Half-term gets off to a scribbling start!

Captivating Calligraphy at Valentines Mansion

If you thought the kids would want to ditch the pens and pencils during half-term, think again! Valentines Mansion held a calligraphy class on Tuesday 18th February, where youngsters could try their hand at a writing style that’s been around for centuries and still looks beautiful.

Appropriately, the class was held in the drawing room of the mansion, where a big group of eager beavers had their sleeves rolled up and aprons on, ready for some art that Alison, the class leader, warned could get pretty messy. Before they got started, Alison gave a brief introduction to calligraphy by revealing that the word ‘calligraphy’ is derived from the Ancient Greek words ‘Kallos’ and ‘Graphe’ meaning ‘beautiful writing’ – and I can see why! She added that it would have been the writing style of those living in the mansion back in the 1700s. The art form has quite a broad history and, among other things, it was used for religious purposes by Christian Monks as well as being used to decorate Mosques. Although the concept of calligraphy may seem ancient, it’s still very accessible and, as Alison pointed out, you could even make your own ink using an egg yolk, some honey and soot.

Once the colourful feathers and a pots of ink were given out, the kids made a start on copying the examples of calligraphy they had been given. They were also given some tracing paper to help them on their way. Alison was constantly on hand for top tips including monitoring the pressure you put on the feather, so if you wanted a thick line you’d hold it straight and press down hard. It wasn’t long before ink made it onto the tips of everyone’s fingers but Alison reassured us that “scribes always had inky fingers” and that it would wash out.

After the group had practiced, it was time to get down to business – creating illuminated letters. Illuminated letters, Alison explained, are big letters that are decorated with flowers or animals. Monks and scribes produced them when writing manuscripts; you would usually find an illuminated letter at only at the start of a page and if you were to look at some of these today, they would, according to Alison still “‘look as good as the day they were made.”

The class were given examples, a fresh sheet of paper (which in the old days would actually have been cow’s skin) and lots of colours to produce their masterpiece. Everyone began concentrating furiously and the silence of the room was only broken by the scribbling of pens on paper.


Post Author: Raeesa Mukhtar

Valentines Mansion on Pinterest


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