5 calligraphy writing tips for Christmas cards and wrapping

Make your festive name tags and Christmas cards stand out with these beautiful modern calligraphy tips from Kirsten Burke

You must have seen the many typography prints of inspiring and uplifting phrases in beautifully wording that are available to buy? Have you ever fancied having a go yourself? We've got some fabulous tips from world-renowned calligraphic artist and teacher, Kirsten Burke, as featured in her new book, Secrets of Modern Calligraphy.

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greeting card decoration art work

(Image credit: Future PLC/ Jason Hedges /Secrets of modern calligraphy)

Choose the right kit

The essentials are a straight pen holder, Leonardt 30 pointed nib, black ink, plastic pippette and a small paint brush. There is no such thing as the perfect nib. Which nib you like best will be down to your own personal preference and will depend mostly on whether you naturally press very hard when you write, or whether you have a light touch. The size of the tip also varies from nib to nib so you will need an extra fine nib for very thin lines.

Getting started

Get your body position right. Sit up straight, relax your shoulders and rest the palm of your hand gently on the table so you can move easily back and forth. Then, it's all about the downstroke. Focus on those thicks! Make them as thick as you can. It's the contrast of that thick and think line that transforms normal lettering into calligraphy.

Practice, practice, practice

Grab a little 'me time' all to yourself and start to practise the strokes. Unlike when you learned joined up writing at school, with calligraphy you can take your pen off the page. Don't worry if your upstrokes are a little wobbly when you start. Be patient. With practice, the more natural it becomes.

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Take your time

You can't rush calligraphy. It's not actually the same as regular writing. Think of it as drawing; you need to go slowly and deliberately. You are thinking about shapes and pressure with every single stoke.

The art of angles

The more tilted your angle, the more traditional your calligraphy looks.  For that contemporary style, make your letters stand up straight. Some festive words to practice are: Merry, Christmas,  Happy, Bright, Santa, Baby, Mistletoe and Joy. Or why not get quirky with Cocktail Time and draw in some cocktail glasses (see why below).

Frame with decorations

Calligraphy looks lovely when it is framed by decoration. Flowers, hearts, flourishes are all popular. For Christmas the options are endless: wreaths, pine cones, mistletoe, holly, snowflakes, bells... these can all look great.

How about starting with something simple like a seasonal greeting to build your calligraphy confidence? Kirsten's new book, Secrets of Modern Calligraphy, has the perfect project with handy guides and seasonal pull out word cards for you to trace over and practice on. And, check out her below how-to video which accompanies the book.

Buy now: Secrets of Modern Calligraphy, £5.99, Amazon

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After that, we hope we are on your Christmas list this year.

Rachel Ogden

Rachel Ogden is a freelance journalist with more than 20 years’ experience of writing, editing and sub-editing. Since 2007, she's worked exclusively in interiors, writing about everything from extending your home to kitchen worktops, flooring, storage and more. She specialises in product reviews, having reviews hundreds of small and large appliances and homeware.