Wedding Wisdom from Kathy Milici:Part Two

As wedding fashions change, certain colors become more popular than ever before. One of the most common color requests we’ve received this year is for a gray ink that will work well for pointed pen. Because the fine hairlines desired are not as easily achieved with acrylic inks, we haven’t had the perfect ink to recommend, and the idea of using gouache is not appealing to everyone. In part two of Kathy’s guest blog, she shares how she created the sought after shade of gray for wedding invitations using two popular inks. Enjoy learning from her experience!

A Perfect Day, A Perfect Gray

by Kathy Milici

Once in a while, in every career calligrapher’s life, a miracle happens. Such was the case last summer when a bride/client asked me to match a PMS gray color for calligraphy on her wedding envelopes.


Each time a bride asks me to match a PMS printer’s color in ink, I get nervous. What if it can’t be done? Last year, Vivian Mungall told us in an IAMPETH workshop that there are a few PMS colors that simply cannot be matched.  What would I do if this ever happened to me, a 33 year veteran (and proud survivor) of the wedding calligraphy business?


I knew that I could mix a gray color that started by adding drops of black into white, one by one. It was a good starting point, and I knew I could add other colors to get the right ‘tint’ of gray afterwards.  I also wanted a writing fluid that didn’t separate during usage.  It’s no fun having to mix the ink over and over while you’re trying to hand-letter 200 envelope sets on a deadline. I thought to myself, why not try something different this time?


I had just bought a bottle of Dr. Martin’s Pen White and liked the opaqueness of it even though it was extremely thick and needed to be watered down. For some reason, I grabbed for my Higgins Eternal Black Ink and started adding drops to the white, stirring as I went along and comparing it to the sample paint chip that I had beside me. When mixing ink to match, one must keep in mind that it will dry darker than it looks, so it must be mixed slightly lighter in liquid form.


I kept testing the darkness of the new color on an envelope as I added a few drops of black into white -darker, darker, darker- keeping track of how many drops of black ink went into the mixture so that I could keep a recipe record. Then I stopped. To my amazement, it was a perfect match!  I tried to convince myself that it was a moment of sheer genius, or some kind of mad skill on my part, but the truth is that it was purely accidental. Even better, the newly mixed ink never separated. Once mixed, it stayed mixed.  Why? I don’t know! Sheer genius, I guess.

The perfect gray!


A closer look

The gray that Kathy has created seems to be the exact shade that many of our customers have been asking for, and we’re happy to be able to share a way to achieve it! To see more of Kathy’s work, visit her website at: . You can purchase Dr. Martin’s Pen White and Higgins Eternal at our site:


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