Calligraphy Merit Badge, Beginner Level

The adorable, always humorous MBA Jane is my way of honoring our Sisterhood Merit Badge program, now with 7,387 dues-paying members who have earned an amazing number of merit badges so far—10,656 total! Take it away, MBA Jane!!! ~MaryJane 

Wondering who I am? I’m Merit Badge Awardee Jane (MBA Jane for short). In my former life  

For this week’s Each Other/Calligraphy Beginner Level Merit Badge, I bought myself a brand, spankin’ new notebook journal. I also invested in a nifty calligraphy pen. Then I tackled a skill my third-grade teacher wished I had applied myself to tackling quite a long time ago …


In other words, I should’ve been a doctor. My autograph is a thing of legend. And by legend, of course I mean, unintelligible and incomprehensible scrawling. My handwritten letters to my Irish pen pal look as though perhaps my hen, Miss Toile, scratched them out with her toes. While balancing on one wing. Intoxicated. And upside down.

But, as I always say, go big or go home. In other words, learn calligraphy if you can’t print well.

I was able to read through—and get inspired by—Modern Calligraphy: Everything You Need to Know to Get Started in Script Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe. (The book required for this badge is available on loan from MaryJanesFarm; contact

It was all so pretty and soothing to the eye. But appreciating it and actually learning it are two different things. (Ask me how I know. Go ahead. Because I have earned a badge or two in my time, that’s how.)

I’ve always had a thing for markers and pens and pencils and Sharpies. Ahhh, Sharpies, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways …


  1. Decorating pumpkins for Halloween when I can’t find my good carving knife.
  2. Addressing envelopes in a colorful manner.
  3. Labeling personal items when vacationing or camping in a group.
  4. Labeling my lunch at work (get away from my Chicken Burrito Bowl, this means you!).
  5. Coloring in those neato coloring books they make for grown-ups.
  6. Hiding a scuff in my good black pumps.
  7. Countless arts and crafts projects.

I knew I would learn to love my new calligraphy pen at least as much as my collection of Sharpies. We just had to get to know one another …

… she said, as she put the first stroke to paper …

Well, it wasn’t love at first sight, me and calligraphy, but all new relationships must survive a little test of fire, right? Ours wasn’t fire per se, but more like smudging, errors, creases, and one spilt beverage. That’s okay, I turned the page (literally), and began again.

I moved at approximately the speed of turtles after a turkey and pasta dinner, but I did manage to get through the whole alphabet.

photo by .angels. via

And, I must say, my calligraphy was rather lovely to look upon! I mean, I’m no Niels Shoe Meulman (inventor of Calligraphiti, the merging of calligraphy with graffiti), or Yazan Halwani (one of the youngest Arabic calligraphers around), or Edward Johnston (the father of modern calligraphy), or Wen Zhengming (Ming dynasty painter and calligrapher).

But, hey, I am Jane, Farmgirl Extraordinaire, Merit Badge earner, and the best calligrapher in my house!

Miss Toile notwithstanding.

  1. Karlyne says:

    I was thinking the other day about how distinctive handwriting used to be – I could pick out my folks’ handwriting in any kind of lineup, e.g. But I don’t see enough examples, anymore, so except for my nearest and dearest, I don’t feel that I know anyone by their writing these days. Hmmm. Must be a good time to be an anonymous letter writer…

  2. Krista says:

    This merit badge really fascinates me. I have been itching to give it a try. Calligraphy is so beautiful and it would be so fun to use it when I write letters. All I need now is to invest is a calligraphy pen and borrow the book so I can learn how.

  3. darlene ricotta says:

    Calligraphy is a beautiful art, I haven’t done any Merit Badges but I would like to try this one.
    I appreciate you being there and having the Mary Janes Farm.
    Thank you.

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