Calligraphy for Lunar New Year

Since I have been practicing running script, I was originally going to write Lunar New year banners in running script. But I quickly realized that I was not familiar enough with the script and felt really frustrated. I decided to write in standard script. I took my inspiration from the Yan script, but did not follow it exactly.

Last year I used Red with Gold Fleck Shuen paper from OAS. Unfortunately, the paper was rather thin, and absorbed more ink than I expected. It was also difficult to attach to the wall without damaging the paper. This year, I used banner paper from OAS. The paper comes in large sheets. When I started measuring and cutting, I realized I should look into pre-cut paper. It was a hassle to cut the banners, and took quite a bit of time.

The red banner paper has the consistency of wrapping paper. The paper is also slightly texturized with flower imprints. It also has a slight perfume smell that reminds me of wedding invitations. This paper does not absorb any ink at all. But I still had to make sure the ink had the same consistency as usual. I noticed if the ink was not thick enough, there would be some show through of the red paper.


Part of writing calligraphy is working with the paper. Regular paper absorbs the ink. Different pressures of the brush results in different stroke widths. Writing on banner paper was very different because it did not respond the same. There still needed to be some pressure, but the speed of the brush needed to be faster to create the same strokes.


I am definitely going to need more practice with the banner paper. I do not think these turned out as good as the ones from last year. It will probably be awhile before I fully understand the speed and pressure necessary to create the same strokes that I make on regular calligraphy paper.


I also decorated my own red envelopes this year, instead of buying printed envelopes. I decided to use mica watercolor from Finetec because it is available in different colors, and are all very shiny and metallic. I had the idea to use gold and different hues of red. But I decided to stay with just one gold letter.


I initially had some trouble with the envelopes because the paper was really waxy. It was difficult for ink to stay. It would bead up instead. I ended up treating the envelopes with gum sandarac, which really helped hold the ink. Similar to the banners, I had some trouble with the pressure and speed to get the same strokes. But I think it actually turned out pretty good in the end.


I did have some issues when it came time to use the envelopes. When I opened the envelope, the paper became wrinkled and the gold ink flaked off. The photo above shows places where ink fell off. In the envelope on the left, there is even a flake of ink under the envelope. I was pretty disappointed when this happened. Perhaps a layer of clear acrylic could have to prevented this problem.

Even though these projects did not turn out as well as I thought they would, I actually learned a lot. I definitely need more time to practice and experiment with these different ink and paper combinations. This is also the first time I tried writing on something that had to be used, like the envelope. So far I have only used standard ink and paper combinations, so these projects were a challenge. I will definitely need to experiment further during the year to make sure I can do my best for next Lunar New Year.


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