Calligraphy – back to basics with Mary Noble

Ref: S2D30067

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About this course

Examine historical and modern scripts in a structured practical course to get you writing confidently in the Italic or Foundational hand.

Course Description

This course aims to give you a thorough back-to-basics appreciation of the hidden ancestral background to our modern-day calligraphic scripts, by helping you to analyse enlarged images of old manuscripts - the real sources - to work out the core principles that make any particular script special. Foundational hand is based on a 10th century English Caroline hand, and Italic on many 16th century Humanist Italic hands. You can choose either Italic or Foundational as your focus.

Once those basics are grasped, we can work on a modern version, sticking to the rules but looking at options for variety and how modern calligraphers have moved on. Beginners will spend some time working on letter and word spacing, whilst those whose skills may be a little rusty will work on their rhythm, speed and consistency. Exercises in script variations are an option for those with more experience.

Finally, to consolidate what has been covered, we will work on arranging a short quotation into a final pleasing composition to get the experience of layout and design, and completing a piece of work.

On the first evening session, the tutor will give a general introduction to the course, looking at the historical precedents to today's calligraphic scripts, admiring examples of modern calligraphers' work, and then checking out equipment and what will be needed, so we can be ready to work in the morning.


Arrival Day - this is the first date listed above

Courses start early evening. Residential students to arrive from 4pm, non-residential students to arrive by 6.45pm.

6.45pm: Welcome, followed by dinner (included).

8 - 9pm: First teaching session, attendance is essential.

Daily timetable

Classes 9.15 - 5pm, lunch is included.

From 6.30pm: Dinner (included for residential students).

Evening working - students may have access to workshops until 9pm, but only with their tutor's permission and provided any health and safety guidelines are observed.

Last day

Classes 9.15am - 3pm, lunch is included.

Residential students are to vacate their rooms by 10am please.

(This timetable is for courses of more than one day in length. The tutor may make slight variations)

Course Materials

What students need to bring

  • Short quotations (ten words, approximately) to write out
  • Pencil, ruler, sharpener, eraser, kitchen roll
  • Any calligraphy equipment/materials you may already have
  • Examples of your calligraphy work, if you have some experience and would like the tutor to assess how to move forward

Available to buy

  • Available from shop:
  • A4 Layout pads, WM Mitchell nibs and penholders, various inks
  • Available from tutor:
  • The tutor will also have Brause nibs and Sumi ink for purchase, and other equipment for loan as required.

Additional information

Please wear appropriate clothing/aprons for the workshop or studio. This includes stout covered footwear, i.e. no open-toes or sandals, and safety boots, if specified.


Mary Noble

Mary's graphic design training led her on to study calligraphy to advanced level, becoming Fellow of the two national Calligraphy Societies, SSI and CLAS, and her work is displayed in many of their exhibition catalogues. She's been teaching for 30 years and has published several books focusing on beginners.


Residential option available. Find out accommodation costs and how to book here.

Courses of interest

Further study options

Take the next step in your creative practice, with foundation level to Masters in Fine Art study. 

Depending on your experience, start with an Online Foundation Certificate in Art and Design (one year, part-time), a Foundation Diploma in Art and Design made up of 10 short courses taken over two years (part-time) or advance your learning with our BA (Hons) Art and Contemporary Craft: Materials, Making, and Place (six years part-time). All will help you develop core skills, find direction in your practice and build an impressive portfolio in preparation for artist opportunities or higher-level study. See all degree and diploma courses.