quirky-versalsBy Jenny Howell

Nicola Dunn’s Quirky Versals workshop made for a truly wonderful day. She had written out our names on place cards and in-filled the letters with soft colour, so we each had a treasure to take home with us at the end of the day. I was so glad to have been there.


Nicola had brought some delicious examples of work with her and started by explaining how these letter shapes are inspired from the Cnut hand, with some subtly rounded strokes and a liveliness to them.

Being written with a pointed nib meant they could be written to any size — one wasn’t constrained as one might be with an edged pen. Capital versals could also be playfully included into pieces of work with these miniscule versals – and the two could be mixed randomly very effectively.

Equipped with handouts we set about them with pointed nibs & gouache, pencils or permanent fine-liners. The letters are to be lively, written fairly quickly and freely, based around an elliptical ‘O’, and with a slight curve to the f, l and t. It was joyful as these fun dancing miniscule letter-forms started taking shape on our pages.

quirkyversals-6Having explored the alphabet it was time to try out a few words or quotes and, if wanted, to infill letters with a watery colour-wash. The colour-wash went a long way towards disguising any imperfections in our letter forms and was hugely pleasing!

Nicola demonstrated these letters written with watercolour pencils – brushing across them with a wet brush – to magical effect. There was also the opportunity to include ‘fruit-prints’ into our work – using apples and pears sliced in half and a fairly watery gouache – though of
course all sorts of fruit or vegetables could be used.

In addition, there was the chance to write these letters onto fabric using a pointed brush – and Nicola talked about using fabric dyes that can be ironed in to make them permanent and colour-fast.

In the days since this workshop I’ve been addicted to writing envelopes to family and friends using this playful hand, and hope the postman has been enjoying them as much as I’ve enjoyed doing them!

Thank you, Nicola – it was a gift of a day!






Quirky Versals workshop with Nicola Dunn
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