Shrink plastic napkin rings and calligraphy tag

Throughout the summer I collected various books and tools to try my hand at calligraphy. My mum had a couple of books on her bookcase, still unused and I managed to pick one up in a second-hand book store. I’ve grown very conscious of my handwriting since injuring my writing hand and often switch to using my other hand to do certain jobs (I even noticed yesterday while using the brayer, I resorted to my left hand and collected the assortment of paints for the lino print with my right). Everyday my work results in me scribbling something down on an envelope or two rather than typing address labels.
I admire the work of the ancient scholars who produced illuminated manuscripts and all the beautiful artwork which accompanied the lettering. I knew that by finding the right resource book, I’d feel more inclined to practise the letters one by one. It was only recently, while browsing messages on a social networking forum that someone recommended the book ‘Written Letters’ by Jacqueline Svaren. The book boasts ’22 alphabets for calligraphers’. There’s bound to be one alphabet style I like, I thought.
True enough, I found one. It wasn’t until I read the inscription message at the top that I realised the letters were drawn using the pen nib had the same name as my son’s! I followed the technique instructions – to draw the insides of the letters first and was quite pleased with the results.

The birds I sketched out are echoed on the shrink plastic. I cut strips of the plastic and heated them in the oven, watching them curl and twirl under the heat until they’d shrunk. While the strips were still hot and pliable, I moulded them around a bottle to gain a large enough curve to create a ring shape that could then be used as a napkin holder.


Of course, I have plenty more practise to do before it become natural and I don’t have to keep checking back for reference!

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