Calligraphy Creations

My original idea for my networked learning project was to learn calligraphy and then make a piece of artwork for my classroom.  I thought that learning these new skills would be simple because I have “pretty” handwriting.  However, learning calligraphy took more time than I thought as I met many challenges along the way.

I started out by researching different online resources to help me plan my project.  I was a little overwhelmed with everything that is available regarding this topic.  I had to sort through the good and the bad.  I came to learn that there are not only different styles of handwriting, but many different styles of calligraphy.  After buying my supplies, I moved on to the process of learning calligraphy.

It was difficult to form the basic strokes using the Speedball Crow Quill pen and ink.  Once I was comfortable with this writing utensil I moved on to another calligraphy pen and some markers to test out which one worked the best for me.  I love the Black Manuscript italic calligraphy pen!

Practicing lowercase and uppercase letters took lots of practice.  I enjoyed playing around with words and how I organized the letters.  Most calligraphers have their own unique style to writing and I wanted to try some things out.

My first creation on the small canvas was a learning experience.  Spacing the letters out was very difficult.  I used pencil and had to keep erasing to make sure that the sizing was consistent.  I also wanted the final product to fit the whole canvas.  I used both a calligraphy marker and Sharpie brush tip marker because I wanted the letters to stand out.

After hours of research, shopping, and practicing my skills, I was ready to create my final project!  I created this video to showcase what I learned through this networked learning adventure.

I am so happy with the way my project turned out!  It was definitely frustrating at times, but I am proud of myself for working through issues that popped up.  The quote I chose for the final project emulates the attitude that I want my students to have regarding failure.  People learn better from their own failed solutions rather than those provided by others (Kapur, 2014).

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Photo Credit: Kelsey Masserant

Throughout this project, my ideas were constantly changing.  I remixed the final product and wrote on a stepping stone rather than the large canvas.  This surface was rough and made the calligraphy more of a challenge.  This remix idea came to me after going through Berger’s Why, What If, and How questioning process (Berger, 2014).  I continued to question and analyze the best way to solve problems that I faced.  The more beautiful questions you ask, the better outcomes you will have (2014).

Creativity and innovation go hand in
hand with questioning.  It is important to note that “successful innovation requires experimentation and learning from failure” (Ray and Wilcox, 2015).  Without experimenting and learning from my mistakes, I do not think my final product would look the same.

Overall, I am very proud of how everything turned out.  I am excited to continue with my calligraphy journey.  I also want to incorporate a project like this in my classroom where students can learn from doing and be creative!

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Photo Credit: Kelsey Masserant

Berger, W. (2014). A more beautiful question: The power of inquiry to spark breakthrough ideas. New York, NY: Bloomsbury.

Happiness. (2012). [Recorded by Royalty Free Music from Bensound]. On http://www.bensound.com

Kapur, Manu. “Comparing Learning from Productive Failure and Vicarious Failure.”Journal of the Learning Sciences 23.4 (2014): 651-77. ProQuest. Web. 13 July 2016.

Wilcox, K. & Ray, E. (2015, March 2). Embracing Failure to Spur Success: A New Collaborative Innovation Model. EDUCAUSE Review, vol. 50, no. 2. Retrieved July 13, 2016.

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Practice Makes Perfect

I was really excited to get my networked learning project going.  After reviewing my resources, I decided to make a shopping list of supplies based on what the bloggers and artists recommended.  I took notes on which brand to buy and which not to buy.  As a young teacher, I also didn’t want to break the bank and spend a ton of money on supplies.  I kept the price in mind in addition to the quality.  I wanted to have some great tools that would last.  Once I had my plan, I headed out to Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics in high spirits.  My first stop was Jo-Ann’s and I was surprised with what I found:

At home, I was overwhelmed with the variety of tools and did not know what to even put on my list.  At both stores, I was unimpressed with the selection of calligraphy supplies.   I spent some time reading the packages and looking around other parts of the store to make sure I didn’t miss anything.  For future reference, Michael’s has them in two different sections, on opposite sides of the store.  From Jo-Ann’s (where I had more coupons) I bought:

From Michaels I bought:

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The first two blogs, By Dawn Nicole and Boxwood Avenue, provided me with some information to get started.  However, the “free” worksheets were not free or led me to other blog sites where I found some other resources.  Katrina Alana had some great basic calligraphy guide line practice worksheets that I slid under the paper I was writing on.  The guide lines are very important because your letters should make a 55 degree slant.  The lines also help make sure your sizes are accurate.  Since no worksheets had letters, I needed to look up images and videos before beginning as I am a very visual learner.

Here are some awesome resources I found:

Calligraphy for Beginners gives very important basic information on fountain pens.  The artist explains how to put the pen together and how to hold it (60 degrees with the paper and light pressure).  I never knew that all of these little details were so important to calligraphy until I started practicing.  They can make a huge difference in your strokes.

Jordan Moran’s Copperplate Calligraphy Basics teaches copperplate calligraphy in easy to follow steps.  I learned that there are seven basic calligraphy strokes in this traditional style of calligraphy as demonstrated in this short video.

Lessons that I learned while practicing calligraphy:

  1. Open up the container of ink carefully. It could splatter all over your hands or your dining room table, leading me to my next lesson.
  2. Have paper towel available! You will need it.
  3. Nibs are more than just my favorite Twizzlers candy. They are the tip of the calligraphy pen and vary in size depending on how thick you want your lines to be.
  4. It takes time!  You have to be REALLY patient and not get frustrated when you write.  Ink will splatter, paper may get stuck in the tip of your pen, and you will have to keep refilling your pen with ink.  Take your time and enjoy the ride.
  5. Parchment paper is much easier to write on compared to printer paper. Printer paper can rip with some down strokes and mess up the flow of the pen.
  6. Learning the basic strokes will help you form letters. Those seven basic strokes are a part of every lowercase letter in the alphabet.
  7. Just because something looks easy doesn’t mean it is. I thought that having good handwriting meant that calligraphy would come natural to me, however just like everything else, it takes practice.

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The next step in my calligraphy journey will be continuing to practice my letters.  Once I am more comfortable with the lower and uppercase letters, I will move on to experimenting with some of the other writing utensils.  I am very curious to see how the Sharpies write!  Stay tuned!

The Art of Writing

Have you ever wanted to learn a new hobby or learn how to make something and told yourself that you just didn’t have enough time?  Have you ever pinned a project on Pinterest and never looked at it again, or tried it, and it turn out as an epic “pinterest fail”?  Then we have something in common.  If you stumbled across my Pinterest page you may notice boards titled, “Crafty Things” or “Yummy Foods”, also known as things I really want to learn how to make.  Have I actually followed through and made them? Before last year, my answer to that question would have been no.  If you asked me today, I would say I successfully made three beautiful projects.

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Summer 2015 Projects: Left-Graduation gift for my sister, Right-Wall decor for my room, Bottom: Wall decor for my classroom, Photo Credit: Kelsey & Keri Masserant

With those completed, I am on to my next challenge.  My networked learning project is a combination of something I have always wanted to learn and something that I have been practicing over the years without even knowing it.  Let’s flash back to the years of learning proper penmanship and cursive in elementary school for a minute.  I was the student obsessively practicing her letters in the classroom and at home to make sure they looked absolutely perfect.  I was ecstatic whenever teachers would compliment me saying that I had “pretty penmanship”.

Moving forward to high school and college, I still enjoyed doodling in notebooks with different letter forms.  I experimented with quotes, names, or even vocabulary words from my classes.  I was the poster maker of group projects and queen of volunteering to write for anything.  My non-teacher friends always say, “you have such teacher handwriting” and I take that as a compliment.  I still write letters in cursive to a few of my friends using “snail mail” because I think writing is a wonderful form of art.  The written word is something that should be cherished and that is why I have chosen calligraphy writing as my networked learning project.

After searching on Google and Pinterest, I was I little overwhelmed with the results that I found.  There are numerous resources for how to write calligraphy, modern calligraphy, brush calligraphy, and hand-lettering.  My plan is to start by focusing on learning calligraphy with a fountain pen.

  • By Dawn Nicole has some great information regarding what supplies to purchase. She also has practice worksheets and tips in her “Modern Calligraphy 101” post, which will be valuable once I begin.
  • Chloe Mackintosh’s Boxwood Avenue, is another great resource that includes blog posts, practice worksheets, and a free calligraphy workshop.  I have already signed up for the workshop that guides you step by step through the art of calligraphy with instructions, tips, and examples.
  • Hand Lettering Tutorial goes through how to write the lower case alphabet using brush pens.  The artist in the video, Will Paterson, is a very talented graphic designer.  He has some other videos of brush calligraphy, which I will definitely be watching to help me along the way.  Will’s videos are easy to listen to and follow along in comparison to other calligraphy videos I have watched.

Once I get the basics of calligraphy down, I am going to move on and experiment with different writing utensils (brushes, markers) and surfaces (paper, canvas, wood).  My final product will be a decorative piece depicting one of my favorite quotes and will be a great new addition to my classroom.  I am nervous and excited to begin this project!