John Burns

A102 Foundational Hand

Two and a Half Day Class

Edward Johnston, the father of modern calligraphy, considered the Foundational Hand “the best training” and the gateway to acquiring any other hand. In this 2.5 day class, you’ll learn:

  • How to create a beautiful, balanced, minuscule (lowercase) alphabet*
  • How to analyze your own work, so that you’ll be able to confidently continue your calligraphic journey
  • How the spaces inside and around the letters are as important as the strokes themselves
  • How to use these basic forms as a starting point to create a wide range of variations

This class is open to beginners and intermediate calligraphers who want a firm foundation for further developing their craft. Attention will be given to each student at their level of development.

*There will be a brief review of majuscules (capitals), but to study them in greater depth, please consider taking the Roman Capitals 2.5 day class by the same instructor.

PS: Be ready to have some fun while we work.

Supply List
  • 9" x 12" bleed-proof, semi-transparent, layout paper (my preference: Canson Pro Layout Marker pad)
  • 2 sheets of 9" x 12" graph paper (any grid size)
  • A legal pad of paper
  • Black ink, non-permanent
  • Pilot Parallel Pens: sizes 3.8 mm, 2.4 mm, 1.5 mm
  • Your favorite broad-edged pen nibs and holder
  • Black calligraphy marker (my favorite: Staedtler Calligraph Duo, with 3.5 mm and 2.0 mm points)
  • Black Zig Writer (bullet-nosed) marker
  • 4H pencil
  • 4B pencil
  • Pencil sharpener
  • Eraser (my favorite: Pentel Clic Eraser ZE22)
  • Tape (for securing paper)
  • Your favorite quotes or sayings, especially ones with a sense of humor
  • A portable drawing board or slant board that can accommodate a 9" x 12" sheet of paper
  • A T-square suitable for your drawing board

John Burns is an award-winning professional lettering artist. He has a BFA in graphic design from Carnegie-Mellon University, and has made a career of using calligraphy and drawn letters to create the brands for Goldfish Crackers, Sara Lee, Red Vines, Hampton Inn, and scores of others. John has taught courses in calligraphy, handlettering, corporate identity and graphic design at the Academy of Art University, and lettering classes at the DeYoung Museum School. This will be his second time teaching at an international calligraphy conference. John is a patient teacher who takes a “no tears” approach to learning good letterform fundamentals. You can view John’s professional lettering website at: