Sunday, October 24, 2010

Happy Birthday Mom!

I'm on a roll ... sort of! My mom's birthday was this week and we're heading off to her party this afternoon. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to try another flourish. I really had fun doing this. I started with a banner from Ames Compendium and then just wung it.

I got a little carried away on the upper part of the banner when my husband came in and offered me a lick of chocolate frosting (since I haven't had any goodies since I've been on WW for 6+ weeks). I nearly fell off my drafting stool and then blobbed the card! So I tried to cover the goof by adding some thicker leaves. (It's was worth the lick of chocolate by the way).

I obviously still need to work on overall shape and getting down the stroke shapes. Looking forward to having something new to practice. I did the original with walnut ink on Fabriano Medioevalis. The web version is scanned and reversed. I'm including a photo of the original, too.

Thanks all for the great encouragement! Spark is lit again!!! :-)


Friday, October 22, 2010

Something new...flourishing

I had a request to create a flourished banner for our guild's newsletter. Since I was unable to attend IAMPETH this summer, I missed Heather Held's flourishing class (much to my dismay!) and I have never done any kind of off-hand flourishing other than flourished lettering.

I was tempted to say I can't. Lately it seems I can't do calligraphy all that well. (And in my head I hear my husband saying, "Can't lives on Won't Street. :-) It must be lack of practice but some days it just feels like the paper is too scratchy, the nibs all skip, and the ink constantly bleeds. Nothing seems to flow. When this happens, I think the best thing to do is get back down to fundamentals. So I thought I would teach myself how to do the flourishing. Why not try, now is as good a time as any, right?!

So I dug out my binder with Heather's instructions and pulled out my Ames Compendium and had a go as they say. It was *really* fun! It's as addicting as zentangle that is for sure. They are very much the same process. You continue to build on the design using different patterns.

This is my first attempt so no laughing. Everyone has to start somewhere! Hopefully a year from now I'll be sharing some better attempts! :-)

P.S. This was done with McCaffrey's black and a Nikko G nib on copy paper, scanned and then reversed. Also, I borrowed the banner design from Ames' Compendium and then wung the rest. I can see some gaps now where I could have filled in more. But I reached a point where I was fearful to screw it up!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Introducing Zentangles

I was asked to introduce Zentangles to the Coastal Calligraphers Guild during our last meeting. I had soooo much fun! I am not a certified zentangle teacher so I did the best I could using the information from the zentangle's website. Thankfully Maria Thomas and Rick Roberts, the creators of zentangle, encourage others to share about zentangles.

We reviewed several patterns and then did a few projects. The first project was a tag necklace which can be used as a name tag, necklace, or gift tag or... For our second project, we tangled a copper colored leaf. I drew the leaf pattern and cut out the shapes, used black eyelets, and put black string through for hanging. Being from New England, I'm missing all the beautiful fall colors right now so I thought this would be a fun way to bring them to Florida!

I figured out why I love zentangles so much and why I think they are so popular. There is a youtube video which shows a vibration table and each time salt is thrown on the table, a pattern is created from the vibration the frequency creates. It's amazing to see all the different patterns created and they look just like a zentangle pattern.

Many of you know I am also a homeopath and homeopathy is vibrational medicine. Each remedy is a vibration/energy of a substance such as a plant or mineral. People also have a vibration. The vibration of the remedy is matched to the vibration of the person (based on symptoms) so that healing can occur. So zentangles is like homeopathic medicine in a way since people are resonating with certain patterns.

Fascinating to me - perhaps boring to others! But I think it's wonderful! Now if I could just figure out how to determine the pattern of each remedy to the pattern of each person, I could heal the world! But for now, I'll just have to be happy tangling!
Using the chalkboard to demonstrate zentangles.

Loving using stencils!

The blank silver rimmed tags before the class. I glued charms to the bottom of each one to weight.

Our copper leaf!

Wishing for snow!

My tag examples.

From the class - they did beautiful work!

We worked through the same patterns - love how they all come out different!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Fall-ing behind.

Dear Friends:

It's been so long since my last post. This summer was simultaneously altogether too short and the longest I've known. My family and I went home to Maine this June. It had been three years since we had been able to visit. We spent three glorious weeks with our family, creating memories that will last a lifetime. We roasted marshmallows indoors at the fireplace. We picked blueberries and made pancakes. We visited the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens and enjoyed the splendor of stepping inside some of our favorite story books like Blueberries for Sal, Fairy Houses, and Miss Rumphius.

This would have been the most glorious summer I've ever experienced spending time with my children, my husband's family, and my extended family except for one thing. My mother-in-law, Val, passed away shortly after we returned home. She was only 63. To have had that time with her is priceless. But I never expected the magnitude of the grief and how it hits you when you least expect it. Almost two months out,  I thought I would be over the sobbing part. But no. It still manages to catch in my throat and well up in my eyes even right now as I sit here typing.

The week before she died, my husband flew back home to be with her and I was suddenly presented with a few mother's day greeting cards to design. To sit and create a mother's day card while your mother-in-law is dying is either the cruelest irony or the most cathartic gift - I haven't quite decided which yet. But in any event, I was struck by one of the assignments as it reminded me so much of Val.

I had taken a photograph of the daisies in one of her gardens. Her mother (who has also passed away) had planted them. I used this to draw 5 daisies for the card - one for each of her children. My husband was able to show her a copy before she passed on. It was a gift, I've decided.

Val was an extraordinary woman. She welcomed me into the family and treated me like her own. At her funeral, I shared some memories of her and I'll leave you with my final sentiment: Thank you Val, for raising the best man I know, for unreservedly sharing him with me, and for loving me like your own.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Valentines ... again!

Where oh where have I been?! Well, I bet you all had thought I fell off the planet. One of the great benefits of working from home is that when something comes up ... sick kids, traveling husband, blah, blah, blah ... you can be flexible and tend to it. However, one of the greatest drawbacks of working from home is that when something *does* come up ... your schedule is the first one to go right out the window! Which can be extremely frustrating - especially when deadlines are involved. :-)

Anyway, you get the drift. I am happy I have had a few more assignments. Some I can't post but I love to share when I can. Below are two new Valentine's cards for Sunrise Greetings. They'll be printed with the white in glitter. I heart glitter! It's so sparkly and good.

Summer has officially hit southern Florida ... 95 degree days are here to stay. We went right from 75 to 95 and missed out completely on our usually BeAuTiFuL spring weather. Blech! I hate the heat and one of the charms of living here are the perfect paradise days in January through April. Not this year! I loved the unusually cold days because they felt like home but we went right from that to stifle.

Kids get out of school in the next couple weeks ... SUMMER! Ready or not ... here we come! :-)

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Funky Alphabet Fun - creating a fun calligraphy style

I've been slacking on the posts. Well, I guess I've been generally slacking at life! So, so busy. The kids were on spring break last week and I had to update the school site which took me WAYYY longer than I anticipated. Then I had to do my taxes which actually took me way less time than I thought!

Anyhow, I have become keenly aware my children are growing faster than you can say, "blink." My son in particular is pulling my heart strings lately as he is turning that corner where 8 melds to 9 and you can see the beginnings of a man in his lengthening neck. I find myself trying hard to remember moments of him at 4 or 5. I realized this is when my third was born and the full meaning of the words "middle child" actually makes me wince a little.

At the other end, my oldest (12) is now accompanying me to my calligraphy guild meetings. And this past weekend, she participated in her first workshop with me! This brings me great delight! :-) This workshop was a lot of fun and hosted by Fred, a guild leader and very talented lettering artist and teacher. It was appropriate Delainey's first class was for "funky, fun letters."

We created our own alphabets using a foundational ... well... foundation! :-) Then we added a variation of a thin line and a swirl. I added a little squiggle and a few dots to mine (see below). Delainey did a variation with straight lines. It was really fun and we accomplished a lot in a short time. I may turn mine into a font just for fun.

On our way home from the workshop, I asked Delainey if any of her 6th grade friends were interested in calligraphy. This was the age I began my adventures into the lettering arts. She said none of her friends are really interested in art like she is. This was a revelation for me as I had never stopped to think about someone not being interested in art. For me it's like breathing or eating or sleeping ... it's just there and always has been. I have always, since I can remember, loved art whether it be doing my own or admiring another's. But until that moment, it hadn't really occured to me it wasn't innate in everyone.

I've often tried to determine what it is about lettering that I just love and I've never been able to express it adequately or eloquently enough. I suppose it's the potential for beauty in something that is ordinary. Or that meaningful words become even more so when visually expressed. Or maybe it's just the swirl, or evenness, or even reliability of the shape of a beautiful letter ... the combination of lines straight and curved, the unexpected swoosh that graces the page. Whatever it is, it is definitely "my thing."

I've encouraged my children from birth to find "their thing." I've tried to gently kindle a love of art and learning although it has been a struggle. Whatever it may be though, I encourage them to go for it. For my dad, it's sports. He just loves sports and always has. I, on the other hand, don't enjoy them much. But we share in common a love for something that just endures. I hope I can foster in my children that love for a special thing. Something they love forever and ever. Something that makes them happy. Because they are the only thing that supercedes "my thing." :-)


Saturday, March 27, 2010

Two new Christmas greeting cards

I had a lot of fun designing these cards for Sunrise Greetings (a division of Hallmark). Christmas cards are the most fun to design. The color palette was chosen for me - beautiful!

I've been doing a lot of sewing and crafts lately and not much calligraphy. I hope to get back at the lettering practice in the next week or so. I have to get back up to speed for IAMPETH! I still can't believe I am going to my first conference - hooray!

Enjoy! :-)

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Zentangle - Zenspirations Silk Ornaments and Zentangle Sneakers!

Phew - it's been awhile since I've posted. I haven't had much time to do much of anything. I make 8 to 10 chauffeur trips per day - drop off first 2 kids, then come home, drop off 3rd kid, then come home, pick up 3rd kid, then come home, pick up kid, come home, pick up kid at sports, come home. It's never ending! I figured out I spend 3 hours per day in the car. But next fall all three will be in school full time and I'll have 6 whole hours per day!

I'm working on a few greeting cards for Sunrise which I will post when I'm done. But in the meantime, I thought I'd share the fun stuff I did yesterday.

My 12 year old daughter and I were working on homemade birthday gifts for her friend and I thought it was about time I combined the silk painting classes and zentangle/zenspiration classes together and make a zenspiration silk painting! I wasn't really prepared so the letters aren't all that well executed and I am out of practice on using the gutta paint tubes but I was so happy with this process! I cannot wait to make more. I know what I'll be doing for Christmas this year! And my daughter loved it so that was cool. I was bummed I only had time to make a couple. But stay tuned because I am sure I will be perfecting some letters and creating more of these.

Final zentangle ornament:

Close up:

Unfinished but ready for ribbon and beads:

The other fun thing I did this weekend was create my new zentangle sneakers! This was a trial run so I used cheap sneaks. But it was sooo fun! And I loved the results. Except I will need to get a new, brighter white paint pen. This one was old and faded. But I'll definitely be making another pair - if anything because my 12 year old wants a pair of zentangled converse!

Hope you enjoyed seeing them as much as I enjoyed making them! Until next time ....

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Painting Roman Caps on Fabric - Susan Hufton workshop

I had the best weekend! I went to a calligraphy workshop - Painted Roman Caps on Fabric. Susan Hufton, an amazing, calligrapher and lettering artist from London is a great instructor. The class began promptly at 9:00 and we learned and worked from the minute the class started until it ended each day at 5:00p. We covered an amazing amount of material and I learned *so* much.

I have very little experience with a brush, no experience painting on fabric, and no experience with Roman Caps. So this was a great way to introduce all three! I purchased Sue's book, Step by Step Calligraphy many years ago. (You can find it used on Amazon.) It features the techniques we used in class.

The class started with a brief introduction to Roman Caps and we practiced doing skeleton letters and drawing Roman Caps with pencil. We spent the afternoon getting acquainted with the brush and painting the letters onto different textures of paper. Then all day Sunday we spent playing with different paints, inks, and fabrics.

This was a great process for me because I normally work *very* fast. My pointed pen and flourishing are quick movements from the shoulder. It was refreshing to slow down and draw the letter and slowly paint it. Clearly I have a lot of work to do on the letter forms, but I really enjoyed it.

This was FW Acrylic on linen (an old tablecloth).

This is cheap watercolor paint on the same linen:

This is schmenke pan silver on dupoini silk:

This is the silver on polyster nylon. This was surprisingly easy.

And this was a little monochromatic experiment on cotton broadcloth. This was also the FW Acrylic.

If you ever have the opportunity to take a class with Sue, I highly recommend it.

There are so many applications for this. It will come in handy for gifts, I'm sure. Now I'm off to practice Roman Caps! And P.S. The "baby" is practicing for a friend. :-)

Friday, February 19, 2010

Belated Valentine's Day Zentangle

Kept wanting to post this but didn't want to interrupt the letterpress flow... I had so much fun trying to design the Valentine heart that when I was practicing with a marker, I decided to do this:

You may recognize some of the patterns from one of my favorite Zentangle artists, Sandy Bartholomew at Beez in the Belfry. A few were featured in her Tangle of the Week posts. I bought the Studios magazine which features her zentangle studio (wow!). I also purchased her AlphaTangle Book. Both are a worthy purchase for the zentangle enthusiast. WARNING: For some reason zentangles are extremely addicting! :-)

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Can't wait for Valentine's Day! :-) My first L Letterpress card!

Happy Valentine's Day! [spoiler alert] ... As promised ... my first L Letterpress printed card:

Hopefully, Valentine cards arrived today so it won't spoil the surprise but since there is no postal mail tomorrow, I'm going to post online today. :-)

I had a lot of fun trying out my new QuicKutz L Letterpress machine. At first it was a little frustrating but once I got the hang of it, I was printing on every paper I could find!

Let me back up and start at the beginning. I ordered a custom plate of my calligraphy design from Elûm Designs. The folks over at Elûm were SO helpful! (sorry about the accent, couldn't find the straight line over the u.) Although I am somewhat of a Photoshop guru, I have limited Illustrator experience. The friendly folks at Elûm walked me through preparing the file. The nice thing is there is no minimum order, so I could order just my valentine plate. If I had to wait to gang up additional plates, I may never order! Here is a snapshot of the plate:

Here is a pic of my L Letterpress:

I took the advice of Harold at Boxcar Press and purchased a new brayer. It was $24 at Michael's Crafts and I used my 40% off coupon. [Sidenote: a very special thank you to Harold if you ever read this as if I had not seen your post, I probably would have given up thinking a good print wasn't possible.] Boxcar Press also makes custom plates for the L Letterpress.

I'm glad I did as the brayer made a huge difference. I tried the brayer from the kit and it worked but wasn't so great. It was just too small to ink the plate well.

I didn't know that the plate comes with its own self-adhesive back so I tried to use one of the adhesive sheets I purchased with the press. Doh! It wouldn't stick! Then I figured out the blue paper was to be peeled off. This is great as it eliminates the cost of having to purchase the adhesive sheets. I was able to print two different times, clean off the plate, and then peel it off twice and it still was sticky on the back.

On to the fun part. Inking the plate was clearly one of the most important factors in getting a good print. My first prints were horrible! I was more than a little disappointed. But, I would soon find out, the paper used made a huge difference as well. I'm not sure what QuicKutz was thinking, but the paper sold as an accessory to the letterpress machine made for terrible prints! It cracked and the impressions were not crisp at all. It felt soft and thick, but the results were not good. It wasn't cheap either. Had I not tried a back up paper, I would have written off the whole press as useless. But alas, the good part is coming!

I will say however, without ink, the paper made a beautiful debossed impression. For some weird reason in the photos it sometimes looks embossed, but it is definitely debossed into the paper.

A closeup:

So, after wasting about 25 pieces of the expensive cardstock, I decided to give another paper a try. I am so glad I did! The difference was dramatic. The prints were much crisper and more even. I was very pleased with the results. I also tried a metallic ink and it printed much better than the light pink I had started with. The metallic was just a little smoother.

The trick for me was using the brayer to smooth out the ink before I applied it to the plate. Since I had never used a brayer before, this took a little bit to figure out. But once I did, it only took a few strokes to get the ink smoothed out on the glass. A very small amount of ink is needed (about the size of a peanut) to print about 25 pieces. 


For some reason, my kit did not include the cushion sheet that is supposed to go under the paper when you run it through the machine. I substituted a piece of the soft cardstock at first which proved a little too thick for a good crisp print. So I ended up using a piece of regular scrapbook cardstock but doubled it. This worked perfectly. Also, after just lightly running the brayer over the plate twice, I needed to wipe around the edges of the plate bed with a papertowel to make sure I didn't have ink smudges that would mess up a print.

Prints on L Letterpress cardstock:

Good print on alternate paper:


As you can see, the difference is dramatic. I went back to try the L Letterpress paper again after making some beautiful prints on alternate paper and they still did not print great. Better but not as crisp. It is like it just absorbed too much ink. So for those of you trying this ... have several different kinds of paper to try.

When I finally got on a roll, I was loving it and printing every last scrap I could find! The impression was gorgeous and the metallic ink was just beautiful. When I was doing wedding invitations, I had a fabulous, and very talented printer do my letterpress invites. Mark at the Dunstan Press in Scarborough, Maine was a real artist. I can honestly say the prints I made on the L Letterpress were comparable. (Sorry Mark!). But truth be told, I held up an invite printed with a traditional letterpress and my printed card and I would doubt anyone could tell the difference. But let me say, I would not purchase this gadget thinking you could run a full service letterpress business with it. It is a fine home crafter kit but would probably not hold up to every day wear and tear.

The press itself did seem sturdy. I didn't have any problems with cranking the plates through. It glided right through with no cracking noises or skipping of the handle. Even my 4 year old and 8 year old cranked some through. I do think the plate bed that goes through the press will need to be replaced eventually. It accepted the wear and tear OK but somehow it created a black streak on the plastic going through the metal rollers. And it definitely seemed looser after just two print sessions. 

I did not purchase the cleaning cloths that were sold along with the press which I was initially bummed about because the ink did not just wash right off. But mineral spirits wiped it off no problem. Also, for anyone who thought of this, Gocco printer inks *do not* work. I gave it a go when the first prints were cruddy and the Gocco ink really isn't the right consistency.

There are some quirks to the press ... paper selection may be limited and metallic inks certainly printed better than the colors. But with some practice, this may be able to be overcome. Bottom line ... I am thrilled with my letterpressed cards. I'm really happy I made this purchase and I know I will have fun printing more custom calligraphy cards in the future.  Overall, a definite cool tool for the home studio!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Will you be my Valentine?

Guess what came in the mail today?! My first custom letterpress plate! I blogged a few months back I had purchased the QuicKutz L Letterpress  machine. I finally finished my first design and sent it off to Elum to have a plate made for my Valentine's Day cards. I can't wait!

I am so glad I ran out the day I saw the announcement the printers were available because I went back to AC Moore and the entire display was gone... not sure why. I didn't bother to ask as they didn't even know they carried the thing back when I bought it (in November).

The plate itself is rather beautiful (if I do say so!). The price was very reasonable - it was only $11.78 for the plate and then $9.84 for shipping. So $21.62 total. Of course, I will blog all the details once I print the cards.

Did I mention I can't wait to print my Valentines?! :-) I don't want to give it away so I'm posting a different design just to tide you over until I get them done. Calligraphy and Valentines go hand-in-hand - so they are one of my favorite things to do. This image below is a heart flourish I did for a Papyrus Valentine's Day card a few years ago. I added the "love" today.

Stay tuned...

Oopsie ... I almost forgot the most important part ... I will mail one of the Valentines to the first 5 readers to email me their mailing address before midnight, Friday, February 5, 2010. I can't guarantee it will arrive before the 14th, but I'll try!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

A Book Review (or two) of Sorts ...

I just spent an hour writing this and then blogger dumped it so this will be much more brief! I've been working on a few Birthday cards for friends and family which is always difficult when you are a greeting card designer. The pressure is on so to speak! But I like to keep it simple. Otherwise, they would never make it into the mail. As I frequently do when designing cards, I browse through my calligraphy books and look for interesting hands I would like to try or experiment with.

I recently purchased two books by Ruth Booth that every lettering artist will want as part of their collection (if they don't already have them). Intended for scrapbookers, these books are full of great alphabets and are very popular with calligraphers. Scrapbooker's Alphabets (search for it at Paper & Ink Arts - it's on sale!) has a huge range of both fun and elegant alphabets. One of my favorites is Romeo which are built up Roman caps done with pencil. I've always wanted to do these but couldn't find a good source.

Celebration Calligraphy (about halfway down this page at John Neal Booksellers) features more great alphabets like Jargon capitals which are thin versals. This is another hand I was not able to find a good examplar for until now. I used this alphabet to do my birthday cards and thank you card below.  The colored pencil didn't scan well but you get the idea. I will say the cover of this book does not do it justice. It is full of wonderful ideas and even a small gallery of calligrapher's work at the back.

I am sure these two books are ones calligraphers will turn to again and again for great lettering ideas.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The path to calligraphy...

I received a wonderful email from fellow letter-lover Sandi from TN who is learning spencerian. This got me thinking about how I became a lettering artist.

I had always enjoyed drawing but I fell in love with calligraphy around the age of 10. My 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Jacobs, had the sweetest hand writing - the result, she told me, of long hours of practice in Catholic school. I longed to be able to write like her. I was a straight A student with C's in penmanship! And thus began my true love of lettering. My mom gave me a calligraphy kit for Christmas and I practiced with my markers and fountain pens. Back then the only books I had available were by Ken Brown and Margaret Shepherd. I practically memorized them.

I started getting commissions as I finished up grade school - certificates, programs, yearbook cover, etc. I became fairly adept by high school where I encountered my first real calligraphy teacher (who shall remain nameless) in graphic arts class. I was so happy to have a mentor who also loved calligraphy as much as I did. This would be short-lived as I soon experienced for the first time, the competitive bitterness that can rear its ugly head in the art world.

When we displayed our final projects, another student commented that my lettering was better than the teacher's. I was embarrassed but pleased at my progress. So I was disappointed when I received a B. When I inquired as to why I had received only a B, the response was, "I'm the only one who gets an A in this class."

My confidence was shattered and any glimmer of an idea I had of going to art school was extinguished. I gave into the notion I would never be good enough for a career in art. I continued to take art classes in college when I could fit them in. And I continued practicing my calligraphy. I did a few jobs here and there - invitations and certificates in italic. But it was really more of a hobby than anything else.

My senior year in college, I took another hit to the ego when a photography teacher told me my project was "silly" among other nasty things I can't even write here. It was a very bizarre experience but suffice it to say it reinforced the idea I could never be a "real" artist.

A few years later when I was working in the corporate world,  I received an alumni magazine which featured a story on the same teacher. She was showcasing her work in the university gallery. Or perhaps I should say she was showcasing her version of my work. Yes - she had copied my project. So I reasoned it could not have been *that* bad. With a new perspective, I started practicing both calligraphy and photography with a renewed spirit. 

It was the June 1993 issue of Victoria magazine that completely changed my life. I was preparing for my own wedding when I saw the article featuring Maria Thomas's amazing spencerian invitations. I knew right then and there I *had* to learn how to letter like that. I contacted Maria. I still have (sitting right next to me here in the studio) the package she sent me 17 years ago. Maria put me in touch with Michael Sull who was just finishing up his "Learning to Write Spencerian Script" book.

Michael kindly sold me a photocopied, unedited, stapled version and I was off. I practiced, practiced, practiced. It was love at first sight! I lettered my own invitations for my wedding in June the following year - and poorly I must say. But back then I thought it was wonderful!

Michael gave me the name of another calligrapher, Laura Di Piazza who generously sent me a copy of John Neal's catalog. I could not believe this entire catalog full of calligraphy stuff existed! Well, I continued practicing and did wedding invitation, diploma, certificate, and envelope jobs on the side. I also took a number of art classes at Maine College of Art, including graphic design classes, while working full time and starting a family. This time I was fortunate enough to have a fantastic design instructor who reinforced the fundamentals and encouraged me greatly.

About 7 years later the insurance company I worked for was bought out. I was in the unique position of being the only person in the company who could do the human resource job position systems transition for all of our 1200+ employees.

Although my position would be eliminated, I was offered a stay bonus to complete the project and a different position afterwards. I became pregnant with my 2nd child just as we finished the acquisition. Long story short, my son had a severe reaction to his first round of immunizations and going back to work FT was completely out of the question. So I decided to quit my job and post an ad for wedding invitations in Martha Stewart Weddings magazine. The stay bonus was enough to continue paying our bills while I got my business up and running.

Well, the business was off with a bang! One of my first clients was a referral from Margaret Shepherd - the very same calligrapher whose books I poured over as a child! I quickly started getting wonderful clients for upscale weddings. The majority of my brides were attorneys living in large cities in the U.S. such as NYC, LA, Houston, etc. I then did a job for Harrison & Shriftman, a high end PR firm, and thus began a string of Hollywood parties and promotional pieces. I really enjoyed this type of work but the stress of deadlines and a child with autism made each day a struggle.

Thankfully, during this time, Casco Bay Scribes, the local calligraphy guild in Portland, Maine, started back up and for the first time ever, I was introduced to friends who shared the same passion I did for hand-lettering. With this came many workshops with very talented calligraphers.

Eventually, I had to stop doing weddings and social invitations. During this time, I was contacted by Marcel Schurman, now Papyrus, to design a Mother's Day card. I was thrilled! Thus began my adventures in greeting card design. My first greeting card was awful! But they seemed to like it and I started doing more and more.

Over the next few years, I worked to recover my son who experienced a miraculous recovery from autism via homeopathy. I then began studying medicine to become a homeopathic doctor. My third child was born in 2005. I was busy doing logo design for an internet web design company and around this time I began designing for Sunrise Greetings.

In 2007, we moved to FL where the alternative medicine laws do not allow me to practice homeopathy. So I've been able to continue with commercial lettering and greeting card design. It has always been a struggle to balance my love for calligraphy, photography, and now homeopathy. I have been fortunate enough to assist some amazing healing. But for right now, it is not the right time to practice. I miss my lettering and hope to immerse myself back into all that is calligraphy!

Phew, that is way more than I intended to write. But there it is... my story of how I came to be a calligrapher ... an artist ... and very, very happy. :-)

The ads in Martha Stewart Weddings - 2001.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Happy New Year - 2010!

Wowza - 2010! I truly can't believe it. Back in 1999, I was an executive compensation analyst (can you imagine?!) and we were scurrying to prepare our large company for "Y2K." My bestest friend Lisa and I were in meetings on a daily basis ... what if this, what if that. We were both astounded that the year 2000 was upon us. Five kids between us and 10 years later ... here we are even more astounded 2010 is upon us!

While there are many parts of the past 10 years I'd like to erase (and hope to this year, if you catch my wide drift! ;-p), the past 10 years have brought me personal growth, knowledge, and experience that combined finally make me feel like a grown up. Horror that is, with it came the most joy I've ever known in the form of 3 very beautiful, sweet children whom I adore more than life itself.

As some of you kind readers know, for the past 5 years, I have put my serious pursuit of the arts on the back burner while I studied homeopathic medicine to become an HD (homeopathic doctor). Although that study will last the rest of my life, I have accomplished what I set out to do. And now that I live in a state where I cannot practice without 2 more additional years of medical school to complete an MD, that goal is going to have to be put on hold.

In the meantime, calligraphy has been calling me. And if ever a heart could ache to create, mine is. While I continued to letter greeting cards and such through the past few years... my penwork is grossly out of practice (get it? -- grossly? - inside joke to calligraphers)! So I decided I'm going to try to work my way through the Tamblyn Instructor.

I whizzed through Lessons 1-6 today... then was struck by how difficult it was to make a Capital C in Lesson 7! I had to use all my restraint to not just go off course. Since Tamblyn starts with business writing, no flourishes are allowed - no loops ... ahhh the discipline. But I'm hoping it will pay off with fresher letters. (OK, you can see where I let a few flourishy "t's" fly but then I gathered myself properly. :-) I did manage to squeak out one semi-decent C at the end. (See the tiny arrow?)

OK, for some reason I still haven't been able to figure out this whole processing thing on blogs so I'm now writing to you from the centered position. But that's about it anyway! Oh ... one last thing ...