Pointed-pen flourishing for thank-you notes

I’ve been preparing for our next pointed-pen class, when we will be experimenting with using the pressure and release of the pen to make decorative oval borders around some lettering. Here a few examples of what that could look like.

Pointed pen practice/play

I’m having the best time teaching a great group of students this winter. Although I’ve taught calligraphy classes for [checks résumé] 30 years (!), this is the first time I’ve taught pointed pen scripts in a classroom setting. To teach others is always to educate myself. Determining how to explain a concept often spotlights previously ignored fuzzy areas in my own thinking.

We’ve begun with a business hand and no pressure, gotten an intro to pointed pen nib and offset holder and ink, and then moved on to a working copperplate hand that is not too fussy (think Buddy Blackwell). 

Here is a bit of silliness that broke out during a practice session focusing on whole-arm movement exercises. Contrary to what this image may suggest, I do not plan to cover “modern calligraphy” in any depth. I was just having fun. Click on the image for a closer look.


Stumbling in the new year

This year I made a greeting card to celebrate the new year. I’ve almost got them all mailed (hey, it’s still January, isn’t it?). Here’s an image of it. IRL it’s 8.5″ wide and 16.5″ tall, folded vertically into thirds. Happy New Year to you!


Register here for a new pointed pen calligraphy class beginning January 7

I am offering a 6-week calligraphy class from 5:30-7:00 pm on Sundays, beginning January 7. We will study pointed pen lettering, with an emphasis on monoline and copperplate styles.
Please use the form below to register for the class. 
The cost will be $95 per person, payable the first day of class or via PayPal here.
The class will be limited to 10 participants.
We will study the letter forms and how to use them in projects such as greeting cards, bookmarks, place cards, little books, and more.
Pointed pen lettering requires a bare minimum of tools and materials. You’ll need the following for the class:
  • Strathmore Drawing 300 pad at least 9″ x 12″
  • Oblique pen holder
  • Leonardt Principal EF pointed nib (I can supply 1 nib for $2.50, same price at John Neal)
  • a black fine point marker such as Sakura Pigma Micron 01 or ZIG Millennium 01, approximately 1/4mm width
  • pencil, sharpener, eraser
  • metal-edge ruler at least 12″

Except for the Leonardt Principal nib, everything here is available at the MSU Bookstore. I’ll offer a basic kit, which includes the first 3 items, for $12 to those students who let me know that they want a kit by January 1.

In addition, I will provide some tools and materials for your use, and others for you to try out. I always say that many a budding calligrapher got their start due to a case of OSD (Office Supply Addiction).
Class will be held in the social hall of Temple Beth Shalom at 2020 West Koch; this is just west of 19th Avenue South, near Albertsons.
Class will commence on Sunday, January 7, and meet weekly except for January 21. The last class will be held on February 18.
Email me with any questions. I look forward to seeing you in class! 

Class registration 2018


Italic practice, after a break

Time passes, I travel, I do other things, and suddenly I realize it’s been awhile since I practiced any lettering. Sure, I’ve done an edition of 1-5/8″ x 3″ books with tiny capitals lettering in it, and finished a baby quilt, and done some lettering on mirrors. None of that “counts” towards lettering practice — as is proved by the uncertainty and inconsistency of today’s practice lettering. I’m preparing for a long piece, and this must improve!

New calligraphy class in Jan-Feb 2018

I’m planning to teach an 8-week class in January and February in Bozeman.

To make it as inclusive and accessible as possible, I’ve set up a poll to discover what you are interested in learning and what time of day and week you could attend. If you’re interested in taking the class, scroll down the examples to let me know what interests you and when you could attend.

In response to some questions about the class, here is a little more information.

Depending on how many students we have, the cost will be $100 to $120 per person for the course.

Students are welcome to bring what they have that would work. For those who want it, I am happy to provide a beginner’s kit for students on the first day of class. The cost is $18 and includes:
  • 4 Mitchell dip pens (in 4 sizes) + 1 ink reservoir
  • 1 basic pen holder
  • 1 pad of Strathmore Drawing 300 paper
 A student starting from scratch will pay $15 – $35 for basic calligraphy supplies if they purchase them individually. At a minimum, we’ll use 
  • dip pens — a sampler of pens is $12.95 or $15.95, although a student could buy a few nibs from me @ $1.25 each;
  • sumi ink — available at the MSU bookstore or pay $6 for small jar of Moon Palace at John Neal;
  • Strathmore Drawing 300 paper — a pad of 11×14 paper will cost about $11 (or less with a Michaels coupon or when it’s on sale). 
(I assume people will have basic office supplies on hand, such as pencil, eraser, ruler, etc.)
To give you idea of how I run a class, check out this link to a class I taught in 2015. At the bottom of the class you can see syllabus and assignments, week by week.

Another baby (um, toddler) quilt

About a week and a half before Thanksgiving, I received, unexpectedly, a quilt from my sister. It is absolutely beautiful, a mixture of windmills and pinwheels, with deconstructed appliquéd pinwheels in the border, French knots and big-stitch quilting.

It galvanized me to finish this long-overdue baby quilt for a great-nephew. Because Wesley is now 22 months old, I had taken to calling it a toddler quilt. A week and a half before Thanksgiving, I had all the quilt blocks made but no plan. No matter. I just started stitching – 1/2″ strips  to fill out a too-small square, sashing and more sashing to marry up the dimensions of my inadvertant mix of 5″ and 4.5″ squares, a couple of borders, another border to make it a little large … and so on.  And, voila! a quilt top.

Then what to do? I had all these bits of blocks that went unused on the front; I stitched those together into a couple of strips which helped fill out the width of the quilt back.

Then what next? I made a test sandwich of top-batting-bottom, looked at a tutorial or two, put on a quilting presser foot and learned how to machine-quilt for about 15 minutes. With the tiny bit of knowledge, I machine-quilted the pin-basted quilt. It went pretty well, with minimal ripping and re-stitching.

After trimming, I machine-sewed one side of the bias binding to the quilt, gathered a few airplane-approved sewing tools (needle, thread, small thread snips), and put it in my carry-on backpack for the trip to Florida. 

On the planes, at my sister-in-law’s house, in the car … I hand-stitched the other side of the bias binding. After we pulled up into the driveway of my brother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I took the final two (!) stitches to finish the quilt.

These photos were rather hurriedly taken on the floor of a bedroom. Not ideal, but at least I have a record.

It was a different way of working for me. Not the work-right-up-to-the-deadline method; that, unfortunately, is common. I mean the idea of taking what I have and organically building up and out, rather than planning it out all in advance, making a model, do a trial run, and then, at long last, making the final thing. I like it.

New artist book

I’ve been steadily working on a new edition of 12 little books. Fun stuff! And I can’t believe I mailed off 7 of them today without taking photos. Hmph. When I know they’ve arrived safely, I’ll post some in-process photos and as well as photos of the books I have here. In the meanwhile, a couple of details …

Isn’t this simply luscious? One of the frustrations/pleasures of working  on an edition is seeing scraps like this come — and go. This sheets appeared when I pasted up scraps of painted Arches Text Wove onto another scrap of ATW to make closure loops for the wrappers. It was so beautiful on its own, I hated to cut it down into 1/4″-inch strips. 

One day I’m going to finish the paper mosaics I’ve begun with all the irresistibly beautiful little bits of paper that I can never bear to throw out.

Even though I’m not going to show the book today, I will show one in-process photo.  The structure is a flat-piano-hinge binding from Keith Smith’s, Non-Adhesive Binding.  Threading a flat strip of Canson Mi-Tientes through the folded tabs was driving me bonkers, until I located this loop turner in my sewing supplies. I finally worked out a method of guiding the strip through the loops with the aid of the loop turner and a micro-spatula. The structure requires that this be done three times for each book, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now.

In case you’re wondering about the scale … the book is 3 inches tall and 1-5/8″ wide. (See how I mostly got rid of the lime green cutting mat that clashed with this little book? But you can still see the 1-inch grid in places.)