A Hand Calligraphed Quote


Last weekend I worked on a little calligraphy project for a very lovely lady. I enjoyed it, because it gave me an excuse to stock up on pen nibs and pretty ink. Penelope keeps breaking my pen nibs and Chris says it’s because she wants to secure her position as the only working Pen in the house. He’s probably right.

Here’s what it says:

“When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

– Desiderius Erasmus

I went for a very spontaneous look and just winged it. It was fun, but as soon as I was half way done I started to think crazy thoughts like: What if I mess up? Do I remember how to write a ‘y’? Oh crap! I’m going to mess up! I hate it when I start thinking thoughts like that. When I used to play the organ for weekly church service those same thoughts would go through my head then I would lose my place and skip a note. It was so embarrassing. Thankfully, my crazy thoughts of self-doubt and stress didn’t get to me; I was able to finish my quote with success.

I wanted to use white ink for this project, but the Higgins “waterproof” white ink that I have totally blows. I know, I know. It’s cheap ink. I should stop buying cheap supplies! I went to my local art supply store and stepped it up a notch and bought Dr. Ph. Martin’s Bombay India Ink. I love how smooth the inks are, especially the white ink! I really like my new inks a lot. What brands of inks have you tried? Which have you liked/disliked? I’d love to hear!

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    1. Michelle says:

      So how much for you to make me one?! Love it!

    2. Nicole-Lynn says:

      Ohh so pretty! I just finished a calligraphy course to learn basic italic and I think it’s so neat :)

    3. nicole says:

      oh so lovely.

    4. marissa says:

      so beautiful! is that on a blackboard or does the green just make it look like one? either way, i love the effect. what pen(s) did you use? i am a total pen-holic. if this quote were written for me, it would say “pens” instead of “books.” hahahaha!

      • Melissa says:

        It’s just teal paper mounted on black paper! It does look like a chalk board.

        I used a traditional pen & ink style pen with calligraphy pen nibs, the pen nib I used is extra fine for detail work. I could post pics if you’d like!

    5. cathiehong says:

      that ink looks perfect! i use speedball calligraphy ink, but my white definitely does not go on as dense as yours. must try this new one!

    6. Shaela says:

      this is beautiful!! I wish I knew calligraphy. :)

    7. Laura says:

      oh good gravy, this takes my breath away. please please sell me one?

      i might have to try taking a calligraphy class. . .

    8. natalie says:

      i am so excited for it. thank you so much. you are awesome.

    9. Tracy says:

      The work is beautiful!

      …and I’m still laughing about ‘only Pen in the house’ comment.

    10. Kari says:

      I want to take a calligraphy class. Did you take one, or are you self taught?

      • Melissa says:

        You should take one!! I’d love to.

        I’m self taught. I’ve mostly just followed and obsessed over pro calligraphers like B.Dunlap and Jenna.

    11. tiffany says:

      i’m actually trying to learn calligraphy on my own right now. just went to the library to borrow 6 calligraphy books. any suggestions or tips of where and how to even begin? what supplies do you suggest and where do you get them?

      • Melissa says:

        I just went to my local Reuel’s art & Frame (I think it’s a chain) and they had an entire section devoted to calligraphy. You can buy nibs individually (which I prefer) to insert in your pens. They run about $1-2 a piece. I’d suggest getting the calligraphy inks suggested in the blog post. They’re awesome. The colors are vibrant & they don’t bleed.

    12. i want to buy one of these?! please?

    13. SUPER adorable Melissa!!!!! love, love, love the calligraphy.

    14. Jody says:

      That is gorgeous!

    15. Reez says:

      I had to laugh when I read your post today. I know exactly what you mean about the doubts that creep in at the halfway point. This happened to me in high school while running 100m hurdles. I’m not an athlete but needed extracurriculars for my college application. So, I signed up for track and settled into the back of the pack. Well, one sunny day, they fire the gun, we start running and jumping over the hurdles. I felt good. Then, suddenly I realized no one was in front of me. Where is everyone? What did I do? Did I jump the gun? So, I stopped then everyone else ran past me. I lost my rhythm and finished last when I could’ve placed first. I was so used to seeing people in front of me that I had erased the possibility of actually finishing first. Boo me!

    16. Jan says:

      hahaha – I love how you ask what ink we use when I was about to look up what a pen nib was exactly, lol. I have never met anyone or followed anyone else’s blog who does calligraphy. You got your degree in design, right? Was calligraphy a class you took for that? Or did you just figure things out on your own? I decided I wanted to have fancy penmanship once and so I printed off the alphabet in lots of different types and traced them over and over. I do know how to do a *stunning* capital “A” now, haha.

      • Melissa says:

        I actually got my degree in painting & drawing, but paid my way through school by working as a graphic designer for the University. I didn’t even take a calligraphy class while I was there, which was a real shame! I’ve just tried to figure things out on my own as I’ve gone along. Reading calligraphy blogs helps for sure.

    17. Faith says:

      This is really stunning, Melissa. I know what you mean about psyching yourself out. I get that way when I cross the half-way point in any woodworking project: the closer I get to the end the more neurotic I get.

      But this is really, really lovely.

    18. Kristen says:

      new to your blog – do you sell those quotes?? I can’t find a link or website! i hope you sell them! I would love one!

    19. […] IS•LY: calligraphy I’ve been into letterpress goods lately, like Rifle Paper Co. & Hammerpress, however I stumbled upon this beautiful piece of calligraphy from IS•LY. […]

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