Calligraphy Class

I wanted to know more about hand lettering and calligraphy.

So, I took a class.

practicing calligraphy

The Des Moines Art Center offers many classes for all ages. One of them was a Calligraphy Class taught by Jahan Hamilton. I dabbled with handwriting, lettering, and calligraphy over the years, but never anything serious. Winter was upon us and I was curious about what I would learn, what I am doing right, and mostly what needs a lot of improvement.

Jahan’s Class was 6 weeks long and covered a few different styles, including Gothic and a more modern Chancery. Jahan is a teacher, a chef, and a jack of many trades. He has been lettering for many years, honed his skills with daily practice, and a formal education at the University of Iowa.

After the first class, I realized I had my work cut out for me. Self-teaching can give you many bad habits when you finally are instructed. Straight lines, serif, pressure, pen angles, ascend, descend… I would agree there is a uniqueness to your own style and flair, but it is very important to know how to practice it appropriately.

In class, there were 6 of us. All novice with our own varied experience. It was cool to see how we learned and improved along the way. We learned how to create colors with gouache and used India ink. We also playing around with different calligraphy pens and markers. My fellow classmate, Erica Van Nelson drew this guy. Erica also works at Quill & Nib, a fine pen store here in Valley Junction.

An unknown artist in a high school Des Moines Art Center class did this on the brown paper they put on the table. Such talent!

Each week, we were assigned a project. The final two weeks, we were to work on a final project. Jahan provided us with paper and instructed we needed to write at least 75 words.

I didn’t know what to do… My 10 year wedding anniversary was coming up for Chad and me, so I thought I would do something for us. I found some iridescent ink which matched colors art in our master bathroom. This gave me ideas to start at least. I sketched it out making it up along the way.

I landed on a song played at our wedding in 2010. The song lyrics are “You Belong to Me” written by Price, King, and Stewart in the early 1950’s. The version played at our wedding and was sang by Jason Wade. A testament to how you can be apart, but still have each other on your minds and be together.

The result. A framed piece for our anniversary.

I also included a picture of a piece our class did on our last day together. You can see everyone contributed their own style and flair.

Jahan recommends you should practice daily and carry a pen with you if you want to improve. So, I am off to work on my straight lines and spacing. What a fun class. I am glad I enrolled and met some new friends along the way.

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