Sunday, September 21, 2014

Learning from a Master

Last Wednesday's post included a photograph of a saying that I lettered using my new offset oblique calligraphy pen.  Following readers' requests for details, here is how I came about acquiring the pen, and the new skill - however fledgling it may be!

Just as of last month, I was asked to teach at Sam Flax, a fabulous art store here in Orlando.  CZT Debbie Perdue who held the position and who first introduced me to Zentangle® decided that the over two hour commute for her was becoming prohibitive and her concentration of tangled quilting was happily consuming most of her time.  

When the store sent out the updated fall calendar of classes, along with Zentangle, a new Copperplate Calligraphy workshop was offered.  I signed up immediately.  

Master calligrapher Kaye Hanna taught the eight hour class.  For the first two and a half hours we worked on correct pen hold, proper posture, paper positioning, line slant, and pressure and release when making strokes.  

It really did take all of the first few hours just to get comfortable with the proper hold and angle of the pen.

That may sound exhausting, but the time flew.  Any eagerness I had to start writing letters was quickly squelched as Kaye stressed the importance of following the methodical steps she laid out.  

My friend, fellow CZT, and classmate, Carolyn Russell took this photograph of me ~

And I took this one of her practicing away ~

We worked on mastering the amount of pressure applied to the pen to obtain the intended results ~

At the end of class, Kaye demonstrated lettering with blue ink ~

Kaye's website is  - do visit and view her lovely work.

Throughout the day, I kept thinking of the contrast of calligraphy with Zetangle. The former is so very precise, calculated, disciplined.  The latter is free of confines, mistakes, and preconceived form.  

Maria Thomas, a master calligrapher for decades, developed Zentangle - along with Rick Roberts, and the two art forms are so diverse.  It was an interesting realization.

By taking this calligraphy class and now practicing on my own, I feel as though I have gone about Maria's path in quite the opposite way (on a much smaller scale!) and yet I have a greater appreciation for both art forms as well as Maria herself.

So there you have my story on how I came to own and use that nifty offset pen.  

For years I had hoped to take a calligraphy class.  Twice I signed up through a local community college and twice the class was cancelled due to lack of students.   

There were a dozen of us at this class and a few said they would attend my upcoming Zentangle class - perhaps tangling will help renew the interest in calligraphy and vice versa!


  1. Great post - as a new (hooked) tangler, I was interested in your calligraphy insights. Darling photo of you, too :-)

    1. You are sweet to say that, thank you.
      If you find a calligraphy class in your area, do try it out.
      I'm happy to know that you are new to tangling and 'hooked' - welcome to the community!

  2. I took a calligraphy class many years ago through a local parks and rec program -- at age 8! I'm amazed at how much I remember, but I'm sure it's because it becomes muscle memory as you work on it.

    1. Now that you mentioned muscle memory, that is another thing that Kaye stressed. It is interesting to know that you have retained it from such a young age.