Workshop Report: Modern Calligraphy with #NiftyNibsPH

10:30 AM

Happy Christmas everyone! It's wonderful to be back home for the season. A few Saturdays ago I held a Modern Calligraphy Workshop at Bo's Coffee Katipunan. It was a delight to be able to share my love for the pointed pen with a group of eager enthusiasts in an intimate environment. On a chilly rainy morning, we sat down with our brewed iced teas and breakfast muffins for a beginner's course in modern calligraphy. Apologies for the quality of these photos; they were taken with cameraphones.

I prepared a kit for each participant, packed with tools I use on a regular basis. Some of them are seen here. The gray standard pen holder is something I prefer over the black Speedball holder, which although sleeker-looking, holds smaller nibs loosely. The Gillot 404 is great for beginners because it's a robust nib that starts out moderately flexible, then kind of trains with you, becoming more flexible as you learn how to control the pressure needed to make thick and thin lines. Higgins Eternal Black ink is a very popular "practice" ink as it has great consistency and is affordable.

After an introduction to calligraphy tools and how to prepare nibs, participants explored the contents of their own kits. We started out with drills, from the principal strokes to the elements of flourishing, before (finally!) moving on to letters. It was amusing how everyone wanted to perfect the form of their drills, so that we took about two hours to complete four practice sheets. Amusing, but also on target, for this is the foundation of beautiful calligraphy -- drills, drills, drills to develop muscle memory for letterforms.

Going around, it was wonderful to see how the participants' writing improved with suggestions on nib placement and body posture. My good friend Faith of Faith Art and Letters was also there, giving additional advice and a local view on the craft (such as where to get supplies!). We also used watercolor as calligraphy ink, and created lovely gradients with different colors.

There were about fifteen of us and we just fit in the enclosed veranda on the coffee shop's third floor. I scheduled a morning class because I wanted as much light as possible to illuminate the space. Glass windows surround the area, which was perfect.

A little table displayed some supplies I had for sale. I ran out of blue pumpkin nibs and oblique pen holders!

Aside from the workshop itself, it was great to meet up with old friends and friends of friends.

With Ding, sister of my friend and colleague Kelly.

With Tellie of course, of Beauty by Tellie. She grabbed the last slot in the class!

With longtime friends FrancesFaith, and Jaime.

For our final activity, everyone made their own postcard to keep or to share. (That's me way in the back.) It was a wonderful way to spend a Saturday morning.

Given my schedule, I'm only in the country once a year to give these workshops. I even brought extra calligraphy kits, but these sold out! Next time I hope to push through with my Copperplate Calligraphy workshop, which will focus on proper letterforms and consistency in calligraphy in the formal Copperplate style. If you would like updates on future workshops and calligraphy supplies, follow @niftynibsph on Twitter or subscribe at

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Majority of the products you see here are purchased by me. Products that are provided by companies for consideration will contain a footnote indicating that fact, as will affiliate links. Rest assured that all reviews are written with my honest opinion.

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