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Calligraphy in Blossom

Marina Soria
  • 2.5 days (2nd half)
  • All
  • EN

“The starting point is really the critical determinant of how an alphabet evolves” - Thomas Ingmire.

If we start from letters the result will be pretty much the same, but if we move to a much broader shape resource in nature such as flowers, leaves and branches, then the result would be a whole set of new possibilities. Our starting point will be nature. We'll exercise with the Japanese brush creating different types of strokes, finding all the possibilities this tool can give us. We will study the basic shape of simple flowers trying to represent them in few strokes like in the sumi-e tradition.

We will research into the Taoist principles of beauty (empathy or resonance, vital rhythm or “chi-yun”, reticence or suggestion, and the empty space or gestalt, western concept). We will create a blossoming alphabet with various solutions for one same character in order to broaden our graphic and design solutions. We ́ll create an ikebana and play with quick time roughs in order to go from figurative to abstraction in minutes.

The Japanese brush and the cola pen will be our tools, first working with sumi and then moving on to colour rendering. The final form will be a concertina book in which natural reverberations will have priority over legibility. The playful aspect of painting will open our minds and the joy in the execution will show through our strokes. Venture into this new world of calligraphy and sumi-e!

Supply List


  • Our main tool will be the Japanese brush, sizes small, medium and large.
  • Medium-sized brushes for mixing colours and loading your nibs.


  • You may bring some of your favourite tools - ruling pen, cola pen, folded pen, and a variety of smaller sized edged pens or copperplate nibs for small writing.


  • Walnut ink
  • Olive green Winsor & Newton watercolour
  • Choose 2 or 3 other colours, or a colour watercolour palette you would like to work with.


  • Your favourite layout paper – you may bring a cheap quality watercolour paper to practice on. Characteristics:
  • Weight around 270 gsm (125 lbs).
  • Size, around A3 (14 x 17 in)
  • Texture: cold press, medium or smooth surface
  • If it is glued on four sides, unblock it in advance.
  • Our final piece will be a concertina book so we will need a good quality paper that is at

least 76 x 56 cm (22½” x 30”).

  • You may get a bigger sheet, 50 x 70 cm (40” X 27½”), that would also work beautifully for a bigger scale book.
  • A couple of sheets of Rives BFK or Arches Text Wove 140 lbs, or something similar.
  • To build our covers we need – one sheet of Fabriano, Strathmore, Arches or Canson Mi- Teintes colour paper. (When choosing this colour remember to include the same matching colour in a gouache or watercolour.) You could even bring a printed, marbled, Washi Japanese or paste paper to use as the cover.


  • Two pieces of soft cardboard, A3, 2 or 3mm thick (11” X 17”) to create the covers.
  • PVA glue and a brush to apply it on to the covers. Spare paper to use when gumming.
  • Perhaps you would like to bring a piece of cloth or light fabric to make a Furoshiki wrapping to our book. Or/and one meter long colour ribbon matching your cover paper, but in a different tone, if you want to finish the binding with a ribbon.
  • For the second book we will do, a simple Japanese binding, we need needle and thread as well as an awl and little hooks to keep the paper in place while binding.


  • Real flowers, branches, leaves and a simple flower pot to create a very basic Ikebana
  • Small notebook for taking notes
  • Pencil or felt pens for quick writing
  • Palette for mixing colours
  • Paper towels or rags
  • Tape
  • Scissors
  • Good cutter
  • Glue stick
  • Eraser
  • Long straight edge metal ruler
  • A selection of four short poems, haikus, quotes or even your own words will do. If related to the nature theme, then that will be most appropriate with our work

OPTIONAL (or stuff we may or may not use):

  • Liquid resist or masking fluid
  • Chalk pastels
  • Your own music with headphones if you wish
Supply Fee $0.00