Voices

Voices // An evening with Meticulous Ink

by Katie Cadwallader

We often joke in the studio about ‘Katie Sans’ or ‘Jamie Sans’ as many a project lends itself to a handwritten style. Usually, we struggle to find a typeface that emulates the slight disparities that natural handwriting does, and wish we had the penmanship in-house for such occasions. Personally I’ve always loved writing, specifically with a fountain pen. I dabbled in calligraphy at Uni but felt the familiar frustration at not being able to recreate what the teacher demonstrated, so my pens have since gathered dust. Until now. Meticulous Ink are based only minutes away from our studio in Bath. I often detour past their shop window to marvel at the origami window displays and stationary porn. Safe to say, when they were announced in the Summer School, I furiously scribbled a post it note reminder for the release date. Myself and many others it seems, as the course sold out in one morning. So began the wait.

We headed to The Makery, greeted with a stack of what looked like graph paper, some ink and our alphabet bibles. Athena began by explaining how Meticulous Ink started and when calligraphy became an integral part of it. Meanwhile, the long rows of designers were busy feeling/smelling/salivating over all the copper foiled, letterpress goods on the table, distracted immediately by the wealth of beautiful things that had travelled over from the workshop. All too quickly, we were mounting our delicate nibs into our holders and the lids were off. Much the same as the Dapper Signs workshop, all good letters start with lines. Curvy ones to be precise, so we began practising the technique of thick & thin strokes. Immediate “oohs” from the table at first sight of the nib splitting, followed by eyeballs to paper to watch the ink dry to a matte black. Magic. 

So we began making our way through the letters, becoming aware all too quickly of the favourites – identifying a few enemies along the way too. Much love and admiration from the table at the G, j, M, Q & s. We won’t talk about Ks and Os, but let it be known we tackled them all. Once you got used to Athena’s guidelined paper, the whole process was calming and immensely satisfying. An air of cockiness perhaps in the room at this point – if you can tackle the alphabet, surely you can handle it all. Lots of comments about beautiful shopping lists and friendlier passive aggressive post its. That was until Athena told the table that she was taking the lines away for us to write freehand. I speak for myself (and a few others perhaps) when I say this was a bit of a bump back to reality. I still have a way to go until I offer to pen degree certificates or address wedding invites, but give me some lines to work with and I’ll fill them with some legible, if a little shaky calligraphy. I feel infinitely more confident that I’ll be able to tackle blank pages with a little practice – not so certain on my capital K’s, something I’ll need to overcome pretty quickly!