February Updates

Hi everybody,

Sorry I missed the past two weeks – some unexpected things came up, including that I got laid off from my job because of changes going on. That has certainly added some complications to my life which I wasn’t planning on, but it now means that I will have more time to do things with DPC – and I’m happy for that.

Just a reminder though that I will still have to move sometime in the next six weeks, and I still have lots of packing to do, so things may be rather hit and miss with the blogposts and e-mails over the next two months or so.

I wanted to start including some other posts as I had time and as I found things that I thought would be interesting or inspiring for you. These are posts that will be found on the DPC blog, but they will not be sent out as e-mails. So I will include links for them in the e-mail post. Here’s some for this week:

Book – The Art of Calligraphy
Video – The Making of Manuscripts


The Making of Manuscripts

The Making of Manuscripts is a video showing how manuscripts were created in medieval times.

Every time I see something like this and then look at my library, I am so grateful for how simple and affordable it is for us to get books. No wonder only the very wealthy could afford them back then.

Thought you might enjoy this bit of inspiration.

The Art Of Calligraphy

The Art of Calligraphy by David Harris

The Art of Calligraphy is one of my favorite reference books when it comes to calligraphy. It features 24 different alphabets, as well as a ductus and history for each alphabet.

If you collect calligraphy books for your own library, this one definitely gets my recommendation. It is available on Amazon – as of today used hardcover copies are listed from $7.93, which in my opinion is a steal of a deal.

Project – See-Through Letters


Well, I’m almost there, but not quite, when it comes to having the first of the products and membership levels online. I’ve been putting my poor old brain through quite the workout trying to get the new systems all figured out. But – I am almost there. So watch for good stuff coming next week!

For today – here’s a project I thought you might enjoy. Check out the video instructions here:

As always, for those seeing this by e-mail, head on over here for the post and video.

As a heads-up, I was able to complete a e-book version of my personal calligraphy journal that will be available next week, if all goes well.

I have the Intro Membership ready to go too, as well as the Calligraphy Basics Membership. I’ll also have some news about the Basic Italic course coming up, so stay tuned for next week!

Letter Spacing

I’m working on the behind-the-scenes systems to set up the Membership Sites and the processing systems. That’s a rather major learning curve for me, so it might take me a week or two more to get this all put together.

In the meantime, I thought this week I would share a section that is included in the Free Intro Membership as a sample section from the Calligraphy Basics Membership.

Getting your letter spacing right goes a long way to making your calligraphy look beautiful. So here’s how to go about getting it right.

Letter Spacing

Spacing is a huge part of what makes a piece of calligraphy successful. And yet it is sometimes missed because in a way it is an invisible element in the piece.

Positive & Negative Space

In art there are two terms used which will help us here. One is called positive space and one is called negative space.

Positive space is usually what we refer to as the letter itself – the thing that we can see.

Negative space on the other hand is the space inside of, or surrounding the letter/positive space.

Positive & Negative SpacesSo for example here we have a letter “o”. The wide black lines create the positive space or shape of the letter. But there is also another space inside the letter. And there is the space surrounding the letter. These spaces are referred to as negative spaces.

There are times when those negative spaces will be more important to watch and get right – by doing them right you will actually do better at getting the positive shapes right. You’ll see and hear examples of that in the Basic Italic video lessons.

Spacing Between Letters

How you space your letters may well make or break your piece. So how do you make sure that you are doing it right?

Each alphabet and each style of that alphabet can have a different spacing. Blackletter for example doesn’t have a lot of space between letters, or within the letters themselves – that’s part of what creates the “black” or dark appearance of that alphabet.

Italic on the other hand is a more open alphabet and needs more space.

But here’s a general way to think about this matter of spacing. Think of the space between the letters as a shape of its own. Actually, this is the negative space we were talking about earlier. Just as each letter has a volume or weight of its own, so does the negative space between letters.

So let’s use some lower case italic letters to show what we mean.

Spacing Between Letters

Here we have the word minimum where all the letters are basically upright strokes. If we were to cover over the tops and bottoms of the letters, we’d have something like this:

Spacing Between Letters
Spacing Between Letters
Spacing Between Letters

See how evenly the vertical strokes are spaced apart.

Spacing Between Letters

Here the spacing is easily figured out. Just imagine the space between the letters having a rectangular shape – in pink. All the pink spaces are the same shape and volume. Here the letters themselves have widths (in yellow) the same as the letter spacing widths.

But what about letters with other shapes? Like this:

Spacing Between Letters

Well, just imagine that pink space having flexible edges so that you could squeeze or stretch the sides anyway you wanted – only the volume of the space would have to stay the same. Then you’d end up with something like this:

Spacing Between Letters

It’s the kind of thing that comes with practice – but if you can keep it in your mind that there is volume to the space between the letters and that the volume should be approximately equal, then you’ll start to get the hang of it.

Project – 1-4 Book Template

Last week I showed you how to create a 4-page booklet folded from a single sheet of paper.

A friend asked if I had a template for the page order, and so I put one together for her. Then I decided I might as well share it with all of you as well.


So here’s the template. You can download a .docx file here, or if you have an older computer, a .doc file here.

Here’s the video with some instructions for how to use this particular template.

And for those getting this by e-mail, here’s the link to the post and video.

Products coming soon…

I’ve completed the Intro Membership and the Calligraphy Basics course.

The Intro Membership is the Free membership everyone gets for signing up. Since all of you  have already signed up, you will be getting this one for Free.

The Calligraphy Basics course is the foundation course with the kind of information that applies to pretty much any calligraphy alphabet you want to learn. More about that next week.

All I have left to do there is the behind-the-scenes systems that will get the memberships set up and accessible for you. I’m hoping to have that done in the next week or so. I’m excited about being able to offer these to you, because if you are interested in learning about calligraphy and how to do it well, this is a good place to start.

I’m also almost done my EGM Calligraphy Journal and hope to have it available by next week. This e-book has over 700 letters, quotes, designs, drawings and more, so if you’re looking for some calligraphy inspiration you’ll find lots here. My hope is that it will also inspire you to start your own calligraphy journal.

Watch for details next week!


Happy New Year!

Here’s to a Creative  and Happy New Year to my Dancing Pen Community!

I realized late Tuesday night when I usually post and schedule my blogpost for the week that I had forgotten to get that done in all the rush of the year end and all the DPC projects I’ve been working on. Sorry about that.

Not that I wasn’t hard at work on things for you – I’ve been very busy on a number of projects that you will be seeing early in the new year! I’m excited to finally be getting these on the way – more about that soon!


I thought I would share a simple book/card project with you today. This is a four-page booklet folded from a single sheet of paper. You can use this idea with any size sheet of paper – the folds and slit will be the same. For this project I am using a sheet I created to make a Workshop Welcome booklet for my calligraphy classes. I still like the ideas in the booklet and thought they would be appropriate as we look at getting into courses and lots of learning this year. If you want to use this sheet as well, here’s the download link for the DPC Welcome Booklet.

Here’s the video instructions for you:

For those reading this by e-mail, here’s the link to the post & video.

Happy New Year!


Inspiration From Master Calligraphers

I suspect this week most of you will be up to your eyeballs in Christmas preparations, so I thought I would just give you some inspiration by way of a video.

This video is on YouTube and features Julian Waters and his mother Sheila Waters – both amazing calligraphers!

I was immensely fortunate to be able to take a class with Sheila several years ago and what a marvelous experience that was. So for this week, watch and enjoy.

For those of you getting this by e-mail, here’s the post and video.

I’ve been working on a number of projects for the new year. One is a survey that I will send out to you to help me better understand what it is you would like from this website.

I’ve been working on a course I call Calligraphy Basics. It’s not a particular alphabet, instead, it’s a whole series of bits of information that apply to pretty much any calligraphy hand or style. I consider this a foundation course as it is one you will be able to come back to for review any time you need it. It is also one that I will be referring to time and time again in the courses I’m working on. So watch for details on that coming up.

Project – Dental Stick Pen

Sometimes it’s fun to create some of your own writing instruments. In this case – a dental stick pen!

A what? Yes – a pen made from dental sticks! Here’s a sample of what dental pen writing looks like:


Here’s the video describing how to make the pen and how to write with it:

For those getting this by e-mail, here’s the link to the post and the video.

I got my dental sticks at a local pharmacy, but if you can’t find them there, you can check for them online here and apparently you can order them online here.




Thanks to Guillermo who sent a link to a facebook page showing a photo of the same idea using regular toothpicks glued to a flat wood stick. Nice letter too! Check it out here.