SpeedBall Textbook 24th Edition, Celebrating 100 Years

It’s Easter, and I’m late with this news, but last November 2015, just after I moved from Ohio to Oregon, the Centennial Edition of the Speedball Textbook, A Comprehensive Guide to Pen & Brush Lettering, 24th Edition, finally hit the market! Yah! My father Cliff Mansley, Sr. and I are both honored and grateful to be included among so many accomplished and inspiring lettering artists. I snapped a photo of our pages below and offer you a brief description, plus links to purchase the book.

Speedball Textbook, 24th Edition in which Holly Monroe and Cliff Mansley are both featured.

Holly Monroe and Cliff Mansley, Sr. showing off the cover of the 2015 Speedball Textbook, 24th Edition in which they are both featured.

For a little $15. book the Speedball Textbook, 24th Edition packs a big punch. Students of the written word can see a wide variety of lettering styles as well as fabulous finished examples from contemporary calligraphers of today. The added bonus in this edition, edited by Angela Vandalis and Randal Hasson, is that it salutes lettering throughout the last 100 years.

Speedball Textbook 24th Ed, Cliff Mansley calligraphy of I Corinthians 13

Love bears all things from I Cor 13. Cliff Mansley’s calligraphy in the Speedball Textbook, 24th Ed.

In the front you’ll find a fold out page featuring the covers of 24 past editions of the Speedball Textbook. It moves on to Tools, Tips and Techniques, lettering styles through the ages (pointed pen, broad-edged, brush, hand drawn, etc.), commercial lettering and so much more. If you’re a lover of letters you’ll want a copy! Order from www.JohnNealBooks.com or www.PaperInkArts.com two small businesses that cater to the Lettering and Book Arts community.

Speedball Textbook 24th Ed with Cliff Mansley flourished title

Bottom right: Flourished title of a poem about Scout Leader’s Wives. Lettering/Flourishing by Cliff Mansley, Sr.

Speedball Textbook 24th Edition featuring Holly Monroe's flourishing instructions.

Holly Monroe’s mini-course in flourishing appearing in the Speedball Textbook, 24th Edition, 2015, page 55. For a more comprehensive weekend workshop, FANTASTIC FLOURISHES, contact Letters@HollyMonroe.com.

THANK YOU THURSDAY calligraphy cards


My art director, Susan Birnbaum, DesignDesign Inc., has started a movement for being thankful! She calls it, “Thank You THURSDAY” It’s a day every week, to specifically remember family and friends who have expressed kindness to you in any way with a handwritten greeting card. Personally, I place greeting cards at my kitchen table, with lovely complimentary stamps, so I’m ready to write!


The butterfly card, is published by DesignDesign. The variegated letters are formed by dropping watercolor into the wet letters, a technique that I’ll be demonstrating at the IAMPETH conference in Indianapolis, Thursday, August 7th – Round Robin evening event. You can use any number of papers but Lanaquarelle or Arches Cold Press watercolor paper work very well. I typically use Winsor Newton or M. Graham watercolor and love the vibrant results!


Below are several greeting cards that I’ve designed for DaySpring. All in black and white until their printers stamped foil on the colorful backgrounds.

TY35754.72The greeting cards can be purchased in my SHOP under the Card category.



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 www.Patrigraphica.com (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 (www.Pergamena.com) 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…..http://video.foxnews.com/v/3656931244001/teacher-brings-historic-us-documents-to-life/?playlist_id=930909787001#sp=show-clips

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….



Lighthouses & Basketballs

Fifteen Lighthouses for the Willmore Lange Reunion 2013

Fifteen Lighthouses for the Willmore Lange Reunion 2013

Just in case you think a calligraphy career is boring, take a look! You might find a few of my unique projects amusing!

Summer brings vacations and families together! Sharman Willmore brought me these 15 creative lighthouses to letter on. She will give one to each of the families attending their reunion, which is near the ‘real’ lighthouse. A great family memory. Her father built these approximately 15″ tall replica’s. I lettered the relaxed script with a miniature WN sable brush with yes, acrylic ink. Amazingly, the ink was kind to my brush!

And if those aren’t a unique enough request for you, two years ago, I lettered on 200 Basketballs….

 The BB's were lettered with Limited Edition numbers in preparation for Oscar Robertson's signaturesKatie Pavel, from University of Cincinnati’s Athletic Department, called me to letter the Limited Edition numbers on beaucoup Basketball’s to be signed by Oscar Robertson and given to UC’s athletic supporters. I was a tad disappointed when I learned that I was to letter them in Oscar’s presence at the game but then switched to a room in advance of the game, but such is life! This way, the ink was dry when he signed. It was a simple job, but great fun to have a change of scenery.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERACan you believe I ever finished? I used a broad-edged pen with acrylic ink and it took about 3.5 hours (everyone asks)! Below is Katie and her co-worker as they orchestrated the project.