Love letters: we try our hand at calligraphy with Laura E Patrick

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Calligraphy might remind you of long-discarded childhood Christmas presents, but its modern version couldn’t be more different to painstakingly etching rigid letters onto guide sheets. Laura E Patrick has turned this hobby into a profession, and shares her expertise at regular classes, held in Glasgow’s west end at Cushion & Cake.

Laura’s love affair with calligraphy began with carefully preserved letters from a favourite aunt, but she properly set out to hone her skills just twelve months ago. With passion to match her considerable talent, she now offers her services professionally and her beautiful script has graced wedding menus, invitations, envelopes and place cards.

demoI attended one of her classes recently and as I took my seat in the quirky tearoom, I didn’t have much hope for my own calligraphy skills. I struggle to read my handwriting on a regular basis and I’ve failed to shake off Babysitters Club-inspired hearts dotted above each ‘i’. Luckily, Laura says it’s personal quirks that make calligraphy creative, and trying to create an exact replica of other styles – while a useful learning tool when starting out – should be ditched as soon as your confidence grows.

After an introduction to tools of the trade – we’d be using a Nikko G nib with black Higgins ink – Laura demonstrated how to write the alphabet. Her pen swooped up and down elegantly as she explained that the pressure on the down stroke makes the thicker line, and the thinner upstroke can be used for flourishes.

Pens in hand, it was our turn. While the rest of my table seemed to take to it with ease, my left-handed awkwardness was creating big sick-octopus ink splodges everywhere. I normally find it off-putting to not be instantly good at something (classic first-born child syndrome), but practicing calligraphy is so calming that persevering doesn’t seem like a chore.

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Some examples of Laura’s work

If Laura’s gorgeous hand-written notes looked like love letters to a soldier sweetheart, my own could only be described as the equivalent of drunk texting in the 1800s. It’s our technological transition to quick texts and emails that Laura is waging a war against with her fresh take on calligraphy.

Over the course of the two hour class – aided by three delicious pieces of coffee cake, Victoria sponge and brownie and a pot of spiced apple tea – I slowly but surely improved, with advice from Laura and encouragement from lovely bride-to-be Virginia and talented designer/letterer Claire, who were my table-mates for the evening.

Chatting with the other attendees afterwards, it was clear we’d all caught the bug. Plans for an online shop for essentials and projects including wedding stationery and Christmas tags were discussed, as we were all keen to develop our new-found hobby. I’d even say it was comparable to a massage, in terms of relaxation and taking some ‘me time’.new image

Laura runs frequent classes, with a Creative Christmas Calligraphy class taking place on 10th December. To secure your place get in touch via laura_patrick@hotmail.co.uk to find out more.