Creative Calligraphy Q&A

There is something mesmerising, peaceful and fulfilling when witnessing a Calligrapher at work. These are certainly the feelings we experienced when we first came across Angela Reed. Based in the North East, Angela owns Creative Calligraphy which is a bespoke service offering beautiful writing for all occasions.

We are collaborating very closely with Angela over the next few months on all things Calligraphy related. Before we lose ourselves in her calligraphy strokes let’s first take the opportunity to learn more about Angela and her passion for Calligraphy.

Who or what inspired you into Calligraphy?

I was introduced to calligraphy by my art teacher at secondary school when I was about 12. A very talented calligrapher himself, he started a lunchtime calligraphy club and I joined. Art and English were my favourite subjects at school, and I loved that calligraphy seemed to combine both drawing and writing.

When I set up Creative Calligraphy I joined a class run by Susan Moor, who is chairman of the Northumbrian Scribes. She has introduced me to several new styles and helped me develop a more artistic approach to calligraphy. I continue to be inspired by her and the Northumbrian Scribes, as well as many of the calligraphers I have connected with via social media. Having as go at modern calligraphy is my next challenge.

Calligrapher at work

What pens do you have in your collection?

I still have the first Manuscript Pen Company pen I bought, along with a couple of their sets that were bought for me as gifts when I set up Creative Calligraphy. I also have some Pilot Parallel pens and a Pentel brush pen that I will one day get around to trying out!

I have a collection of stainless steel William Mitchell nibs that were given to me for my dip pens. One of my nib holders is very special, having been handmade by Driftwood Pens from driftwood found on the beach at South Shields, where I live. It’s very lightweight and lovely to use.

I also have a glass calligraphy pen brought back from Bruges by my cousin. I invested in some Staedtler fineliners when learning akim script and I love my oblique nib holder and pointed nib for copperplate script.

Favourite paper / ink?

I’m constantly being introduced to different papers and inks by fellow calligraphers. I tend to use plain white cartridge paper for calligraphy practice, or write directly onto stationery that I’ve been provided with, but I do like Bockingford Hot Press paper for special commissions. Ink-wise, my go-to black is Higgins Eternal and I’m currently in love with my FineTec pearl metallic palette.

What ink disasters have you experienced?

Fortunately not many! But there is a stain on my dining room table caused by me knocking over a bottle of black Higgins Eternal ink. I blotted quite a lot of it out and in some parts, it blended into the grain of the wood, but it still has a candle holder strategically placed over it. Rather my furniture than the stationery I was working on at the time!

What advice or tips would you give to a novice?

Go to a class, find YouTube tutorials, read books – just pick up a pen and practice! If you’re used to typing rather than writing things down, get some general handwriting practice in with a ballpoint, or even better, a fountain pen, before progressing on to a calligraphy pen with a flat-edged nib. You can even practice with a pencil at first if you feel like you need to build a bit of confidence up first. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect. Even the most experienced calligraphers still practice their lettering on a regular basis.

How did you get started setting up your business?

I had the idea for Creative Calligraphy bouncing around in my head long before I actually put it into practice. I had a spate of requests to add names to wedding invitations and place cards for friends and family and wondered if it was something I could turn into a business, but it wasn’t until I took voluntary redundancy in January 2014 that I started looking at it seriously.

I heard about the New Enterprise Allowance through the North East Business and Innovation Centre in Sunderland and was successful in my application for start-up support in the form of financial help and mentoring for my first six months of trading.

Creative Calligraphy was officially launched on May 27, 2014.


What services do you provide?

I offer beautiful writing for all occasions, with weddings accounting for much of my work. People have also come to me to have poems, readings and other pieces of writing penned in calligraphy. I also run workshops, most recently for the Cultural Spring, a community arts engagement project funded by the Arts Council in Sunderland and South Tyneside.

Why do you think people want Calligraphy services?

Who doesn’t like getting something that’s been handwritten? Calligraphy comes from the Greek for ‘beautiful writing’ and it is the beauty, as well as the personal touch, that captures people’s attention and makes a lasting impression. It shows care and consideration.

Are you experiencing an increase in demand for your Calligraphy services?

I have been in business now for two years now and demand continues to grow, particularly in the run-up to wedding season, but also for commissions. I love the variety of my work and how calligraphy can be applied to so many things.

Do you offer any courses?

At the moment I am leading calligraphy workshops on behalf of the Cultural Spring, a project funded by the Arts Council to widen participation in the arts in 10 local authority wards in Sunderland and South Tyneside. I have also done taster sessions at venues including Bede’s World in Jarrow and Newcastle Does Vintage at Hoult’s Yard, as well as schools.


We hope you agree this was an exciting insight into Angela and I’m sure you are eager to learn more about Calligraphy in our forthcoming Getting Started guides. In the meantime you can head over to her website at Creative Calligraphy and socially you can connect with Angela on Twitter or Facebook. If you are inspired by Angela’s story and you too want to get started with Calligraphy then we have a curated selection of pens to help you.

The Pen Shop Gift Guide: Stocking Fillers

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Now we have Halloween and Bonfire Night behind us, it’s Christmas all the way from this point on! If you’re not wanting to get completely underway with your Christmas shopping just yet, why not start gently with some inexpensive Stocking Fillers? We have a fantastic selection of small gifts for your family and friends, all under £20 and some as low as £1.50!


Our best selling Flip notes(from £6) are a cute little mini notebook with matching pen, so handy to carry around in a ladies handbag or breast pocket for the gents.

These mini Torches2 (from £5) are another perfect accessory for any handbag. Available in a selection of stylish fashion designs, they’re a must have for helping you find your keys on these dark winter nights. Keep your keys in one safe place with a selection of multi-functional key-rings(from £8), some of them double up as a trolley token, stylus and a torch.

For thoughts and notes on the go, why not buy friends or colleagues a rainbow coloured notebook4 (from £3) in either A5 or A6 style. And for the doodlers in your life, celebrate Cool Britannia with a Union Jack pencil(£1.50) or choose from our fantastic selection of pens6 (from £10), available in an array of styles and colours – you can never have too many pens in your life!

May The Force Be With You…

Coming soon to a Pen Shop near you we are thrilled to announce the release of official Star Wars stationery from Cross. From luxury Limited Edition Fountain Pen and Rollerball pens to the more affordable Click and Jotzone ranges there is something to suit fans of all ages.

Star Wars Darth

Cross proudly presents the Townsend Star Wars Collection, commemorating the three most iconic characters from the Star Wars saga. These stately writing instruments are the epitome of luxury. Both the Fountain Pen and Rollerball are Limited Edition – only 1977 units made per character.

Star Wars Townsend

Cross proudly presents the Click Star Wars Collection, commemorating the three most iconic characters from the original Star Wars film trilogy: C-3P0, Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers. The Click Star Wars gel retractable pens feature smooth gel ink and an easy to use click mechanism.


The Star Wars Gift Set is themed with legendary characters, and includes a stylish Jot Zone journal with debossed character face and Star Wars Logo, plus a matching Cross Click gel ink pen. Then pen includes the same character’s emblem and other fine design details. This gift set is a sophisticated way to commemorate the classic saga films, and makes a wonderful gift for any Star Wars fan.


View our available Cross pens here >

Reserve Online and Collect in Store


We are thrilled to announce a brand new Reserve and Collect service now available at The Pen Shop. Reserve & Collect is a free service available in all of our stores giving customers the ability to reserve a product online and then collect in store.

There are 19 Pen Shop stores throughout the United Kingdom including stores in London, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Birmingham, Belfast and Manchester. We aim to have items available for collection within four working hours of reservation and they will be held in store for the next seven days allowing customers to collect when most convenient.

reserve and collect

Step 1. Click the ‘Reserve and Collect’ button and enter your postcode on the pop up to view that products availability at your nearest store. After entering your postcode you will see availability for that product at your nearest store location.

Step 2. To reserve this item please click on the store you wish to pick up the item. This will bring up the stores details including exact location on Google maps, their opening hours as well as their contact information.

Step 3. To make your reservation enter your email address and a telephone number. Once done click ”Reserve Now’ to confirm your reservation.

Step 4. Wait for the store to confirm your reservation via email and update on when the item will be ready to collect. We aim to contact customers within 4 working hours to confirm reservation.

Step 5. Once reservation and times have been confirmed go to the store with your reservation details and pay and collect item.

See our website for further details >


Special Event at our Leeds Trinity Store

Our Leeds Store is hosting a special weeklong event at the Trinity Centre. For one week only they will be showcasing some of our top brands in a special customised unit near the main ground floor entrance to the Trinity Centre.

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Each day our unit will feature representatives from the bestselling writing instrument brands, demonstrating their pens and unveiling new products. Leeds customers are invited to attend these events and receive special exclusive Pen Shop offers.

Brand Event Guide for the Week

  • Monday 4th May: Kingsley and Dex
  • Tuesday 5th May: Cross
  • Wednesday 6th May: Parker and Waterman
  • Thursday 7th May: Fisher Space Pens
  • Friday 8th May: Lamy
  • Saturday/Sunday 9/10th May: Special Offers

We look forward to seeing you at our Leeds Trinity events this week.

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Disclaimer: If you have any further questions please contact our Leeds store directly, please note the store itself shall be open all week at normal opening hours.

Telephone: 01133223149

Ted Baker: Gift of the Year Stationery Winner

We are thrilled to declare that the winner of Gift of the Year stationery category was won by Wild and Wolf for Ted Baker women’s stationery!

Gift of the Year, organised by The Giftware Association, aims to raise the profile of suppliers by creating a unique platform to showcase the most innovative and exciting products new-to-market.

At a special ceremony at the NEC, attended by finalists, judges, GA Retail members and sponsors at the close of the opening day of Spring Fair 2015 (Sunday 1 February), internationally renowned product designer and Gift of the Year ambassador Sebastian Conran presented the awards to the winners.

Stationery Gift of the year winner pic

The Wild and Wolf team collecting their award.


The Ted Baker Women’s Stationery Collection

View our Ted Baker Stationery Collection Online >

Tips for Left-Handed Writers

Two years ago when i started at The Pen Shop i made the fatal error of telling our Corporate Manager i couldn’t write with a Fountain Pen because i was left-handed. I tried to explain that when i used one i just smudged ink everywhere and made a mess. With over 20 years experience at The Pen Shop our corporate manager told me that if i was smudging i wasn’t writing properly. At our next lunch break i was then taught how to write correctly with a standard medium nib Fountain Pen. Since then i have amassed quite a collection of pens and ink bottles and now enjoy writing daily with my beloved Fountain Pens – without making a mess!

Tips from The Pen Shop for left-handed writers

  • Place your paper to the left of your body so you can see what you are writing.
  • Tilt the paper so that your arm is at a right-angle to the bottom edge of the paper.
  • Write with your hand below the writing line and with your wrist straight.
  • Use your right hand if needed to steady your paper so it is less likely to move or slide while writing.
  • Try to pull your pen across the paper rather than pushing it so you don’t scratch your nib or ballpoint.
  • The main thing is too hold your pen between the thumb, index and middle fingers. This may take a bit of practice and be uncomfortable at first but is well worth it in the end.
  • Some people are helped by writing on a sloping surface as they cannot then rest on the paper and smudge the ink.
  • A left-handed nib on a Fountain Pen can make a big difference for some left-handers. Please call our sales team to see which brands do left-handed nibs or pop into one of our stores to try writing with one.

If anyone has any further tips please let us know in the comments section.

Written by Hannah Storey (proud leftie)


Back To School Crossword Competition

We are giving children of school age the chance to win a range of prizes as part of a Back To School crossword competition. For the chance to enter the draw to win one of three Back to School goody bags simply complete the crossword below. 10 runners up will also receive a Dex pen with cartridges.


Please follow the below link to a PDF file of this if you would prefer to print one out and send it in.

Dex Crossword Competition

To enter either hand your entry in to the nearest branch of The Pen Shop, email it to or post it to Dex BTS Competition, The Pen Shop Ltd., 5 Bamburgh Court, First Avenue, Team Valley, NE11 0TX.

Competition closes 2nd September 2014. Entries handed in to stores after this date will not be considered. Postal entries received after 4th September 2014 will not be considered. A prize draw of all correct entries will take place on 8th September 2014 and winners will be notified within 7 working days. Answers and winners will be posted on The Pen Shop blog after the draw.

National Stationery Week Doodle Competition

Penmanship isn’t always about perfectly formed handwriting and neat, crisp lines; the most expressive and fun discipline is the humble doodle. Flex your doodling muscles in our National Stationery Week competition to be in with a chance to win one of three prize packs worth over £100 each.

One overall winner will also receive a fabulous, Limited Edition Cross Year of the Dragon Ball Pen worth £199.99!


The pen is mightier than the sword!

For your chance to win these amazing prizes simply complete the drawing above to show how George succeeded in his quest to capture a dragon armed only with a pen, sharp-wit and creative mind!

Download a PDF entry form DoodleCompA4

Send your entries to:
Doodle Competition,
The Pen Shop Limited,
Allan House,
5 Bamburgh Court,
Team Valley,
Tyne and Wear,
NE11 0TX

Alternatively: hand them in at any Pen Shop branch or scan your entry in and email it to

Writing Wordsearch

At The Pen Shop we thought we would have a bit of wordsearch writing fun with the keywords on our glossary page. There are 23 words to find, can you spot them all?



Good Luck!!!

(If you get stuck the answers are HERE)