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Drawn to 'the joy of letters': Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild volunteers to host exhibit at Central Library

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It's a celebration of the handwritten word throughout the month of June at Calgary's Central Library.

Members of the Bow Valley Calligraphy Guild (BVCG) are passionate about sharing their craft and are displaying many different styles of calligraphy in the library's On Display space.

Sara House, manager of service delivery at the Central and Memorial Park libraries, says the exhibit is an opportunity for everyone to see the art.

"People just love to come to the library to explore and learn about their community," she said.

"This is a perfect place to put art from our community on display and it is very popular with people. People come in looking for it and they're looking for different elements in the library and to connect with partners from the community as well."

Donna Uncles, who is volunteering to set up the exhibit, says the BVCG expanded its membership during the pandemic to 180 members and not just in Calgary.

"Singapore, Australia, Spain, Belgium, all through the United States, all across Canada," Uncles said.

"Yeah, so it has grown."

The month-long event is for people of all ages.

Each Saturday in June, volunteers will share their craft and there will be hands-on activities to get visitors started.

"It's so accessible for every level and you can go as far as you want in the expertise that you want to acquire, the excellence that you want to achieve," she said.

"Excellence is a moving target and so it's really a challenge to move into the technical realm and you can be brand new at it and still have fun."

Annette Wichmann, owner of Kensington Art Supply, says the popularity of calligraphy skyrocketed during the pandemic.

"Brush lettering has just exploded, so writing with a brush pen, where you do thicks and thins, there's books coming out now and people with practice papers and sheets. It's big, it's very big," she said.

Wichmann says there are all kinds of tools to use for calligraphy.

She likes trying new techniques on her iPad before moving to paper.

"Sometimes, with the paper and the ink, it's like, oh, it's precious ink, it's precious paper," she said.

"With the iPad, I can practice strokes. If I don't like it, undo, undo, undo until I get the stroke that I like."

Thea Paul started calligraphy in 2005 and will be one of the volunteers showing visitors the many styles of the art form and teaching them how to work with a pen or brush.

"I like being able to do letters that have a shape to them," Paul said.

"So you're coming down and giving an exaggerated stroke, so you're using your brush mostly on its tip and you're rotating it as you're writing."

Paul has enjoyed teaching her grandchildren how to put pen to paper.

"You can be any age. I know my grandchildren love doing it," she said.

"My granddaughter is going to be here with me on Saturday. She's doing cursive writing and she's excited to show other kids how wonderful cursive writing is."

The guild is excited for the opportunity to have a month-long exhibit at the Central Library and says it's a chance for visitors to learn something new.

"Please ask all the questions you want. Please give it a try. Take my pen, take my brush, give it a try yourself," Paul said.

"We're hoping that we can engage people with the joy of letters."

You can learn more about the guild at BVCG.ca.

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