pen nib, and holder won't cost much more than $25. Get a good book and if you can afford it take a class. A class will get you up and running more quickly.

It's been helpful for me to have go to word lists to practice from. Because summer is around the corner and Memorial Day weekend is on our heals I've created a new list. It's a summer day dream because we don't get much of the season in San Francisco. I hope it helps everyone to keep practicing!

Since google can't read calligraphy (yet) I'm also typeing out the summer word list for calligraphy practice:

August Fruit, Beach Umbrella, Ice Cream Excursions, Skinny Dipping Youth, X-Games, July Heat, Lake Kayaking, Maps, Naps, Ocean Wave, Twilights Quiet, Vacation Reading, Pool, Zou-bisou-bisou.

As you can see I have to get creative with the X an Z words. And oops, spelled kayak wrong.

I have much more practice ahead of me. To see how far I've come in a year check out my first calligraphy post and my six month followup. Both include word lists.

Christmas calligraphy

It's been six months since I started practicing calligraphy! Calligraphy has made it's way into my crafting world. I use it weekly in writing celebratory notes or just purely for practice. I'd been using a set of practice words I picked out which span the alphabet to gauge my progress. For the holidays I switched it up a bit by pulling words from 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. The poem doesn't include words beginning with every letter from the alphabet so I took some creative liberty to add some words that fit the story. This was a good opportunity to write in a color other than black and use different types of inks.

If you're curious about my progress take a look at my original calligraphy post.

Red ink on the left is a fountain pen ink by Winsor & Newton. The green on the right is an India Ink by Dr.PH.Martin's. I preferred working with the red because it held a consistent saturation as it flowed from the nib.

Red ink on the left is a fountain pen ink by Winsor & Newton. The green on the right is an India Ink by Dr.PH.Martin's. I preferred working with the red because it held a consistent saturation as it flowed from the nib.

The green on the left I mixed with gouache. Perhaps a bit too watery but I preferred working with it over the green India Ink from the first image. To keep a standard measure I generally practice with black ink, shown on the right. I've recently started using Higgins Eternal. I've actually found it a bit easier to work with than the Pelikan ink I was previously using. I was surprised since the HIggins is half the price.

The green on the left I mixed with gouache. Perhaps a bit too watery but I preferred working with it over the green India Ink from the first image. To keep a standard measure I generally practice with black ink, shown on the right. I've recently started using Higgins Eternal. I've actually found it a bit easier to work with than the Pelikan ink I was previously using. I was surprised since the HIggins is half the price.

I created some  catnip toys  labeled Merry Catnip and Fleas Navidad. 

I created some catnip toys labeled Merry Catnip and Fleas Navidad.