Let Manayunk Calligraphy Teach You How to Do It Yourself


Without the pressure of perfection

by Keriann Kohler, Advertising Manager

Manayunk Calligraphy woman writing calligraphy
Confession time: I totally fake-calligraphied the addresses on our wedding invitations. I grabbed a fountain pen my artist fiancé had lying around, Googled basic letter shapes on the Internet, and then… just kind of wrote names and addresses. While I don’t think any human needs calligraphy on their… anything… I was already in pretty deep with the skills I’d learned to create my wedding invites. I’d spent countless hours creating the invites—brainstorming, designing, paper shopping, printing, assembling, and HAND SEWING (don’t ask!)—and I kind of ran out of steam when it got to the envelopes. Which is fine and all, but as a lover of hand-written notes, calligraphy would’ve been one skill set in all the DIY wedding planning madness that would’ve actually carried over into real life. So when we got an email from longtime APW reader Kimberly Shrack of Indianapolis’s Manayunk Calligraphy about her online calligraphy classes, I felt a rush of, “Ohhh, THIS is what I needed.”

Manayunk Calligraphy Styles - Cape Codder envelopeManayunk Calligraphy Styles - Moscow Mule marker envelope

Kim told me she picked up the pen during her own wedding planning process because she wasn’t particularly crafty but wanted to do something that would lend a personal touch to the wedding. That journey has led her to become a cheerleader for everyone who can’t sew, bake, or make art, but wants to do something special and handmade for their wedding. Good handwriting, funnily enough, is not a pre-qualification.

One of Kim’s students explains it this way:

I’m not the most artsy-fartsy person out there, but I enjoy crafting now and again. Looking at calligraphy on Pinterest makes me SWOON—I can’t get enough of it. So I hopped at the chance to learn it myself! Kim does a fantastic job explaining the basics of calligraphy (including terminology), how to hold the pen, the simple strokes, and finally the lowercase and uppercase alphabet. I was really surprised at how quickly I got the hang of it!

And, obviously, you don’t have to be getting married to learn calligraphy. It’s great for party decorations, original artwork, stellar love letters, your next tattoo, upping your Instagram game, love letters, and so much more.

HOW IT WORKS

In Manayunk Calligraphy’s two and a half hour Modern Calligraphy for Beginners Workshop, you’ll learn the basics of modern pointed pen calligraphy, including:

  • How to work and assemble your tools
  • How to form basic strokes, from hairlines to loops and everything in between
  • How to script a basic alphabet, including lowercase, uppercase, numbers, and symbols
  • Tips and tricks from a professional calligrapher

Price

  • $90 for the workshop-only option (get 15% off now through August 1st with the code APW15), which includes a list of what supplies you need and recommendations on where to purchase
  • $135 for the workshop with all the supplies you need sent straight to your door

In addition to the beginner’s class, Manayunk also offers several intermediate mini-workshops to up your calligraphy game. Those are under $50 and include topics like:

Manayunk Calligraphy suppliesManayunk Calligraphy Styles - Gimlet envelope

Here’s why we love Manayunk’s classes:

  • The online workshops are as close as can be to an in-person workshop. Kim does everything alongside you. Unlike the YouTube videos that quickly (and silently) show you the alphabet, when Kim demonstrates, she doesn’t just make one letter B and move on. She makes a dozen, providing tips along the way. That means you don’t need to watch, pause, watch, pause. You just press play and follow along.
  • Kim’s aim is for you to develop your own calligraphy style, so she starts by teaching students the basic strokes that make up the alphabet, rather than by having you just copy the alphabet. Spending time breaking down the building blocks of the techniques at the beginning will save you hours of copying and adopting other people’s styles before developing your own.
  • There’s an online community where you can ask Kim and other students questions and get feedback on your work—just like an in-person workshop.
  • Your access to a course never expires; you can come back for a refresher years later.
  • And, best of all, Kim absolutely insists you be gentle with yourself during the learning process. As she hilariously explains:

You’ll never hear me say “practice makes perfect.” And that’s because perfect is bullshit. I like to let folks know that up front. If you want perfect, pick a font. But if you want something with character and heart, something handmade, textural, and different, go with calligraphy.

Manayunk Calligraphy woman addressing envelopes

In addition to online classes, Manayunk Calligraphy also offers custom invite addressing, in-person workshops in Indianapolis, and an array of lovely prints and products. So if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to address a gorgeous envelope or doodle your favorite quote for Instagram, head on over to the site for more info on online classes, or, if you’re lucky enough to be in Indianapolis, the schedule of in-person workshops with Kim. And if you’d rather just hire someone to do calligraphy for you? Kim does that too. (Rates vary based on a variety of factors, but the average cost is about $3 per envelope.)

MANAYUNK CALLIGRAPHY IS OFFERING 15% OFF THE MODERN CALLIGRAPHY FOR BEGINNERS ONLINE WORKSHOP (WORKSHOP-ONLY OPTION) FROM NOW UNTIL AUGUST 1ST. USE COUPON CODE APW15 AT CHECKOUT.

Keriann Kohler

After spending her formative years in a monastic pursuit to become a professional ballet dancer, Keriann has since embarked on a mission to make up for lost time by doing All The Things. A reader since way back, the APW community has taught her wanderlusting, commitment-phobic self that while exploration is good for life experience, marriage isn’t so bad for a relationship, and she’s been happily married since 2011.

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  • emilyg25

    OMG SIGNED UP YESSSSSS

  • ae

    The coupon code does not work for me either.

  • s

    How doable for lefties is this? I’ve tried before based on other tutorials but something about pushing the letters instead of pulling them, and having to be careful not to drag my hand through the completed writing, just ruuuuuuins it. Any tricks for sinistrals here?

    • knolan12

      I would like to know too! I want to learn how to do calligraphy, but as a lefty, I’m afraid I won’t be able to figure it out.

      • Kimberly Shrack

        See above – definitely for lefties!

    • Cleo

      Thirded! My mom is a semi-pro calligrapher (addresses wedding/bar/bat mitzvah invites for family and close friends) and a righty. She’s tried to teach me, but the end result always ends up being a lot of ugly (smudged) letters and either ink on my hand, or a shoulder cramp from having to twist my arm in a weird way to avoid smudging the letters.

      • Kimberly Shrack

        See above! And re: ink on the hand – that has become such a signature part of my everyday look that one of my friends dressed up as me for Halloween and doused her arm in it. It’s a little messy and that’s cool!

        • Cleo

          Thanks!! Will definitely consider it now :)

    • Kimberly Shrack

      Hey ladies! I have lefties in each and every one of my classes. In the beginner’s class, there are some special leftie instructions. The method I use is pointed pen, meaning the thicks and thins are based on pressure, rather than the angle at which you hold the pen – WAY easier for lefties! If you are an “under” writer, you just need to make a couple tweaks. It’s a bit more difficult for “over” writers, but still very much achievable. I hope this helps, and I hope to see you in class!

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      • Eenie

        If I’ve learned, crudely, several years ago how to make basic letters with the angled type pen, is this going to be like starting over from scratch?

  • Leigh

    i realize this is a paid post, but for those more budget minded, you can also check out the postman’s knock, who has worksheets for $5 and a TON of free videos and articles. i’m a self taught calligrapher with help from her stuff (ig: linyeesantooey)