Growing up, you would at least once dream about having a nice penmanship. And as the years go by, you’d aspire for developing your signature handwriting. Fast forward to today when everything gets better with a single stroke of creativity, more people are catching on with their desire to learn Calligraphy.
Geli Balcruz, the creative entrepreneur behind Pluma Designs Philippines specializing in letters, postcards, paper products, and everything in between, shares her own crafty journey to the beautiful way of the hand.
A dance between the letters
Calligraphy, by definition, is the art of producing beautiful handwriting. This definition, however, doesn’t work for Geli as her normal handwriting isn’t what people would consider cookie-cutter beautiful. But over the years, she has stumbled on Canadian poet, typographer, and author Robert Bringhurst which defined calligraphy as “a dance in a tiny stage of a living and breathing hand.” That easily became her favorite, saying “It’s more liberating for me because some styles of calligraphy require strict discipline and practice of the perfect form. I keep in mind that while practicing and observing the proper angle, spacing, etc., I try my best to make my letters dance to the music I want it to or that’s playing in my head.”
Of fascination and collaborations
Geli has always loved looking at beautifully-made invitations, posters, or any collateral. She says, “Back then, I always thought that those were fonts that you can easily download and then you just work your magic with Photoshop." But it was when she got bored at work and met with her friends that it all began to unfold. “I brainstormed with my friend, Ella Lama (ellalama.com), and we had a Eureka moment: That we can write and draw letters the way we want them to look like. So she studied Lettering, while I delved into the world of calligraphy. I attended one craft tambay with Alessa Lanot (lifeafterbreakfast.ph), then attended a workshop under Fozzy Dayrit (thefozzybook.com). I got hit by the calligraphy bug and since then, I’ve attended numerous craft tambays, pen meets, and conducted workshops as well,” she shares.
Opened doors and newfound friends
Aside from the struggle of resisting the urge to hoard the latest art materials and having to deal with ink stains and ink blots, Geli considers calligraphy as a rewarding craft, “Regardless if I post it online or not, I feel that I am sharing a part of me or releasing emotions that I’ve been wanting to breathe out for the longest time because practicing the craft can help you calm your mind, keep it from wandering off and really focus on what you are writing or creating.”
It also opened doors and granted her opportunities she never knew existed. She quips, “I also thank Maan Agsalud of Type Kita for playing a huge role in this because through the community, I got the chance to meet the people I follow or stalk online. I’m happy that most of them turned out to be good friends, extended family members, and mentors all in one.”
Carve your path to Calligraphy
“Calligraphy is for everyone,” Geli says, “That’s why I love this craft! Something as organic as writing can be learned at an early age in any given moment in life and anyone who wants to try it out can be good at it. With enough dedication and discipline, of course!” So if you want to join in on the fun, here are 5 Es she always imparts to her workshop students:
“Expect less. From yourself and from what is posted online. Remember the saying expectations lead to disappointment?”
“Enjoy the process. Learn the basics, start from there then do things one step at a time. Be open to learn, experiment and make mistakes while you’re at it.”
“Embrace your own handwriting. We all have this misconception that in order to practice calligraphy, our normal handwriting must be beautiful. The answer to this is a big no, and with enough diligence, you too can learn the craft. After practicing this craft for a while, you’ll be amazed at how your normal handwriting has improved as well.”
“Exercise daily. Stretch those muscles and devote time to practice. Learn by doing and allot at least 30 minutes to an hour a day doing drills.”
“(Inhale) Exhale. More often than not, you’ll get into a void where everything blurs and you just focus on what you are writing; remember, take time to exhale, step back, and check on your progress.”
ALSO READ: Quilling: Of Loops and Quaint Paper Strips
Photographs from www.facebook.com/plumadesignsph. Follow more of Geli's works here and here.