CUSTOM WEDDING DOCUMENTS

Weddings, weddings, weddings! This is the time of year when preparations are being made. I receive phone calls for numerous types of wedding documents. I will picture them below with brief explanations. Perhaps you’ll get a few ideas….

This first picture is a framed GUEST SIGNATURES gift. The brides father, my client, requested flowers indicative of Colorado in all 4 corners, their names and space for a certain number of signatures. He also specified the colors.

At first, he wanted people to randomly sign. He came back to me later and said that he wanted the doc to have a more organized feel and would like penciled lines. I gave him a Mars Staetler eraser so he could remove the lines later. (I will do that for you, but he was in a creative career, so he could handle this!) For those who want the lines inked in, that is definitely possible. I either place them with a ruling pen and ink OR a Zig or Pigma Micron Pen. These are fade proof, water resistant and archival so I recommend that guests sign with them.

This next piece is a the WEDDING WISDOM that the pastor shared with the couple at their wedding…..flourished and simple. Italic lettering.

The picture below is a Quaker Marriage Contract.

It includes the bride and grooms name and other important information. This one more traditional in feel with the flourishing, Old English and Engrosser’s Script. (Older technology leaves me with a less vibrant copy….sorry about that!) I could email you a close up of the script, if you’re interested. Bound & Lettered, Volume 10, Number 4 has an article about creating these documents.

 

Wedding Vows

couple wanted the Three Sister’s Mountains with a border of Juniper and another of Sage which was reminiscent of their outdoor wedding. The borders divided their vows in three sections. A lovely burled frame finished the look for their home. They had sweet words, but didn’t want the world to see! I wanted you to see the layout and the borders. The elements were in the setting where the wedding was held.

And then there was this little piece. Silver and black on handmade paper.

A sweet little gift from groom to his bride….

So many options for calligraphy related to weddings. You are only limited by your imagination! Calligraphy expresses your favorite words to your ‘most cherished’ and creates an heirloom of your love for the next generation.

CHALKBOARD CALLIGRAPHY – Fan into Flame

My studio work takes me in so many directions! Chalkboards have become very popular for signage at weddings and for stores. (See my chalkboard post for my daughters wedding.) This past week my church requested that I letter on a 9′ chalkboard to bring home a scripture verse that was the focus of the international IF: Gathering 2018, telecast at Riverwest Church….as well as many others across the country and world. I was given a script version that the conference had designed, but decided to take things a step further and design my own. Below is a picture of the finished work. Beyond that, I will describe how I created the artwork including the tools and materials that I used. This one took me about 7 hours to create. 

Since I have been creating designs since about 1980, I’ve learned that I have to sketch out an idea first. It went from a very rough pencil sketch on copy paper to an actual size template on brown butcher paper. I then taped the brown copy to the chalkboard.

Some people chalk the backside of the paper to transfer, but because this was so large, I used white Saral paper, a transfer paper that I use for many projects. Although you can’t see it, it’s taped behind the brown paper. My happy discovery was that the white lines were as easily wiped away as the chalk lines. Below is a picture of some of the supplies that I used. Chalkista markers….with the pointed tip (they had a great rating online, but I found that with this large board, the rounded tip wore down on the white. The Jumbo Bistro white marker was helpful for the larger areas, the smaller markers for detail. Also pictured: scissors, pencil, artists tape, rulers, white Saral Transfer Paper in roll form. I also used NuPastels for some of the color. It smudges quite a bit, but gave me a soft effect on the berries and leaves. The Dover book of Banners, Ribbons & Scrolls is a handy resource that  I had on hand. I was grateful for the article that colleague Kathrine Malmsten wrote for Bound & Lettered, Volume 15, No. 1 , Chalkboards Aren’t Just for Classrooms Anymore!, as it helped me zero in on the process and materials.

Below is a picture of the piece, in progress, once I transferred the outline to the chalkboard. (This was a handmade chalkboard made by Jenna Gilchrist’s husband, painted with chalkboard paint). If you look closely, you can see the white lines on the bottom half of the chalkboard. 

And here is another little quickie tent sign that was lettered for the event.

 

The design was well enough received that I made it into an art print in three colors, plus a greeting card. You can order from my website…. Fan into Flame. Below are pictures of the new art print and greeting card color options. Since I lettered this one on my drawing board, there are some variations from the original. 

 

A Book of Remembrance – Hand lettered

As the holidays arrive, we embrace those we love and enjoy their company. Yet, there are those who we love, that are missing from our midst, as they have ‘graduated’ from this life. It can be painful and lonely without them so it helps to remember them in a warm and sensitive way.

As a calligrapher, I attempt to do just that.  I have been called upon to create either framed Eulogy’s or Books of Remembrance that capture special traits and memories of a loved one’s life….a treasured tribute that can be passed down through the family.  I will share with you one book in particular, that I created in 2017.

My college room mate’s husband, Hector Dalton, called me to memorialize Beth’s father, Dr. Robert Lincoln Mather. A gift that would go to Mrs. Mather. Hector gave me a lot of freedom in creating the book, but said that he would: 1. Like it to be in blue (family favorite colors) 2. Bring in the 1950’s as that was Dr. Mather’s special era. Since I knew Dr. Mather, I threw in a couple of interpretive ideas as well. He was an eye doctor with 4 fashionable daughters and a wife, so I wanted to include eyes and glasses to bring out his career and family in a lighthearted way. Some of the pages lent themselves to illustrations so you will find a goat, cat, dog, skunk, chickens, a car and a harmonica, as well. Below, I will share the cover and title page and then back up to show you a little of my behind the scenes work.

Credit goes to Jim at Ohio Book (Cincinnati) for creating the lovely binding, debossed gold name and decoration, sewing the pages together, plus attaching the hand marbled end papers that I purchased from Talas in New York. (It took me quite awhile to pick a paper that matched the goat skin. Since I was in Oregon when I created the book, I actually bought and shipped 4 sheets of 2 different colored patterns, so Jim could pick the closest match for the blue leather cover).  The cover is Hudson Calf Leather in Electric Blue from Pergamena in New York. I so appreciate their quality calfskin and leathers for my projects. They are one of the few tanners left in the USA, so help me keep them in business!

Above is the title page for the book. It includes some simple vine work, the color blue, eye glasses from the 1950’s era and one set, signifying Dr. Mather. Note the stethoscope, since he was an Opthamologist. I especially love to work on Twinrocker Paper because of the handmade quality and deckled edges. Note that the top edge is straight. I had to cut one large sheet into two, losing a deckled edge. Therefore, I had to alternate the deckles with straight edges within the signatures.

Now, I’m going to back up a little and show you some of ‘roughs and research’ as the project unfolded. Pinterest and the internet were helpful resources. An old Speedball Textbook had some lettering styles for the simple Decorated Capitals.

I laughed my way through researching the unique eye glasses from the 50’s. 

Below you will see some of the unique shapes often found on signs or advertisements in the 50’s.                                                      These made a nice little field for the Drop Caps to sit on.

After collecting ideas for the pages, I cut tracing paper to size and penciled in all of the words. I discovered that I had to add more pages than I thought. I initially thought I’d need 18 pages, but went to 24 in all. As mentioned, I left room for small illustrations as they came up in the stories that Hector shared at Dr. Mather’s funeral.

After transferring the pages to the Twinrocker paper, I began lettering in the simple Foundational style,                                                                                   so the text wouldn’t conflict with the artwork and caps.

 

Next, I painted all of the little decorative caps with their funky background shapes and little 23k gold stars.                                                                                   Remember how the 1950’s art sometimes had those twinkly little stars to show a gleam? The blue matched the cover of the book and the gray was a color in the marbled paper. 

The little illustrations and 19 eye glasses with eyeballs came last….below are a few of the pages with illustrations.

This book took me about a month to create. Between designing, ordering supplies, laying it out on tracing paper, lettering 20 some pages, painting and illustrating, it took 5 times what I originally thought I would take. (BUT, it would be far too boring to just have text, when Dr. Mather was full of personality. So in came the illustrations for the stories).

Side note: If I were to add one thing to this project, I would like to see a leather slip cover/case made to slide the book into.

So I hope that this gives you a little insight into my process. Now you know a unique way to memorialize a loved one, in a way that reflects their personality – a special book that can be cherished and passed down through the generations. Commissions welcomed.

Family Trees – Lettering Your Lineage

For over 35 years now, I have been asked to take on Family Tree projects. After creating a number of them, I’ve designed a workshop, teaching calligraphers and artists how to lay them out in a multitude of ways. A few of them will be shared below. Probably the two favorites have been the Berghel Family Tree, which was about 3’x5′ or so and shaped like a tree. It included birth death and marriage dates. A couple on the trunk of the tree has ancestors in the roots and descendants in the branches.  I sure wish that I had a better picture of this. I’ve learned since, that on large pieces, I should take it to a photographer who can capture the fine detail. 

A second favorite layout has been the circular Twinrocker paper with feather deckle for smaller families, again, tree shaped. If you look closely, the image below has Laotian names over on the left side of the tree. My client kindly sent me the names in the Laotian alphabet, which helped tremendously.

The family below had a favorite tree in their yard and had me paint two-tone oak leaves with gold centers. Lots of detail! Note the float mounted handmade paper. You can frame in a circle or square and then put a handsome frame on it.

Nevertheless, what I call ‘straight line’ charts are still popular and those who choose them, often like to put crest or coat of arms in the layout to fill an empty space in the chart.

 

 Besides trees and line, you can create the family tree in fan shape, circle, wreath (names on leaves), you can put or use a transfer technique to place photos, or you can create little illustrations of homesteads or family hobbies or businesses, etc.

It has been a privilege and an intrigue to create family tree books or albums. The chart folds into a front pocket in a leather book, then each new family has a heading in the book and articles, birth/death documents and other inspiring pieces of information are included. This layout can really bring the family to life, making it much more personal. The book below was hand bound in green leather by Gabrielle Fox who also made a clamshell box with special end papers.

When starting a family tree the most important thing that I ask clients to organize for me are the family names. Make sure that they are clearly typed out in their generations.

By organizing this for the calligrapher, the client themself a lot of money and prevents errors.

Family Tree’s are extremely time consuming. Mainly because as you pencil in names, there is often the need to shift names this way and that, if your original placements prove to be off a little. That being said, if you’re creating a straight-line chart, a calligrapher should start to layout the longest generation of names. Why? Because once you fit that generation across the page, you know how wide a space should be allowed for each name in the longest line of names, you will know how much space to leave for the names in other generations. This way, you give the names and page consistency.

As you consider designing your family tree, you can add other elements. One client had me put every name in a little red box and each generation had a different decorative gold gilding around each box. Another client featured the old photos of the couples in the family on the tree. Yet another tree was for an organization…it showed how the organization grew and what new organizations grew out of it. The options are countless! I’m sure that you have plenty of great ideas of your own.

(Since I created the above family tree on calfskin, I’ve learned a new method for securing the skin. It keeps it taught while still allowing it to move).

If you’re reading this and considering having your own family tree completed, mine begin around $500 and have run up to $3,000. Some could go higher. Year 2017. I often need about a month or so to complete the tree. Pricing depends on the number of names, what dates are included, layout, illustrations, tree leaves, etc.

I’m happy to speak with you on the phone if you would like to explore family tree options further!

Best of Show, Oregon State Fair

What a nice surprise! Last Friday night I was awarded Best of Show at the Oregon State Fair 2017, Calligraphy Division. The cash award made it an even sweeter win.

To submit an entry to the Oregon State Fair, the calligraphy has to be created within the last 2 years. That is always a challenge for me, since so much of my work goes directly to my clients. My assistant, Heather Barton (who is also a calligrapher and prize winner), remembered that I had the ‘Achiever’ original remaining…..scroll down….

Reproductions are available!

‘Achiever’ was a piece that I completed for Mason, Ohio, client Dawn Shiver this past winter. She and her husband own Shiver Security Systems, Inc. in Mason and were looking for some special awards for their top salesmen. Dawn commissioned me to rework the wording and create the artwork, which was later scanned, retouched, color altered and finally high end reproductions were printed one at a time from my Epson R3000 printer on Entrada digital paper. The original was created on D’Arches black 140# paper, with tinted Dr. Martin’s bleed proof white to help the capitals pop. Brown gouache was added to my gold Winsor New metallic gouache to give the script more of a bronzed look. Fabulous Frames in Cincinnati, enhanced the awards with beautiful frames. DesignSource in Oregon, framed the winning original.

Achiever, Best of Show, Oregon State Fair 2017

Achiever – Best of Show, Oregon State Fair 2017, Calligraphy Division