Wedding Calligraphy – Bride de Force

To make beautiful stationery for your wedding using Modern Calligraphy, you will need:

* An oblique calligraphy pen-holder such as this ‘Speedball’ pen

* A nib, (here I’m using a Japanese ’Nikko G’ nib)

* Some Higgins Eternal Black Ink

* Some card, ready-made place cards, or whatever it is you’d like to create

* A pot of water and a piece of kitchen roll to wash your pen and clean up any spills.

* A box of matches, to prepare your nib

* Washi tape, to keep the card in place

  1. Assembling the pen:
 First of all, you will need to prepare your nib by passing it under a flame 2-3 times, to remove excess oils and make the ink flow smoothly. Once this is done, simply insert your nib into the slit at the tip of the penholder, making sure that the nib is parallel to your surface.
  2. Holding the pen:
 Position yourself with a straight back and place both your arm and wrist flat on the table. The pen should naturally sit on your middle finger, with your fingers holding it about 1cm away from the end. Allow the other end of the pen to rest on your hand, rather than sitting upright, as this will allow for a more relaxed stroke and less snagging. The motion for calligraphy comes mainly from your arm, rather than your fingers, so don’t hold on too tightly. You will see that the pen sits naturally at an angle, but I tend to also have my paper at an angle too.
  3. Writing:
 Now that your pen is ready, dip the nib into your pot of ink. You should dip it just enough to fill the vent that sits in the middle, and I usually then dab off any excess ink on the side of the pot.
  4. Technique:
 The technique with calligraphy is all about applying and releasing pressure on the pen with your index finger, which in turn changes the width of the stroke. You will see that there are two little prongs called ‘tines’ at the end of the nib, which separate under pressure to let ink flow through. When you press down with pressure, the tines separate to create a thick line, whereas when you release, they spring back together and make a thinner line. It’s all about this transition.
  5. Strokes: Most letters in a calligraphy alphabet are made up of the same few strokes and shapes, so it’s important to practise these before we get started on the letters. Practise applying pressure, to create thick downstrokes, and releasing pressure to create thin upstrokes. Then try putting the two strokes together, – you will need to go slowly to maintain control. These are a few exercises that will help you get your flow.
  6. Letters:
 When it comes to creating letters, you will need to practise all letters in the alphabet before you accomplish full words. We won’t have time to go through them all today but you will be able to download practise sheets from the website. The proportion and shape of each letter is very important,all letters start on the baseline, and all lower case letters sit between the smaller lines in the middle. The ascenders and descenders reach as far as the lines above and below. I’ll be writing letters in my own modern style – and once you’ve practised you’ll soon develop a style that works for you!
  7. Place cards:
 To make my place cards, I start by taping the card to my worktop, so that it doesn’t slip. I then take my pen and hold it gently in my hand at an angle to the paper. Starting with the letter ’N,’ I increase pressure on the downstrokes, and release on the upstrokes. Each letter has a ‘connector’, to let it flow into the next letter, and these need to be evenly spaced. The key is to keep the proportions and the angles of your letters consistent. <Write out ‘Natasha,’ and then a couple more names (‘Sarah, James’>
  1. Practise, practise, practise with letters and words. You can then use your new skill to create place cards, favour tags, table plans, and even invitations and envelopes!

For the full downloadable tutorial guide click here.

A HUGE thank you to the lovely Natasha Grove from Away With Words Calligraphy. Visit her website for more information:

Natasha also runs amazing calligraphy workshops… for more information see: