Every other summer, we have the pleasure of being the vendor for the annual IAMPETH convention. We’re even more excited than usual this year because it’s so close to home for us at its location in Franklin, TN. IAMPETH stands for the International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers, and Teachers of Handwriting. Besides holding a conference each year, the organization is active in promoting the art of the pointed pen. Current President Ann Cobb took some time to tell us a bit about what it takes to plan the convention.

Tell us a bit about your conference.

This will be the 66th annual IAMPETH convention.  IAMPETH’s class format gives attendees opportunity to experience six different classes from six different instructors during the week.  Evening activities will include a Round Robin where participants will enjoy demonstrations by fellow calligraphers, a “Writing with the Penmen” evening where names will be written by Master Penmen and Instructors, and a Silent Auction where they will have the opportunity to bid on items including vintage pen nibs, nib holders, ink wells, prints and original artwork, and countless other items.

Calligraphy by Heather Held

Calligraphy by Heather Held

IAMPETH focuses on copperplate, Spencerian, and other pointed pen lettering styles,ornamental penmanship, flourishing, handwriting, gilding, vine work, and other skills used in creating invitations, certificates, resolutions, and other documents.  While many of IAMPETH’s classes are devoted to pointed pen lettering, classes are also available in broad-edge pen lettering as well.

Calligraphy by Bill Kemp

Calligraphy by Bill Kemp

IAMPETH’s instructors are not paid to teach the classes.They volunteer their time and expertise to share with our membership, which currently stands at more than 1,050.  This has always been the tradition of IAMPETH and is one way that our instructors give back to IAMPETH and share their love of lettering.  Attendees receive a notebook containing handouts from all the classes offered – not just the ones they actually attend.  Instructors also attend classes on the days in which they are not teaching.

IAMPETH has a wonderful collection of vintage documents in our Archives.  Each year these documents are on display for our participants to study and even photograph.  Many of these documents are from the 1800’s and are the only copies in existence.  Our collection also contains scrapbooks of lettering samples from past masters and scanned copies of newer engrossed certificates created by our outstanding penmen.

What has been your favorite part about planning the conference? What has been the most difficult part?

Calligraphy by Marian Gault

Calligraphy by Marian Gault

Favorite parts about planning the convention have been selecting the location, talking with the teachers regarding what classes we would offer, working with current officers and past presidents in the details of the convention, selecting items to be given to participants in their goody bags, and seeing the wonderful handouts for the classes.

The most exciting part of this year was seeing our convention slots fill in 90 minutes.  This led to the most difficult part of the year – announcing to our membership that convention was filled and closed.

How many people are involved in conference planning?

The Executive Board and the Past Presidents all assist as needed with convention planning.  The Past Presidents are an invaluable resource in offering suggestions, resources, answers to questions, and an incredible amount of support.  But the majority of the planning, selecting, ordering, and making all the decisions rests upon the shoulders of the current president.

How did you pick the location for your conference?

IAMPETH Convention was held in downtown Nashville in 2009.  This year I wanted to stay in the Nashville area but to give our attendees another view of the middle Tennessee area.  Franklin is a reasonable distance from the airport, has wonderful hotel and convention space, and offers shopping, dining, and exploring opportunities.  The Franklin Marriott Cool Springs has been wonderful to work with in our planning, and I am sure that they will make our convention one of the best ever.

How did you select the teachers for your conference?

Calligraphy by Rosemary Buczek

Calligraphy by Rosemary Buczek

Selecting teachers was difficult.  There are so many talented members of IAMPETH, and so many other talented instructors from which to choose.  IAMPETH tradition has always been to invite our Master Penmen to teach, as this is a part of their responsibilities.  I looked at teachers who had taught at previous conventions and at what subjects they had taught.  I looked at classes that I wanted to be taught, and then matched up possible teachers with classes.  From that point it was a simple job of inviting our teachers to share this year.  This year we will have several teachers who have not taught in a few conventions, several who teach each year, and one or two who have not taught at IAMPETH before.

What are the benefits of attending a calligraphy conference?

Calligraphy by Vivian Mungall

Calligraphy by Vivian Mungall

There are so many benefits of attending a calligraphy convention/conference.  The major benefit is attending the classs(es) selected by the participant offered by outstanding teachers.  Other equally important benefits include getting to know and sharing with other attendees, shopping in person from Paper and Ink Arts or John Neal Bookseller (or both), having dedicated time away from normal everyday activities to devote to calligraphy, having time to practice new learning, getting to know the instructors, and making new calligraphic friends.

How many conferences have you personally attended? What experiences stood out to you as you planned for your conference?

I have been attending conventions since 2009.  As I thought about my convention, I thought back to everything that had been enjoyable and beneficial from past events.  I wanted all classes in one central location in a convention-center atmosphere.  I wanted all the spaces for classrooms, exhibits, and shopping areas to be on the same floor and near each other so that attendees would all be together as much as possible during the week, and so that they would be near Paper and Ink Arts, the Archives room, and the Artisan marketplace.

What does a typical day at a conference entail?

Calligraphy by Janet Takahashi

Calligraphy by Janet Takahashi

A typical day at IAMPETH sees classes beginning at 8:30 a.m.  This year we have three concurrent classes each day.  Classes most days end at 5:00 p.m. with morning and afternoon beverage breaks and a lunch break.  Events are planned each evening for attendees (Round Robin, Silent Auction, Writing with the Penmen).  Our Archives room is open throughout the convention.  We also have an Artisan market where members sell prints, hand-created pen holders, artist bridges, inkwells, vintage nibs, and other items of interest to penmen.  And or course our Vendor store is open throughout the week.  Paper and Ink Arts and John Neal Bookseller alternate years serving IAMPETH.  They always bring books and inks and markers and pens and papers and normal tools that we all use.  They also bring new tools and toys that we have not had opportunity to see and use before.  This year we are fortunate that our convention is so close to Paper and Ink Arts actual store, so they will be able to bring more supplies and will allow their entire staff to take part in convention.

At the end of the conference, what is the best thing that participants could say about the experience?

The best things that participants could say would be that they are happy that they chose to spend their week at our convention, that they learned things that they can take home and use in their calligraphy work, that they made new friends at convention, and that they plan to attend future conventions.


Calligraphy by Bob Hurford

Calligraphy by Bob Hurford

Where can interested readers learn more about your conference, see updates during the conference, etc? 

IAMPETH’s web site is:  iampeth.com

Members will be posting pictures and comments throughout the week on the various social media pages.


Unfortunately this year’s convention is completely full, but you can still join IAMPETH and find a wealth on information available in their online resources. Members are first to learn about how and when to register for the convention each year. We look forward to seeing those of you attending this summer!

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