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Spiral borders can be an interesting enhancement for lettering, particularly certificates.  They can be a little tricky especially at the corners, so this is one method of laying out a spiral design that wraps continuously around the border area.

What you need:

  • graph paper (about 4 squares to the inch or refer to the Calligraphy Resources page)
  • tracing paper
  • pencil and eraser

If you have not drawn a spiral design for a border, refer to the Calligraphy Design: Simple Drawn and Painted Borders post.

Step 1:

Draw the basic spiral shape about 3 squares high and 5 squares wide.

Starting Spiral Shape

Starting Spiral Shape

Step 2:

Starting at the bottom of the border, copy the shape onto tracing paper, then transfer the shapes in a row flipping the tracing paper to alternate the design.

Design Traced for the Bottom Row

Design Traced for the Bottom Row

The length of the row can be whatever size fits your design requirement, just make sure the last spiral transferred curves inside as shown.

Step 3:

Working up the right side of the border, rotate the tracing paper and continue transferring the spiral alternating the design and ending with the last spiral curved inside.

Border Up Right Side

Border Up Right Side

Step 4:

Continue along the top and down the left side, making sure the corner spirals are turned inside.  Flip and rotate the tracing paper as needed to continue the alternating design.

Spiral Border Outline Showing Corners

Spiral Border Outline Showing Corners

Step 5:

Now that the outline is complete, add in the details and the design is ready to be transferred onto watercolor paper for painting.

Full Border Ready for Painting

Full Border Ready for Painting

The size of the spirals and lengths of the borders can easily be adjusted or scaled to match any design requirements.  This border was drafted for a paper size of 8 1/2″ x 11″.

Try to leave at least a 1/2″ or more from the outside edge of the border to the edge of paper.  It is better to scale the border and leave some white space to give a bit of additional space for framing!

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