October 16, 2014

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Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 11: Kathy Milici

Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 11: Kathy Milici


Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.

My love of lettering first sprang from my love of reading as a child, I think. My mother and grandmother used to take us (me, my brother and sister) to the local library often, as children. We loved borrowing and reading books! I remember my Mom would read us bedtime stories every night. It was a ritual that I will never forget. I also remember loving to write letters from early childhood. My mom claims that I knew how to write all of my letters and numbers by the age of two! There’s a note on my second grade report card (I still have it!) from my mother to the teacher. It reads, “Kathy really loves to write her letters and numbers. Is it okay if I teach her to write script?” Wow.



What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise?

Ornamental pen flourishing and wedding work. I love both the doing and the teaching of both on the national level. I feel so lucky and blessed to love what I do, and I never take it for granted. How many people get to write all day, every day, PLUS get paid for it? Somebody pinch me!

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With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences?

I started out self-taught, like so many of us. As a teenager, I was a tried and true broad-pen girl. In the early 1980’s, I found the Society of Scribes in NYC (my local guild), and I began formal classes. Trying to unlearn bad habits was very challenging for me. Then I found Sheila Waters…thank goodness! She helped me to “see” letterforms in a completely different way. Over the years, I discovered the pointed pen. Eleanor Holland and Pat Blair were among my first teachers. Now I love to learn from just about everyone, including the IAMPETH Master Penman. I feel so grateful for their willingness to share their talent with the world!

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What products can you not live without?

There are so many great products on the market that make life easier these days, and allow for a higher daily volume/production rate in my studio. Nikko G nibs, Sumi Moon Palace ink, Fons and Porter White Mechanical Pencil, Dr. Martin’s Bleed-proof White and Clairfontaine paper. ..and, of course, the Phantom Liner! “The Zanerian Manual” and Sheila Water’s “The Foundations of Calligraphy” are my most used books for reference and inspiration.

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What advice would you give a new calligrapher?

Never write on your husband’s face while he’s sleeping.

Seriously, be gentle with yourself and don’t compare yourself to others. Instead, use the work of others to inspire you and propel you forward. The world of calligraphy can be a lifetime of joyful learning. Every artist is on their own individual path and develops at their own speed. Just keep moving forward, even if it’s baby steps. Find great teachers along the way to guide and mentor you. Be willing to do the work. And educate yourself about running a small business, learn to love it, apply it, and reap the benefits of your success!

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What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?

I’ve been a library clerk, cosmetic buyer, retail manager, and window dresser. I’ve worked on cruise ships. I owned a window display company for jewelry stores for over 25 years before coming to calligraphy full time in 2001. I love cats, coffee, chocolate, classical music, and a good eggplant parmesan. Oh, and I cry at parades. I wonder why?


When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing?

Teaching lettering, reading books on lettering, talking about lettering, writing about lettering, dreaming about lettering, and studying lettering online and in historic documents. Did I ever tell you that I love lettering? :)


October 3, 2014

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Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 10: Randall Hasson

Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 10: Randall Hasson


  1. Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.


My familiarity with lettering began as a high school student where our art teacher had a semester set aside in which we studied calligraphy. The interest continued as a student at Long Beach City College in California. I was looking for a job and found an opening in the “Art Department” there – and what the Art Department ended up being was a place where all the professors would come to ask for someone to make a sign for their class. The studio was run by an old sign guy named Jim Ennis who probably had forgotten more about lettering than I’ll ever know. I remember using a Speedball D nib pretty much exclusively during my two years there instead of a traditional flat broad edged nib – that D series oval was a traditional pen for lettering posters with the basic Roman forms and helped me get a sense of proportion in various lettering styles.



This “first piece” from 1993, above, was done one evening as a Valentine’s day present while my wife was asleep. It was done directly with no prior layout, a calligraphic felt pen and colored pencil, and was done obviously without an understanding of counters, interior spacing, letter spacing, and flourishing.

All this was put in the past as I began a family and a career in sales. About 15 years into the insurance industry, the economy went into a recession in the early 90’s and for three years in a row I had 10% more production and 10% less income. I was frustrated and needed a creative outlet. I had picked up that old standby, the Speedball Textbook, and done a couple of calligraphic pieces, and then I decided I’d “teach calligraphy” at our local Michaels Art Supply because teaching would make me have to learn more.

The need to learn more came very quickly and I began searching for a class that I could take on gilding. It was then that I was directed to Marsha Brady at Cerritos College in CA. After a very brief conversation with her, I knew I was in for an education. I cancelled my teaching at Michaels, and began to make the hour and a half drive twice a week to take her classes and complete her 2 year course which encompassed all of the fundamental concepts and materials of calligraphy as well as layout, design and book arts. As with many others in the class, I re-took the program for two more years of “directed studies” to begin to work with concepts in areas of interest to me personally including the incorporation of artwork and calligraphy together.

My introduction to the Calligraphy community at large began with my attendance of my first International Lettering Arts conference “Discoveries” in San Diego CA, 1998. There I was privileged to be a main-stage presenter along with Lisa Engelbrecht on the “I Madonnari” street painting project we did the previous summer in Santa Barbara, CA. I was asked to do another presentation on “The Urban Art Trail” of San Diego at the next year’s conference “PenUltima” in Lethbridge Canada, and have since taught or lectured at approximately 15 International or regional conferences.

From the year 2000 until 2014, the Randall M. Hasson Gallery operated in the Del Mar area of San Diego CA and subsequently in Santa Fe NM near the internationally famous Canyon Road arts area.I believe my “career” in calligraphy really began with my first calligraphic painting called “Family Blessings”.  My brother and sister –in-law bought a house. As the house was being built and before the drywall  was up, they wrote their favorite scriptures inside the walls of each room as their way of “blessing” the home. Those scriptures became my text and my first project using acrylic paints in large format canvas. It also developed my interest in symbolism and always being conscious of the “why” of what I am doing in a painting, which is a great part of my methodology in teaching.



  1. What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise?


With respect to our Calligraphic community I believe it would the application of calligraphy combined with image through the medium of acrylic paints and inks. More specifically, through my own experimentation I have developed methods of creating the appearance of texture while maintaining an essentially flat surface on which to write, and the ability to use text in layers.


These methods are combined with a study of composition and symbolism in my traditional Calligraphic painting classes, and have naturally evolved into methods of creating textures with acrylic paints and inks on heavy watercolor papers such as those contained in the “Mahara Journals” which I have recently designed for Paper and Ink Arts to bring to market.

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Working with these Journals has led to new areas of study including the development of personalized letterforms through the de-construction of alphabets we don’t recognize, which turns the calligrapher into a designer and emphasizes the awareness of letterform construction, rhythm, spacing, weight and direction in creating texture.

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In another direction a collaborative study project with a Poet illustrating his poetry in sequential art. Sequential art in book form involves being aware of the viewer as they experience the text through pace, rhythm, emphasis, imagery and the use of white space in composition.




  1. With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences?


Marsha Brady, through the program that she and her husband Larry developed at Cerritos College, was obviously my primary influence. From that program I was introduced to and able to study with many varied masters of the calligraphic art including Glen Epstein, Jean Larcher, Peter Thornton, Ewan Clayton, Denis Brown, Georgia Deaver, Martin Jackson, Gottfried Pott, Carl Rohrs, Suzanne Moore, Michael Sull, Michael Clark and Thomas ingmire.


Each of these instructors had their own specific influence on my calligraphy, but Denis Brown, Peter Thornton and Michael Clark were in the right place at the right time with analogies that really clicked at that moment in honing my calligraphy and much of my abstract journal work today owes greatly to the influence of Thomas Ingmire. I am also greatly inspired by artists of the past like Old Masters Da Vinci and Vermeer as well as 20th century illustrators like Andrew Loomis and Ernest Watson from whom I have learned much about essentials of the human form and perspective.


  1. What products can you not live without?


Certainly acrylics which are primary to my work (I am an Educator for the Golden line of products), and acrylic inks like the FW brand. I daily use parallel pens, and the ever expanding and improving lines of markers such as Zig and Sakura are vital to the thinking process in my journal work and for working with ideas for paintings. Obviously, the new Mahara Journals, which I recently designed, are extremely important to me.


There is an interesting story to my work in Journals, but suffice it to say I had been working with and teaching in journals like these when the supply dried up and the supplier decided no longer to import them. By this time, I had developed classes around them, and wasn’t satisfied with the types of journal currently available. Through research and a little tenacity, I was able to contact the exporter of the original journals I was so drawn to, and over a year period design and develop the journal. Paper and Ink Arts then became the necessary distribution link to bring these fabulous books to market.

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  1. What advice would you give a new calligrapher?


“It is not the time, it is the miles” is a phrase that sticks in my head (probably from Carl Rohrs) in reference to becoming experienced in calligraphy. This speaks of drawing table time to me, and working to develop skills – sticking with it until you have enough knowledge to actually know what questions to ask the masters. It is at this point, when you no longer have to think about materials or basic structure, where letterforms can be refined and innovation can take place.


  1. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?


I don’t snore no matter what my grandson says. There is no proof, only vicious allegations.



  1. When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing?

I love to cook.




October 2, 2014

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Stone Carving with Reggie Ezell

This past weekend ,the Nashville Calligraphy Guild hosted Reggie Ezell for a stone carving workshop. The class was held here  at Paper and Ink, and we were amazed by the process. From stone selection to design creation to finished process, the idea of stone carving seemed a little less intimidating with Reggie’s expert guidance. Students were first shown the stones Reggie himself had carved.

The first exquisite stone was inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello:

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The second stunning stone had a religious theme and showcased a beautifully designed cross along with exceptional lettering:



Armed with inspiration, the twelve brave students embarked on creating stone carvings of their own. Before any precision design work could be done, the stones had to be smooth. Sanders hummed while stone canvasses were created.

DSCN8278Terry Cobb    DSCN8280Michael HallDSCN8283Beth Paul

DSCN8286Reggie Ezell, Judy Bilbrey, and Dana Jacobson


Thankfully the weather cooperated beautifully, and the outside work spaces functioned well. Each student was able to have an individual work station and plenty of room to work.  When it came time for the precise work of carving the design, students used dremel tools to create words and/or images.

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DSCN8306Dana Jacobson


Students were able to progress well throughout the weekend, and we were pretty impressed with what we saw. Below are two pieces in progress created by Nashville Guild members:


DSCN8309 by Ann Cobb

DSCN8312by Rose Wathen

The students thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and wonderful stones were created. These words from a class evaluation sum it up best, “Yet another wonderful Reggie weekend!  He is one of the most dedicated, organized, caring, and compassionate teachers we have ever had.  He puts so much time and effort into preparing for his classes.  Always a pleasure to take a class with Reggie.  Always so much learning and sharing and teaching.  Great weekend!”

September 10, 2014

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Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 9: Julie Gray

Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 9: Julie Gray

1. Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.
Ah! Many many years ago! I grew up with a father who had gorgeous penmanship. I was always fascinated watching him write. Then I kept scrapbooks of photos and put titles on them with lots of made up crazy lettering. When in art school, I took lettering, (calligraphy wasn’t taught back then) so memorized and learned many of the old typefaces. Remember Cooper Bold and Bodoni? It wasn’t until I joined the Calligraphy Guild of Columbus (Ohio) back in the 70’s that I really began studying the calligraphic arts in earnest.

2. What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise?
Well, I wouldn’t call it “expertise”, but studying calligraphy has led me in so many wonderful directions. When in 2008 at the Chicago conference I studied with Dave Wood, a paper cutter from Australia, I felt like I had found my calling. I love, as we all do, the feel of paper, whether writing on it, or forming it into shapes. Forming it into the shapes of letters seemed the perfect fit.


3. With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences?
Being a ‘professional student’ I have had the privilege and honor of studying with so many great calligraphers and artists. I have to say the ones that have had the most influence on me have been Sheila Waters and Carl Rohrs. They both have the knowledge and talent that you can never get enough of. I will continue to take classes with them for as long as I can. But I have studied with so many great ones, they have all been an influence on what I do, each in their own way.


4. What products can you not live without?
My X-acto knife!!  And my very old Letraset spoon burnisher that I used in the ‘olden days’ for Press-type, and now 40 years later, I find I use it every day.

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5. What advice would you give a new calligrapher?
Learn from the best masters you can. Whether it be their books, or especially with them in person. Attend as many calligraphy conferences as you can afford. I always come away from them with new knowledge and enthusiasm. And the best teachers in the world are there.

6. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
We love to do home exchanges! We have done 7 in the US and Canada. When we lived in NC, we did an exchange with a couple in Santa Fe. She was a textile artist, and he was a sculpture. Ohhh, what a studio they had! And living there for 3 weeks inspired our love for New Mexico.

7. When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing?

August 21, 2014


Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 8: Cherryl Moote

Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 8: Cherryl Moote

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Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.

When I was attending university back in the 70’s I had a job in the library. One night I was down in the stacks reshelving books and I fell over one. It was Edward Johnson’s book. I flipped through it and was intrigued by the vinework instructions so I signed the book out. I spent months doodling vines in the margins of my Shakespeare notes in order to stay awake during the exceedingly boring lectures given by the professor in that particular course. I found an Osmiroid pen one day in the bookstore and moved on to teaching myself lettering.


What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise?
I was shown how to make a stab bound book during Reggie Ezell’s class in Toronto in the early 90’s. I fell in love with making books and while I have stayed actively involved in lettering I consider book making and teaching others how to make books my area of expertise.




With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences?
I’ve been exceedingly fortunate to have had a long list of phenomenal teachers who I have studied with and who have influenced my work. I credit Reggie Ezell with the bulk of the technical knowledge I have about tools and materials. Ann Hechle has been a mentor and teacher at the symposiums I have attended in Sunderland and I have been greatly influenced by her philosophy and the sense of presence she brings to her work, and, in particular by her work with Sacred Geometry. Ewan Clayton has also been an inspiration because of his keen curiousity, the generous way he shares his knowledge and expertise and his magnificent laugh.

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What products can you not live without?
First and foremost, my Omnigrid ruler and my Swann-Morton scalpel. For calligraphy I love working with graphite and always have a broad edged sketching pencil, a 2B Staedtler 2mm pencil and, my newest obsession, a Palomino Blackwing close to hand. For paper my go to is almost always Arches Text Wove or the fine Japanese papers made of gampi and kozo that I have available to me in Toronto through teaching for The Japanese Paper Place.


What advice would you give a new calligrapher?
Commit yourself to daily practice. There is no substitution for time on task. And don’t teach yourself. It took me years to undo work habits that I learned teaching myself and it left me feeling insecure about many hands, my italic in particular. I often tell people that autodidacticism is not for wimps. Find someone whose work you respect who will respect you enough to give you honest, encouraging critique.

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What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
In addition to having written a dozen books on bookbinding and paper crafting I have been quietly working on a trilogy of novels which would be considered to be in the genre of speculative fiction. As I have been working on the novels I have been creating many of the artifacts for the world I am writing about. In 2016 I hope to publish these novels and have an exhibit of the artifacts as a way of celebrating my sixtieth birthday.


When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing?
Playing with paper would have to be one of my favourite things. We have a wonderful Miniature Labradoodle named Abbey and I love to play Frisbee with her and take her for walks and she loves to have me captive on the couch and get her ears scratched and her belly rubbed. In the winter I curl which guarantees that I get my exercise in and have some social interaction because Canadian winters can be isolating if you let them. I am a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) and I love to tangle or sketch in the evening. I also love to read, particularly essays on a wide variety of subjects and also science fiction. And I do love to travel, and cook, and quilt and bead and have coffee with friends… Life is very full indeed!



August 6, 2014

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Fun Summer Movie Contest Winners

This summer, we offered a lighthearted contest to encourage our customers to pick up their pens and letter their favorite movie quotes. We enjoyed all of the submissions and hope you all enjoyed creating them.


Our three winners are:

Godfather III quote

Beth Paul

Quote from Michael Corleone in Godfather III



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Kristin Herman

Thumper  from Bambi

Animated Feature



Shari Denfeld

Quote from Sister Mary Clarence in Sister Act 2


July 31, 2014


Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 7: Timothy Botts


Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 7: Timothy Botts


1. Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.  I discovered the Speedball lettering book in our art room in sixth grade when I began working on a circus poster and copied letters from there. But it wasn’t until my freshman year in college when I discovered calligraphy and found myself in Arnold Bank’s calligraphy class, required of all art majors!


2. What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise? I was fortunate to get a graphic design degree from Carnegie-Mellon University which gave me the basic tools for expressing the meaning of words and arranging them with images. I always tell students: one-half of calligraphy is learning to make beautiful letters. The second half is learning how to arrange them on the page–which is design.


3. With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences? In addition to Arnold Bank, my primary mentor in calligraphy, I was inspired by the work of Corita Kent and Ben Shahn, both of whom worked with sacred words in very child-like non-traditional ways. I was also fortunate to live in Japan for three years and was influenced by the art of brush writing, asymmetry, their daring use of space, and simplicity.


4. What products can you not live without? The primaries of gouache, Holbein pearl gold, sumi ink in the short round green bottle, Fabriano Artistico soft press paper, Brause nibs, a large Japanese pointed brush, and several sizes of broad-edged brushes…I also love the magic of art masking fluid!


5. What advice would you give a new calligrapher? Make sure you are practicing from good models such as Sheila Waters and Charles Pearce. Volunteer to do calligraphy free of charge for causes that you believe in and to bless other people. Keep a sketchbook–I have fifteen that represent 45 years of work. 


6. What is something people would be surprised to learn about you? My wife and I have thirteen grandchildren, with some of them already doing calligraphy. 


7. When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing? I enjoy riding my bicycle–especially along Chicago’s lakefront, playing the piano, and gardening.



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