Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A New Home ...

I've changed platforms... please visit my new site and blog at:

PWS logo


Thursday, March 21, 2013

White House Calligraphy

I saw this posted on Facebook by a local news channel. It said, "Can you tell the difference in this photo? One side of this invitation was written by hand, the other using a computer and printer. Is calligraphy worth a quarter of a million dollars? The White House thinks so - that's what they pay their calligraphy staff every year. We'll have that story tonight at 5:30. What do you think?"

Well, you asked - so here's what I think...

Let's start with the biggest problem - They are BOTH computer printed. The one on the right is NOT handlettered. Look at the consistency of the letters - even though grossly kerned. That is NOT hand lettered calligraphy. Neither is the font on the left.

Now for the second problem - This is NOT about being able to tell the difference between computer printing and handlettering! NOT at all. It's about social etiquette, style, presentation, and custom. I think both these invitations look terrible. But neither one represents the beautiful calligraphy of the White House calligraphers.

Is calligraphy a necessity - no. But neither is fine dining, interior decorating, designer clothing, etc. The question is -- where do you draw the line? Focusing on the calligraphers is a rouse - in light of focusing on real areas this government could actually be cutting billions, if not trillions, of dollars.

The third problem - Is calligraphy worth a quarter of a million dollars? This is the combined salary of three calligraphers. A calligrapher with the magnitude of skill to be hired for the social correspondence of the President of the United States has honed her/his skill for a lifetime. There are a handful of people with this type of skill and experience. And I can attest the hours and stress placed upon you when doing this type of work is underestimated. It is both a trade and an art. It also requires critical thinking, time management, endurance, strong grammar, proof checking, and social etiquette skills. These aren't just people who write fancy. These are educated, intelligent artists.

This touches on the fourth problem - The education of our children and their preparedness, or lack thereof, to function in our world. The majority of children in this country are no longer being taught cursive handwriting. I would dare say the majority can barely print. It won't be possible for them to endorse anything using a computer or iphone. Their personal mark will be rudimentary at best. That means an entire generation of children are not educated enough to sign their own names let alone practice calligraphy! Steve Jobs said it best regarding the calligraphy class he took, " It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture..." and we all know what impact it had on his life and our society.

I'm not saying everyone needs to study calligraphy. I am saying when we devalue a skill and art, and its place within our civilized society, the trickle down effect has significant consequence.

With that said, I am a calligrapher and I would say in all seriousness, if this government actually had any inkling to make serious budget cuts, then yes, start with the luxuries. But put it in perspective with the job that needs to be done. How much social stationary is produced at the white house daily? How much would someone need to be paid to "run it off the computer?" Would they just be trading one job for another.

There are government social functions EVERY day! There are invitations being sent daily to the highest level of government both in our country and internationally. And it's not just invitations. The White House sends a congratulatory letter to every person who sends a wedding invitation or birth announcement. There are hand addressed letters of condolence sent to the families of servicemen and servicewomen.

There is social correspondence you couldn't even dream up. They need name cards and placecards and menus. Who do you think handles all of this? If any of you have ever designed and printed a single invitation for a single party - you know it takes hours! It's not just click and print. It isn't Michelle Obama running down to a secretary and asking her/him to run off a few copies of an invite for brunch.

This leads me to the fifth problem - The media. What happened to investigative journalism? What has happened to telling the truth, no matter what? What happened to integrity, fact checking, honesty? It's pathetic. Real issue aside, this so called "soft" story is based entirely on an INACCURATE photograph! Besides the fact, the issue isn't about which looks better - calligraphy or computer printing, or can you tell the difference between them. Clearly, no one has even noticed this photograph doesn't have any calligraphy in it!

I wish the government AND the media would get serious about this issue - the desperate need for a reasonable, logical, workable budget. It seems we really have gone so far, even this most basic management skill is lost.

And so we come to our sixth and final problem - Our country is falling apart at its weary seams. Our babies are being diagnosed with autism at a rate of 1 in 50. Our children are being murdered in their schools. Our families are going bankrupt and losing their homes. Our graduating college students are facing insurmountable debt with no hope for a job. Our veterans are not being cared for and our servicepeople are being robbed of the educations they earned with their blood, sweat, and tears.Our grandparents are dying without proper healthcare, unable to afford medication, or the ability to spend their final days at rest and in peace.

Please forgive me for not worrying about the fancy writing at the White House.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Merry Merry Photo Advent Calendar

It's me! Yes ... I'm still here! Have had a fabulous, terrific year but ran out of energy somewhere around July! I saw this beautiful post on  Makinglemonadeblog.com  about photo advent calendars and was totally motivated to make one of my own. (Calligraphic of course!)

I was so pleased with how it came out, I decided to share the love with my bloggie friends. So included below is a download of the tags which you can print out for yourself and make into your own advent calendar.

I love this idea for so many reasons. It's simple but decorative, it's fun to see pictures from throughout the year, and it creates a great photo display by Christmas. You can change the photos every year or keep some - very customizable! You can hang it on a ribbon, on a board, or on the tree.

I decided to use photos taken throughout this year but you could use your favorites from throughout the years, favorite holiday photos, etc. I rarely print photos anymore so this is a fun opportunity for the kids to see some of the pictures I took throughout the year and relive those memories.

Supplies needed:

Kraft cardstock - I purchased mine at HobbyLobby. I considered it a 2-fer as it included 50 cards and 50 envelopes for only $9.99 ($5.99 using my 40% off coupon). Now I can use the envelopes for my Christmas cards!

Mini clips - purchased at Walmart for $3.88

Reinforcement labels - again Walmart for $1.00

Ribbon (3 yards) - found an awesome one with baubles at Big Lots for $2!

Photos - size 3.5x5

So for about $15 I have an advent calendar I love!

Yes - that's my real cat - who is a complete scaredy-cat but manages to get in every photo I try to take around the house!

More good news ... leave a comment below to enter a drawing to win one of the advent calendars - all made - just add your own pictures! I will draw a lucky winner on Thursday, 12/6/12, at 11 p.m. and ship on Friday, 12/7/12.

You'll still have about a good two weeks to display before Christmas. Or you can keep for next year or give as a gift! Please remember to check back on Friday morning to see if you are the winner so you can email me your mailing address! I can't mail it if I don't know how to contact you.

One winner - ribbon may differ from that in the photo - shipped to continental US only (sorry). But you can still download the files for free below!

The files also include a bonus - 3 gift tags!

Hope you enjoy! Happy Holidays!

These tags are formatted to print on the 5x7 unfolded kraft cards which is 10x7. You then trim them to 3.5x5. But you can also print them onto 8x10 cardstock and then trim to size.

Tags 1-8

Tags 9-16

Tags 17-24

Tags 25 & gift

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Father's Day [printable card]

Hello to all you out there in letter loving land! Haven't posted in a bit and I'm on the run but wanted to share this little Father's Day printable. It prints 2-up on an 8.5x11. No scaling - should print as is and can then trim with a paper cutter to 4" square.

Sorry there aren't any crop marks - eye ball it! Gotta run! Hope you like it!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Calligraphy Canvas

We recently moved to a new house. The kids decided to share a "sleeping room" and use the living room as a "hang out" room. Most people think this is really unusual but my kids are constantly playing "musical beds" and half the time they end up on a cot in our room or on the couch or ... So the room truly is for just sleeping.

Anyway, I was excited about trying to find coordinating duvet covers for a 14 yo, 10 yo, and 6 yo. I loved what we came up with and designed three canvases to pull them all together.

Not sure how long this will work out but for now, the kids love it, too.

I did the calligraphy, scanned it in, designed the backgrounds and sent for printing. Each word represents a kid - "play" for the 6 yo, "surf" as in surf the internet for my 10 yo, and "sleep" for my 14 yo. Best secret in printing canvases - CVS Photo, especially when they do 30% off which is frequently. They come out wonderful, too. See for yourself!


Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Contemporary Pointed Pen & a Give Away

Hello out there!

Well, as you can see - it's been awhile. We moved in February and I have finally finished setting up my studio. Although I have not finished unpacking boxes! But I can't wait to share pictures of my studio room! That will have to wait until I can unpack some more and take some decent photos!

In the meantime, I'm really excited to share a class I taught this past weekend for our guild here in Sarasota. The members have a range of experience with pointed pen - from none at all to advanced - so it was difficult to pick a topic. However, most had an interest in learning "contemporary pointed pen" also known as modern calligraphy or even gestural writing, the styles often seen on today's greeting cards.

I spent four weeks preparing a hand out and I was thrilled to have some fabulous contemporary calligraphers participate by sending me tips to include and examples of their work to share. Thank you so much to Masha at Ornamelle, Molly at Plurabelle, Patricia at Primele, Mara at Neither Snow and Lindsay at Lindsay Letters. A very special thank you to John Stevens at John Stevens Designs who gave me permission to use some of his work from a new book, The Art of Calligraphy and Lettering. This book is a goldmine for calligraphy and hand lettering lovers and I highly recommend it!

I used all recycled materials to put together folders and included some hand-marbled paper - refuge triangles left over from a job I did over 8 years ago for a Mercedes Benz Maybach launch party. I KNEW if I held onto them long enough I would find a way to use them! I just couldn't throw out those beautiful little triangles and now I'm so glad I didn't.

We began the class by learning about contemporary pointed pen and looked at over 30 greeting cards - all featuring a different style of pointed pen! We then reviewed the tips from other lettering artists, and finally created our own style of contemporary pointed pen using our own handwriting.

There has been much discussion in blogland about whether some of the styles of modern lettering artists is truly "calligraphy." In my book, the definition of calligraphy is "the art of beautiful writing" and beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. On dictionary.com, it even simply defines it as, "fancy penmanship." Some are of the opinion that you must study the traditional hands of calligraphy for years before you can break free and break the rules to do a more contemporary style.

I would suggest those who don't have previous calligraphy experience may have an advantage in that they are freer to express their own style. There is a free-ness, a fluidity, to these styles which I think is sometimes hard to achieve once you have spent years trying to master the "perfect" letter. It was interesting in class that some of those with years of lettering experience had trouble letting go and integrating their own style into a pointed pen alphabet. And those without lots of formal training had difficulty integrating the thicks and thins of pointed pen into their handwriting.

Master calligraphers like John Stevens clearly have a talent for developing modern styles and his years of experience are reflected in such. Some of the wonderful contemporary lettering artists of today have never had any formal training but have developed beautiful styles which are very popular.

As I said in class, the variety of styles of contemporary pointed pen is virtually limitless. Anyone who reads bridal magazines or looks at lettering in blogland knows our newest lettering artists are some of the hottest around and their styles are the haute couture for those looking for something less traditional but still upscale.  In the end, there is a happy medium out there for everyone (pun intended!).

The final project of the class used a technique from Italian lettering artist Massimo Polello featured in the book, All About techniques in Calligraphy another relatively new calligraphy book with some fabulous advice and work. We used a sea sponge to make a swash of gold paint on fine art paper. Then we lettered a quote using our new contemporary pointed pen style in a variety of directions. The results were beautiful and it was so fun to see the different styles emerge.

Some of my handouts (no, that is not my furry hand but one of my furry friends who refused to move):

I hope everyone had fun in the class. And for the artists who graciously shared their talent with us, I've sent you a package which should arrive by the end of the week. (Hope I didn't spoil too much of the surprise.) For all you other readers, let me know you are still out there by leaving a comment to enter the give away! I have one extra packet left from the class. I will use a random number picker to choose one lucky letterer to receive a packet! P.S. You don't have to have any previous pointed pen experience!

You must comment by 12:00 midnight Monday, May 14. :-)

Saturday, January 14, 2012

New Year ... new ideas...

The first month of the new year is already half over ... WHAT?! How did that happen? I know someone accidently hit the fast forward button and we've been spinning toward the future ever so quicker than before.

I made a LOT of Christmas presents but haven't had time to post the pictures yet. But I will share a New Year's invite I did. This was a really simple invitation but fun design for an afternoon New Year's Day party. The cool thing about the design was that it worked in both black and white and color.

Our Christmas cards were a bit of a challenge this year. Only because I had several ideas and no one could agree on what we were going with. I was a little disappointed in the final cards because I felt like they were simliar to cards we did a few years ago. But I guess I'm the only anal one that would notice. Also, my original idea was to zentangle the background (thus the reason the children are in patterned black & white outfits) but everyone liked the snowflake design better

I loved the ornament/snowflake shape to the cards and made the mistake of putting a hole in them and putting a string through it. I figured people would just use it to hang the card on the fridge but LOTS of recipients hung our card on their Christmas tree. Feeling a little guilty about the moral obligation/dilemna this presents to some who really don't want to put it on their tree but feel obligated.

I also added glitter to the snowflakes prior to sending. I was happy with the results but would have been more happy with one of the other ideas I had. I suppose I'll have to use one next year but my oldest is 14 and she made it known loud and clear her appearance on the annual card is reaching its end. Phooey!

Sorry it's a little late but I hope you all had a Happy and Safe start to the New Year as well.