Hand-Carved Oblique Nib Holders from Salman Khattak

Hand-Carved Oblique Nib Holders from Salman Khattak

Salman Khattak has made some of his beautiful and unique hand-carved oblique nib holders for us to sell in the shop, which is one of the most exciting new lines to introduce to the shop - these are all individually carved and finished, and of course, understated and gorgeous. They are truly such an elegant and unique tool to have, for calligraphers especially, beginner or experienced, but also just for folks like me who enjoy playing with inks and words on a page. You can see them online here, or come take a look in the shop. Calligraphy Oblique Nib Holder Toronto Canada Salman's oblique nib holder, Noodler's Raven Black for the quotation. These are just stunning - I am in love with the simplicity of the design and also the idea behind using a holder made by Salman, a Toronto calligrapher and woodworker. If you've followed me for any length of time, you know that I love things that come from natural materials, like paper and leather and wood, and things that are made by hand often speak volumes about the craftsmanship and thought that goes into the design and execution of it. Salman is both an expert calligrapher as well as a woodworker - you can see some of his work on his Instagram, but as is so often the case with these sorts of things, pictures don't always do it justice. His experience, though, means that he's designed these to be ergonomic and just right in the hand for writing calligraphy. They're carved from cherry wood, sanded and polished, finished with several thin coats of clear seal before carefully fitted with a flange to accommodate calligraphy dip nibs at an oblique angle. Oblique Nib Holder Toronto Canada I attended Salman's class on Carving an Oblique Nib Holder, and I was blown away by both the artistry involved in designing a nib holder to fit the shape of a human hand and the angle of writing, but also the physical nature of carving and sanding and polishing. This is a beautiful and deceptively simple design that feels light and fits perfectly in the hand, and I especially love the idea that it's been created by a Toronto artisan. It's a good weight in the hand, not too long or back heavy that you feel fatigued by holding it, and its grip shape enables your fingers to hold it more loosely, so your fingers don't have to expend a lot of energy holding it. Wood Oblique Nib Holders Toronto Canada Calligraphy Due to the nature of hand carving and the natural wood material, each holder may have slightly different variations in the wood and the colour or tone of the wood, as well as slight variations in the carving, but they all will be the same model. They will fit the popular Brause Blue Pumpkin nib along with Brause Rose, and even an EF66 Arrow nib, along with many others. I'm sure these will go fast, as we just have one batch in now, but we will be carrying these regularly. With Christmas coming up, these would make such a wonderful gift for someone learning or practising calligraphy - a tool that comes with inspiration built in. If we are sold out, you can always sign up for the in-stock notification so you can get an automatic email when we get more in, but more won't come until after Christmas, for sure, as these take many weeks in advance to make. I, of course, already have mine safely in hand, and I've already been flinging ink around. I'm sure you'll be seeing more of it on my Instagram and on the blog, and it's also great timing for Christmas cards. Sometimes I don't go through ink as quickly as I should, and it's left in my pens for longer than is safe without it starting to clog up - especially permanent inks. It's nice to be able to just dip and address envelopes with a permanent ink. Wood Oblique Nib Holders Toronto Canada Calligraphy

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This is a heart-warming addition to our shop because Salman is one of the nicest guys I know - he's even shared surprise birthday cake at our shop, for one of our staff. I know I say that a lot, and that's partially because we, Jon and I, somehow landed ourselves in Toronto and in Canada, where the pen community is incredible and we have some of the friendliest and most supportive stationery nuts in the world, but Salman really is one of my favourite people. He is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to both calligraphy and letters and so open and passionate about sharing it. We're honoured and thrilled to be carrying Salman's holders, and even more so as he has a waiting list for his custom holders three months long. He's offering these holders at truly a very, very reasonable price considering all of the work and time each one takes, along with the experience and knowledge he has in making them. Toronto Calligraphy Oblique Nib Holder Canada Salman once came to our Letter Writing Club and did free envelope addressing, and I can only imagine the reaction of people receiving the letters in the mail, as though invited to tea with the queen (although I hope, in my case, that the recipients were not then disappointed by receiving the scribbles of the proletariat). The part I liked best, though, was watching him pull out all his various inks and nibs and tools and goodies. I'm mostly just a lowly letter writer and journaler, and occasionally I make a mark on an invoice, usually just a doodle, so I can only dream of having all of these tools to make beautiful words with, and now of course, I have this gorgeous wooden nib holder.
November 23, 2016 — wonderpens
Chalkboard Artists: Christopher Rouleau

Chalkboard Artists: Christopher Rouleau

Chris Rouleau Wonder Pens Chalkboard One of my favourite things about moving into this shop space is the huge chalkboard wall that came with it - and we recently had brush lettering artist and designer Christopher Rouleau come into the shop and do up our chalkboard in style. Chris does chalkboard walls and signs, design work, and some great stuff on Instagram, along with teaching lettering workshops through Ligatures, a typography organization he co-founded. Chris actually came in to do our chalkboard this summer, now months ago! I can hardly remember those hot, sunny days when Caleb could run out the door in shorts and a t-shirt, and we would sit in the shade under a tree with some ice cream. While we're now getting pretty deep into autumn, and this chalkboard seems to have to do with the summer, it's a timely reminder all the same - to take the time to enjoy the journey and everything you see along the way. Chris Rouleau Wonder Pens Chalkboard Chris Rouleau Wonder Pens Chalkboard Chris Rouleau Wonder Pens Chalkboard This wall has been up for a couple of months now, and I have Bogdan to thank for moving me along with the last piece of it, which is editing and putting the video together. I've been blaming my laptop, but it's actually more to do with my complete lack of technological skills. It's a miracle even these blog posts make it out into the great cyber abyss, some days. https://vimeo.com/191679983 Chris is of course beyond talented, but I have to laugh every time I watch this video seeing Chicken as a tiny kitten, following Chris around and waiting beneath the chair as Chris climbs up and down. I think Chicken really found a kindred spirit in Chris, which I don't think I really caught on the day he came. I kept trying to shoo Chicken away, thinking he was bothering Chris, but it turns out when no one was watching, they formed their own sort of bond, which I guess is kind of how it is with animals. It's a sign of how long ago it was that Chris came to do this chalkboard that Chicken is such a scrawny little guy, and you kind of want to squish him for being so cute and small and just kind of trailing around aimlessly. Chicken really is a very sweet cat, but his adolescence now has brought about a lot of chasing and attacking, so it's nice to remember him as a soft furry thing. This chalkboard is only going to be up for a few more days! So if you haven't seen it in person yet, and you're in the neighbourhood, be sure to stop by. If you know anyone who might be interested in doing some of their magic on our chalkboard, have them send us an email - info@wonderpens.ca. We're always looking for new and friendly folks on our walls.
November 15, 2016 — wonderpens
Olive Branch & Co Calligraphy in the Studio

Olive Branch & Co Calligraphy in the Studio

If you've stopped by the shop this week, you may have noticed we have a new chalkboard design up - done by Melissa Chan of Olive Branch & Co Calligraphy teaching a few Introduction to Modern Calligraphy classes here in our calligraphy studio! I've actually known Melissa since we were in university together! But I've been following her story on Instagram over the last few years and have been in awe of everything she does. I was so thrilled to hear she was going to be in Toronto for a few weeks, en route a big move from Montreal to Vancouver - and even more so to have her here to do our chalkboard and teach a few calligraphy classes here! Olive Branch and Co Modern Calligraphy Classes in Toronto
Melissa has been practising calligraphy for a few years now, and it's been unbelievable to see how her business has taken root and grown. You can check out her website portfolio here and see a few of the beautiful custom pieces she's done for weddings and events - she even has a blog! (You know I'm all over that.)
For those of you who might need some inspiration, here's bit of her story.
How did you become interested in calligraphy?
I have always been really interested by handwriting - I loved looking at different ways people wrote and different styles they had. I first picked up a calligraphy pen when I was in elementary school and my dad gave me a set. My favourite colour was purple at the time so I pretty much wrote exclusively in purple ink (until all the ink spilled in my bag...).
I didn't come back to calligraphy again until two and a half years ago when I had just moved to Montreal. I wanted to pick up something stress-relieving and relaxing, so I started experimenting with calligraphy, and ended up becoming obsessed with it!
What's your typical practice session like?
I totally lose track of time when I get to do calligraphy, so I have no idea how long I'll usually go for! I do a bunch of warm ups when I start - a lot of loops and ovals to get my hands warmed up, and then a word or two I'm thinking of.
Sometimes when I'm wanting to experiment with different styles, I'll write the same quote over and over again, but I'll play with the spaces in between letters or how the letters loop or their width and length - it's quite fun, and before I know it, an hour has gone by just with one quote!
What's your favourite part of doing calligraphy?
Ooh - there's so much I love about it! I love the movement of it, watching ink set and dry (especially if it's gold ink!), the little scratch of the nibs against paper. I love that calligraphy is like this old art form - in an age where everyone brings laptops to take notes, I love that calligraphy is a meeting of the hands with the heart and mind, and how you can touch and feel the raised ink, the etch of the nib, the very words.
But I also love that it's this sweet marriage of art and words - I've always loved words for their power and how they can create worlds and move hearts, how they can give life and death. So what I especially cherish about calligraphy and hand lettering is the way it can reflect the beauty of the content of words through their very form.
Olive Branch & Co Calligraphy Modern Calligraphy Classes Toronto Canada Wonder Pens
We're so excited to have her here to teach a few classes of Introduction to Modern Calligraphy in our studio! Melissa is incredibly gracious and friendly, and is the perfect teacher for anyone looking to begin calligraphy. She's only here for two weeks, so we're pretty honoured that she has found the time for us here.
You can find more details and register online for her classes here. The classes are:
Thursday, May 19th from 7-9:30 pm
Friday, May 20th from 7-9:30 pm
Thursday, May 26th from 7-9:30 pm
Friday, May 27th from 7-9:30 pm
All materials are provided, and you'll a few hours practising and learning how to make some beautiful strokes.
She was kind enough to let us take some video of her in action, putting up the new chalkboard wall!
May 18, 2016 — wonderpens
New Calligraphy Classes Coming Up

New Calligraphy Classes Coming Up

I'm so excited to share with you a few new calligraphy classes! We are certainly keeping busy around here. Maybe it's the spring, but I've always enjoyed playing around with flex nibs and dip pens, and what better time than this new season to freshen up. Of course we continue to have classes for our Introduction to Calligraphy and Introduction to Pointed Pen - you can visit both of these links to see all available dates. Calligraphy Classes in Toronto Oblique Nib Holder Pointed Pen Modern Calligraphy We're thrilled to be getting such good use out of our new Wonder Pens Toronto Calligraphy Studio, which is just down the hall from our class. The separate space means teachers and students have room to stretch and to concentrate (or chat!) without distractions. Also, I've been spending some time there with the dog to get some "real work" done, although I am prone to distractions even when I'm alone in an empty room with a sleeping dog. All-Ages Calligraphy Class - Saturday, April 30th from 1:30-4:30 Coming up very soon (this Saturday!) is our first All-Ages calligraphy class. We've had a lot of questions about whether or not kids can attend the regular classes, and the short answer is no. There are a lot of reasons, and while it's mostly due to the speed of teaching, it's also the difference in development of fine motor skills between kids and adults, the comfort level of other adults in the class, and the need for teachers to work with individuals students in a balanced manner. But now, we're remedying this oversight by offering our first class where kids can attend with a parent or older sibling, or older kids can even attend on their own! It's an introductory class, so you can attend with zero prior experience, and all materials are provided. You can see more details online here. Intermediate Italics - Saturday, May 14th from 1:30-4:30 If you've taken one of our Introduction to Calligraphy Classes and are looking for the next step, this is it. Intermediate Italics covers this beautiful hand in more detail and depth, building on skills you've already learned or begun to practise. Intermediate Calligraphy Class Toronto Wonder Pens There is no official prerequisite, as in you don't have to have taken the Introduction to Calligraphy class with us, but the course will be taught assuming you've already had some introduction of the basics. Mark Lurz, head of the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto, is teaching the class, and I cannot speak more highly of him, both as a calligrapher but also as a teacher. See more details and register here. Intermediate Copperplate Calligraphy - Saturday, June 11 from 10:30 to 5:00 Another big new class for us! Salman Khattak is now preparing for our upcoming Intermediate Copperplate Calligraphy Class. This 6-hour intensive, class will be a small class size and a focused exploration of copperplate calligraphy (with a break for lunch halfway through). You'll be covering the foundations of learning copperplate calligraphy. This is an intermediate class, meaning you will have had some basic knowledge of using dip pens and applying varying pressure. Rest assured, though, that Salman will be teaching you this beautiful style of writing from the ground up. For this class, you will likely already have your own oblique nib holder and tools to bring, but you have the option of purchasing an oblique nib holder from Salman if you don't already have one - selection from the drop down menu to register for the class as well as purchase materials (oblique nib holder, nibs + ink). Paper will be provided for everyone. You can see more details and register for this class here. Unfortunately these hand made wooden oblique nib holders will not be available for purchase outside of this class. Salman is offering these at a discounted price as part of registering for the class. If you would like a nib holder from Salman and are unable to attend this class, you can contact him directly here or see more of his work on his Instagram. We are hoping to hold another class on carving an oblique nib holder some time this summer, so stay tuned to our website for details on that. And! Introduction to Modern Calligraphy with Melissa Chan from Olive Branch & Co - Friday, May 20th from 7pm - 9:30pm OR Friday, May 27th from 7pm - 9:30 pm I am so crazy excited to share with you that we're going to be hosting a class with Melissa from Olive Branch & Co. She is a modern calligrapher, and offers custom wedding invitations and other custom work, as well as cards and prints. Modern Calligraphy Class Toronto Wonder Pens Melissa is currently based in Montreal, although en route for a big move to Vancouver, but will be spending a few weeks here in Toronto, and we're thrilled that she'll be teaching two classes here in our studio while she's in town! You can see more of her work on Instagram. These classes are already filling up fast, and be careful to see that they're on Friday night, and not on Saturdays, when most of our other classes are held. All materials are provided and this is an introductory class, so no prior experience is needed.  You can register and see more details here.

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That's a lot of information! But it's really because we have so much going on here these days. What a blessing, although it feels like everything is just a million never ending loose ends waiting to be tied up. I'm in charge of doing most of the ordering and emailing with our vendors and manufacturers and distributors, and most days it seems like I can hardly keep up. Every once in a while Jon looks through the email and says, oh hey, did you see this email about this deadline that passed you know, like two weeks ago?? And I look away and try to pretend that Caleb is in need of attention. If it's a really old email, I pretend like Caleb is doing something to get into trouble. I just responded to a letter I found in a box by my desk from January. I think that might be a record low for me, but who's keeping track. The exciting news is that I only found the letter because I was sorting and re-sorting my stationery (you know, priorities) when I found this beautiful cabinet on Kijiji! The very next day it arrived through our doors, and it now houses some of my favourite things. One day I'm going to really organize and sort through everything, and maybe even do a blog post on the treasures of my new stationery cabinet, but for now, here's a photo I shared last week on Instagram.
April 27, 2016 — wonderpens
Making a Watercolour Set in your Kaweco Tin Case

Making a Watercolour Set in your Kaweco Tin Case

This blog post is a bit left field for me, although not totally, because I just like all sorts of stationery and craft-y things. Some days it's really surreal to me that my "job" is doing this kind of stuff, and then taking pictures of it, and then writing it about it on a blog. I mean, I also occasionally send an e-mail or pick up the phone, or wander into the shop to put something out on a shelf, but it's crazy to think that it's really part of my job to write about my stationery adventures. How to make your own watercolour watercolor palette kaweco tin case altoids wonderpens toronto canada Every once in a while I break out watercolours to do some brush lettering or just fool around. I've seen so many great posts on Instagram and on blogs using watercolour for visual journaling, so maybe I'll try a bit of that myself. I have a plastic palette and some tubes of watercolour paint, which I can use here at home, but I've seen so many great travel DIY Altoids tin watercolour sets that I thought I would try to make my own, in case I ever make it to the park with Caleb and he's playing independently (HAHA WHAT A JOKE...). We have Kaweco tin cases here, which come with Al-Sports and Brass Sports and Liliputs, which are the perfect size for fitting into my bag, but you can also buy them separately. I used:
  • Kaweco Tin Case
  • watercolour in tubes
  • little pans (6) + half pans (7)
  • rubber cement
  • foam (optional)
Basically the idea is that I put some foam at the bottom of the tin because it was too deep, put some rubber cement on the foam, and seated all the pans inside. Then I filled it with paint from my watercolour tubes! Making your own watercolour watercolor palette kaweco tin case wonder pens stationery shop I put a piece of foam in to raise my pans a bit, although it's not necessary - you could have them sit right onto the bottom of the case. After deciding how many pans I wanted in - I think you could also put some full pans sideways along the bottom half of the tin case, I put a thin coat of rubber cement on the foam so the pans would stick and not jostle around. You definitely need something, and I've heard of using sticky tack or double sided tape. It doesn't need to be too strong, but otherwise, the pans can fall out very easily. If you don't have these watercolour pans, which I've just had kicking around since I've basically been accumulating random stationery and art supplies since I was a child, you could use anything. For example, you could re-use the inside of caps for pop bottles or you could cut some plastic tubing into little cylinders, which you can squish in, and have the paint right onto the bottom of the tin case inside the tubes. That would probably be ideal for getting the most paint into your tin case, because you wouldn't be wasting any space with foam like in mine. The good thing about rubber cement is that not only is it not super sticky so you can easily lift the pans if you're really trying, but the residual glue rubs or peels right off the bottom of the plastic pans. How to make your own watercolour watercolor palette kaweco tin case altoids wonderpens toronto canada After you put the watercolour into your pans, you should make sure it goes all the way into the corners, so it doesn't dry up and fall right out. You could also do it in two steps, to get really full pans - filling them halfway and letting them dry a bit, and then topping them up. You can leave it open for a couple of days so the paint dries. Apparently you can also stir in a drop of glycerine or honey so the paint doesn't crack when it dries, and the whole paint glob doesn't fall out. How to make your own watercolour watercolor palette kaweco tin case altoids wonderpens toronto canada How to make your own watercolour watercolor palette kaweco tin case altoids wonderpens toronto canada

I'm hoping this will inspire me to be a bit more creative! Having to break out all of the tubes and palette and clean it off after is a bit of a pain, so maybe this will be incentive for me to try something new without too much work. My brush lettering is so-so at best, but practice makes perfect ;)

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It's been rainy couple of days here, after our golden and sunny weekend. The grey skies and rain is sometimes a bit depressing, but I'm absolutely loving the cool and misty air compared to our snowy days just a few weeks ago.

Caleb is just loving the rain - he's got this thing about jumping in puddles, or just walking in and marching around and laughing like a maniac. It's crazy because he doesn't have rain boots, just these sock shoes that are socks with rubber bottoms, and running shoes. If we go out more than twice, and both his shoes get wet, he's left wearing his snow boots to go to the park.

If only my in-laws could see how I do things here...

March 16, 2016 — wonderpens

How It Went: Carving My Oblique Nib Holder

This past Saturday, we had our first Creating an Oblique Nib Holder class, which I attended, and I am now in possession of my very own oblique nib holder! The class was taught by Salman Khattak, who is a calligrapher, but who also makes and sells beautiful and ornate nib holders. We're running another class on Saturday, April 2nd, from 2-6pm -you can register online here. We're also hoping to strong-arm Salman into teaching a few calligraphy classes, so stay tuned for that as well. I was a bit nervous going into it, especially because Salman wanted us all seated in a circle so he could make sure we were all doing okay. I'm more of sit in the back corner kind of student, so I don't embarrass myself by breaking my nib holder in half or cutting off my thumb while carving the wood. It was a bit intense when we were picking up all the tools from Lee Valley and Home Depot and Canadian Tire, because the list involved utility knives and metal cutters and "round bastard files" - but once I was in the class, everything came together and made sense. It was great. It was so much fun, especially because the other students were super easy going, and of course Salman is, as always, so disarming and funny. Even though everything he teaches he can do five times as fast, he really lays it all out so we can follow along and do as he does. The class was originally scheduled for four hours, which I thought seemed like a long time, but we ended up running over! It was really great, though, to have Salman walk us through and show us exactly how to adjust things or tweak things or to help us make sure the flanges were all installed perfectly. Here are a few pictures from the day: Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman showed us some of the holders he's carved, in different shapes and sizes, and explained how each design might work in someone's hand. We got to pick our own sizes of wood, and Salman walked us through our rough plans for our own designs, and how to use the knives and files to shape the wood. After sanding it down, we cut notches to install and adjust the flange to accommodate various nibs. It sounds pretty simple when I say it like that, but trust me when I say that there's a lot that goes into making a custom oblique nib holder, and especially in fitting the flange. Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada Shaping the wood itself was maybe my favourite part of the class, but of course installing the flange to make it a complete nib holder was pretty exciting, since you really see it turn into an oblique nib holder. It was also the most complicated part, which Salman definitely had to walk us all through. It was my first time attending a class in the new studio space, and I loved it! Our new studio space for classes is just down the hall from the shop, which is super convenient when we have to move furniture around or set up the coffee and tea for the day. It was also great to have room to maneuver and stretch, especially because Caleb was in and out of the class, too. Since the class took place on a Saturday, which is typically our busiest day in the shop, Jon took care of Caleb for most of the afternoon, but dropped him off every now and again. In Jon's words, Caleb was "getting a bit unruly for the shop." And here's mine! I went for a simpler design, rather than something more ergonomic or complicated, mainly because I had no idea how it was going to go. It's slightly ergonomic in that there's a small dip near the front end for the fingers to grip into, as Salman advised, but nothing like some of the beautiful ones made by the other students in the class. Salman Khattak Wonder Pens Custom Oblique Nib Holder Calligraphy Supplies Toronto Canada

It still needs to be lacquered, so any ink splashes or spills don't soak into the wood (which would only come out with sanding it off, which could affect the shape), but of course I couldn't resist, and I've done just a bit of very careful doodling.

If you have any questions about the class, please let us know! You can see more details here, or you can  leave a comment, or e-mail us at info@wonderpens.ca.

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In other news, Monday is our grocery shopping day, so this morning we headed off to T&T, which is an Asian supermarket down by the waterfront. It's great when Caleb's sitting the shopping cart, since he just stares around as you push him up and down the aisles, but as soon as you have him out of the cart, he's a disaster. He likes to grab things and then re-stock them in alternative locations, which I guess is part of what he does in the shop here. Barely acceptable in our shop, or at least barely tolerated, but in public...we're working on it. The sadness news of all is that my favourite potato snack is no longer being carried at T&T. Or rather, they're only carrying the BBQ and spicy flavours of it. Jon has been trying to appease me by suggesting other snacks, but you know, life just isn't the same when your snacks don't hit the spot. Good thing I have a Nanaimo bar for dessert :)   (And in case you were worried that it seems like I'm basically just subsisting off unhealthy foods, I just ordered water bottles for the entire family. They're very cute glass water bottles with silicone sleeves, and Caleb's is a mini one with a straw. I may have spent 45 minutes of my life that I'll never get back deciding which ones to get.)
March Break Children's Cursive Writing Camp + Calligraphy Class

March Break Children's Cursive Writing Camp + Calligraphy Class

  I'm so excited to announce our first March Break Children's Handwriting and Cursive Writing Camp, along with a bonus optional Calligraphy Class at the end of it. March Break Cursive Writing Camp in Toronto
Monday, March 14th Tuesday, March 15th Wednesday, March 16th Thursday, March 17th Friday, March 18th

Cursive Writing Camp with Michele Nidenoff, $165

10 am to 11:15 am

Calligraphy Class with Mark Lurz, $65 10 am to 12 pm
If you sign up for both at once, you save $10 off the total cost. All supplies provided, children ages 8+. For the four-day cursive writing camp, Michele Nidenoff, one of our calligraphy teachers, will be working with students to teach the basics of forming cursive letters. Everything from posture and grip, to the slant and consistency of letters, and how to form and join different combinations, this four day intensive course is designed to give your children a very solid foundation to establish life-long penmanship. On Friday, Mark Lurz, head of the Calligraphic Arts Guild of Toronto, will be teaching an introduction to calligraphy class for children! This is for kids who want to take it to the next level, and are ready to learn how to make beautiful, calligraphic letters beyond just cursive writing. You do not need to attend the March Break Cursive Writing Camp to attend the Children's Calligraphy Class on Friday - you can sign up for either one, or both! If you sign up for both, though, you save $10. You can register online, over the phone (416 799 5935), or in the shop. You can always call or email as well if you have any questions. We'll have all supplies necessary, as well as nut-free treats and juice for break. Space is limited. March Break Kids Childrens Handwriting Cursive Writing Class Lessons Toronto Canada Wonder Pens Calligraphy There are all sorts of reasons why it's advantageous for kids to learn cursive writing, including, but not limited to:
  1. When cursive is mastered, it's faster and easier to write in cursive than it is in print.
  2. Most private schools are continuing to require learning cursive writing, and as public schools begin to lessen their focus on it, in the workplace, cursive writing may become a marker for a certain type of education.
  3. Studies are showing that in class, taking notes by hand is more effective than typing.
  4. Students who have good penmanship often have more confidence in how and how much they write, so in school, they focus more on learning than on the process of physically writing.
  5. Studies are showing that there is link between creativity and writing by hand.
  6. It can be fun! Just like some children may enjoy drawing, some children may enjoy writing, and this is a way to give them structure to learn the skill properly.
You can bet I am expecting Caleb to learn how to write cursive. In fact, I used to be a bit perplexed when people would ask if Caleb was going to learn how to write in cursive - it was a bit of an assumed fact. I think it's a skill that can be so easily learned with some focus and practice, just like I would want Caleb to know how to ride a bicycle or do mental math in his head or how to cook. Nothing fancy or any tricks unless he's really interested, but basic life skills :) Please feel free to pass this onto anyone you know who might be interested in a fun camp for their kids in the morning during March break, or who might be interested in their children getting a solid foundation in handwriting! :)
New Calligraphy Classes + New Wonder Pens Calligraphy Studio

New Calligraphy Classes + New Wonder Pens Calligraphy Studio

The most exciting news: we have two new calligraphy classes here in our Toronto shop! Mark Lurz has been teaching our Introduction to Calligraphy class, which is a terrific intro course for complete beginners, or even calligraphers who need a solid refresher. This class has been extremely popular, and I don't think we've run one yet that hasn't been full with a wait list. Mark will now be teaching an Intermediate Italic Letters class on the afternoon of March 12th, from 1:30-4:30, for those who have either taken the Introduction to Calligraphy class, or who have some experience in italic calligraphy. This is a next stage level, for those who are a bit more serious about calligraphy, to work towards an elegant script with Swash Capitals. Mark is the head of the Calligraphy Arts Guild of Toronto, so we're constantly in amazement at the beautiful work he puts out, and his wealth of experience teaching at all levels. And, if that wasn't enough, we have Salman Khattak creating a workshop to teach you to make your own oblique nib holder! This Creating an Oblique Nib Holder class means you come empty-handed, and we have all the tools and materials you'll need to leave with a complete and ready-to-use oblique nib holder. We have two classes, four hours long, one on February 27th, from 2:00 - 6:00 pm, and one on March 5th, from 9:30 am to 1:30 pm. If you aren't already following Salman on Instagram, you definitely have to take a look, because he shares some beautiful stuff on it. We've been searching for about as long as we can remember to find a high quality oblique nib holder at a reasonable cost, but they are hard to find! There are some plastic options out there, but they don't offer the same flexibility to adjust angles or nibs - so you can bet we're excited to now offer a class where you can make your own, and even more so taught by someone like Salman, who makes some pretty unbelievable and gorgeous nib holders. Oblique Nib Holders Wonder Pens Modern Calligraphy Classes Toronto With Salman, you'll be carving and shaping a piece of wood, and fitting & adjusting brass flanges to accommodate nibs of various sizes. You'll walk away with an oblique nib holder shaped to your hand size and preferences, and a few extra nibs to make some beautiful calligraphy. Both of these classes are available for registration online, or you can call or visit the shop to reserve your spot. We've had a number of people doing it with a friend or as a small group, and if you know you'd like to attend the class with someone, you should all register as soon as possible, so one of you doesn't end up on the waitlist. As with all of our classes, if you have to cancel unexpectedly, you can receive up to a 50% of the class fee back as long as you let us know before 48 hours of the class. After 48 hours, unfortunately there are no refunds.

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We've been running calligraphy classes in our new space for a while now, which has been something we were very excited to do after our tight quarters at 906 Dundas West. We've held classes at our shop, in the back, while customers came in to browse and look at inks, but we're now ready to announce that we will have a separate space for calligraphy classes, just down the hall. Wonder Pens Calligraphy Studio Calligraphy Classes Toronto It's a wide open space, with windows and echo-y sounds and concrete floors and white walls, which certainly brings me back to last winter and early spring, when we were walking through the empty shop and packing area and apartment units, and it was all cold and industrial and bright and full of hope. We have even more planned and soon to come, including a March Break Children's Calligraphy Class, and more. Wonder Pens Modern Calligraphy Classes Italic Mark Lurz Toronto Calligraphic Arts Guild Canada Wonder Pens Modern Calligraphy Classes Toronto Wonder Pens Modern Calligraphy Class Toronto Canada It's been pretty exciting, to say the least, to see how the interest in calligraphy has grown over even just the last couple of years we've been running classes - we've had graphic designers and artists and calligraphers attend our classes, but even just "regular" folks who see the beauty in this art. It's a way to put a bit of intention and mindfulness in the writing we do everyday.
February 09, 2016 — wonderpens

William Mitchell Calligraphy Supplies

Happy Friday! It's been a busy week, and I think it's only going to get busier as we head into the holidays. We have lots of exciting things ahead - including TWSBI's 580 AL in Blue! We are hoping for them early next week. This weekend we have calligraphy classes all day on Saturday, and another full Children's Handwriting Class on Sunday. We're continuing to expand our calligraphy lines and we're really excited to bring in a new line of nibs, William Mitchell from the UK. We've heard so much about these nibs; our calligraphy teachers have highly recommended them, and other experienced calligraphers who stop by the shop often mention this as a great line of nibs to carry. We are definitely looking ahead and have some plans for other lines of calligraphy gear, so stay tuned! William Mitchell Copperplate Calligraphy Set Oblique Nib Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Blog Toronto Canada We have three sets of nib holders + nibs - the Round Hand, the Copperplate and the Poster. These are great if you're looking for a comprehensive set, whether you're a complete beginner or if you're more experienced and you're looking for a set to give you flexibility in the size and styles of work you're doing. William Mitchell Calligraphy Roundhand Nib Set with Holder Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada And we've also got some Mitchell nibs available separately - the Round Hand and the Copperplate nibs. William Mitchell Copperplate Oblique Nibs Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada Calligraphy Supplies We also have the slip-on reservoir, which you can use optionally with the round hand nibs - it's an additional reservoir of ink. It literally slips on behind the nib to give you a bit more ink. You can tweak it slightly if you need to, so it fits against the nib. William Mitchell Calligraphy Slip On Reservoir for Nibs Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada I hope you're all having a great start to the weekend! It's cooling down and sweaters and jackets are out. I've been trying to make the most of the fall weather before it really begins to dip down, so Caleb and I have been making trips to the parks where he eats leaves and climbs out stairs and precariously attempts to step off into thin air and we come home dusty and dirty and ready for a nap. But the best part of the fall weather is a sleepy baby, a cup of hot coffee and some pens and inks all over the kitchen table.  
October 23, 2015 — wonderpens

Tips on Teaching Your Children Cursive Writing + New! - Seyes Ruled Paper for Kids

We just got in these two new products from Clairefontaine that we special ordered weeks ago, specifically for handwriting and great for kids, and along with so much great interest from the recent Globe & Mail article on cursive handwriting, I thought I would share some tips on teaching your child handwriting. Children's Handwriting Class Toronto Wonder Pens Blog wonderpens.ca Seyes, or French-ruled paper has been pretty popular ever since we started carrying it  - with people looking to improve their handwriting, people looking to learn, calligraphers. If you're not sure on how to get started with Seyes-ruled paper, I wrote a blog post on using it here. The tricky thing about the Seyes ruled paper is not only are there so many lines, they are also pretty close together. If you read my post on improving your handwriting (as an adult), you'll know I think it's easier to learn and master handwriting by practising larger first, especially if you're not quite at the stage where fiddling with smaller o's is working for you. We just received in a larger sized Seyes ruled paper in two formats: loose leaf and in an A4 notebook. This is the same Seyes ruling proportionally, except about 25% bigger. This is also, of course, perfect for kids. If they're ready to move on to more precise cursive, or a bit more of a challenge, help them learn how to write "French-styled" cursive. How to teach your kid cursive handwriting tips on teaching your children cursive wonderpens.ca wonder pens blog Toronto Canada If you're looking for reasons to teach your child handwriting, you can check them out here, but I suspect you're already convinced, or you would be here. Here are a few tips on helping your kid learn cursive handwriting:
  1. Go to your local bookstore, or a place that sells materials to teachers, like Scholar's Choice, and pick up a workbook on cursive writing. I don't know that I would necessarily recommend one over another, as cursive handwriting isn't too complicated - just look for one that gives lots of room for practise. You can get a special notebook for your kids to practise writing stories or copy out sentences on separately.
  2. Get your child a special pen, maybe one that they pick out on their own. Even if you're a traditionalist for blue inks in thank you notes, maybe your kids can still practise in green or purple or pink. If they can only write with this pen to practise their cursive handwriting, it may be an incentive to practise.
  3. Have everything set up in one place, or in a box, so when you're all finally sitting down to practise, you don't have to go hunting for that pencil sharpener or more worksheets.
  4. Consistency is key - better 15 minutes a day, or every other day, than 2 hours a week. This also has the advantage of not making it turning it into a crazy two hour writing session where you all come out like zombies.
  5. Watch them form the letters, rather than just looking at the final product. The letters may look good, but it can be hard to tell sometimes if they're forming their letters in one stroke (properly), as opposed to breaking them up, and joining them up separately.How to teach your kid cursive handwriting
  6. An occasional treat, like practising cursive handwriting at a cafe with a hot chocolate, may be something to keep the learning fun.
  7. I give out stickers, both for completing a section, but also smaller stickers to acknowledge a group of letters or words that are particularly well done. Kids need some incentive for doing the work, but also for doing it well, which has the added bonus of incentivizing them to learn what is good.
  8. As much as learning should be fun, there are some things, like multiplication tables and also cursive writing, that just need to be practised. While you shouldn't become a drill tyrant, sometimes your child just needs to put in the hours to develop that muscle memory.
  9. Lead by example with your own handwriting, or at the very least, show them what they're aiming for and why it's important. Remember, you're teaching them a skill that can be helpful for the rest of their life, and they should know that too.
A few frequently asked questions: Should I ask my child's teacher about cursive writing? You should ask your child's teacher about anything that's important to you. That being said, cursive writing is only on the Grade 3 curriculum, and only as an "optional" way for your child to express him or herself in writing, so your teacher may not be intending to teach it. Your child's teacher may already have curriculum or long range learning plans in place, and I'm not kidding when I say there is really is more in the curriculum than there is time for kids to learn it all (well). My child doesn't hold his pencil properly, should I fix this? We've come a long way from forcing left-handers to write with their right hands, but this is a bit different. I'm of the opinion that if you can, you should definitely encourage your child to hold their pencil correctly. I know this may be an ironic comparison, but if you type relatively fast with your two index fingers, but then decide to learn to type properly, with all of your fingers, your typing speed will slow down dramatically. Once you master it, though, you will always be able to type faster with all of your fingers than just your index. However, each child and situation can be different, so approach everything with flexibility. The proper way is to the "tri-finger" grip, rather than wrapping the thumb all the way around the index finger, or using four fingers to hold the pencil in the "grip of death." How to teach your kid cursive handwriting Tips on teaching your children handwriting Wonder Pens wonderpens.ca Toronto Canada I've heard that you can try cutting down a pencil really short, so the hand holding it doesn't have a choice except to hold it correctly. You can also try triangularly shaped pencils, or even something like the Lamy Safari fountain pen. My child is left-handed, should his writing slant to the left instead of right? Caleb (our baby) is only 13 months, but I think he may be left-handed! This is just a guess based on how he reaches for things and feeds himself, but he also does use his right hand if something is coming at him from the right. Is he doomed??? I don't think left handers necessarily have to have writing that slopes to the left. You can show your child how to angle his paper and his body so it's easiest to slant to the right, but I've seen lots of lefties with right slanting handwriting. These are just a few tips and thoughts on teaching your child handwriting - at the end of the day, it just comes down to consistent practice so it becomes muscle memory. The more they practise, the better developed and more agile their fine motor skills will become. You can bet that we'll be teaching Caleb how to write in cursive, just like we'll be teaching him how to type properly, so he can do so quickly and without having to look at the keyboard, and how to clean out his fountain pens, and how to sweep the floors in the shop....
October 14, 2015 — wonderpens