Bloggers get very excited about certain things. Obviously this can vary, but on the whole, we love an eminently instagrammable venue. Some place where design and personality meet, where the lighting is great and the food is even better. We also love getting together with other bloggers to do something creative, preferably a craft which is of the moment, fairly do-able and again highly instagrammable. So, when the lovely people at Etsy recently organised a blogger meet-up and brush lettering workshop at Bourne & Hollingsworth Buildings in Clerkenwell – well let’s just say it was pretty much my perfect scenario!
The workshop was led by Terry Muncey of The Lovely Drawer, whose work I really admire. I’ve been wanting to have a go at brush lettering for ages, especially as I had put ‘learn a new craft’ on my 40 before 40 list. It appeals to me more than calligraphy (although I remember getting quite into calligraphy as a kid because I was cool like that), possibly because it seems more relaxed and fluid (read easier) and let’s face it, it is quite on trend these days.
But don’t be fooled into thinking brush lettering is easy – never underestimate any craft! It’s just that those clever practitioners like Terry make it look so easy and effortless. However, a bit of practising (perhaps aided by a Bourne & Hollingsworth cocktail, which were delicious by the way) was soon rewarded and by the end of the afternoon we were all getting the hang of it.
Let’s just take a moment to admire the stunning surroundings at Bourne & Hollingsworth though. We were in the little conservatory space adjacent to the main bar and restaurant. The whole place has such a lovely stylish bohemian feel with mis-matched chairs, florid fabrics and greenery everywhere, yet the white walls and floors plus huge windows mean the place still feels light and airy. Loved it!
Back to the brush lettering and seriously it was so good, I could have quite happily carried on. That’s the thing with any kind of crafting or creative play. When I do actually get the chance these days I find it so relaxing and enjoyable that the hours slip past. Of course, lovely company and blogger chat definitely helps too! But even if you fancy trying this at home, brush lettering is pretty easy to pick up once you’ve got the kit and some basic rules.
Make sure your brush is wet each time you dip into the ink and reload often to maintain the darkness of the colour and consistency of your lettering. So keep a jar of water next to you.
Create fat, bold shapes on the downward stroke and start to adjust the pressure as you come into the upward stroke of the letter to create a thinner line as you reach the top. It’s the contrast between the thick and the thin that makes for that distinctive brush lettered style.
Work out which letters naturally join to one another. Usually those that finish at the bottom like vowels easily follow into the next letter, but some are best kept separate like the letters r and s (see example below).
When brush lettering a phrase, consider how the words look best arranged on the page or object you’re decorating. Often phrases look good when each word is stacked one on top of each other. Think about how each word slots together and sketch it out first to get the best configuration.
Since the workshop I’ve been trying to practise a bit more – partly because it feels so therapeutic. We were provided with a brush, ink and thick paper to take home. Thanks so much to Terry and of course to Etsy for organising this wonderful event. It was the perfect treat, especially as it was so close to my birthday!
If you’d like to try brush lettering yourself, workshops are available to book through Quill London and you can buy the materials I mentioned online there too. Fancy having a go?