Tag Archives: calligraphy

lauren essl tweet

Happy National Handwriting Day!

National Handwriting Day

In honor of National Handwriting Day we hosted a #MeetLaurenEssl tweet chat with the talented Lauren Essl of Blue Eye Brown Eye. We had the opportunity to ask her questions about her favorite materials, tips and love for handwriting.

In case you missed the chat, I’ve recapped it for you here:

Q1: What inspired you to explore handwriting as an art form?

A1: I’ve always had a love for invitation design & when I started my business, calligraphy seemed like a great art to explore. And I wound up loving it! Calligraphy is a lot of fun.

Q2: What is the most popular handwriting font right now?

A2: I think the most popular fonts are loose, informal, script-inspired fonts. For example, Anna Clara is great!

Q3: What tips do you have for beginners wanting to try their hand at calligraphy & other handwritten fonts?

A3: Tracing your favorite fonts is also great for practicing. It helps you get used to applying pressure on the correct strokes. Practice! Try to sit down regularly – once or twice a week so writing with the pen and ink begins to feel more natural to you.


Q4: What are your 5 must-haves for learning calligraphy?

A4: Smooth paper for practicing is key (like tracing paper or marker paper). A great book, like Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy helps tremendously!

Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy

Q5: Where do you find inspiration for each calligraphy project?

A5: I love pulling inspiration from my client’s visions. If they like modern styles, whimsical styles, etc. Each job is a challenge!

Q6: Do you already need to have neat handwriting to learn calligraphy?

A6: I do not have great normal handwriting, actually! I think of calligraphy more as a form of drawing. But nice penmanship certainly helps!

Q7: Do you write moving your whole forearm or just move at the wrist?

A7: Personally, I do not use my forearm. I keep my movement more in my hand. But find your comfort zone! That will help you perform your best.

Q8: Do you favor any brands for ink and or gouache?

A8: Favorite gouache: Winsor & Newton. Here’s a video that will help guide you in mixing gouache.

BLUE EYE BROWN EYE CALLIGRAPHY from Amanda Marie Lackey on Vimeo.

Gouache is great for colors & metallics, but for black I love Sumi ink and Higgins.


Q9: At what point should you “retire” a nib?

A9: Your nib will wear as you use it, and it will begin to grab at the paper. Sometimes it will catch & flick ink everywhere.  If you’ve been using your nib for awhile and it catches and flicks ink, that’s a good indication it’s time to change! Also, clean your nibs with soap & water or a nib cleaner. The key is making sure they are completely dry; they rust easily.

Q10: What’s the difference between using an angled nib holder & a straight “regular” one?

A10: An oblique pen, as shown below, is used for a slanted script (like Copperplate). I’ve heard lefties have more success with straight pens. :)

Oblique Pen

That wraps it up. If you missed this tweet chat, make sure you’re following @MichaelsStores on Twitter and join the conversation with us!

Follow Lauren’s handwriting adventures on Instagram @laurenessl.

Photography courtesy of Amanda Marie Portraits.

- Jillian






The Art of The Handwritten Note

calligraphy-class-1To say that we live in a “digital world” is a fairly obvious statement. We send millions of text messages, tweets, Instagrams, and emails every minute of the day. It seems like constant communication is critical to our survival! However, are we truly “communicating” with one another? Can you really learn about a person in 140 characters? Can a friendship be built upon speedy text messages sent here and there? Once upon a time, the handwritten letter was the only form of long distance communication. Strokes of ink across the page told the stories of joy, heartbreak, love, and life shared through the written word.

calligraphy-class-2A few members of the Michaels team recently took a Blue Eye Brown Eye calligraphy class here in Dallas from the talented Lauren Essel. We decided to give the almost-lost-art of the handwritten note a try and learn the ins and out outs of inky correspondence.

She began the class by discussing the basics of the pen, nibs, and ink. Once we assembled our pens, we dipped the tips in the ink and began making our first attempts at letters. From the moment we touched the ink to the tracing paper we discovered that Lauren makes calligraphy look so effortless! In the beginning, most of the class struggled with forming letters and making our “ABCs” look classy instead of crooked. Thankfully Lauren is a wonderful teacher! She walked us through the entire alphabet and encouraged each student along the way. Eventually we all got comfortable with holding the pen and even created a few letters that made us beam with pride.

calligraphy-class-3calligraphy-class-4calligraphy-class-5calligraphy-class-6calligraphy-class-7It was interesting to learn the different reasons why the other class members decided to try their hand at calligraphy. One said she wanted to use the skill for her daughter’s wedding stationary. Others wanted to create artwork and memories for their children. Most of the class was purely interested in learning something new! I think we are all drawn to the beauty, sentiment, and history surrounding this tangible form of communication. The class was a lot of fun and definitely encouraged us to step away from the computer and write more letters.

Have you ever tried your hand at calligraphy? Do you still enjoy sending “snail mail” to friends and loved ones?

- Meredith