These days, calligraphy goes waaaaaay beyond ink on paper. Tiles, sea glass, agate slices, light bulbs – pretty much any surface is game! Today we’re perusing the work of New York-based calligrapher Han Cao of Hanwriting, an expert on writing on non-traditional surfaces. Han was also kind enough to share some of her tips and tricks for writing on some of the trickier surfaces using a traditional calligraphy nib and ink. Let’s take a look! – Jen
“My lettering style tends to vary based on the surfaces I work on,” says Han. For objects like sea glass and slate, she likes to use a thinner calligraphy script. In contrast, she likes to complement agate’s bold colors with thicker downstrokes and thinner upstrokes. “I usually try a few styles and nibs on each surface to test out what looks best,” says Han. “It’s fun to try and bring out the best of each surface!”
Here’s a tip Han shared for writing on non-paper surfaces (since she does that quite often!): Han likes to use rubbing alcohol. “Some surfaces (agate, marble) sometimes have a thin, oily film which repels inks,” she shares. “So if you simply wipe them with a little rubbing alcohol, that removes the film and allows the ink to adhere better.” Han also uses acrylic ink on most of the items to give them some water resistance. “It gets tricky on some surfaces where the ink might pool at the bottom of the downstroke, so just thicken the ink up by either leaving it uncovered for a few hours, or adding some gum arabic, and that should help you control the strokes better.”
By the way, isn’t this a beautiful idea for place cards?! I love these little glass vessels, which channel that message-in-a-bottle vibe with the cork tops. The teeny shells matched with the guests names in calligraphy is such a perfect idea for a beach wedding.
Of course, Han’s calligraphy work on paper is equally stunning. I love the light, romantic feel of her lettering style.
“My favorite recent project was the light bulbs which were for a fun dinner party in the city,” shares Han. “I loved the thickness of the lettering, and the novelty of the surface.”
Thanks so much to Han for sharing her beautiful work and insider calligraphy tips with us!