Friends! Callligrams are so much fun to create. They are shapes of people, animals, places or things in which the words form the image. I have a few that have been in the public since 2005, but Fall 2023, I was asked to make another commemorative print for the Women’s Night of Worship for Riverwest Church in Lake Oswego, Oregon. My assignment was John 1:14 as the Bible Study was focusing on the Book of John. The design was to be reds, greens and cozy….thinking particularly about the word ‘dwell’ as Jesus came in the flesh to dwell among us. My daughter said when she read the verse, it made her think of a door. So I drew a funny little cabin. I showed it to my group leader, Jan, and she suggested that I design the cabin to look like the Women’s Ministry leader’s cabin in Montana. Here is the result….500 were gifted to attendees at Christmas.
Cabin Print with John 1:4. Towards the bottom, I was compelled to add a particular scripture below the cabin. Think about it..if Christ came in the flesh and dwelt among us and He was full of Grace and Truth, what does that mean to us? Well, in part it means that the God of Glory came to be with us, to offer us a second chance if we sincerely ask for His forgiveness. So it made sense to put the verse….’Behold, I (Jesus) stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him and he with me.” Can you picture Him, the God of the universe, knocking at your door? He loves you and wants to spend time with you. He offers you this gift.
Now, onto some older calligrams.
Back in 2005, when Abbey Press was still in business, I was asked to create a horse with the words “What Horses Teach Us” for a sweatshirt. The wording that they gave me, had advice for people with a horse twist. The words were terms or expressions that people use to refer to horses. This is my first calligram that went out to the public on a sweatshirt.
I loved making this, so Abbey Press agreed that I could make another horse, if I revised the wording. Below is my horse along with my wording.
I had such a great response that I designed a dog and a cat. One Thanksgiving when my kids and I were visiting friends at their lake house, we all sat around and thought of phrases specific to dogs, cats, pigs, birds and trees – advice to people with an animal twist. We had a hilarious time with everyone’s witty words. I have created the Dog and Cat calligrams, but yet to do the other 3. Below are the results. You may purchase them as framable prints or greeting cards on my website – links below. (Red is toned down in dog print). Prints do not have my website written on them.
When I ask a client if they have a favorite lettering style, they often answer “I want calligraphy”. As I have learned, calligraphy is the umbrella word for lettering created by hand. It is defined as “the art of beautiful writing” and it encompasses many different lettering styles. That said, when a new student comes along and wants to learn ‘calligraphy’, I ask them, do you want to start with the pointed pen or the broad-edged pen. Many don’t know how to answer. They didn’t realize that there are two different basic types of pens that they can start with.
“Ostinato” in stylized script and “Love” in the Old English style on a handmade ‘paste paper’ background
Pointed pen lettering looks something like this….with many variations!
The broad-edged pens that I use are in the picture below. I love to use the wooden double-ended holders because the Mitchell pens that I use are labeled 0, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, and 6. I can use 5 holders which keep all 10 pens at the ready for me to use daily.
Mitchell pens in double ended wooden holders. Purchased through John Neal Books.
Finally, I have a wonderful turntable pen/brush holder, so that I can easily find my pens. Note that I have labeled the sizes, for easy retrieval while I’m working. May God bless your life and I hope to see you in an upcoming workshop!
He was a great Dad and I will miss him! Ninety-four productive years and the second generation calligrapher in our family. He mastered the art of engrossing and shared his heart through the words that he penned plus so much more. His was a life well-lived. A life of purpose, excellence and industry. From a loving husband and father, to a calligrapher, a career with the Boy Scouts, classically trained vocalist, dedicated to his faith in God, and a life of service.You can read his obituary here: CLICK (we forgot to add he was an active Rotary Member)
Dad lettering for a demo….
But this is a CALLIGRAPHY blog, so let me share some memories of my father as an engrosser (aka calligrapher) as I saw him. Cliff, grew up in Philadelphia. His father and my grandfather, Walter, was a teacher of shorthand, penmanship and business courses at a local high school. In the years 1943-1947, Walter was taking a correspondence course at The Zanerian College of Penmanship, Columbus, OH. In a 1946 letter to E. A. Lupfer, Walter asked Earl about their summer Courses. Can you believe! Six weeks of instruction was only $30. So once out of the Navy (age 19), Dad journeyed off to take 2 months of intense study at The Zanerian. Later he completed the Engrossers’ course and worked on the Ornamental Penmanship correspondence courses. Can you believe he practiced 10 hours a day back then!? He became quite good and was even asked to become a White House calligrapher (which he declined and went off to the Wharton School, U of Penn and a career with the Boy Scouts). You can read detail of his Zanerian experience here: http://www.heirloomartists.com/blog/?tag=bound-lettered
Once on a family vacation, Dad took us to the Zanerian College (mid 1960’s) and I recall meeting E. A. Lupfer and receiving a Zanerian pen and pencil set. The college seemed to be phasing out at that time. In the article (link above), Cliff/Dad shares some of the companies that he freelanced for. I do remember when the IBM certificates would arrive at our door. I was in Junior High at the time and Cliff trained me to use a T-square, to draw the pencil lines on the certificates and when he finished the names in Engrossers’ Script, I would erase the lines. A penny a line! Those were the years that my bedroom was right next to Dad’s studio. Late at night he would often be completing a resolution, testimonial or certificates and I would look over his shoulder and watch as he formed the letters and beautiful vine work. These were special bonding moments with Dad. He specialized in Engrosser’s Script, Old English and some other styles from the Zanerian Manual. I sure remember his ink, Gillott nibs, oblique pen holders, his large bottle of Arnold’s Ink, shell gold and agate burnishers.
In 1974, my Senior year, Dad tutored me for a season in the lettering styles that he knew and loved. Then he pushed me to take on some paying projects. Ohhhh! I wasn’t very good, but he insisted. The next year, when I went off to college, he said, now, you can go get a job at McDonald’s or you can work on your calligraphy skills and look for ways to make money with it. He taught me how to find clients and sure enough, I landed some work! To this day, I still work for one of the organizations.
During the late 1970’s the calligraphy world had a revival and national Conferences soon began. Dad and I enjoyed going to the calligraphy conferences together. We attended a few IAMPETH conferences in Ohio, where the penmen would dazzle me with bird flourishes and gifts of pen nibs. Later we met in cities from East to West Coast and Canada for the International Conferences. A great father-daughter shared interest, we sure had fun comparing workshops, meeting new friends and learning how to lay gold leaf together. Dad was an enthusiastic member of the Portland Society for Calligraphy, a very active guild. I would fly out and visit him for the conferences.
Part of a Portland Society for Calligraphy exhibit with William Stafford quotes. Clifford D. Mansley, Sr.
When he retired from the Boy Scouts, he and my mother enjoyed a second career with their home-based calligraphy/art studio, creating designs for hospitals, colleges, businesses and individuals. Words have meaning and Cliff always found deep and profound words to pen. He expressed his heart through his words. Always purposeful, he wanted to build character in young men, so Dad sold his designs and started a fund to keep Chaplains in the Boy Scout summer camps.
Cliff and Jean in their Lake Oswego Studio, a picture that appeared in the newspaper.
Holly and Cliff, together, in 2016, we were featured in the Centennial Edition of the Speedball Textbook.
I’m sure I can think of more, but for now, this brings me up to Cliff’s last several years. As mentioned, he went to Wharton ’51 at the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoyed going to the Alumni meetings and every August, they would host new students from the Portland area. Ben Franklin was the founder of Penn, so Cliff created reproductions of The Virtues and Precepts of Benjamin Franklin (above) and took them to the picnic. Even at 92, Cliff gave a history lesson about Ben and gifted the students with the design, encouraging them to ‘put it on your dorm wall’. 🙂
My mother had dementia and Dad lovingly cared for her. It broke his heart, when Jean Hollingsworth Mansley passed away in March 2019. Then Cliff had his own health struggles. While in assisted living, he set up his calligraphy table with pen and ink and would letter the names of his caregivers. In the last year, he attempted one last undertaking….I had recreated all of the Founding Documents of our country – the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. www.Patrigraphica.com Dovetailing with that, Dad attempted to start a speaking contest in which kids around the country would focus on an aspect of one of these Docs and learn what our great country is all about. He was not able to see this through. He fell on April 30th, 2021 breaking his clavicle and 2 ribs and just could not recover from this. He passed into Eternity on May 25, 2021. He loved the Lord and loved serving others.
If you would like to see Cliff’s work or purchase reproductions go to Cliff’s website www.HeirloomArtists.com (go to Portfolio and SHOP) or contact Holly at www.HollyMonroe.com and set up a studio appointment to see a broader range of his originals and reproductions.
I have been absent for some time from the Blog-o-sphere. My parents hit their 90’s and the wheels started falling off, so for a season, I have been attending to their needs. My father, Clifford Mansley, Sr. was a wonderful engrosser and studied at the Zanerian College of Penmanship. I have a boatload of his work in my Oregon studio. He is now in assisted living. As I go through his supplies, I occasionally find treasures.
This past Saturday, I was sharing some of my gold leaf experience with engrossing expert David Grimes, most particularly, the Cennini gesso method for raised gilding. In the process of cleaning out my gold leaf drawers, I came across an envelope containing pumice and some directions for it’s use. What interests me is that it came from the Knoedler Engrossing Studio in Philadelphia, a studio that my father used to freelance for, when we lived in Germantown in the late 1950’s.
In the picture, you will see directions for the use of pumice (note: he also called it French Chalk) on sheepskin. Engrosser’s used to use sheepskin for diploma’s. It was a big business back then, hence the expression/question, ‘Where did you get your sheepskin?’ i.e., what college/university did you attend? I recall my father sitting at his drawing board hand lettering names on certificates and creating resolutions for very accomplished people, as he worked for Knoedler.
Pumice on a skin, pictured below. It’s very fine. Grittier than baby powder, much finer than sand.
Although I have some sheepskin in my flat files, purchased from Steve Ziller, Sr (of Kansas City) before he passed away, I currently use calfskin. I find that calfskin is less greasy than sheepskin. It is more of an off-white color while sheepskin at it’s finest, is whiter. Both, in my estimation, need the help of pumice to draw the grease to the surface, especially if the skin sits for awhile. Process: sand skin with fine sand paper, rub in pumice and brush it off. Once this simple process is completed, you will achieve more precise pen strokes and finer hairlines.
Calfskin is pictured below with a little aside. Did you know that the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were all ‘engrossed’ on calfskin? Go to www.Patrigraphica.com to see my rendition of the Founding Documents, i.e. The Charters of Freedom. I’m guessing that they may have used pumice on them, too!
Numerous projects to share with you as I catch up on my blogging! I’ll be back soon!
It all started with the wedding box. My son Josh started his Heirloom Artists Furniture Studio, now working from New Hampshire. Amy Smolen, a dear friend of his wife, Emily’s asked him to design a wedding box for her upcoming wedding. They wanted their names carved in it. Of course, Josh’s thinking went to calligrapher Mom – Holly, me! So while I was on snowy visit with Josh and Emily, I sat by the fire and sketched the names for the box. Because Josh was hand carving this box, the outline was all that was needed.After Josh carved it in wood, he built the box…..
Put a finish on it and took on his first gold leaf project. A few tips from Mom, but he forged ahead on his own.
He then put an additional finish on the box. Once that was on it, the little flecks of stray gold didn’t show. All that effort took hours to carve, build, finish and lay gold. It drove him to the purchase of a machine that we can program to carve the lettering or images into wood, slate or stone. Yahhhh! I’m excited.
Here are a few mock ups we put together. The machine should arrive in late May 2015. This mock up shows how slate might look with a Music quote on it.
This wood mock up shows one of Holly’s calligram’s….Horse Sense. (I have a Dog and a Cat, too.) Either a paper reproduction frame for your home or….how about this wood design for your barn? Lastly, although I didn’t create these designs, this shows you how beautiful carved stone is. Great for outdoor signs, indoor artwork…family logo or monogram? The options are endless. I can’t wait to get started with Josh! And yes, we can lay gold leaf in the lettering of your project. Let us know when you have something in mind!