Thanksgiving Place Cards with quick Brush Lettering

Each year my friends, Tim and Teresa Cleary invite two families to join them for Thanksgiving at their Elk Lake cabin, Chateau Relaxo. It’s a fun several days full of puzzles, games, occasional polar bear leap into the lake, hot tubbing, paint ball, movies & reading, an annual pumpkin toss and just catching up with each other. The Thanksgiving dinner is cooked by all of us, so it’s delicious. We share the cooking load. Teresa reminds me to ‘bring your calligraphy pens’. She provides the colored paper and each year, we try to do something different with the placecards. Here is a sample from this year…I used gold gouache applied with a Kolinsky brush #4 round. Freehand!

IMG_3266And here is one of my favorite pictures from a past pumpkin toss!

Thanksgiving Pumpkin Toss

                             Emily and Josh Monroe, Heidi and Phil Lofton,                                       Mike and Kari Rogers, David Strife, Emily Cleary

The Patrigraphica Project – Recreating the Founding Docs of the USA

ConstitutionWeThePeopleHVMSmFive years ago, I began working with client Ryan Thelen, a Cincinnati school teacher fromDater High School, who values the Founding Docs of this great country of ours. He wanted his students to see a life sized copy on parchment, so that it had more impact on them, but after a thorough internet search, he found nothing! Unbelievable! All that’s left of them are faded copies in a dimly lit room at National Archives.


Ryan and I put our heads together, experimenting with techniques to get the most accurate reproductions of the Bill of Rights, the Constitution and finally, the Declaration of Independence. He explains some of this on his website (when I have a little more time, I will add to this post more detail as to how we did it.) Now, citizens can purchase life-sized copies of our Founding Docs on genuine parchment (calfskin) from his website. Monticello also sells the Declaration.


In the meantime, after all of our efforts, we were interviewed in NYC on Fox & Friends, July 3, 2014. Originally, all three of us were to be interviewed about our part….Holly the calligrapher, Jesse Meyer ( the tanner or parchment maker and Ryan. In the end, we appeared at the end of the program, with Ryan as our wonderful spokesman.

Above is a picture on the Curvy Couch at Fox & Friends, Fox News studio, NYC.

Below is a link to our interview…..

Calligraphy Cruise to Alaska Holland America June 2014


Come join our creative journey to Alaska with instructors Holly Monroe and Gary Lord. There is still time to register! The ship is filling, but some cabins and spaces for the Calligraphy Cruise workshop and Decorative Painting are still available! Hurry and snag the cabin that fits your budget. We sail from Seattle June 21-28, 2014 on Holland America’s msWesterdam. A beautiful ship with a first class, window lined classroom allows us to work in comfort! Loved it when we sailed to the Caribbean! There are approximately 20 hours of classroom time – scheduled so that you see all of the sights, get off at all of the ports of call, enjoy the 5 star dining and evening entertainment and other amenities on board. Even a Dancing with the Stars competition on-board. Download Flyers for both the workshop and the cruise here. Tax deductible for calligraphers, decorative painters or artists in business. Call me! I’ll fill you in on the details.

Holly sharing Alaska Cruise details at Gary Lord's Prismatic Painting Studio. Gary on the left.

Instructor Holly promoting Alaskan Cruise at Gary Lord’s Prismatic Painting Studio. Gary on the left. Gary’s studio has won 9 national decorative painting awards in the last 9 years! Wow!


Calligraphy Studio Open House

Thursday, December 12th, 2013 is the second of my Calligraphy Studio Open Houses. My doors are open from 10:00 am – 8:30 pm. You are welcome to come! I’ve been doing calligraphy for close to 35 years, so it’s not hard to decorate 6 rooms in my home/studio with a variety of framed originals, reproductions (at great prices)-some of these matted and framed as well, mini-prints (a great gift size), greeting cards and some other gift items. Come be inspired, sip hot wassail by the fireside, enjoy a few delicious cookies, music of the season and if you bring a friend you’ll receive a free mini-print. This year, the snow has set the holiday mood! Thank you to my faithful past clients and greetings to my new customers! Here are a few pictures from past Open Houses….

Below…last year, getting ready! Caught me with my shoes off…

Holly Display Walls

Below, hostess Terri making a sale by the fireside.


Shoppers in my studio….


The dining room table displays greeting cards and mini-prints.


Hostess Julie lighting the candles….hope that you’ll join us! Call me if you have questions.


A Modern “Book of Hours” on Calfskin with 23k Gold Leaf

Have you ever lettered and painted on genuine calfskin? Laid 23k gold leaf on a handmade gesso base? (Italian recipe). For over 5 years, I’ve been working on a very detailed, modern day Book of Hours – 144 pages in all.  Creating miniature designs with these materials, the best of the best for a calligrapher, has been a delight!

BookOfHoursOne Christmas, when I was wondering how I was going to manage financially, a new client took an interest in my work. He is a lover of handmade books and asked me to make his third. It’s a book of quotes that speak to Ron’s heart and soul…that celebrate Time, Seasons of the Year, Season’s of Life and Eternity. This unique, one-of-a-kind little book is about 6.5″x 9″ in size and only the facing pages completely harmonize with each other. A high end ‘picture book’ of sorts. “Make each page as ornate as you can conceive,” he said. “This project is a gift,” I said, “I’m grateful.” The pages are ornate, but I think if I went as far as my mind could truly conceive, I would never finish. Applying the tiny little strokes with my Winsor Newton Miniature brushes takes hours and hours. A labor of love, for sure!

One of my specialties is Flourishing. I just love working the lines/shapes until the design says ‘extra special.’  Below, see the first page of my client’s
personally authored quote about TIME, enhanced with modernized italic flourishes. (There are 3 additional pages to his thoughts.) He is quite the Renaissance man.

TimeIsLifesVitalCoinThe roundel design below is at the end of the first chapter, pondering Time. Recently, calligraphy guilds have asked me to teach workshops focused on ‘flourishing in the round.’  Come join me sometime!

GodShakesHisFistThere are about 30 more pages or so between the little roundel and the title page to the Seasons chapter that you see below. This is one of my more lively pages–it was lots of fun to think up all of the little seasonal details. (The horizontal gold bars on a page indicate the beginning of a chapter.)

ThereIsNoSeason2A previous article in my Blog shares a bit more about the Book of Hours. Also,
The Greater Cincinnati Calligrapher’s Guild met in my studio to check out my initial progress on the book and to discuss gold, vellum and design. Thanks for taking a look! I’ll post more designs in the future….