Calligraphy 101

Today’s guest DIY post comes from Jennifer of With This Ring. Jennifer shows us how to create perfect calligraphy… even if you’re a novice!


I always knew I wanted the classy elegance of handwritten calligraphy on our wedding invitations. Unfortunately, $2.00 per envelope for our 100 invitations didn’t exactly fit the bill. I’ve spent many hours drooling over the designs of calligraphers such as Laura Hooper and Heather Victoria Held (if only I had half of her talent, just half!), wishing I could afford their exquisite services.

I’ve always been artistic by nature, and my handwriting is probably better than average, but it is certainly not calligraphy-caliber. Nonetheless, I couldn’t bear to settle for computer-printed envelopes or even worse, sticker address labels (gasp!). So, I decided to give it a shot on my own! Here’s a little sample of how my first few envelopes turned out…


Not too bad, huh? Well, I have a little confession to make.

I totally cheated!!

Yes, this is my real handwriting — but I had a little help. If you’re a Food Network junkie like me, you’re probably familiar with Sandra Lee’s Semi-Homemade tactic. She prepares elaborate meals using shortcuts and help from pre-prepared foods. That way, you think she spent all day slaving in the kitchen, but it really only took her less than an hour. My extreme perfectionism meant that I couldn’t possibly hand-address 100+ envelopes without some consistency and guidance. I would have wasted so much paper trying to do all 100 perfectly! So I took a hint from Ms. Lee and came up with my very own shortcut. It’s very similar to my aisle tiles strategy!Let me share with you a step-by-step guide to your own semi-homemade calligraphy:

I used cocoa Euroflap envelopes from Obviously, black ink wouldn’t show up very well, so I bought white India Ink from the craft store. I also purchased a calligraphy pen and fine-tip nibs. I love the sharp and unexpected contrast of the white ink on dark brown paper.

Next, I set up MS Word using the mailings feature to print addresses on the size envelope I was using.

Then I entered the first recipient’s address and set the font color to brown, just a few shades lighter than the envelope color. I adjusted the printer settings for my 5.25 x 7.25″ envelope, and printed the address directly onto the envelope. This took a little more time and more practice envelopes than I expected to get the positioning right, but I finally wiggled it around and got it centered.

Then, I traced over the address using my white ink and calligraphy pen. You need very good lighting for this step, because the brown ink on brown paper was difficult to see. The brown-on-brown ensures nobody will be able to see if I don’t cover the printed lines exactly (except you guys, of course). It actually took two coats of ink to get the right amount of coverage, since the white ink was a little bit translucent.


While this shortcut was extremely helpful, it still required a bit of finesse to figure out how to use the calligraphy pen and bottled ink. You need to position the pen at an angle to produce the thinner and thicker lines within the letters, and adjusting the pressure on the pen controls the amount of ink that’s released from the nib. I would definitely suggest a few practice runs before you start on your envelopes.

This technique would also work well with any other ink and paper color combination, and gives that fancy handwritten feeling without the worry of crooked lines or inconsistent lettering.

Are you considering DIY calligraphy? Do you have any tips or tricks to share?


Do you have a fantastic DIY project that you’re itching to share with the hive? If so, submit your blog entry to guest(at)



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  1. Member
    Monca 92 posts, Worker bee @ 2:04 pm

    Wow! that is amazing!!! the envelopes look beautiful.

  2. Member
    almostmrs.v 19 posts, Newbee @ 12:23 pm

    This is beautiful! I know it’s an old post, but I definitely feel inspired. I’m creating all our invitations myself (was an art major in college). Lots of DIY projects = saving money!!! Yayyyy

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Letting Loose the STD’s « Jamaal + Allison = Jamaallison, Guest @ 8:20 am

    […] particular favorite, and I discovered the glory of DIY calligraphy on the ‘bee. Look at this post – DIY calligraphy has never been more glorious! or easy!! […]

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    SONNYDEE, Guest @ 6:39 am


  5. Guest Icon Guest
    renee22124, Guest @ 11:24 am

    I’m a professional calligrapher, but thought your idea was very cleaver. I may actually use it on some of the more “frilly” difficult fonts that people ask for. Thanks!!!

  6. Hostess
    KingsDaughter 2787 posts, Sugar bee @ 3:09 pm

    perfect idea…i shall try this!!!

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Megan, Guest @ 9:53 am

    What font was used here?

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