One ability that I have always been envious of in other calligraphers is the seemingly effortless ability to add flourishes to their work. Making flourishes is not something that comes easily to this amateur hand. When I watch videos of talented calligraphers, the flourishes always seem to be added with quick, swooping motions, resulting in beautiful, dancing ribbons. When I try it I get a hot mess of jagged, awkward, broken lines, complete with nib snag ink blots. Many brides interested in calligraphy request these flourishes on their addresses. So this is an area I certainly need to improve.
I've done simplistic additions before. They turn out very nice and add a nice touch to the overall look of the address, as seen to the left in my Fiona script. But I would really like to offer my customers more. If I were to design a few standard styles for people to choose from, I could then practice those until I could do them without effort. I could charge a flat rate for the addition of those select designs, and if someone just happened to want something different, I could do a separate rate for a custom design. So for today's installment of The Constant Calligrapher, I'd like to show you a practice run of my first design option.
I began the design in pencil, because the direction and “flow” of the flourish can be difficult to establish. It's like a dance. Some people dance well; others not so much. The flourish needs to find that right dance. I had to erase and start over many times because it simply looked ugly. Finally, I came up with something I thought was pretty. I hope you'll agree. It's intended to dance and sweep off the envelope. I started with a space of 5" x 7", simply because it is such a common envelope size. The design can then be adapted to other sizes.
Below is an image of my first go at it. It was difficult and it didn't take on the exact appearance I wanted, but I was probably using an inappropriate nib, one with too fine of tines that snagged too easily. This is an important lesson learned. It may make sense to do the flourishes with a different nib than was selected for the calligraphy. Anyway, I'll keep practicing. Always room for improvement. The design will probably change several times before I am truly satisfied with it. And then I'll need to design additional options as well.