Modern Calligraphy Classes

Photography: 123rf.com / Tom Holt

 

Modern Calligraphy Workshop at The Workroom

#01-05 Tan Quee Swee Building, 19 Lorong Kilat

$136 for a three-hour class every Saturday; class size is 11; materials provided: two nibs, one pen (straight holder), a pot of calligraphy ink, an alphabet template, guide sheets and papers, practice templates, a resource list and a clear folder. 

Go to theworkroom.sg or e-mail info@theworkroom.sg for more information.

 

The workshop 

I stepped into the basement of a Chinese medical hall to find a  spacious hall where calligraphy master Ruth teaches. The class begins with a background on modern calligraphy after which Ruth runs through basic skills like how to hold the pen and choose the right nib. We then learnt the controlled movements need to produce the elegant, narrow letters of manuscript writing.

What I liked 

I appreciated how thorough Ruth was. She emphasised every stroke and movement, stressing the importance of holding the pen properly. She walked the hall, stopping to demonstrate one on one, doing each movement slowly and deliberately. I felt I was able to build a strong foundation in calligraphy in her class. The resource list was also very helpful, and gave me a way to continue practicing calligraphy without having to depend on a tutor.

What could be better 

I enjoyed the class immensely but found it rather clinical. The classroom-like atmosphere was slightly pressurising! But the intense practice I received really produced results and a dramatic improvement in my attempts at calligraphy.

Verdict 

Perfect for those who have a serious interest in calligraphy and want to go professional. 

9/10

Basic Modern Calligraphy Workshop at Souldeelight

Papermarket, #B1-27 Raffles City Shopping Centre and Overjoyed at #B1-08, 89 Short Street. 

$145 for a three-hour class every weekend; class size is 10 but can be extended to 20; materials provided: one nib, one pen (straight holder), a pot of calligraphy ink, an alphabet template, guide sheets and papers, and practice templates. 

Go to souldeelight.com for more information.

 

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The workshop 

Workshop instructor Dee’s infectious laughter sets the tone for the workshop. Her calligraphy style is charmingly haphazard – more art than careful penmanship. She practices free expression with a few basic calligraphy strokes weaved in. Rather than the tight, controlled movements of formal calligraphy, I learned a sweeping, rotund, modern style that was just as beautiful.  

What I liked 

Bubbly Dee made learning really enjoyable and I liked how relaxed the class felt. She was hands-on, walking around to help those having trouble with letters or strokes. She also peppered the lesson with tips, for example, you can get coloured ink by mixing a bit of gum arabic with watercolour to get a thick consistency.  

What could be better 

I attended the workshop at Papermarket, which has a long table for the class. Whenever Dee wanted to demonstrate something, students would have to cluster at the head of the table to see what she was doing. I was at the other end and sometimes found it hard to hear her. The quality of the pen could be better too – mine cracked!  

Verdict 

A fun, relaxed workshop perfect for picking up a new skill with friends – or go alone and make new ones.

8.5/10

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Modern Calligraphy Workshop with Happy Hands Project

At various locations.

$140 for a three-hour class, sessions are ad-hoc; class size is 18 to 20; materials provided: one nib, one pen (straight holder), a pot of calligraphy ink, a thick, spiral-bound book that holds practice materials, information and scrap paper to practise on. 

Go to happyhandsproject.com for more information. 

 

The workshop 

Pauline had thoughtfully lined each student’s spot with a placemat, personalised with their name in gold brushwork calligraphy. Like the other two classes, Pauline gave an introduction to calligraphy and shared more about the books, materials and equipment that would help us develop our skills after the class. Her classes don’t follow a fixed schedule so it’s best to subscribe to the newsletter, so you don't miss out. 

What I liked 

I loved how Pauline put so much effort into giving students something they could take away from the workshop. Instead of loose clippings, everything was neatly bound in a large A4-size notebook – we practised, wrote notes and referred to templates easily in this workbook. She was also hands-on, ensuring that everyone had one to one time to work on difficult letters or strokes with her. I also appreciated how she’d prepared small bites for the class.

What could be better 

Pauline is still looking for a permanent space for her workshops. I did mine at Woolf Works at Clarke Quay. My table, which had wheels, was also flimsy, and would shake if a heavy-handed person so much as used an eraser, messing up my own calligraphy. 

Verdict 

A great class taught by a good instructor but let down by the less-than-ideal venue.   

8/10