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The Martha Craft Challenge, Project 34: Calligraphy Cards and Invitations

I found this project to be much more practical.

Here we are making greeting cards using calligraphy.  Martha’s examples have much more writing than mine– sometimes the entire card is just a quotation, something like “Where there is great love, there are always miracles,” yadda yadda.  I wasn’t sure I’d be able to pull of that much calligraphy, so I went with a slightly decorated front and a few words written on the bottom.

The calligraphy actually takes a lot of time.  First, you have to draw all the guidelines, which actually takes a while.  In order to get it straight, you have to measure both sides, and you really need four lines: a bottom and top limit, and then the middle two lines for the central part of the letter form.  Plus, then you have to make sure you are going to be centered.  This is where I kind of was blowing my own mind.  I started with a birthday card, and I was going to write “Happy Birthday.”  I wanted to make sure it wasn’t totally left justified, but I also wanted to be sure I didn’t run out of room.  What to do?

I started by figuring out how wide each letter might be.  At first, I thought ¼”, but when I looked at that on the paper, it seemed really, really thin.  But any bigger, and I wouldn’t fit the whole phrase on the 5½” card.  So then I changed it to just “happy”– you know, more abstract, I guess.  I set each letter for ⅓” or ½”– I can’t remember now– and then I marked it out.  Here’s what I got:

So, that’s a lot of measuring and marking.  And then, when I started to write, I realized that the sections I marked out were too big!  I was coming up short.  So I decided to add “day,” so now I had some weird Frankensteinian message, “happy day.”

You’ll notice I also used my happy red ink, which is fun.  Then you have to let it dry and then erase all those guidelines.  More on that in a minute.

Here’s my second card, a celebration one.  On this one, I marked out more flexibly, just marking an end and a beginning to the word “celebrate” and a midpoint.  This system seemed to work a little better.  On the left, you have the marking lines, on the right, the word written in.

I had loads of problems writing this word.  I think it was the paper.  I forgot about Martha’s suggestion to use “smooth” paper, and this was a pretty textured art paper blank card.  But it wasn’t the bumpiness that was the problem.  Little fibers of the paper kept tearing off and jamming my nib.  Ugh, don’t you hate when your nib gets jammed?  It’s the worst.  So it took me three times longer to write since I had to keep cleaning my nib.  Do you like my silver ink?  Rockin’.

When all was said and done, I came up with three cards, and they look like this:

Not too bad.  I love the celebrate one, because I used this stuff called Liquid Glass, which is a gel you squeeze on and it dries thick and clear, almost like… glass.  Check it:

Cool, huh?  So it looks like you really have a martini in that glass.  I also used a bead for the pimento on the olive, just to make it fun.

If you’re curious about the die cuts I used, I got a new machine for Christmas that I am gaga over.  It’s the Silhouette SD, and ZOMG.  So, basically, it’s like a printer that you hook up to your computer, except it cuts everything out, instead of printing it.  So you could type something in your favorite font, and it will cut it out for you.  I am like, TOTALLY SERIOUS.  There’s a whole library of shapes for you to choose from, and you can buy more (at about $0.99 a pop) in their online store (download immediately, which I love), or you can even design your own shapes.  It’s the coolest thing ever.  It’s also major bucks at almost $300.  You can find it for closer to $200 in some places, though, I think.


Each card took about twenty minutes to write, with all the lines and the erasing and the pen dipping and such.  Then, I had to embellish.  So all in all, each card probably took a good forty-five minutes.

45 minutes for one card




Not too expensive, depending on certain choices.  If you already have your calligraphy supplies, you’ll just need cards and different colored ink.  And whatever embellishments you choose.

  • 25 pack of 5½” x 4″ blank cards, $4.99
  • ink pot, $2.50 each

Total cost = $7.50 for one card

You could go on to make 24 more cards for that price, though.


Yes.  It’s a nice addition to a homemade card, if you like to make cards.  It does take a while to do, but if you are making your own cards anyway, it’s probably not that much additional time.



Leave a Comment

  • January 7, 2011, 10:52 am Holly

    I love the silver ink! Very festive and classy. I got a Sillhouette for Christmas from my husband and in-laws. But I have to say, I’ve been a bit disappointed. After using it for like two days, it seemed to not be cutting through regular scrapbooking paper very well, at least for intricate designs. The company is supposed to be sending me a new blade and mats though, so we’ll see if that was the problem.

  • January 7, 2011, 11:39 am bethpc

    You know, it’s funny, I saw a bunch of people on websites saying something similar… many of them were saying that their mats weren’t sticking anymore. And I did have that problem when I tried to use a scrap of paper. I set it on 3 speed and 30 thickness and used the biggest blade– pink I think– even though the specifications for the cardstock I was using were only for the yellow blade (65lb cardstock). I also saw some people saying that they cut twice; run it through and then without moving the paper, just run it again. I haven’t tried that yet, but I haven’t really needed to. But I was kind of bummed that it wasn’t sticking well with the scrap. I saw someone else who said to use a little glue or sticky tape to make it stick well, but I even tried that and it didn’t work. Kept slipping. So I’ve been using the full piece of paper since. I haven’t used it a ton yet, though, so I’m sure I’ll have to deal with that issue in the near future.

  • January 8, 2011, 1:44 am Amy in Australia

    Those are adorable! I think “happy day” is sweet. :) Definitely a worthy project!