Lefties, let’s face it: our world was designed for righties. Yes, we’re lucky they finally made lefty scissors and computer mice, but I think we all remember back when we had to awkwardly sit at a righty’s desk or take papers out of a 3-ring binder before being able to actually write on them. And don’t even get us started on can openers or spiral notebooks…

As if there aren’t enough disadvantages to being a lefty, calligraphy as a lefty poses its own set of challenges. But fear not, it also comes with a few advantages that’ll help you create beautiful handmade works of art. Below you’ll find our top five tips for lefty calligraphers that will help you to take your calligraphy to the next level!

1. Find the right angles

Just as we’ve had to figure out how to hold our pens and pencils to not drag our hand and smudge our writing, the same thing is necessary for dip pen. Some lefties are over-writers (curling their hand over the baseline) while others (like myself) are underwriters, writing with their wrist under the baseline.

Some lefty calligraphers take a more extreme angle with their pen (e.g. lower the pen so it’s closer to being parallel with the paper) and write with their hand underneath the actual writing. Playing around with good ol’ geometry can help you find the positioning that works best for you. We typically suggest our lefties start with a 45 degree angle and adjust for their comfort.

While you play around with the hand position that’s right for you, you can also adjust the angle of your paper. Turning your paper slightly clockwise may help an over-writer achieve the ideal comfort level without needing to drag his or her hand through ink.

2. Give yourself some space

Just like sitting next to your righty relatives at the Thanksgiving table creates some major spatial #leftyproblems, so does not giving yourself the necessary space to do calligraphy. When I was first starting out with brush pen calligraphy, I’d be cozied up on my couch, supporting and stabilizing my arm with my couch’s armrest and using only my wrist and hand. This made the transition to pointed pen at an actual desk more challenging because my left arm wasn’t prepared to move across a page along with my hand and wrist. So plan out your desk or table space before you start to write, and make sure your ink isn’t in your hand/arm path! 

3. Try an oblique nib holder

If you’ve tried a straight holder and it’s just NOT working for you, grab yourself one of THESE oblique holders to see if it helps to avoid the dreaded smudge.

Even oblique pens were even invented with righties in mind (we can’t have any nice things!), because obliques make it easier to achieve a right-leaning italic slant. Lefties normally have a more natural slant due to the angle required for our paper and/or hand, so we don’t typically need an oblique pen. But if you’re looking for a way decrease the chances of dragging your hand through wet ink, an oblique pen may be your new best friend.

Oblique pens take some playing around with; it can be odd to see your writing appearing ahead of your hand, but for some lefties they are a total game-changer!

4) Find your favorite nib(s)

Another group calligraphers categorize themselves into is heavy- versus light-handed. The preferred pressure you apply to your calligraphy pen doesn’t depend on whether you’re lefty or righty: I’m a relatively heavy-handed lefty, and I know both light-handed lefties and righties. The pressure you prefer to apply to your pen may determine which nibs you like best, though. Each nib is different due to the length of the tines; the longer the tines, the more flexile the nib, and the more ink that flows when pressure is applied. The angle lefties require for their hand may require a more flexible nib to get ink flowing, but we’ve truly seen a 50/50 split on nib preference in our classes! My personal favorite nib is the Brause Steno aka Blue Pumpkin — it has a medium-to-strong flex that gives you strong downstrokes and super-fine upstrokes, and bonus – it holds a good amount of ink! 

5. Be patient

This isn’t just a lefty tip – it’s true for any and all new calligraphers! I probably repeat this too many times in class, but it’s true. I spent hours practicing in the beginning, and it didn’t come easy to me. But unlike other hobbies I’ve picked up over the years, even though I wasn’t “good” at calligraphy at first, the benefits of practicing outweighed the frustration and impatience to make pretty things. Lefties may have a little more adjusting to do in order to get their positioning, angle and hand right, but both lefties and righties need patience and plenty of practice to see progress over time. Even the most famous calligraphers still do practice drills, so make sure you’re investing time and patience into your own work!

Hopefully these tips will help you navigate the world of lefty-calligraphy. We’d love to see your work, tag us on instagram (@sipandscript) or comment below with any questions! Happy lettering, friends!

 

 

 

 

 


Author: Alyssa Drury
Alyssa can be reached [email protected], click here to sign up for one of her upcoming Sip & Script classes!

 

Tucked away on a quaint street in Brookline Village is a specialty cheese shop (and cheese school!) called Curds & Co. When you walk in the door you’re instantly greeted by the owner, Jenn, and her team of Cheesemongers. Whether you’re a wine and cheese connoisseur or a total newb to it all, you’ll quickly be tempted by the cases filled with fine cheese, meats and goods. And can we talk about the WINE? This place has everything you need for the perfect girls-night-in or date-night…which made it an instant Sip & Script dream venue!

A little about Curds & Co:

Our mission of “Bringing great cheese and happiness to the people” all started with a love of storytelling and the art of a curated experience. Our goal is to have everyone leave the store with more cheese, knowledge, and happiness than they walked in with. If you leave the store without tasting cheese, we’re not satisfied.


We held our Intro to Modern Calligraphy class with a group of lovely ladies who came out to learn about cheese and wine, and of course get their lettering on! We were treated to a Ploughman’s Box (pictured below!), and a flight of wine that paired perfectly together.

We’re pretty fondue, Curds & Co., (and yes, we’re surprised we’ve made it this far without throwing in other cheese puns, too!). Thanks for hosting us – we’re already planning our next trip in! If you haven’t had the chance to check the shop out, head on over to their website, or Instagram and plan your visit!

For more classes like this, check out our calendar here, and sign up for our newsletter so you can be the first to know of upcoming classes and all things Sip & Script!

 

Happy lettering, friends!

If you’ve taken one of our Sip & Script classes before, you know that we love our Sumi ink so much, but let’s be real – – – adding a pop of color to some snail mail makes it so much more festive! We get so many questions about ink: where to buy it, what colors are available, and how to make your own, so we figured we’d share one of our favorite ways. There are so many great inks out there, (like THIS metallic gold script-squad favorite!) but sometimes making a custom color is needed.

One of our favorite ways to make a custom ink is by using gouache. Gouache (pronounced “gwash”) is a basically a super opaque watercolor paint, and when mixed with water and gum arabic (a binding/thickening product), it makes an awesome ink for your pointed pen!

 

There are several brands of gouache out there, and if you’re lucky to be close to a local craft store, we definitely recommend running in and seeing what they have. Otherwise, Amazon is our BFF for all things calligraphy! We do recommend purchasing a higher quality gouache, such as Winsor & Newton because it is significantly less grainy, and mixes exceptionally well. Other brands that we love are Holbein Acryla Gouache (acrylic-gouache based paint that makes your writing water-resistant!), Sennelier, and Schmincke.

What you’ll need:

  • gouache
  • small jar/ink pot
  • gum arabic – there is a liquid form and a powdered form. For making gouache based ink, we recommend the liquid form!
  • distilled water
  • water dropper* (optional, but very helpful to add water in slowly)
  • paint stirrer* (optional, we often use the back of our plastic calligraphy pens!)
  • scratch paper
  • calligraphy pen/nib of choice

 

Mixing gouache:

When making custom ink, it can get messy so make sure you’re doing it on a covered surface and have paper towels near by. We also recommend using a container that has an air-tight seal so you can store it away for future use. Here we used a clean mini honey jar!

Steps:

  1. Squeeze a small amount of gouache into the jar. If you’re only making enough for an envelope or a small project, just a few drops of gouache (~1-2) will do the trick. Otherwise, we recommend 4-6+ drops of paint to start!
  2. SLOWLY add water into the jar, start by adding just a drop of two (this is where the water dropper comes in handy). You don’t want to add water in too quickly otherwise you’ll end up with extremely thin ink.
  3. Mix with your stirrer or back of your pen until the paint and water are blended. Add in additional paint colors if needed in order to achieve desired color. Here, we started with our magenta colored acryla-gouache paint, and added in some white and just a small drop of black to create a violet colored ink.
  4. Add more water until your ink is close to the consistency of whole milk. If your container seals well, throw the cap on and give your ink a good shake to make sure all of the pigment is blended together.
  5. Test the ink out! If it doesn’t flow smoothly from your pen, try adding in a small amount of Gum Arabic (size of a dime) into the ink pot and mix together, then test it again. It may take a few attempts to get it to the right consistency.
  6. Repeat steps until you’re happy with the consistency and color of the ink.

Tips:

  • Like mentioned above, you can purchase a lower quality gouache, but keep in mind – the higher quality products you use, the better the results will be!
  • If you’re looking to create a pastel color, start off with white and add in color gradually. Starting with a white base helps to keep a lighter tone overall.
  • If you’re looking to create a deeper color, start off with a small amount of the color closest to what your desired look is, and add white or other necessary colors in slowly until you’re happy with the combination.
  • If you created a gouache based ink in the past and it seems dry or sticky when reopening, slowly add water in one drop at a time, to see if you can bring it back to life.
  • If you are making custom ink colors that requires mixing multiple gouache colors, write down the combination or take a photo for reference – your future self will thank you for the reminder! (Example: if you’re looking to create and match a specific color, like the infamous Tiffany Blue, you’ll need to mix multiple gouache paints to achieve the correct shade of turquoise. Keep track of how many drops of each color you use so you can recreate it again).
  • If you purchase your gouache as a set, check to see if it comes with a color chart (pictured below). These can be super helpful for matching colors, or for learning how to make new colors!

As always, let us know in the comments if you try making your own gouache-based ink! We love seeing your work, too, so make sure to tag us on Instagram so we can follow along on your lettering journey!