Category Archives: Calligraphy

Calligraphy at Public Garden

We’ve been planning to make a video ever since Lex took a video workshop from Ken Loechner last May when he came to Singapore and we’re so glad that we managed to dedicate some time to produce a video over the weekend to promote our calligraphy booth at Public Garden. This video is released under our photography brand – Photosaurus Studio.



We will be joining the Public Garden Christmas Markets, as calligraphers, starting this weekend until December 14. We will be stationed near the gift wrapping booth so do drop by and say hello. We will be offering modern calligraphy together with prints, greeting cards and other stationery items. We might also be selling some calligraphy supplies and release schedules for our calligraphy classes for 2015.

This is our first time doing an on the spot calligraphy booth and we’re happy to collaborate with Public Garden again. The Team Public Garden rocks! See you there!

Calligraphy Flourishing Meet-up with Shipra

We met-up with Shipra at The Fabulous Baker Boy last Saturday. Shipra is a fourth generation calligrapher and her ancestor was a calligrapher at a royal court. She got in touch with us and offered to conduct a lesson in calligraphy flourishing with the local group of calligraphers.

The Fabulous Baker Boy

The Fabulous Baker Boy

We had arrived earlier than the rest of the group at the Fabulous Baker Boy to check out the place and for a late lunch. We had the Eggs Benedict, which had perfectly poached eggs but a bit disappointing as it tasted very plain. The cappuccino, on the other hand, was very good.

Eggs Benedict and Cappuccino

Eggs Benedict and Cappuccino

They have a wide selection of cakes. We tried out The Big Mess, a very rich and creamy chocolate cake, which was excellent.

The Fabulous Baker Boy Cakes

The Fabulous Baker Boy Cakes

As attendees arrived, we started preparing for the session. We were supposed to have a calligraphy lesson and we prepared guide sheets so each participant can practice as techniques were taught. Since we were at a cafe and not in a classroom setting, it was quite noisy and not very conducive for an actual lesson.

Shipra showing us some examples of flourishing with watercolor

Shipra instead demonstrated several flourishing techniques using different tools and some tips on flourishing, as well as how to handle negative spaces. She also brought examples on how she uses flourishing in her work.

Flourishing Examples

Flourishing Examples

She shared with us some drills to practice with when doing calligraphic flourishing. One of the drills is the spirals, which is done to practice spacing and consistency. In this drill, she instructed us to hold the pen with the hand and wrist hovering above the paper and draw large spiral strokes using whole arm movements.

Flourishing Drills: Spiral

Flourishing Drills: Spiral

Shipra demonstrated the use of colorful inks. We loved she encouraged us to experiment and try new materials. I’m very excited to order some folded horizon pens from a maker in India.

Calligraphy using colourful inks

Calligraphy using colourful inks

She also showed us some interesting colour blending techniques. In the example below, she initially painted blobs of water, gradually blended different colour inks, and created strokes with a comb painting knife

Colour Blending

Colour Blending

Overall, though we had challenges conducting the session, we had an interesting time with Shipra and the Calligraphers SG members.

With the Calligraphers SG

With the Calligraphers SG

Zig Marker Italic Guide Sheets

We had our first Italic Calligraphy workshop last Saturday at The Workroom. I promised the class that I would share some guide sheets here at the blog. This is what I use when I practice with a Zig Marker that has a 2 mm and 3.5 mm edge.

Zig Marker Italic Guide Sheets

Practicing Italic

When I measured the nib width of the marker it was 0.25 mm off, so the 2 mm edge is actually 1.75 mm and the 3.5 mm is actually 3.25 mm.

We recommend using a good quality sheet of paper so that there is a reduced chance of feathering. I usually print on A4 sheets of paper that are around 140 gsm. The paper on the photo is a light grey Fabriano purchased from Art Friend.

Please feel free to share this. Kindly link to this post and not to the files themselves.

You can download our Zig Marker Italic Guide Sheets printables in two sizes: 1.75 mm and 3.25 mm.

Zig 2 mm or 1.75 mm Guide Sheet

Zig 3.5 or 3.25 mm

How Not to Practice Calligraphy

Today was supposed to be a relaxing day. I was in bed, practicing calligraphy while playing season two of Top Gear when I knocked over the small bottle of calligraphy ink off my little practice table and onto the bed.

Ink soaked through the sheets and onto the mattress protector

Ink soaked through the sheets and onto the mattress protector

I know you’re not supposed to practice calligraphy on a tiny food tray but I’m lazy like that. So at one point or another this was bound to happen.

After rinsing the sheets at the bathroom, off we went to the nearest laundromat to wash our sheets since we needed to use 3 separate machines to quickly remove the ink and hopefully rescue our linens. The stain remained on the white mattress protector despite soaking it in bleach but the other stuff turned out ok.

So have I learned my lesson? No. I will still practice calligraphy bundled up in bed playing my favorite series in the background.

Spacing Guide Sheet for Modern Calligraphy

One of the challenging things in learning Modern Calligraphy is tackling the issue of connecting and spacing letters as you’re learning how to flex the pen. This takes some time to get used to.

Spacing Guide Sheet Practice

Practicing with the Spacing Guide Sheet

During our workshop, we address this issue by providing different types of guide sheets. We develop our own materials to help speed up learning and to equip participants on how to successfully practice at home. We provide some exemplars and one-on-one instruction but the key to learning calligraphy is always to set aside time to practice. We highly recommend practicing for at least 20 minutes at least thrice a week. You can download this guide sheet via our drop box link but please do not link directly to Dropbox if you want to share this guide sheet in your site. Please link to this blog post. You can download a copy of the Modern Calligraphy Spacing guide sheet here so you can practice at your own convenience. You may also like to check out our blank guide sheets here.

Calligraphy Spacing Guide Sheet

    We recommend:

  • printing using a laser printer
  • using the highest quality copy bond paper available

We love hearing feedback and questions from our participants since it allows us to improve the class, learning materials or format. Feel free to email us or get in touch via our contact form. We’d love to hear how you’re progressing. Please leave a comment below.

Flexible Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy: Not all fountain pens are suitable for use in practicing calligraphy. Some fountain pens work better with certain styles of calligraphy. This post is focused on flexible fountain pens that is typically used in styles like Modern Calligraphy, Copperplate or Spencerian.

Practicing calligraphy with a dip pen and a bottle of ink is ideal but it is not always convenient when you are on the go. A good alternative would be to use a fountain pen with a flexible nib that somehow mimics an old fashioned nib.

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Most fountain pen manufacturers these days are cautious in labeling their fountain pen as flexible and even some advertise that the nibs are flexible but they do not cut the mustard. So to help you decide what fountain pen to purchase, I’ve decided to share a review of the flex fountain pens that we own.

Test Parameters:

- Point of comparison for hand writing pressure to flex the nib: soft to medium pressure
- Paper: Muji dotted notebook
- Fountain Pens: Vintage Waterman 92, Pilot FA 742, and Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Fountain Pen for Calligraphy

Vintage Fountain Pen (Waterman 92)

This pen was a present for Lex which I bought from sizer65 on eBay. I got good recommendations on where to buy vintage fountain pens online from the Singapore Fountain Pen Lovers page in Facebook. This group of fountain pen enthusiasts is very friendly and helpful so you may want to check out their page if you’re looking for fountain pen recommendations and reviews.

Guidelines for buying vintage fountain pens online:
- Look for pictures of writing samples that show line variation
- Look for terms like flexible, flex, super flex, or wet noodle
- It must be described as fully functional or restored
- Google and see if the pen really performs as described by the seller based on reviews by other owners
- Check the sellers feedback
- Check with the seller if the fountain pen requires soft pressure to make swells and hairlines
- Ask the seller questions when in doubt

It was reasonably priced however the line variation was not what I expected. I thought that it would produce the same line variation as the Pilot FA 742 or better, but it produced a thinner swell. The pressure required to create swells would be from soft to medium but the tricky part is in creating hairlines since the fountain pen required a light touch to maintain a thin and consistent hairline. I know this sounds contradictory but this pen is just a tad quirky.

Vintage Waterman 92 Summary:
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Good line variation
- Dislikes: Takes any ink however a medium pressure is required to make line variations
- Line Variation: Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
- Price: $60-100
- Where to buy: Online or eBay (sizer65)

Pilot FA 742

I bought the Pilot FA 742 after some intensive research online. It is a great flex pen that is comparable to old fashioned nibs. It is pricey compared to other flex pens in the market but I think it is worth it.

The line variation I get from this pen is still the best compared to all other fountain pens that I’ve tried. This is my favorite fountain pen so far.

Pilot FA 742 Summary:
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Great line variation
- Dislikes: Picky with ink and railroads if you write in flex mode really fast
- Line Variation: Thick Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Soft
- Ink: Works best with Pilot inks
- Price: USD $190 or SGD $236++
- Where to buy: Online or local fountain pen shops (Fook Hing Trading)

Noodler’s Creaper Flex

 We were so excited to get the Noodler’s Creaper Flex since it was the cheapest flex pen with good online reviews. The pen requires heavy pressure to make it flex. Lex can easily make the pen flex but I struggle to make swells as I need to insert heavy pressure and only get minimal results. I must say that I am a bit disappointed with this pen

There are some folks here in Singapore, like Urner Hoo, who provide nib grinding services to make nibs more flexible. He sells modified Noodler’s Ahab pens at $80.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Original

- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Ok line variation and great value for the price
- Dislikes: Required heavy pressure to write in flex mode. Ladies may have a hard time making this pen flex as opposed to the Gents.
- Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Medium to hard pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works with most fountain pen inks
- Price: $20
- Where to buy: Online (Goulet Pens)

Updated on May 1, 2014
Sponsored Section: Urner’s Modified Noodler’s Creaper Flex Pen

I got a Noodler’s Creaper Flex from Urner. I was excited to try the ground-down nib and see how it compares to the original pen. My original complaint was that the unmodified pen is hard and difficult to flex making it harder to practice calligraphy.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink) Noodler’s Creaper Flex

Below is a comparison on the performance of the modified and unmodified version of the pens.  You get a slightly thicker line with the modified version as opposed to the original pen but the big difference would be on how easy the modified pen is to flex.

Modified (Orange Ink) vs. Unmodified (Teal Ink)

The modified pen came loaded with Calli Ink which is a calligraphy ink and not a traditional fountain pen ink. It dried quickly as opposed to the other fountain pen inks that I used before. It could have something to do with the modified feed which had a small piece of tissue wedged-in to reduce ink flow but I’m not an expert on ink. I was told that the surface tension of Calli Ink (Orange color only) works well with this fountain pen and I’m glad to report that it does. Since this pen is a modified one, it would be best to get some guidance from Urner on what inks he recommends as it may not work as well with just any off the shelf product.

Noodler’s Creaper Flex – Urner’s Modified Nib
- Flexible: Yes
- Likes: Ok line variation and easy to flex as the nib is soft
- Dislikes: Since the pen is modified, you need to tune it to ensure a smooth flow. This does not faze us as we like to tinker with our fountain pens. You also need to be very conscious on how you hold the pen because if you use the wrong angle you may damage the nib over a period of time. This maybe overwhelming for first time fountain pen users, however Urner provides an instruction sheet and he will give you tips on how to use and maintain the pen when you pick it up. You can also message him if you have any aftercare questions or concerns.
- Line Variation: Small to Medium Swells and Thin Hairlines
- Pressure Required to create line variation: Light to Soft pressure for swells and light pressure for hairlines
- Ink: Works best with Calli Ink
- Price: $80
- Where to buy: Urner Hoo (Facebook Message)


Overall, I think that the best pen is the Pilot 742 FA however it is pricey. Vintage pens would be the next best alternative but buying them is a bit troublesome and results do vary. The Noodler’s pen is the most affordable and if you don’t like how it flexes, you can always get it modified.

The original Noodler’s Creaper Flex is difficult to flex as it requires more pressure to make the tines part as opposed to the modified version which is very easy to flex however the modified pen requires more maintenance and care.

Stay tuned for my post on the Noodler’s Ahab and Platinum Cool Fountain Pens in the upcoming weeks. These pens are flex and may be used for calligraphy.

Dr. Ph Martin’s Pen White Ink Review

I was glad to find Dr. Ph Matin’s Pen-White at Art Friend for a project I did last month. It was too thick to use out of the bottle so I transferred it to a small bottle and diluted it with water.

When I got the consistency right, I added a few drops of gum of arabic to make the solution more permanent. I was glad to be able to make hairlines and swells using the Nikko G nib.

The ink cakes on the nib pretty fast so I had to work fast and clean the nib every now and then. It’s a good thing that clean-up was easy as the ink comes off the nib and pen holder when you run it under water.

What’s your experience with this ink? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below.

Workshop Review by Hey Jayel

I was checking my comments and pingbacks at lunch when I saw a ping from Hey Jayel. She attended our workshop last weekend and I was keen to read what she thought about it. Please note that this is not a sponsored review from Elle. This feedback is her own.

Source: Hey Jayel

Elle: “It was also great because the class was held in smaller groups so Katrina could provide us feedback and advice as we practice our strokes. During the first part of the workshop we covered the differences between Modern and Traditional Calligraphy and also the different materials needed. I loved the tips that she gave us about nibs, inks and pen holders. I learned more in that half hour she was talking then when I did my research online!”

I was happy to hear that our 2 hour workshop was able to meet its objectives. We made sure that the class size was small so I could check up on each participant’s progress. It means a lot to me that one of our participants felt she learned a lot.

Read her complete review at her blog Hey Jayel.

Shu Uemura Modern Calligraphy Workshop and Make-up Giveaway

We were invited to conduct two calligraphy workshop sessions at the Shu Uemura office this week to celebrate the launch of their new eyeliner, called, with Singapore’s top beauty bloggers. I’ve added the links to their blogs below so you could check out their sites.

Katrina Alana Modern Calligraphy Workshop Kit

To prepare for the workshop we prepared a special kit which includes:

  • Our very own Katrina Alana Modern Calligraphy Alphabet ©2014
  • Katrina Alana Practice Sheets ©2014
  • A wooden holder with a Nikko G nib
  • A bottle of black Pelikan fountain pen ink
  • A cute little bird pen rest
  • A capiz shell pen holder all the way from Cebu to store the holder and nib
  • A specially decorated Muji notebook
  • A rubber ring to help stabilize the the bottle of ink

Our first Modern Calligraphy workshop of the year

We’ve gotten a lot of enquiries about conducting calligraphy workshops last year and it’s so great to start our workshops schedule with such lovely ladies on the first month of 2014.

First Workshop Participants: (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) Roanna, Zee, Katrina, Candice, Tricia, Yina, Evonne and Juli

It was great to meet such a dynamic group of beauties who are not only pretty, but very fun and humble to boot. Singapore’s top beauty bloggers were such engaging students and good sport especially when the ink stained their hands.

Our next workshop was held the very next day with another batch of Singapore’s top beauty bloggers

We got some freebies from Shu Uemura worth over $100 which we will be giving away . These products have limited edition packaging that was designed in collaboration with 6♥Princess by Takashi Murakami. These wonderful products were courtesy of our liaisons Zee, Roanna, and Fuan. Thank you!

First Workshop Participants: (Left to Right, Top to Bottom) Katrina, Sara, Michelle, Sophia, Sarah, Leanne, Zee, Fuan

Beauty Blogger Directory:

Workshop 1:

Workshop 2:

Photo Credit: Shu Uemura

This giveaway is open to all our followers who are at least 18 years old. We will ship the products worldwide to the winner.
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Listed at: Giveaway Monkey