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Stories from the pen

Photo: R. Ravindran

Photo: R. Ravindran  

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Participants fall in love with the beautiful art form of calligraphy at a workshop organised by Amruta Walvekar of Wrapistry

A set of sheets clipped neatly onto an exam pad, a bottle of black imported ink, a ceramic bowl of water, a calligraphy pen, and its nib kept sealed inside a pink envelope. The setting looks like the one in the movie Letters to Juliet, where a group of women who call themselves ‘secretaries of Juliet’ sit down to write replies to letters that hopeful lovers leave at the walls beneath the courtyard in Verona, where Juliet is believed to have been wooed by Romeo. This is, however, just a calligraphy workshop for beginners, organised by Wrapistry.

I identify my seat right at the end of a long conference table at the Summit room of Taj Club House. The four-hour workshop is about to begin, and Amruta Walvekar, founder of Wrapistry, and organiser of the workshop, is walking around the room, helping the 20-odd participants fix the nib at a 55-degree angle.

My neighbour is a Class XII student, who is here just to take a break from academics. Later, when the participants are asked to introduce themselves, I learn that a majority of them are graphic designers and college students who are at the class to whip up their creativity; a few are homemakers who just want to learn an additional skill; one of them is a television broadcaster who finds calligraphy therapeutic; and another is a beautician who simply finds the art beautiful. Amruta introduces herself as someone who had a blue-collar job in London, but called it quits when she realised her calling — gift wrapping. She studied the art from experts in the U.K., and got back to her hometown, Pune, to start her own company (in 2006), which boasts clientele from San Francisco and New York, besides many five-star hotels in India.

It was only natural that her interest extended to calligraphy, given invitation and note cards were part of the exotic packaging that Wrapistry indulged in. While Amruta has been organising workshops in wrapping for years now, it is the first time she’s doing one on calligraphy (translated from Greek, kallos is beauty and graphe, writing) in the city. Though old-fashioned and time-consuming, the art continues to have takers, she says.

“Some of you may worry about not having great handwriting to begin with. Relax, you don’t have to have perfect handwriting. Calligraphy teaches you a set of new techniques to re-learn your writing skills,” she says. As I settle, I observe little things such as small paper name boards that Amruta has customised for each of the participants, besides a bunch of sheets that includes a calligraphy guide sheet, and another with alphabets that we are supposed to emulate in transparent, off-white and pure-white practice sheets. The set also includes elaborate notes on modern calligraphy, ink flow, pen pressure, how to fix the nib, and so on.

We start with the up and down strokes that form the basis for writing alphabets. The upward stroke is thin and requires less or no pressure, and the downward one is thick and requires one to exert pressure on the nib. We move on to writing alphabets, filling two lines of each, just as kids practising cursive handwriting for the first time.

“Drag and flick,” she says, stopping beside participants to ensure they’re holding the pen right. “Keep practising till you are comfortable with each alphabet. This helps build your wrist muscle memory,” adds Amruta.

Soon, we are writing full-length words, using the two movements — drag and flick. When the class concludes, small greeting cards are distributed to participants to write a note using calligraphy alphabets. One of them returns it, refusing to take it along with the rest of the kit. Confused, Amruta tries to give it back, but pauses on seeing the words ‘Thank You’, written using the pointed pen nib and dip ink.

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Printable version | Nov 21, 2019 10:00:58 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Stories-from-the-pen/article14596419.ece

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