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Calm your mind and create something beautiful with Calligraphy

Christina’s passion for calligraphy started in childhood when she saw her first medieval illuminated manuscript in a cathedral. The neat handwritten letters on vellum - the beautiful illustrations in the borders and the gleaming gold illuminations caught her imagination immediately. ‘I wanted to know how to create those pages myself,’ she says.

‘I was able to work with some wonderful calligraphers later on, who taught me how to prepare the vellum, made from animal skin, which was traditionally used before paper was widely available, and to make gesso the product used in gilding. You might not know that Newport Pagnell is the home to the only vellum manufacturer in the UK - William Cowley Parchment and Vellum Manufacturers, which was established in 1870.’

Christina explains: ‘Calligraphy is essentially a creative skill with many practical uses. However, the earliest traditions of eastern and western calligraphy came from monks and artists who also saw calligraphy as a spiritual discipline. Today, it can still be used as a practice to quieten and focus the mind.

‘There are beautiful books you can still see today which showcase the Western style of calligraphy, such as the Lindisfarne Gospels which were created 700 AD and are in the British Library and the Book of Kells, created 800 AD which you can see at Trinity College, Dublin.

‘You can also see examples of calligraphy at the Bodlean Library, Oxford, The Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and The Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge. However, you don’t need to travel to see calligraphy. Pinterest has many examples and Instagram has a large calligraphy community displaying its work.’

Why learn calligraphy?

Christina has been running classes and workshops for adults for many years. Learning pointed pen lettering has appealed to a broad range of students who have been able to use their new skills in many different ways. This includes decorating favourite prose and poems - producing certificates - special greeting cards and envelopes, wedding and christening invitations, place cards, etc.’

Christina’s students have included people who have a specific interest in mind, such as preparing their own stationery for a wedding or wanting to make their own birthday and Christmas cards. Some students work full-time and are looking for a creative, relaxing but focused interest that distracts them from the pressures of work. Other students have retired and want to enjoy learning a new skill that is enjoyable but has a practical use ,whilst meeting new people.

How you learn on the WAC course on Calligraphy and Flourishing

At the Westbury course you will learn the pointed pen ‘Copperplate’ calligraphy writing style.

Christina has created detailed worksheets for each class to cover all you need to know to create the letterforms (upper and lower case). Christina sits with all the students individually to work out any problems they may experience, whether it’s using too much pressure, finding a comfortable way to sit for their nib angle or developing consistency of strokes, faulty nibs - whatever comes up.

The first four weeks of the course focuses on creating beautiful copperplate letterforms. Later on, you will learn how to produce flourishes and more modern variations of copperplate. Both pointed pen calligraphy and flourishing are done using the same pen and nib so you do not need to buy or get used to using different pens and nibs.

Classes include the basics such as how to use and maintain the pointed pen equipment and

fun exercises to build up muscle memory and loosen the arm using a pencil.

Beginners to the class use ink which is waterproof when dry and can be washed off with soap and water.

Students who have already learned pointed pen calligraphy will move onto flourishing and subsequently to illustration and illumination using gouache, watercolour, colouring pencils, gold foil, crystals, and liquid pearls to make their own magical creations.

Christina says: ‘When I run my classes, I try to in

troduce some mindfulness, focus and meditation to the writing activity so that students can come out feeling relaxed and refreshed - not just from producing something beautiful, but from the steady and consistent activity of writing itself. Muscle memory is built up through repeated practice which certainly helps bring about good results.’

To learn more about this and other courses and workshops at Westbury, please visit:

To find out more

Find out more about the tutor Christina Janoszka on her website:

Image Credit: Christina Janoszka

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