About the beginning of 2018 I determined that the time was approaching to have a dedicated calligraphy area in my home. My skills were improving, I was spending more time doing calligraphy, I was getting more jobs. Up to that point, I did all lettering and other creative projects at our family's dining room table. If I got interrupted in the middle of work, I would consolidate some of my stuff, cluster my in-use supplies to one end of the table, and hope the rest didn't get disturbed.
As my craft improved and the collections of inks and paper grew, it became necessary to store my supplies in another room and haul them to and fro all the time, which got rather annoying. I added a leaf to our table so that I could leave my things on one side and the family could eat on the rest! It was getting silly.
So the natural progression was to make a dedicated area for all my creative and business pursuits. But where?
My husband, daughter, and I live in a small Civil War-era farmhouse. (This picture is my little girl enjoying a sunspot shortly after we moved in!) The home is charming and sweet, and a good fit for us in this season of life, but it does have limited space and small rooms. The lower level has a kitchen, dining, and living room; the upper has 3 small bedrooms and a bathroom. #nofrills When I told my husband I wanted a calligraphy desk/area, we had to put our heads together and decide what would need to leave the house in order to make room to bring something new in. We considered putting a desk in the guest room, but I really felt like I would be able to get the most work done if it were in the main quarters of the downstairs.
After several discussions, we determined that our bookshelves must go. You must understand that this was something over which I wrestled: I feel like a house is naked without well-stocked bookshelves! We don't have a television, so the bookshelves were the focal point of our living room. But my mom always taught me to look at a choice through the lens of GOOD, BETTER, BEST. Bookshelves were better than a TV, but a calligraphy desk for my growing craft and business would be best. Bookshelves are referenced infrequently, especially as we were so busy otherwise; a desk would give me time and space to regularly sit down and get some practice in, let items dry uninterrupted, stay tidy and organized, and free up the dining room table. (I could even take that extra leaf out of the table and make the dining area a bit more roomy!) Bookshelves take up a lot of space; I needed that space to grow my current endeavor. And it wasn't a permanent thing; the bookshelves would be stored safely for our "someday" house. So it was decided. I bagged up all the books and my Mom came over one day to help me haul the units out to the garage, where we replaced the bags and covered everything with a tarp.
We moved a thing or two around and gave the floor a good vacuuming, then Mom and I ventured out to the awesomeness that is Hobby Lobby and started to hunt for organizational units. I had a very specific idea in my mind, which was inspired by my friend Jen Sweeney and a blog post that featured her workspace and some pieces that I knew were just right for me, too. I moseyed around the store, resisting the cool things I saw because they weren't quite what I wanted, until I saw the exact two units Jen uses so cleverly. I grabbed them excitedly and hurried to the checkout before I spent more money than I had. (Hobby Lobby does that to me...)
After bringing my finds home, I spent the rest of the evening setting things into place, deciding what would live where, and being generally excited that finally, I had a calligraphy area! I mounted one unit to the wall and filled the shelves with all manner of inks, gouache, and watercolors. The small unit I sat on my desk and put dry goods inside, like ribbon and tassels for my bookmarks, twine, erasers, and scraps of fabric I use for wiping my nibs during a session.
On the wall is my little "inspiration" board (which I got at Bed, Bath, & Beyond and have had for awhile), filled with lovely pieces given to me by various calligra-friends.
Completing the ensemble are a leather blotter that I just purchased from renowned penman David Grimes (@masgrimes on social media), a charming little antique tray from the thrift store, and some fresh flowers picked by my sweet child.
After a year-and-a-half of writing at the dining table, working around projects, hoping papers wouldn't get messed up or float down to the floor from their precarious perch as someone walks by, I finally have an area dedicated to my craft. It is fulfilling and rewarding. I can't wait to see what beautiful things I shall have the pleasure of creating in this new space! <3