I have followed Heather on Instagram for quite a while now. She always has something beautiful going on at her account, Tillberry Tales. This year I’ve had my eye out for hobbyists, and the hobby she posted that I’m most intrigued by is her hand lettering.
Hand lettering has become very popular in recent years – from chalkboards to calligraphy to beautiful artwork for the home. Heather picked it up this year little by little. I’ll let her tell her story.
I’m so happy to introduce you to Heather Suemnicht today.
Heather please tell us a little bit about yourself, your family, your homeschool, and the ages of your children.
It’s been 15 (wonderful years) since I convinced my husband to marry me. We have four children who are constantly amazing us. We’re just beginning to navigate the teen years with our oldest daughter Lucy, who is 13. Our only son Jude is 11. Our younger two girls are Mayme and Selah, and they are 9 and 7.
We knew we wanted to homeschool our children since before we were married, but I didn’t learn about Charlotte Mason until our daughter was entering first grade. Why didn’t I start researching homeschool methods earlier? I’m thankful I heard about it when I did though!
What is your hobby?
I love to knit and paint, but today, I’m going to talk about a new hobby that I’ve only recently claimed as a hobby – hand lettering.
I don’t claim to know it all. Hopefully, that’s encouraging to you to take up something new that you’ve been interested in, such as hand lettering!
How long have you been doing hand lettering?
I’ve been practicing and playing around with hand lettering since the beginning of this year (Jan/Feb of 2017).
How did you get started or interested in hand lettering? How would someone else get started?
I often see beautiful calligraphy on Pinterest or Instagram, or on letters from a sweet friend of mine. I’ve always wished I could write like that. I’ve looked at the calligraphy instructions on Pinterest and have tried to learn a couple of times, but never got past the first lesson.
Then, one day, I learned there was a method of calligraphy that was immediately accessible to me called modern calligraphy. Unlike, traditional calligraphy, modern calligraphy doesn’t follow the traditional strokes or rules.
Is it cheating? Is it “faux calligraphy”? Or is it a new style to celebrate? I don’t know, but I like it. 🙂
It goes like this: write in your normal cursive; then darken every line that is a “downstroke”. (That is, every line where you pull your pen down to form the letter.)
That’s basically all you need to know to get started! Easy!
I made a habit of writing out a verse from my morning Bible reading time. It was fun to embellish the handwriting as I lingered with and meditated on the verse.
As my enjoyment and skill grew, I began to add the lettering to my nature journal. Eventually, I wanted to make my own hand lettered signs to decorate my home and give as gifts.
What kind of equipment or resources are needed to do hand lettering?
Well, you only need a writing utensil and paper. I started out with just a regular old pen and my morning devotional journal.
I’ve used pencil and gel pens too, or whatever I happen to have available. I had some waterproof pens for nature journaling and I quickly started using those to take advantage of the different widths. I have used the Micron and Staedtler brands.
I like to start by planning out my letters in pencil. Then, I go over them with a .05mm pen. Then, I grab a .3mm or .5mm pen to darken my downstrokes (depending on how thick I want my lettering to be).
Finally, I erase any remaining pencil marks with a plastic eraser. If I’m going to add watercolor, I usually do that last. NOTE: If your pen is not waterproof, do the watercoloring first and then add the lettering once the watercolor is dry.
A ruler can be handy if you want to make straight lines, center your words, or space out your letters more. Often, I use a kneaded eraser to lighten my pencil lines before I go over them with pen.
Speaking of rulers and erasers, tracing paper can be handy tool. You can sketch out your idea and erase all you want without ruining your paper. Then, to transfer it, you can press down with ball point pen and leave an imprint on your paper as a guide, or you can use graphite transfer paper.
I won’t suggest any brush pens because I have yet to get that far in this hobby. Perhaps someday, I’ll get the hang of them, but for now, I’m learning a lot just by using what I already have.
Where can we learn more about hand lettering?
Because this is something that I’ve just learned by adapting my usual handwriting, I don’t have any books or blogs to suggest. I know there is an abundance of resources on hand lettering these days though, so a simple search will take you as far as you want to go.
I know there are a lot of online courses you can go through to learn and I’m sure my technique could benefit from them, but again, I’m not afraid to take it slow and learn as I go.
That being said, my “go to” resource is Pinterest. I search for inspiration and examples for hand lettering all the time. If I’m not sure how exactly I want to make a capital G, I search on Pinterest for “capital G”.
I will also add that last year, I began teaching my younger girls The New Handwriting by Mrs. Bridges. This gave me a lot of confidence and ideas for hand lettering as I learned along with them.
How do you make time to participate in hand lettering?
Finding time to have a hobby, let alone complete a project, when you’re a mom, especially with young children, is almost a joke. My children are much older and independent now, but I remember those days and am still often interrupted.
I’m so thankful for how Ms. Mason opened my eyes to the concept of “a little bit at a time.” It’s a little silly, but it was a life changing moment when realized I don’t have to read a whole chapter of Little House on the Prairie to my 6 year old; we can read just a page or two at a time.
That concept translates over into my hobbies. I knit one row. I read a few pages. I work on one step of a painting. Similarly with hand lettering, I began incorporating it into my normal routine little by little. My morning devotions first, then my nature journal.
Now, I sneak it in whenever and wherever I can: a half hour in the afternoon while the kids are playing, while I’m waiting at a child’s lesson, in the evening after the kids are in bed, or while we’re all working at the table together.
And when the piece I’m working on is a gift, it helps me have an excuse to make it a priority. 😉 The good thing about this hobby is that it is easily portable and easy to take up and set down if necessary!
Where can others find you online?
You can find me on Instagram @TillberryTales
I really appreciate a couple of things about Heather’s story. One, I love how she has confidence to try a new thing because she has experience with other hobbies. We saw that before with Kay Pelham and how she picked up cello almost at a whim.
Learning one hobby helps you be open to trying other new things. Lovely. The second is how she is able to work on it in bits and pieces. How she can fit a minute or ten here and there throughout the day and still improve.
I appreciate how she makes hand lettering seem so very doable. This is a hobby I think I could actually pick up for myself – what about you?