I love a good handmade wedding project. Not in the sense that it can save money; it may or may not. But rather in the sense that it allows you to put your own unique, personal stamp on your wedding day. I can think of few things more personal and absolutely unique than one's own hand writing.
The beauty of it is: everyone's handwriting is unique. Everyone's. There is no possible way that you can be anything other than unique and personal when you touch pen to paper.
There's an emotional element to writing out things like escort cards and place cards. It allows you the opportunity to think of each of your guests fondly and to imagine to joy and delight they'll feel on your wedding day. For the right person, it can be downright meditative.
But what if your handwriting isn't up to wedding day snuff?
Enter Simply Calligraphy: A Beginner's Guide to Elegant Lettering by Judy Detrick
Simply Calligraphy is a timely book during a resurgence of hand lettering and innovative calligraphy techniques. It's a small, simple and perfectly organized book that starts with the most basic letters and shapes and allows you to develop skills naturally to tackle more difficult letters and variations.
This 85-page gem is organized into 8 chapters and builds on the early skills that you learn to tackle more difficult letters and dabble in variations. The suggested tools are simple and you even start out using an ordinary pen, so as to get good feel for properly holding it and creating consistent down strokes. That means you can start as soon as the book arrives in the mail.
Each chapter is divided into 4-10 exercises. Judy Detrick clearly wants you to spend your time practicing rather than reading. Each section contains only a handful of short paragraphs explaining the techniques and a large, full-page illustration of what your work should look like. It's easy to just sit down for a half hour or an hour each day and practice one of these mini sections.
Who this Book is Good For (and who it’s not for)
Simply Calligraphy is good for the bride (or groom, or bridesmaid, or mom, or friend who wants to help…) who has time to practice. Although it's touted as a beginner's manual (which it is) it's not a magic lamp that you can rub, make a wish, and magically be an expert calligrapher.
It takes practice. Lots of practice. Month's worth of practice.
If you're wedding is coming up in the next couple of weeks or months, this is neither the book nor the project for you.
However, if you do have the time and you're the type of person who is patient, disciplined and loves the thought of lovingly addressing your wedding invitations, escort cards, place cards or otherwise customizing your wedding decor, then this is the book for you.
It truly does break down into the simplest of steps, how to write in the calligraphic style. I particularly liked that the book moved quickly from slanted dash strokes into “easy letters.” This make me feel like I was doing real calligraphy quickly.
However, when they say beginner's guide, they mean it. While you'll get a basic understanding and practice with the alphabet, the style is basic and does not include moe modern calligraphy with the ever-so-popular “bounce.” The variations and suggested projects are useful for practice, but mostly refer to older calligraphic styles and not more modern styles (like bouncy calligraphy) and techniques (like brush calligraphy).
Still, you have to crawl before you can walk and mastering the basics of calligraphy will help you be more creative in the long-run.
And, if you have any experience with calligraphy and are looking for new or advanced techniques, this won't be the book for you.
However, if you have the time to practice and are motivated to learn something new, even beginners with no artistic ability can start mastering the art of calligraphy, and this book really does make it easy and un-intimidating to start.
To read other reviews on Amazon and purchase the book, click here.
*Authors note: I received a review copy of Simply Calligraphy from Random House. All opinions are the author’s own are not endorsed by Random House, Judy Detrick or their affiliates.