When we think of calligraphy, or the art of beautiful handwriting, the image that comes to mind might be a name handwritten on a framed diploma, or perhaps the picture of a scribe intently penning a verse on parchment.

“Calligraphy is thousands of years old and is commonly agreed to have started in China,” says Denise Gerstung, president of the St. Louis Calligraphy Guild. “But in the last 15 years the art has added a modern flair to the classic styles of calligraphy known such as copperplate and italic, which are commonly used for social calligraphy on wedding invitations and certificates.”

Before the pandemic the guild would bring experts into St. Louis to teach members new trends, and how to use new tools and styles, Gerstung says. The guild has 50 members who range from professionals, hobbyists, artists and those just interested in learning about the art of fine penmanship.

Gerstung explains that traditional calligraphy consists of a set of precise skills and techniques for positioning and writing words so they show integrity and harmony. Each letter is written in a consistent and specific height, angle and measurement.

“Copperplate uses a split nib pen, and pressure is applied to create thick and thin lines,” Gerstung explains. “Italic is done with a broad edge nib, and the thick and thin lines result from ascending and descending strokes.”

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