*This is a paid post from an APW Sponsor*
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.”
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
- $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:
- Making Beautiful Envelopes
- Advanced Alphabet
- Building Words: Connecting Letters with Joins
- Coming Soon: How to create your own custom-colored ink
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.
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.)