101 in 1001 #65: Learn calligraphy!

I have a new hobby!!!!! Last night after nearly two months of anticipation, I took my first calligraphy class by Hooked Calligraphy through LAB Minneapolis, and it was an utter dream. 

Rewind: I've always had excellent cursive handwriting, and have always enjoyed that little nerd skill. See holiday to-do list, below, for example: 


I have ALSO, however, always had an absurdly intense desire to learn calligraphy. Fans of EL Konigsburg (one of my favorite children's book authors) may remember "The View From Saturday," a book about a quiz bowl team in which calligraphy plays a major role. No? Just me? Nbd. Throw on top of that the fact that my brilliantly gifted younger sister Em is a graphic designer and has a true artistic gift for lettering in all its forms, and you have one envious sister. See her work below, for example: 

HI RIGHT? So I signed up for the Lab class as soon as I decided to make calligraphy a goal on my 101 in 1001. Last night found me strolling across a drizzly, gray Loring Park (getting chased by a territorial goose in the process) to the Loring Corners building. 

My calligraphy companions and I wound our way through a labyrinthine warehouse/office space until we came to this most Instagrammable of setups for our evening class: 

I'm such an aesthete. Why not take the extra bit of bother to make something beautiful? The prettiness of the event set it up to be a truly fun and lovely evening. Major props to the team at LAB for ensuring the night was off to a gorgeous start! 

Our instructor for the night, the crazy-talented Clair of Hooked Calligraphy, walked us through the intricacies of the calligraphy pen and then threw us right in by telling us to dip our pens in our ink and try writing our names. Needless to say, I was NOT a natural. 


After hilarity ensued all around, and once I'd blotted the ink off my hands, sleeves, and the table (fail), we started with the basics...the downward stroke, the downward/upward combo, and then drawing "O"s. The tip of a calligraphy pen splits based on how much pressure the writer applies, and that drives the thickness of the line...thick lines and pressure for downward strokes, and the most feather-soft drag upward for thin upstrokes. It is HARD. 


That said, I was so pleasantly surprised by how fast I started to get the hang of it. Not saying that I instantly became a Martha Stewart-worthy calligrapher, by any means, but as soon as I got accustomed to the different grip and handfeel of the pen, and the excruciating slowness and attention to detail it required, I started improving. 


While we practiced, Clair passed around amazing samples of her work, on everything from wedding invitations and envelopes to postcards and gift tags. My favorite? She scanned her handwriting into her computer, and used it to make lasercut wood "place cards" for a wedding...they were spectacular and looked so impressive. 

By the end of class, I was utterly hooked...exactly the goal of a company called Hooked Calligraphy, duh! I can already tell that this is going to be a dangerous (and expensive) new hobby. It's perfect though...the careful intention behind the art, and the way it forces the writer to be slow and focused, is exactly what I need to unwind. 

Before you know it, I'll be hitting Emily levels of skill and artistry...HA! 

If you're into any kind of artistic endeavor in the Twin Cities, I can't recommend LAB highly enough...find them here. I'd also suggest you follow them (and Clair!) on Instagram for some major prettiness in your feed on the daily. Otherwise, check out the rest of my second 101 in 1001 here...and come along for the fun next time!