After 25 years as an art teacher, helping students of all ages create artwork for pleasure and exams, I found it difficult to be retired and uncreative.
In the 80’s I had set up a ceramics business that had been my specialism when I was at college, but I have always loved beautiful handwriting. I was inspired by my art teacher who, back in the day had to write the yearly school report by hand. On a page of 15 or so teacher’s comments hers was always the most attractive to look at.
I picked up an italic pen as a 15 year old and tried my hand. I improved my writing, but it was never consistent and I never achieved the heights of my teacher Mrs Cook.
My first attempt at calligraphy
After marriage and two children I decided to take up the pen and ink again and signed up for an evening class. I purchased the inks and pens and became very excited by the expectation of illuminating beautiful pages of handwriting. Alas, there were not enough subscribers to the class and it folded after a few short weeks.
So, back to an evening class! Well, a day class was better as I had the days free, so I set off to the Pen Museum in Birmingham. Then, a travelling calligrapher who ran classes in various village halls. Very quickly I discovered that my best efforts ‘were not good enough’, not consistent or ‘even’ enough, and I became downhearted.
Thank goodness for the internet! It suddenly became obvious that if you wanted even, correctly spaced, straight lettering, why not print it off the internet. Why trouble yourself with perfection when it was there, printable and free!
My research sent me in different directions. Illumination, coloured inks, mixed media and other really lovely ways of putting words onto paper. My searches found a supplier in America who stocked lots of fabulous materials and tools. The world of calligraphy art opened up to me.
Attempt number three!
Further research into gilding, gold leaf, manuscript style illumination, and pen lettering with different pens and I was hooked.
There comes a time though when you realise there is only so much you can produce, without finding a way of getting rid of it. Gifts at birthdays and Christmas are fine, but then I needed an outlet. Markets, Christmas markets, fairs and stalls, I did them all and with some success, but I honed what I was making into 3 specific areas, and it is those that I now concentrate on.
Picture gifts of quotes, poems, song lyrics and famous sayings.
This is an A.A. Milne quote from Winnie the Pooh and similar pictures can be found on my Etsy site at www.ruthsturgesoriginals.etsy.com
This quote, attributed to George Santayana includes gradually changing coloured inks, and a line drawing of a pair of headphones by my daughter Lauren.
Invitations, place cards, envelopes and anything else for a special occasion.
Scrolls can be illuminated in several different styles which can be seen on the ‘SCROLLS’ page