For all of the ways education has improved over the past several decades, there is one thing that seems to have been lost in today’s education system: handwriting. Too often, when looking at handwritten notes written by my parents or other Baby Boomers, I find myself wildly embarrassed by my graceless, shapeless penmanship. In an age when the text has replaced the e-mail that replaced the handwritten letter, we seem to have left the beautiful, quotidian art of penmanship behind. So, it was great excitement that I unwrapped Molly Suber Thorpe’s Modern Calligraphy when it arrived at our office. Perhaps, now that I can hone my calligraphy skills, I can remove good handwriting from my list of goals that will never happen (you know, along with learning to drive and speak fluent French—dare to dream).
In the spirit of September’s Back-To-School vibes, Molly was kind enough to allow us to reprint one of the fabulous projects from her book. This DIY for making rubber stamp Save-The-Date cards can be applied to numerous other projects, from custom bookplates to return address labels. Check out Molly’s full text after the jump! —Max
“Save the date” cards present the perfect opportunity to showcase your new calligraphy skills and experiment with layout design at the same time. Even if you’re planning to send out very formal invitations, “save the date” cards are a great way to express your creative side. After all, they are teasers – their purpose is to get your guests excited to join you on your big day – so you may as well give them something unique and eye-catching to post on their refrigerators. These rubber-stamped cards utilize rough craft paper, a surface that is normally very hard to write on with calligraphy nibs. Backed with assorted floral papers, this collection of cards feels very friendly, and each one is unique. —Molly Suber Thorpe
- Level: Intermediate
- Yield: 1 3×5-inch rubber stamp and 50 cards
- Time: 8 hours for completion of the design; up to 10 days for production of the stamp; 3 hours for assembly of the cards
- Budget: $40.00 – $50.00 for the stamp (depending on its finished size) $45.00 for paper
Rubber Stamp Supplies:
- Sketch pad
- Artist pencil (something moderately soft like a 2B)
- Crisp white Bristol paper
- Black calligraphy ink
- Light box (optional)
- Computer with basic photo editing software
- Artist tape
- Completed rubber stamp (above)
- Ink pad (color of your choice)
- 60 4×6-inch pieces craft paper
- 60 5×7-inch pieces assorted, patterned papers (gift wrap, vintage magazine pages, handmade paper, and so on)
- Wrinkle-free glue stick or double-sided tape
Rubber Stamp Instructions:
Create some frames for your initial sketches by drawing with an artist pencil and ruler a few 3×5-inch boxes in your sketch pad. Draw in some baselines– horizontal lines for horizontal designs; diagonal for slanted designs. Write the words “Save the Date” in different styles across the top of one templates. (Refer to “The Basics of Digitizing Calligraphy”, page 85, for tips about making successful sketches.) This is where you can have the most fun. Be experimental. Try extending the first and last letters with flourishes, using all lowercase, writing on a diagonal, making the letters extra-thick, writing “Save the” in script and “Date” in print – the possibilities are endless!
With the real estate for “Save the Date” established, start penciling in your remaining text. Contrasting lettering styles make for a more legible hierarchy (the order of importance of elements on a page), so if your title is in script, consider writing the other text in printed small caps. When you reach the spot for the second most important bit of information – your wedding date – stop. Here you get another opportunity to have fun with your lettering. You may decide to match the style you chose for “Save the Date”, or choose a contrasting style to make it pop out even more. You might want to write out the date in words, or use only numbers. Either way, remember you don’t have to keep the date within a sentence. It may require you to adjust your other text a little, but you can always pull out the date and treat it as its own design element, for example putting it in the lower corner by itself, or directly under the title. Now fill in the rest of your text around the newly placed date. If you have trouble fitting everything, consider writing some of it on a diagonal, splitting it between two columns, or even redrawing the title or date to make room.
2. Once you have a design you’re happy with, tape your sketch to a light box and tape a sheet of Bristol paper over it, or use a sunny window to trace the design onto the Bristol paper with a pencil. Using black ink and a fine-point nib, go over the design in calligraphy. Erase all the pencil marks (if applicable) once the design is completely dry.
3. Scan your design at a minimum of 300 dpi, then use photo editing software to convert the image to black and white, straighten it, and crop it. You may want to refer to page 86 for tips about scanning. Save the file as a .jpeg. Your design is now ready to send to a stamp manufacturer for production. See the Resources Guide (page 172) for suggested stamp manufacturers.
1. Using wrinkle-free glue or double-sided tape, affix the 4×6-inch pieces of craft paper in the center of your 5×7-inch patterned paper.
2. Ink your rubber stamp and stamp it onto the craft paper. Tip: If you don’t have an oversized stamp pad to properly ink an extra-large stamp, simply turn the stamp upside down and pat the ink pad over the stamp lightly and evenly. For the crispest imprint, place the stamp on the paper lightly; let go, being careful not to move the stamp, then press directly down, applying even pressure over the whole stamp, with both palms. Then quickly lift the stamp off the paper, directly up toward the ceiling.
3. Consider calligraphing envelopes to match, using the same ink color as your ink pad. You can also line the envelopes with leftover patterned papers, choosing vintage stamps that will complement the colors.
You can purchase Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe on Amazon here.