July 2, 2014

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Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 6: Holly Monroe

Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 6: Holly Monroe


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

I grew up in a family where art, calligraphy, handwriting and faith were all important. My grandfather was a teacher of handwriting, business and shorthand in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. My mother was a fine artist (taught drawing) and my father, Clifford Mansley, Sr. attended the Zanerian College of Penmanship. (Read of his experience in Bound & Lettered Volume 11, Number 2).  In the 1960’s and 70’s, I poured over the IAMPETH newsletters at my grandfather’s house and studied the interesting letters that he and my grandmother hand wrote. Loved his capital script W’s and lower case t’s –that ended a sentence.  During my high school years, my bedroom was next to my dad’s studio.  I looked over his shoulder (and talked his ear off) while he lettered Resolutions, Testimonials and Certificates for the New York engrossing studios. In 1974, I had the opportunity to learn from my father during a Senior Project that my New Jersey HS offered. For 8 weeks I worked on Engrosser’s Script (aka Copperplate) and Old English. Oh, I was terrible, but Dad handed a few little jobs over to me and I was off and running. While in college, I made my way to several fraternity headquarters and one of them hired me to letter their membership certificates. I still work for them today! With a board propped on my college books, I lettered hundreds of certificates from my dormitory room. In 1980, I decided to start my official business, so that I could be a ‘stay-at-home Mom’ when the time came. And now, here I am, years later, with my hands full of deadlines…still loving letters! My Mission? To feed the soul by making meaningful words beautiful!


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

Flourishing or what I call ‘dancing on paper’ is a favorite expertise. I love flourishing Italic and Copperplate and have learned how to play it up on a host of other styles. Years ago, I lettered the flourishing page for the 23rd Edition of the Speedball Textbook. It’s a little tight, but open those flourishes up and voila! They are beautiful.  Although you can pick up some instruction there, I now teach a “Fantastic Flourishes” workshop, where you create a flourished piece in the round.

I typically incorporate flourishing in my Calligraphy Cruise class.

A second expertise…Over the last five years I have been creating a 144 page Book of Hours on genuine calfskin with traditional gesso and 23k gold leaf. My client asked that pages be as decorative and detailed as I could conceive, but then I’d never finish! I’m presently on page 55.




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

My family was my first influence with lettering and drawing.  In 1982, a real turning point for me in understanding broad-edged lettering was Sheila Water’s two week, 2,000 Years of Calligraphy class. Tim Botts was a huge influence when it came to interpreting the words onto paper with feeling and color. John Stevens with his strong letter forms. Reggie Ezell, Donald Jackson, Peter Thornton, Lorna Bambury and Jerry Tresser all helped to shape my gold leaf work. I’m grateful to many others for what they have taught me!

FaithIsBelieving2 NVRCarlson2b



  1. What products can you not live without?

Mitchell Pen nibs, miniature Winsor Newton Brushes (right now can’t get them), rolling ruler, watercolor, gouache, calfskin, gold leaf and my Cintiq HD24.  There are others!


  1. What advice would you give a new calligrapher?

Study and learn from good exemplars. Too many pick up bad habits from books with poor examples. Learn the discipline of the letterforms first and when you are accomplished, throw your artistic side into them!




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

CALLIGRAPHICALLY:  I have recreated, by hand, all of the Founding Documents of the USA, life size. You can see the process and result at  > The Artisans > The Gallery. My client has reproduced my replica’s on genuine vellum or fine paper with letterpress.


PERSONALLY: I mentor young women (felons, i.e. drug dealers/users, etc.) at River City Correctional Institute through a Cincinnati organization called JobsPlus.


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

Dance, dance, dance! I’ve been a part of Tango del Barrio, an Argentine Tango group in Cincinnati. Love all the Latin dances-Salsa, Bachata, ChaCha, etc.  Walking, golf, tennis, snow skiing. I do enjoy being active!


To view more of Holly’s work, visit her website at:  Also, be sure to check out her Fox and Friends interview focused on her work recreating American historical documents on July 3rd between the hours of 6a.m. and 9 a.m.

June 19, 2014


Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 5 Heather Victoria Held


 Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 5 Heather Victoria Held

Heather Portraitwebsize

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

My love of lettering began when my husband brought home a Scheaffer Calligraphy set. He thought I would enjoy using paper and ink and that he had finally found me a “ cheap hobby!” I worked with that little fountain pen set and the small booklet of exemplars and quickly found that I didn’t like it. But I began searching online and through my old Victoria magazines and quickly found that I was drawn to pointed pen scripts. I began interacting with the Ornamental Penmanship Discussion Group on Yahoogroups and found myself completely captivated by the pointed pen. With Dr. Joseph Vitolo’s encouragement, I attended my first IAMPETH convention in 2003 and have been working with the pointed pen ever since. It is still such a source of peace and passion after all these years and I can’t imagine my life without it. In my early days with the pen, I spent a minimum of 3 hours a day in practice. Now, although I take commissions and teaching jobs that take away from my practice time, I still find there is so much to learn and try to carve out dedicated time for pure practice.


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

The pointed pen and the world of offhand flourishing are my greatest expertise. I started with the book Ornate Pictorial Calligraphy by Dover Publications and tried to follow the exercises suggested in that book. I quickly found that I didn’t want to copy existing designs, but I wanted to find my own voice and style of flourishing. I worked for 18 years as a Florist and found ways to translate my floral training into the world of offhand flourishing. When I teach Flourishing, my goal with my students is to train them how to deconstruct a flourish and create their own unique designs without copying an existing design or penciling a plan. I love to share my passion for the pointed pen with others.

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

Artistically, my greatest influence is Kate Greenaway. Through reading her biography and her journey into the art world, I have gleaned a lot of inspiration. Her colour palette inspires me as well as her contrast between a strong lines and gentle colours.

When I began studying the pointed pen, my biggest influences and mentors were Brian Walker, Joseph Vitolo, Bob Hurford and Michael Sull.  Michael Sull saw my potential and began teaching me and encouraging me since my first meeting with him in 2003. I studied with him through his Spencerian Saga and through written correspondence. He gave my first “nudge” to teach as well. Joseph Vitolo was a big encourager and source of help in my early days as I struggled to learn the properties of the pointed pen and fought through the learning curve. Without his early instruction, I would have given up on the pointed pen. Bob Hurford was my first pen pal. He wrote to me in his gorgeous penmanship and often flourished birds on my envelopes. He encouraged me to flourish and we still correspond to this day. I always credit Brian Walker as the one who taught me how to see. He gave me tools to critique my own work and see where I needed to improve. I am forever grateful to these friends and mentors.

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  1. What products can you not live without?

I could not live without McCaffery Brown Ink, Finetec Gold Metallic Watercolour, Bleedproof White, Gillott 404 nibs, the Sakura Clear Stardust Gelly Roll Pen, my hot foil pen, Fabriano Artistico Paper, Colour Soft Coloured Pencils, Diane Townsend Watercolours and my penholder made by my dear husband Chris (see below for ordering information).


  1. What advice would you give a new calligrapher?

Never give up your sense of play and curiosity. Never stop practicing. Show up at your studio space daily and expect to work. Never stop learning. Never underestimate your ability to hone your own skills. Never over estimate the importance of an expert. Follow your own instincts. Create your own path. Accept criticism but don’t take it too personally. Discard that which you believe to be untrue.


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

It might not be so surprising anymore, but I am an absolute introvert. I need my quiet time and space, walks in solitude and time alone. My first few teaching engagements were terrifying for me. I had to fight through the urge to hide! But now, the thought of public speaking and teaching large groups doesn’t bother me at all.


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

I love to be outside in nature. I love bird watching, or taking walks through greenhouses, botanical gardens and butterfly conservatories. I wish I were a wonderful gardener but I am not. I love the thought of a garden but I would rather sit and read in a well-tended garden than do the dirty work myself.


For more about Heather, visit her website and blog at:


To  order a pen holder made by Chris Held:

E- mail Heather directly at or message Chris Held through facebook.

June 9, 2014

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Fun Summer Contest at Paper and Ink Arts

You know we love contests around here, so we’ve come up with a fun contest for June. Since summer is known for blockbuster movies, this contest requires you to letter your favorite movie quote, take a picture, and share it on our Facebook page or send it by email ( We have three categories to choose from-drama, comedy, and animated films. Be sure to list the movie, character, and category in your picture’s caption.

Prizes are: a set of 16 Sakura Glaze pens (comedy), a ten set of Cray-Pas Specialist Oil Pastels (drama), and a Pigma Sensei set (animated film). Each winner will also receive a burgundy tool pouch. Entries must be submitted by midnight on June 30th, and winners will be announced later that same week. We look forward to seeing what you come up with!

June 6, 2014

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Color Wheel for Kids

This past year, I’ve had the pleasure of working with the calligraphy club at a local middle school, and it’s kept me thinking about how to make calligraphy accessible for younger generations.  Further, many of our customers often inquire about products that would be suitable for their kids or grandchildren, so I’ve started looking for products that would fit those requests. One that I was excited to find at this year’s International Art Materials Convention was The Wonderful Colorful Wheel of Color by Lynn Koolish, Kerry Graham, and Mary WruckAs evidenced by the title, this book doesn’t address calligraphy, but it’s an excellent resource for helping children of all ages understand how to mix colors. Since an understanding of color mixing is not only advantageous, but also pretty necessary in the art of calligraphy, this book is a great way to build that foundation. Even for children not quite old enough to tackle the lettering itself, this book provides stellar activities. I decided to test one of the simplest activities with my daughter’s play group (who are all four and five) to see how well they could grasp the contents and how easy it would be for them perform. It turned out to be my favorite activity I’ve tried with them so far!

First, I created a kit for each child. I copied the basic color wheel page from the book onto copy paper, and then I put it on my lightpad and traced it on to a sheet of watercolor paper. I used Sharpies to label each section of the wheel with the first letter of the color(s) it should contain to help make it easier. I also gave each child a Koh-I-Noor watercolor wheel and a size 3 Niji Silverado brush. Finally, I gave each child three crayons-red, blue, and yellow.


First, just to introduce the concept of the color wheel itself and to familiarize the kids with the three colors we’d be using, we started with the photocopied color wheel. The kids used crayons to color each section. It worked somewhat well, but the crayons did not blend well when being used to make the secondary colors. That ended up being okay because it made the switch to watercolor that much more exciting!


Next, we moved to the watercolor wheels and the watercolor paper. To make it as simple as possible, we used just one color at a time. Hindsight is, of course, 20/20, and I probably should have started with yellow so that they could easily see the Ys for yellow when painting. However, we boldly began the painting section with red, painting 1/3 of the middle and the two outer sections with red. Next, we added yellow to all of the sections that would need it.


The kids were so excited to see the orange appear when they painted the yellow over the red. It was like magic for their young minds! They are so accustomed to using colors that are already mixed that the idea of creating colors was really thrilling for them. Finally, we added the blue.



Even a few moms wanted to join in and create their own wheels, and it was fun to see how much the adults and kids enjoyed working together on this activity. The learning really came to life for the kids because it was so hands-on. The moms enjoyed revisiting the lessons of simple color mixing.

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With summer here, this is a great way to spend an afternoon with the children in your life. As you can see, even those who aren’t old enough to begin learning calligraphic hands can enjoy learning a principle that can be applied to calligraphy when they are older. Further, they can apply it to their art work even now!

June 5, 2014

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Calligrapher’s Corner: Consulting with the Experts, Volume 4 Carol DuBosch

Calligrapher’s Corner: Consulting with the Experts, Volume 4 Carol DuBosch


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

My high school art teacher here in Portland, was a student of Lloyd Reynolds. She managed to include more calligraphy into the curriculumthan normal. I was quite good at it and really enjoyed learning Italic, Uncial, Blackletter and Foundational. I spent 4 years in the art room, and when I graduated I was cheeky enough to take the small red book (Lloyd Reynolds’ spiral bound “Italic Calligraphy & Handwriting”) with me. I treasure the book and the experience of learning so early what would become my life’s work.I graduated college with a degree in Graphic Design, and have stayed on the path focusing on calligraphy and teaching for the last 50+ years. Teaching calligraphy came naturally to me, since I’ve always loved to share things that I know and can do.Doing commercial work as a calligrapher began by simply saying “yes”when asked to do various things. Often this led me to some anxious moments of not knowing what to do, but somehow things turned out well enough to continue. I have learned so much by doing the commission work, and have been able to pass along valuable information about practical work to students.


This is a printed piece sent as a New Year’s greeting. The original writing of the word “yes” was done with a folded pen and the quote written with a monoline tool.


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

 I am an excellent calligraphy teacher of many scripts, book structures, techniques and design.A best calligraphic script is Bone.My favorite script is Italic, in all of its amazing variations.A most enjoyable project is designing bookmarks to print.My idea of a perfect creative activity is designing decorated envelopes that can actually be mailed.

Bone Alphabet This was created by writing the Bone letters with Higgins Eternal Ink and dropping Dr. Martin’s Iridescent Colors into the wet Higgins.

Vermilion A-Z The alphabet was quickly written on Arches Cover with a pop-can pen with bleach to define the counters of the letters


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

I learned from Lloyd Reynolds in the 60’s and 70’s, Robert Palladino, Lois McClelland and Donald Jackson in the 80’s and just about every calligrapher on the “workshop circuit” in the years since. I organize andattend the annual International Calligraphy Conferences and continue to learn new scripts, techniques, and ways to work with letters. I plan to never stop learning.Every teacher has influenced my work along the way, although I cannot quantify those experiences.

JUBILEE  This is an original embossed piece using the letters I designed, DuBosch JUBILEE Script. The JUBILEE Script can be downloaded from my website.


4. What products can you not live without?

The first media to come to mind are writing fluids: Winsor Newton Calligraphy Inks, Dr. Martins Iridescent Colors, and Walnut Ink. I’m very fond of Mitchell Nibs, pop-can pens, Pentel Colorbrushes, and Zebra G pointed nibs.

PopCan A-Z The alphabet written with Higgins Eternal Ink using a pop-can pen.

PlanA  These are Modern Square Capitals written with a balsa wood pen and the pointed pen written with Dr. Martin’s Iridescent Copper.


5. What advice would you give a new calligrapher?


Learn from many teachers. Practice every day, even it is only ten minutes. Make real things such as weathergrams, bookmarks, or simple cards. Use what you are learning in classes. Date your work, so that you can look back and see your progress as you go forward.


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

Copperplate script and flexible pointed pen are a very recent addition to my repertoire of skills. I began a study of Copperplate two years ago, and find it quite wonderful!

WillinglyFallible copy  The alphabet was written using a Mitchell Scroll nib with Walnut ink and rinsed with water. The letters were defined with copper leaf. The Copperplate script in the center is Moon Palace Sumi ink.


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

I enjoy working in my container garden where I have 400+ potted plants, playing with my five grandchildren, riding my bicycle, and folding paper.


Visit my website to see more of my work:














May 22, 2014

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Calligrapher’s Corner: Consulting with the Experts, Volume 3-Carrie Imai


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


I have had a fascination of letters since I was young, making curlies to “fancy” my writing.  In 1979, when I finally had the opportunity to take formal classes at the local high school adult education, I quickly developed a passion.  I searched out other classes to develop my passion.  I was lucky to find Nancy Ouchida-Howells who was my excellent first true instructor.  I followed that with every workshop and class I could afford…there weren’t very many in those early days.  In 1987, my then teacher, Ed Fong, asked me to submit my portfolio to the Brandes Art Institute to apply for a teaching position, which I got and began my teaching career.  It was then that I found my true calling as a teacher of the thing I loved most, calligraphy.  Since then I started a freelance business, started teaching locally and now teach at UCLA Extension and for guilds cross the US and in Canada.  Life is good.


poem on vellum copy-carrie

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


The art of manipulation and dancing the pen have become my speciality and it has infused all my lettering.   I have incorporated this technique into all my classes and have even published a book entitled, Dancin’ Pen of which I’m very proud.  Purchases of my book have said that it is like having me with them – exactly what I wanted to achieve.

Mind-carrie create joy-carrie

What advice would you give a new calligrapher?

First of all, find a good teacher who you can trust.  Someone who cares enough to find out what you need and has the skill to give that to you.  Take as many classes as you can.  That continual work and the discipline that requires will move you forward.  Try finding a small group of like-minded artists and form a study group who work independently on projects with the input of your fellow group members.  Lastly, enjoy the journey.  Embrace failure.  You learn best from your failures and what you learn will lead you to successes.


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

I have the same fears and trepidations everyone does.  I don’t know any good calligraphic artists who don’t have any fear and doubt.  The difference that experience makes is that I know that if I just begin to work, I will have a draft which I can work with and “adjust”.  And if I keep working and trust the artist, I will come to a conclusion.   And that conclusion may be simply learning something along the way.  And sometimes I will create something that pleases me.  But if I don’t start, nothing happens.  Fear gets bigger and bigger the longer you think about it.  Just begin.


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

My husband and I enjoy working out at our gym.  We have promised each other that we will do our best to maintain our health for the other.  My husband has been very supportive of my passion and my traveling and teaching.  I am so grateful to him and for finding my true calling of teaching.  It has given me joy and fulfilled me to the core.

May 9, 2014

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Showing Appreciation with Golden Acrylics

In honor of teacher appreciation week, my aim was to find a way for my daughter to participate in making gifts for her pre-school teachers. I’d entertained several possibilities, but after attending the International Arts Material Association’s trade show last week in Pittsburgh, I came home knowing exactly what to do. While at the show, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a hands-on product demonstration of the Golden High Flow Acrylics. I simply decided to recreate one of the demos at home with my daughter and then incorporate some lettering with it.

The first step of the project was choosing what to use, starting with the High Flow Acrylics and the Liquitex Free Style 3 inch brush. I selected colors I thought would complement one another nicely, no matter how my daughter choose to mix them. I also decided to have her use an over-sized brush simply because she’s four, and this brush was incredibly easy for her to work with.



To start, she took the brush, dipped it into a big bowl of water, and thoroughly saturated cut pieces of Lanaquarelle Hot Press watercolor paper. The better saturated the paper, the better we found the results. You wouldn’t want to over saturate too much as you’d run the risk of the color running off the page, but a generous amount of water improves the effects.



Next, she took the High Flow and added drops all over the paper. She was actually pretty methodical in how she spread out her colors even though she changed the order each time.The higher she held the bottle when dripping, the more the ink spread as it hit the water.

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After awhile, she became more comfortable and started dropping color directly on to other colors for some pretty nice effects. The colors blended together beautifully as well. As she finished each page, we set them aside to let them dry.

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If you look closely at this next picture, you can see the one sheet where we used less water ( in the bottom right corner, to the left). The colors are muddying up quite a bit and the overall effect wasn’t as nice as the ones that had more water on them. Also, once it dried, it was much thicker than the others.



We left these out to dry for almost 24 hours with the intention of cutting them in two and adding the teachers’ names once the backgrounds dried. I decided to do use an upright pointed pen style for the names to complement the bright backgrounds. Opaque white also seemed like it would complement the High Flow colors, so I took out a bottle of Dr. Martin’s Bleedproof White that I had bought at IAMPETH in 2011 just to see if there was any way to use it. It reconstituted perfectly just by adding water and mixing!

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My pen holder of choice was the Manuscript Black and White Marbled Holder as I’m left-handed and fare better with a straight holder. I lettered the majority of the names with the Tachikawa G nib, but I found that the hairlines were so fine that I was having to trace back over them far too much. For the last two, I switched to the Leonardt #30 because it’s much more flexible, but still has a nice upstroke. It worked even better. The name Mari was done with the Tach G and worked out the best of all the names I lettered with that nib; however, you can still see where tracing was necessary. The name Laurie was done with the Leonardt #30 and required very little tracing.

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The final step of the project was to cut the paper to fit into picture frames. I used a small paper cutter to keep the edges straight. We found simple frames at Target for the finishing touch.

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For me, the most exciting thing about the entire project was the ease with which my daughter was able to participate and create such lovely backgrounds. Because the bottles are constructed in a way that makes dropping the ink so easy, we had very little to clean up after we finished. This project can also be done on canvas and can be adapted to much larger scales. You could also do your lettering first with masking fluid and then create your background for a similar effect. However, I was really interested to see how the High Flow would respond when lettering on top of it. I’m happy to say it worked extremely well. I hope this project will encourage you to try something similar!


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