Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Calligraphy - A Lost Art

Hi, all. Elaine, here. I really got myself into a bind with this post. My intention was to give you wonderful readers a new craft idea using an old art form—calligraphy. The project I had in mind is fast and easy and would make good gifts for the graduate. Then I hit a snag and couldn’t produce it. If I had, I’ve have posted a photo here. I’ll explain later. Needless to say, this isn't an example of my work.

Let me give you a word picture instead. The project requires wooden rectangular plaques you can buy from the craft store. If you’re a carpenter (or know one) you can make your own with scrap wood. The plaques should be from three to seven inches and sanded smoothly on one side and a hole in the back for hanging. On the front, you write in free-hand calligraphy a quote, verse, or names and dates of an important event. Then varnish it and that’s it. A good way to commemorate the day and give a keepsake that will last through the years.

Calligraphy is easy to learn, and you don’t need any artistic ability because the effect is produced by the way you hold the pen and the shape of the nib. Pens come in either steel or felt tip. You can find a free lesson on YouTube. Just google calligraphy.

Since this blog is hosted by writers and most of our followers are avid readers or writers, you might be interested in this ancient writing form. Did you know all the fonts available on your computer were developed over many years by master calligraphers?

Calligraphy means beautiful writing and has been used for centuries to record the most important words in history. Before Christ, scribes were recording religious scrolls and books. Monks took over the responsibility of copying Christian literature, using the elaborate scroll work of calligraphy. As the years went on, Gothic became popular. This is Gothic script.

In 1454, when Johannes Gutenberg developed the printing press, he adopted Gothic as the first typeface.

Calligraphy isn’t dead yet. Modern calligraphy ranges from functional inscriptions and designs to fine art pieces where letters may or may not be legible. Calligraphy continues to flourish in the forms of wedding and event invitations, font design, topography, original hand-lettered logo design, and religious art.

The purpose of calligraphy—to record the wisdom of the ages—is past. The letters to communicate are already set in type. But we owe our ability to read and write to the calligraphers of the past.

I discovered the art of calligraphy was lost to me when I sat down to write out a motto on my plaque. Calligraphy is a skill that requires practice, and I hadn’t held a nib in over a decade. I’ve lost the skill, and it will take months of practice to regain it. That’s the one other thing you’ll need to invest in to make the craft project I described above—time to practice.

This illustrates a lesson for us all. Our God-given talents and skills must be practiced daily or we’ll lose them. I have all those wooden plaques waiting for me, so I’m going to practice my calligraphy.

What’s a favorite quote or scripture verse you could recommend for me?

Leave a comment any day this week for a chance to win a copy of Jennifer Fromke’s A Familiar Shore.


  1. One of my favorite non-scriptural quotes is: Success is that place in the road where preparation and opportunity meet. Too few people recognize it because it comes disguised as hard work.
    I've always wanted to do calligraphy, and now I may!

    1. Thanks, Patricia,

      That's a quote to live by.

  2. I love calligraphy, but I am not good at it. I need more practice. lol

    One of my favorite verses is:
    Isaiah 54:17
    No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.

    Amber Schamel

  3. Thanks, Amber

    I'm unfamiliar with this scripture but I like it. It would take an 8x10 plaque I'm guessing.

  4. I've always loved the beautiful lines of calligraphy. I might have to try this project.

    God never promises the absence of storms.
    He just promises to walk with us through them.

    This quote was tweeted by @TheGospels

    Dana Phelps

    1. Wow, Dana,

      I love that quote. Thanks for stopping by today.