Illuminated Calligraphy Letter Series

Illuminated Letters | Allocco Design and Crafts

Most of you know I’ve been studying calligraphy under the lovely Betsy Rivers for almost a year now. I’m currently in the middle of my second Italics class just to build upon my skills and incorporate more advanced methods into my work. While working on a fun little Christmas design, I thought it would be neat to add an illuminated letter, a fancy decorative design like you’d see in fairy tales. When I showed Betsy what I had done, she assigned some homework for me–study and work on illuminated letters.

Work In Progress Calligraphy | Allocco Design and Crafts

Letter H Calligraphy | Allocco Design and Crafts

Best homework assignment ever.

This blog post showcases the work I did this week. I decided to create one illuminated letter every day for a week. I shared the photos on Instagram and Facebook and got some wonderful feedback! One letter at a time, I spelled the word “harvest” the fanciest way I knew how.

I was heavily inspired by Alexander Nesbitt’s collection of Decorative Alphabets and Letters. All of the letters are my own designs except for the R, which I replicated (the art in Nesbitt’s book is copyright free). Geesh. Letters and calligraphers of the old days (and the new days too) were SO detailed in their work. I mean, cherub butts, celtic knots and floral design to the max. It’s insane.

Illuminated Letter A | Allocco Design and Crafts

Illuminated Calligraphy Letter R | Allocco Design and Crafts

I got to use a plethora of tools and supplies throughout the week, including calligraphy nibs (Nikko G and Mitchell 0 to be precise), Micron pens, a brush pen, scissors, knives (you’ll see why later in the post), watercolors, markers, white ink, black ink, gouache. And how could I forget about my super ghetto homemade lightbox?

Illuminated Letter Calligraphy V | Allocco Design and Crafts

Homemade Light Box | Allocco Design and Crafts

On Monday, I drew my letter on tracing paper, but I didn’t want them all to be that way so I knew I needed to be able to see my design through thicker white paper. I just so happened to have a big plastic container with enough space to work on. I stacked some books, turned on my iPhone flashlight and went to work. Also, cameo by Adam Scott via my phone case.–swoon with me.

Now, here’s where the knives come in.

Calligraphy Jack-o-Lantern | Allocco Design and Crafts

Jack-O-Lantern Calligraphy | Allocco Design and Crafts

I went away for the weekend, so I knew my time for illuminated letters would be limited. Luckily, my friends and I were in the fall spirit, so while some baked pies and others snapped fall photos, I carved a pumpkin with the letter E. I then proceeded to take this spooky photo of my friend Keith holding the jack-o-lantern.

Calligraphy Lettering S | Allocco Design and Crafts

Still on a mini vacation with friends, I woke up to a quite quaint home and I set to work on getting my next letter done in the morning. I sketched while sipping coffee with friends on the front porch of a little farm house and inked it up while we made pancakes and waffles. I’m glad I was able to get my letters in even though I was far from home… and most of my art supplies.

Hand Lettering T | Allocco Design and Crafts

To finish the week of letters, I did a fun seaweedish pattern with the letter T. This has been my favorite little doodle lately, so I enjoyed adding my own flair in with some traditional letters. I learned so much from this little exercise and look forward to practicing even more.

Jack-o-lantern Calligraphy | Allocco Design and Crafts

Fun fact. My favorite part of carving pumpkins is scooping out the guts with my bare hands. Also, the roasted pumpkin seeds serve as a wonderful reward.