Making Impressive Handmade Gifts for Father’s Day

Long-time customer Jane Farr has one of our favorite calligraphy blogs and consistently creates lovely work. Thus, it is a pleasure to have her as a guest blogger to share how to create lovely handmade greetings for Father’s Day. Her thorough instructions will help you design a card of print you can frame for Father’s Day or any other special occasion. Enjoy learning from Jane!

Creating Handmade Gifts

by Jane Farr

You’ve studied and practiced your letters; you’ve studied and practiced forming words
and sentences, and now you’re ready to take your work to the next level and create a
more finished piece. You have the words picked out that you’d like to write, but you don’ t know what colors or mediums to use. If you find yourself too intimidated to take that next step, then I hope the following ideas will help you.

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PIA Guest Blogpost-2Sometimes it can be overwhelming to even know where to start in choosing colors. A tip I learned from my calligraphy instructor, Ellen Simon, is to create a small viewing window. I made this one by punching a 1.5”square cutout in an index card.

    Take the viewing window and move it across a natural, scenic image. I am using a photograph I took of a flower, but you could use images from a magazine, calendar, etc. Once you’ve settled on an area, tape the window in place.

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Observe the colors that are within the window, and select colored pencils, watercolor pencils, and/or watercolors to match those colors as best you can. Not only does this exercise help those who are afraid to try color in their pieces, but it also helps those who tend to use the same color palette over and over again.

I am going to write the same quote three different times using the same color palette but different mediums. All three pieces will be done on Arches Textwove.

For the first piece, I used gray gouache and a pointed pen for the quote and added the lines with a ruling pen

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PIA Guest Blogpost-5PIA Guest Blogpost-6Once the gouache was dry, I used my selected colored pencils to color in the spaces between the letters.

I used one color at a time and tried to space and balance the colors as I went.


PIA Guest Blogpost-7For the second piece, I used gray blue watercolor and a broad edge to write the quote. Once dry, I lightly penciled in a simple border around the quote.

I wet a small, pointed brush in clean water then touched the brush tip to the watercolor pencil and then brushed the color onto my penciled border.

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After my border was completely filled in and dry, I erased my pencil lines.




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PIA Guest Blogpost-10For the final piece, I wet blank paper with clean water and then lightly brushed on wet watercolors from the selected palette allowing the colors to blend a bit.




PIA Guest Blogpost-11I let the watercolors dry overnight, and then I sprayed the watercolor background with fixative to prevent my writing from bleeding. (Use fixative in a ventilated area.)

I used blue watercolor and a pointed pen for the quote.PIA Guest Blogpost-12






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Using a watercolor background for a piece has an additional advantage: it’s easier to camouflage mistakes!

PIA Guest Blogpost-15I used an Exacto knife to cut and scrape out the errant marks. I then went back in with colored pencil to conceal the exposed, white paper.





PIA Guest Blogpost-16I hope these ideas will help and encourage you to use different colors and mediums in your calligraphy pieces. Wishing all the dads out there a Happy Father’s Day!!




We are so grateful that Jane took time out of her schedule to write such a fabulous article for our blog readers. You can find more of her work by visiting her website or one of the following channels:



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