Last month I very excitedly popped along to Lamplighter London’s calligraphy workshop at West Elm. I’d got the tickets via Quill London, who regularly host workshops in different places with different teachers.
I’ve been keen to have a go at calligraphy for ages, as I think it could be incorporated into letterpress designs beautifully, plus my handwriting is truly awful (I know a lot of people say that, but honestly) so any help in that department is gladly received.
I think there were about 20 people across a few tables, so the workshop was split into demonstrations around Chiara, founder of Lamplighter London, and practicing in our small groups with Chiara popping around giving one-to-one advice and close up demos. Considering it was only a 2.5 hour class, I think this was done really well. We got plenty of help and attention whenever we needed it (which turned out to be quite often).
The space itself at West Elm wasn’t ideal, as when Chiara was talking to the whole group, noisy customers were wandering in and out of our area looking at furniture and arguing about decor. It was fine after the shop had shut though, an hour in.
I was on a table with four fab ladies, and we all acted as each other’s cheerleaders as it turns out calligraphy can be quite intense!
Holding the pen at the right angle, pressing harder on the down strokes, and more lightly on the up strokes all whilst keeping your hand relaxed… even when I write with a biro my hand is never relaxed so this was particularly challenging for me. I am a tense scribbler.
We started by tracing over calligraphy guides a couple of times to get a handle on the shapes of the letters and the direction of the strokes, and then we moved on to free hand, practicing a simple phrase or short sentence. With varying success.
I struggled to keep my letters spaced far enough apart, ending up with over the top, joined-up handwriting, rather than anything really resembling calligraphy.
To be honest I was ready to come to terms with the fact that my personal “calligraphy” would always look as though the letters really fancied each other, but Chiara popped round and wrote out the word ‘creative’ for me to copy, and after a few goes I started to find a rhythm.
It was quite literally in the final moments I managed to write out the Inky slogan and Chiara seemed genuinely pleased for me, haha. Which made it all the more satisfying.
The workshop was £44, and include all tools and materials (pen and nib, ink, guide sheets) which you get to take home to continue practicing with. They’re run at venues all over London but they sell out really quickly so keep an eye on Quill London’s site for new dates!
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