Calligraphy Guild Showcase: New York Society of Scribes

The New York Society of Scribes began in 1974 as the brain child of Louis Strick and Donald Jackson. On September 14 of that same year, the first meeting was held. Founding members included: Elizabeth Boucher, Carlos Byron, Cherie Cone, Abigail Chapman, Peter Chronis, Bob Hostetter, Sigfried Heiles, Leona Kaufman, Alice Koeth, Frances Manola, Clark Mills, Polly McFarlin, Emily Brown Shields, Milly Van Leuven, Nancy Westheimer, Lili Wronker, Emmanuel Weiner, and Paul Freeman. From strong beginnings, the guild has continued to grow and currently has 350 members. Most members are from New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey, but others hail from across the U.S., Canada, Europe, Australia, and Japan.

The sixteen member Board of Directors for the Society of Scribes meets bi-monthly in Manhattan. Board members coordinate classes and workshops, plans events, and offers a plethora of opportunities for guild members to learn and grow. An elected committee of volunteers presents classes and workshop possibilities that cater to membership’s tastes to the Board. The membership has strong preferences for certain styles and hands, and favorites are offered each season, along with unique artistic instruction that coordinates well with calligraphy. The Society has specific contracts with the presenting instructors, and those instructors almost always stay with a host from the guild when they are teaching.

Beyond classes and workshops, the Society offers many other events. Each winter, the Annual Holiday Fair is held. This free event is open to the public and offers a Scriptorium, instructions and demonstrations, raffles, and an on-site calligraphy boutique (Paper and Ink Arts), vendors, a cafe, and a silent auction. It gives local calligraphers a wonderful chance to learn and shop! A Members’ Exhibition is held yearly at the National Arts Club, and it often coincides with the Holiday Fair. In addition, annual calligraphy lectures are offered at The Grolier Club. Further, the Society participates in calligraphy demonstrations at the Medieval Festival in Fort Tryon Park, NY, and holds a general meeting with a guest speaker each year.

Joining the Society of Scribes presents many opportunities and advantages. The guild is sustained year after year largely by the wonderful selection of classes offered throughout the fall and spring.  Members are given discounts on those classes, workshops, and programs, and receive all publications free of charge. Further, they can build relationships with other calligraphers.

For those just beginning the calligraphic journey, the Society strongly recommends finding a professional guild nearby and attending beginner classes in a variety of styles until a favorite is identified. Once the favorite surfaces, continue to concentrate on that style with advanced classes until proficiency is reached. From there, branch out and try new hands and techniques. Also, attend conferences if at all possible. The more exposure and practice, the better!

Those interested in joining the guild can join online or download a form from the website to mail. The membership year runs from January 1st to December 31st. For more on membership, contact membership@societyofscribes.org. For general guild information, contact info@societyofscribes.org, and for classes and workshops, contact registration@societyofscribes.org.  You can also find the guild on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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