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Calligraphy Writing

Suketu Mehta
Calligraphy is a beautiful form of expressing yourself. Read on to learn the basics about it.
The literal translation of the word calligraphy is 'beautiful handwriting'. It is no surprise then that it is the art of creating beautiful handwriting and is also considered to be the epitome of skilled penmanship.
In earlier times, when there was no printing press, books were written through calligraphy. The writing was done by a scribe who used a quill to write the whole book. Every culture therefore had their own distinct writing style which was passed down to each generation.
In calligraphy, a special series of strokes and lines are used to create a letter. The pen moves more like an artist's paintbrush creating strokes for every letter. Although learning how to write calligraphy requires a lot of dedication and practice, basic guidelines on the same are discussed here.

Calligraphy Styles

Before you start, it is important that you choose a style which attracts you.
Calligraphy is being practiced since centuries and there are several styles like Gothic, Celtic, Japanese, Greek, Roman, Arabic and Chinese formed over all these years. Every writing style has a distinct look and ways to decorate its characters and symbols.
When you are starting, it will be easier if you choose a more simple style of calligraphy like Roman as opposed to a tougher style like Oriental or Old English. Once you are comfortable with the easier styles and can write easily, attempt the more complex writing styles.
Creating fine lines and bold strokes are not the only aspects of calligraphy, as you need to get familiar with the mechanics of holding and writing with the pen to create the right letters.
To learn calligraphy, you will require the correct pen, ink, and paper. A detailed description on each of the three is given here.

The Pen

● You need to obtain a pen with a chisel point for calligraphy. This is because you should be able to make a thick stroke with one side of the pen and a thin stroke by rotating the pen.

● Pens with felt tips are convenient and disposable as they do not require to be dipped in ink, and also never leak.
● Another option is fountain pens which can be refilled but require good maintenance to make them last long.
● You can also use steel point pens, in which you need to feed ink with a dropper. These pens are useful for creating hard edges as well as minute details, it becomes cumbersome to change tips every now and then.
● For beginners, you can use a quill for calligraphy. Keep a turkey or duck feather in the sun till it dries completely and then use a pen knife to make an angle at the tip.

● You can use a pencil, albeit with some improvisation. Create a chisel tip on the pencil by rubbing fine-grit sandpaper on one side and then flattening the other side.
● When you hold the pen or pencil for writing, it ideally should be at a 30 degree angle. Different calligraphy styles require to hold the pen at different angles. But for beginners, 30 degrees is alright.

The Ink

● When you purchase ink for writing, get a ink that is water based. Refer to the label on the bottle to know what base the ink is.
● Blot the ink along the back of the pen's nib or quill. Avoid dipping your pen completely in ink, as it can lead to blotches on the paper.

The Paper

● Purchase thick paper. For practice purposes, normal photocopying paper is alright but when you start getting better and are actually writing a project in calligraphy, buy minimum 120 gsm (grams per sq.meter) paper which is available at any art supply store.
● Figure out the correct table angle at which you are comfortable writing at. Some calligraphy writers like to use a drawing board, while others prefer placing the paper directly on the table and then writing.

● When you write on the paper, try tacking it or taping it lightly so that is does not move around and spoil your writing.
Apart from following these basic instructions, you need to practice a lot. There are numerous workshops, DVD tutorials, books, and classes which help you learn the art.
Make use of these facilities to understand how every character is written and then keep practicing. It may take some time, but once you learn the art of calligraphy, you will be amazed seeing how beautifully you are able to write.