Calligraphy Classes Outline

 Calligraphy classes are suitable for everybody

  • People who have a general interest
  • Those who make hand-crafted cards
  • Historians & people who are interested in history
  • Those (such as teachers/tutors) who may need to produce public notices, events posters etc.
  • Those interested in a career in advertising/design/graphic art
  • Those whose job involves lettering, i.e. engravers, masons, sculptors, artists, draughtsmen, typographers & printers
  • Archivists and librarians
  • Anyone who has their own personal project in mind which involves the use of lettering


Classes are held in an informal atmosphere. A large outlay is not necessary, and advice concerning the minimum of equipment is given.


Students are

  • introduced to the broad-edged pen,
  • receive advice and information about cartridge inks,
  • shown a range of different types of fountain pen with an explanation of how they are re-filled, plus advice on care and maintenance,
  • have the opportunity to try out a range of fountain pens and dip pens to assist them in deciding which one is suitable for them to buy - the tutor will lend pens to students at their first sessions, if they do not already have their own.


Students begin by completing a Practice Strokes guide sheet using the broad edged pen, forming the elementary curves and angles which are used in calligraphy. This ensures that they are making good contact with the paper, and will resolve any difficulties they may have in holding the pen effectively.


Basic calligraphy equipment is discussed and demonstrated.


A detailed Foundational Script guide sheet is issued, and the tutor demonstrates the execution of this to each student individually. Students then begin to practice forming the alphabet, using graph paper to help them. When the student is able to complete the Foundational alphabet without referring to the guide sheet, an elementary project may be suggested, such as a bookmark, or a hand made greetings card.


Those who wish to move on to a dip pen at this stage are given the opportunity of trying out a selection of tutor’s nibs and penholders, and the advantages of each are explained.


Advice is given concerning suitable dipping inks and papers.


Advanced calligraphy equipment is discussed, and where possible demonstrated.


Students are encouraged to complete a finished product in the Foundational script, which may take the form of a small quotation or verse of the student’s own choice. Assignments with assessment criteria are set for those who want them.


Detailed advice is given concerning layout and possible decoration.


Techniques of transferring designs by tracing are explained and demonstrated, and further advice is given concerning paints and brushes.


Once the Foundational script has been grasped, students are then in a position to be able to explore the major historical bookhands, together with their appropriate decoration, in context. Ideally this should incorporate:

  • Uncial Script - with Celtic decoration
  • Carolingian Script - with Ottonian decoration
  • Gothic scripts - with mediaeval decoration
  • Italic Script - with Renaissance decoration


The use of versals, (capitals) both decorated and plain, is usually covered.


Alternatively, some students may have a specific project of their own which they wish to pursue, in which case the tutor will endeavour to assist them to achieve their goals.


For advanced students there are many further transitional or minor scripts which may be studied, such as Anglo-Saxon, Romanesque, Bastarda, Humanistic, etc., plus the techniques of flourishing, hairlines and extensions.

For those who are interested in exploring contemporary calligraphy experimental work may be undertaken, which could incorporate a range of techniques such as printing with collagraphs, monoprints, linocuts, use of metallic foils, glitter, collage, resist, and the use of unconventional materials. It may also take the form of lettering on materials other than paper, such as fabrics, glass, wood, metal, concrete etc.


You will need to bring with you to each class:

  • pen (if you already have one, but please do not buy one until you have spoken to the tutor)
  • pencil (and pencil sharpener)
  • ruler
  • pad of graph paper (size of squares is immaterial)


Please contact the museum to discuss availability of classes.



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