BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

“Every day I discover more and more beautiful things.  It’s enough to drive one mad.  I have such a desire to do everything, my head is bursting with it.” ~ Claude Monet

That, my friends, is my life mantra.  My husband and I were recently talking about the merits of becoming crazy skilled in one area versus being kind of okay in a whole bunch of areas.  I’ll give you one guess as to which side of the spectrum I reside.  Life is just too short not to try it all.  Ha!

One of the saddest things to me is when someone says that she has “always wanted” to try this or that but hasn’t because she believes she can’t.  I mean, sometimes I wish I could say that about dinner.  Sorry husband, I just don’t believe I’ll be really good at cooking dinner tonight.  Go figure it out for yourself.  I’ll stay here and knit.  Learning things takes work.  It’s trial and error.  And it’s super fun.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

In that spirit comes today’s post.  Recently I’ve been getting a few questions on Instagram about how I learned calligraphy or how one could get started.  Before I start a new craft or hobby, I usually spend an inordinate amount of time researching.  So, in the next few posts I’m sharing all of that info with you!  A beginner’s guide to starting calligraphy, if you will.   Now, I am definitely in no way, shape, or form a pro at calligraphy, but if you’re needing a little push or nudge to get started, here it is!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

At first, calligraphy seems like this overly complicated, refined art form.  And it is.  But it isn’t that scary and it is surprisingly one of the cheapest crafts to take up.  Here are the supplies that you should pick up:

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

First you will need a bottle of ink.  I started with the black FW acrylic ink. Then you need a small holder for your ink because you can’t really fit the calligraphy pen into the ink bottle.  These little bottles are perfect.  They are at Hobby Lobby in the paint section.  You’ll also need some washi tape to stick this ink bottle in.  It is a fantastic idea I saw at Blue Eye Brown Eye so you’re not in danger of accidentally knocking your ink over!

You will also need some paper. Of course.  Timothy had a ream of printer paper lying around so I “borrowed” it for my calligraphy.  You can order high quality paper and notebooks for calligraphy, but I think a ream of mid-range printer paper is the best for a beginner.  You’ll be using lots and lots of paper!


BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

Next you will need some pen holders.  These are the two long things in the above picture.  The wooden one is this straight pen holder.  The black one is this oblique pen holder.  The difference between the two holders is the position in which they place the nib.  I don’t really care for the straight holder, but I still included it because you should definitely see what works best for you.  I like the oblique holder because it really helps me get the right slant going on.

Then you shall need some nibs!  Nibs.  Best word ever.  I’ve tried a few and so far my favorite ones are the Hunt 101, the Zebra G, and the Nikko G.  Nibs are usually around $1-2, so you can try out a whole bunch of them!  They all give you a different feel and look. The Hunt 101 is my very favorite nib (so far).  I used it in all the calligraphy in this post.  One thing to be aware of is that nibs wear out with a lot of use.  If I spend an hour or so practicing a few nights a week, a Hunt 101 nib will last me two to three weeks.  So when you order nibs, be sure and order more than one at a time to save on shipping.

Some people only have a couple holders and take their nibs out of the holders each time they are done with a session.  But nibs are very delicate and kind of sharp.  They’re a big pain to get out of the holders.  So I just bought enough (cheap) holders for each brand of nibs, and I keep the nibs in the holder until they’re worn out.  Easy peasy!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphyThese are the rest of the supplies you will need, but you most likely have them around your house already.  You’ll need some Windex, paper towels, toothpaste, q-tips, and a small jar of water.  Easy peasy!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

 Once you have all your supplies, the first thing you will need to do is clean the nibs.  Nibs.  I love that word.  Nibs come with a coating of oil on them that will repel the ink, so you’ll need to get that off.  There are many ways you can do this, but my favorite way is to get a tiny bit of toothpaste on the end of a q-tip and rub both sides of the nib with it.  Then rinse it with some water and dry it.  Now you’re good to go!

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

Then you place your nib inside the holder of your choice.  Some nibs are more delicate than others, so treat them like they are baby butterflies.  Or else you’ll break them before you even get a chance to use them.  Not that I know this from experience or anything.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphyWhen inserting your nib into an oblique holder, just make sure it is at the angle you see here.  You want to be able to hold the holder flat in your hand and make sure the nib feels like it is in there straight.  Crooked nibs are bad.  They’ll ruin your life.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

Now it is time to set up your station! Calligraphy can get a little bit messy, so it’s good to find a space large enough for you to feel comfortable.  I usually use our dining table.


BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

You’ll need a spot for your writing paper.  I put my paper on top of a notebook to get a hard, stable surface.  Then, to the right of the paper if you’re a righty, you need your ink station.  For the ink station, fold a piece of paper in half, put your ink well on top of it, and your jar of water right next to it.

And, I said that calligraphy can get a bit messy.  Here is my work space before and after about thirty minutes of calligraphy practice.

BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy


BECOMING | a beginner's guide to learning calligraphy

It is at times like this that I wonder if we built a dining table or a craft table. Ha!

Next comes the most exciting part – inking up!  This post has already gotten super chatty, so I’ll come back soon with Part 2.  If you go order your supplies now, they may be here just in time for the next post!  So go do it!  It’s a must.  Not that I’m an enabler or anything.  But if I were an enabler, I would tell you that calligraphy supplies are a budget necessity.  You can use your supplies to write out your grocery list!  To send a thank you note!  To label gift tags! To make art!  To write love letters!  If you’ve always been wanting to try it out, consider this your sign from the computer screen.  GO FOR IT!!!


On July 25, 2014 · 4 Comments · In DIY

piano-wall-3We moved into this house about a year and a half ago.  Since that time we’ve installed a shower, a complete bathroom downstairs, ripped out flooring, installed tile, tore down walls, installed built in seating, and hung up buntings aplenty with command hooks.  But I haven’t hung any art.  I mean, you would think that would be the easiest thing ever, right?  But no.  I just cringe at the thought of nail holes.

Well, with the gallon of spackle we’ve already gone through in this house, I decided to just go for it.  The wall right above our piano has been begging me to turn it into a gallery wall.  I’ve been collecting thrift store and hand me down frames for ages in preparation.  Then a few days ago we were hosting a party at our house for our church’s music ministry.  There is nothing that gets me cranking out home projects than an impending party.  As evidenced here.


I had big plans to do a gallery wall, but I ran out of time due to the curtain project of death.  The curtain project of doom.  The curtain project of my worst nightmares.  Don’t worry, I’ll share more later.  Ha!  But it was the night before the party and the piano wall was a big blank canvas just needing some love.

Instead of rushing out a gallery wall full of half-hearted art, I thought I would just hang up my favorite picture and hope it could tide me over until I had more time.  I grabbed a floral box (just don’t tell Timothy it’s floral – he hasn’t noticed yet.  muahahaha), some colorful books, an owl bank, and a globe to fill up some space.  I also draped a pink scarf over the piano.  It’s a scarf that goes with an Indian outfit that Timothy’s family gave me.  Indian clothes have the best colors and patterns!



piano-wall-1For the other side of the piano I grabbed some more books, an owl from Goodwill that I spray painted years ago, and some quick DIY art.  I don’t love the owl, but I needed something for that space.  The art was the quickest and easiest thing ever.  It’s just a gift bag cut up to fit inside the frame.  Then I drew a cursive “G” and cut it out on white paper.  Oh, and MORE FLORAL.  I never knew floral could make me feel like such a rebel.

piano-wall-2So the next time you see this space, it will hopefully be full of frames and art, but until then this little wall is making me happy.  And, CHEERS FOR THE FIRST NAIL HOLES!!!!  I mean, if it hadn’t been for our mortgage and all the bills, hammering my first nail into our home’s wall would have definitely been my coming-of-age moment.  Regardless of the fact that a few weeks ago someone asked what grade in high school I was in. I mean, sheesh lady!  I’m 25 and hanging up art.  I’m like totally grown up.

Have you all hung up any art recently?  Are you rocking it out some gallery walls?  Does anyone else get crazy nervous to hang up the first pieces of art?  I’d love to hear.



On July 18, 2014 · 2 Comments · In Home

So, I’ve gotta admit, you guys were awesome.  We can feel the love that you put into every corner of the house.  Your kids’ initials scraped into the driveway?  The little step stools built in everywhere?  The little cubbies for our toothbrushes?  All the storage shelves for all the jam you canned?  You guys rocked it out.


I love nearly every decision you made when building our house.  The mirrored wall was a bit … extravagant.  To put it nicely.  But we were able to get rid of it before we moved in, so that wall o’ mirrors seems like a thing of the past.




But why oh why oh why did you decide to bedeck the windows like this?  Oh wait, I’m not just talking about the fancy wancy curtains.  I’m talking about what lies under them.


Under those voluptuous layers of fabric were two curtain rods on each window.  Complete with steel anchors holding in every screw.  Also under the fabric?  Two outlet plugs.  RIGHT BY THE CEILING.

It literally took hours to get the four curtain rods down, and then we were left with various holes in the walls.  Half of the anchors wouldn’t come out either, so we also had pieces of metal randomly sticking out.  And then the question of WHAT TO DO WITH THE OUTLETS.  Why are they even there?  What is their purpose?


As you can see, we took the curtain rods down and painted the trim at Christmastime and left the speckly walls alone.  They’ve just been hanging out since then.

Until this week that is.  In a coupon and gift card extravaganza, I was able to score some gorgeous curtain fabric.  And then it turned into one of the DIYs that never ends.  The large window is eight feet wide, so some massive curtain rods are needed.  A quick glance at all the stores show that the cheapest options are $35ish.  That’s over $70 for two curtain rods that would be covered up anyway.  I’m pretty sure I can DIY some for less than $10.  When staring at the windows trying to figure out how wide the curtain rods needed to be, I remembered our little predicament.

Photo-Jul-02,-3-35-36-PMDuh duh duh dunnnnnnnn.

So, previous homeowners.  Were all those anchors necessary?  You do realize that we had to buy stock in spackle to cover the mirrored walls.  I’m not prepared to spackle more.

Photo-Jul-02,-3-33-47-PMAnd to any future homeowners – the little metal tips are breaking off of most of the anchors.  So I’m just shoving the rest of the metal anchor parts back into the wall.  I hope that doesn’t cause you any future pain.  Ha!

And to the rest of the world – what are these super high outlet plugs for?  What do we do with them?  Why did the previous owners install them?  Why oh why oh why?

Here’s hoping that the walls get spackled and the curtains will get made before 2015.



On July 3, 2014 · 10 Comments · In Home

Lately I’ve been taking a small blogging break – from writing and reading.  I’ve noticed when I take a step back from the Pinterest and the blogs and the inspiration, that I *actually* get stuff done.  Ha!  I also had a small outpatient thing a few weeks ago, so I spent some quality time with my bed, meds, and Netflix.  Side note: Netflix on your computer/iPad AUTOMATICALLY KEEPS PLAYING THE NEXT EPISODE OF EVERYTHING.  Sorry to yell, but how amazing/horrifying is that?!  I’m all prepared to watch one episode of something and then do something productive, but Netflix is all nuh uh.  Nope.  Not happening.  Watch 25 more episodes of Friday Night Lights.

So that happened.  Here’s a few more things that have been going down around these here parts:



Lately the Joann store relatively close to us had its grand opening!  Complete with a 3-day-long offer to give gift cards to the first 100 people in line.  There were people in camping chairs and gear that got in line hours prior.  People were knitting and crocheting and reading quilt magazines in line.  People were complimenting each other on their handmade garments and color choices.  It was everything you could dream of.  Ha!


Lately my husband has been the sweetest ever.  Well, he always is, but this is “Lately Lovelies” thus the “lately” remains.  I gotta say, the man knows how to pick up prescriptions.


Lately I’ve been loving crocheting.  And not so loving all the end weaving.  I’m making a garland based off this pattern.  Well, that pattern is in German or something, so I’m just winging it.


Lately we had Vacation Bible School at our church.  The theme was “Under the Big Top”  so all the workers were asked to dress up in something circusy.  Of course my mind went immediately to TUTU!  I don’t have the body shape to pull off a full blown tutu like this, but it has always been my dream.  So I made a tutu, put my hair in a bow, and had the time of my life.  Oh, and all the children had fun, too.  That’s what VBS is all about of course.  It’s definitely not about making all my fashion dreams come true.  Ha!


Lately my itty bitty baby brother preached his first message at our church.  I couldn’t be more proud of him.  The night he preached I may or may not have gone through all the baby pictures I have of him.  I’m only a sister and I can’t take it.  I can’t fathom how parents do it.  I sure do love that ninja-kicking boy.  As well as my handsome running-man Indian.

So there’s a few things that have happened lately.  What have you been up to?


On July 1, 2014 · 7 Comments · In Lovely Life


Thank you all for your kind words on my last post and all the social media!  It means so much to know that so many people loved my sweet Grandma.

These past few weeks have been pretty crazy and emotional around here, and I took a small break from blogging.  I would love to say I completed all these awesome projects and invented a new Indian dish and learned Chinese.  But I did manage to lower my personal house cleaning standards, so there’s that.

It’s just that anything I could write about or do (like laundry, obviously) kind of seemed irrelevant, you know?  Death shakes things up.  It’s sobering and revealing.


When my Grandpa died nearly six years ago, I was away at college.  I immediately got in the car to drive home, and it rained my whole trip.  I was overwhelmed and trying to see through my tears and the rain when I cried out, “I’m so sad!  And Jesus, even You’re sad!  You’re crying, too!”  And then I realized how ridiculous I was.  I’m pretty sure the rain wasn’t Jesus’ tears.  And He surely wasn’t sad.  He was the One hanging out with my Grandpa!  And at that moment I was able to laugh.  I felt His comfort.

It’s been the same with my Grandma’s passing.  I’ve seen glimpses of God throughout this whole process.  My Grandma died right when spring was really starting to come around.  As we said goodbye to her, new life was budding everywhere around us.  A bird made a nest and laid eggs in my Mom’s front door wreath.  (She has since done everything but screw the wreath to the door and put up caution tape so no one disturbs it.)  We’ve watched as the eggs have hatched and the babies have grown.  I’ve watched as the tree in our backyard came to life with beautiful white flowers.  I’ve watched as baby bunnies have hopped across our yard.  Spring brings new life.


That’s what God does.  He brings new life.  Even if it’s hard for us to comprehend.  What looks dead and gone to us looks completely different to God.  As we mourn and cry and lay to rest the 92-year-old body of my Grandma, all we can see with our human eyes is death and loss.  But if we can look through God’s eyes, we can see new life budding.  She has begun her life in Heaven.

As we struggle with the loss of a job or the failure of a life plan, all we can see are our dreams and plans slipping through our fingers.  But if we can look through God’s eyes, we can see new dreams.  We can see that His ways are not our ways.  There are better things coming.

 As we stress and fret and fight through a hurting marriage, all we can see is pain.  But if we can look through His eyes, we can see the new life just around the corner.  The triumph and beauty that follows the pain of growing.

As we fall back into past habits and old temptations, all we can see is our weakness, shortcomings, and failures.  But if we can look through His eyes, we can see that we are new in Him.  In our weakness is He made strong.


So today, I’m aiming to look through God’s eyes.  To recognize the new life budding all around me.  To rejoice in the fact that I can rest in Him, in His dreams, in His plans, in His new life.


On May 20, 2014 · 3 Comments · In Lovely Life