The Write Stuff: Where to Learn and Purchase Calligraphy in Tampa

July 18, 2017 | Tampa Magazine | Uncategorized

The ancient art of calligraphy is bringing handwriting back in style

Written by McKenna Kelley | Calligraphy (above) by Raquel Pullaro of White Sands Collective

For every action, there is an equal opposite reaction — and look no further than the resurgence of calligraphy for proof.

The art of calligraphy has come back swinging this decade and is now a regular feature of wedding correspondence, home décor and company branding. While there is never an exact reason for a trend, the newfound popularity of calligraphy and hand-lettering (which are actually two different things) seems to be a part of the larger D.I.Y. crafting movement as well as a response to the mechanical perfection of digital typography.

Multiple businesses around Tampa Bay offer both calligraphy services and workshops for letter lovers to learn the craft themselves. The Paper Seahorse (211 S. Howard Ave, (813) 251-8096, holds classes throughout the month for all kinds of paper-related crafts and sells pens, ink and other materials you’ll need for handwriting.

Janeé Scarle of Old City Calligraphy (, (904) 669-3333) creates custom home décor and wedding pieces, like invitations, place cards and signage. She also leads the Epicurean Hotel’s Calligraphy Uncorked, an introductory course perfect for beginners, about once a month.

Sisters-in-law Raquel Pullaro and Nicole Barolo, the calligrapher and graphic designer behind White Sands Collective (, take their classes beyond paper. Recent workshops held around Tampa have included creating word art on pumpkins, wooden ornaments and hangers. The duo also works with clients to create bespoke paper designs.

Old City Calligraphy’s Janeé Scarle says a nib (the tip of a calligraphy pen) that fits your style, quality paper and good ink are essential for calligraphy success. Here are her recommendations.

Speedball Straight Pen Holder — “Inexpensive and all you need to learn calligraphy. It’s basic, but it will absolutely do the job.”

Nikko G Nib —  “An overall perfect nib for beginning. The nib is pretty stiff, so it can handle the heavy hand.”

Zebra G Nib  “Similar to the popular Nikko G, but a little more flexible and sharper. It will produce a finer hairline than the Nikko.”

Gillott 404 — “Fairly stiff nib. Also a good choice for beginners or those with a heavy hand. Because they require more pressure to create the swells, stiffer nibs are easier to control. Thicker hairlines than others, making it a good choice for work for reproduction.”

Sumi Ink — “My favorite ink, hands down. Dries fast and goes on beautifully.”

Speedball India Ink — “Great for practicing.”

Higgins Ink “Great for learning, but it takes a while to dry.”

HP Premium Choice LaserJet Paper 32 lb., 8.5×11, Letter, 500 sheets “This paper can be purchased for less than $15 and will last you a long time. It is smooth, and you will find your nibs do fine with this paper. Try it before you buy expensive paper. The thing to keep in mind with paper is you want it to be somewhat thicker and smooth.”

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