• Sarah Pullen

My Copperplate Journey So Far

I have always been fascinated by letters and beautiful handwriting. My first memories of becoming aware of the power of beautiful handwriting was watching how my dad would write, and the importance he would place on legible, well written words. I believe his grandmother, too, had beautiful handwriting, most likely a cursive script, that would look gorgeous on a page. This early influence has shaped how I view handwriting. I remember being in class as a young girl and wanting to have the best handwriting in the classroom. That could just be a reflection of my competitive side, but having neat and pretty writing has always meant something to me and something I have wanted to feel proud of.

Despite this, it wasn’t until I was in my late 20s that I started to learn a little more about the art of beautiful writing, calligraphy and typography. I guess, like with my painting, my university experiences had temporarily pushed other creative endeavours to the bottom of my priority list.

Oh how that has changed!

About 18 months ago, I decided to pick up a pointed pen and see what I could do with it. Influenced, I expect, by trends rather than listening to my true self, I decided to focus on learning the looser, modern script. I loved it. It became my morning meditation for about 6 months; repeating letter after letter and getting to grips with nibs and ink. However, whilst modern calligraphy is very pretty and satisfying to practice, it never felt quite like ‘my style’.

When we moved to Somerset from Bournemouth, early 2019, my calligraphy practice took a little bit of a back seat. I did some modern calligraphy place names and invites for friends, but didn’t devote a great deal of time to developing my skills.

Then, in November 2019, following a bit of a break from practicing calligraphy, something clicked and an idea popped into my head. Why am I not learning Copperplate? Why am I not spending my time developing knowledge of and skills in the traditional, beautiful Copperplate script? I had books on it. I knew how beautiful it could be. Yet, I hadn’t plucked up the courage to learn it. I was scared, I think. I looked so precise! How could I ever write so perfectly?

But, with some encouragement, and very tentatively at first, I picked up my nib again, watched some Youtube videos, and put pen to paper.

And, eight months later, I am still going.

I am still a long, LONG way off where I want to be. But I have learned a lot since November and thought I would share with you some of what I have learnt over the last 6 months and any tips, for what they’re worth, on starting out in calligraphy.

Rather than overwhelming you with a huge post and scaring off those of you who aren’t so interested in learning calligraphy, I have decided to split this topic area up into a few separate blog entries which will follow on from this post: 1) Overview of Copperplate, Calligraphy Masters and Recommended Books, 2) Tools of the trade, and 3) Other useful tips I wish I had known before I started. My hope is that these posts can, in the end, provide a useful resource for any budding calligraphers.

Before I leave you to enjoy the rest of your Sunday, here’s an inspirational quote I love by Paulo Coehlo:

Sarah x

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