Calligraphy Carved in Wood, Stone and Slate

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.SmolenAmyGregory2aAfter 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.

IMG_4038Here 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.

Music2BWThis 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? CaptureLastly, 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! 51077

Calligraphy Cruise February 2016 to the Western Caribbean



Come join me and others as we sail to the Caribbean for fun, sun and to enhance your calligraphy repertoire of skills. Calligraphers and NON-Calligraphers, all welcome -Friends and Relatives, spouses and significant others. We are changing cruise lines this time to Royal Caribbean as Holland America sold out the route and week we initially chose. Details are on my flyer above, which can currently be seen on my FB page and in the SHOP on my website. Correct information will soon appear on my CLASSES section. The wrong date is on my Home page and will be corrected. The correct sailing dates are February 20-27, 2016.

                              $100 deposit will hold your place in the class.                             Book early for best cabin selection.

Calligraphy for the Ballerina Wedding

Last year, I was sitting at the drawing board, when Sue Corral called from  She had been at a speaking engagement in NYC, when the Martha Stewart Weddings people asked her to design the stationary for “The Ballerina Wedding.” Tiler Peck and Robbie Fairchild, the two principal dancers in the New York City Ballet, were getting married! Willingly, she submitted samples from several calligraphers to the ballerinas, and unbeknownst to me, mine had been selected! Tiler and Robbie wanted lettering that was traditional, tailored and elegant. I was honored. So Sue and I put our heads together to come up with something special. Sue, had the design reigns and sent multiple mockups, but the ballerinas had simple, elegant taste. They landed on one, that incorporated the motif from the Cathedral floor in the picture below. Enjoy the professional pictures taken by Photographer Charlotte Jenks Lewis,

Both the lettering and the tri-floral ends of the design were letterpressed in gold foil. Originally, the calligraphy was created in black…

Invite-15-d21569Letterpressed type and “Dinner and Dancing” calligraphy was charcoal grey.invite-017-d21569I am sharing a close up with you….one might think that the gold lettering is typeset,  the letterpress makes it look soooo perfect. But no, this was all done by hand at the drawing board, retouched in Photoshop and digitally transported to Sue. The calligraphy was much more delicate than it shows here. If you are not familiar with  letterpress, the process always thickens the intended fine lines.invite-1747-d21569invite-1750-d21569Menu’s were letterpressed via Sue, as well. In an effort to elegantly use the Menu as a Place Card, I was asked to personalize each one with gold gouache. I used FineTec gold, but have to say that the marriage between the paper and the gold was a delicate one. I painstakingly went over each name a second time, so that the hairlines would 1). show up better 2.) while not losing their delicacy…so had to keep a light tough. I achieved the look that I wanted. (Perhaps soon I will post a closeup of a few of those.) Here is their extraordinarily romantic table setting. CL44c46-R01-006I was pleasantly surprised to see the calligraphy initials that I created for their names, foiled into the cover of Tiler and Robbie’s Guest Book. 

The initials also appeared on their peekabo wedding programs. Again, the symbol from the Cathedral floor the cut-out on the cover.


Another surprise was to see the calligraphy delicately carved into the lid of the wedding ring box below. How sweet is this!?


The table numbers came towards the end of our project. Tiler and Robbie had the originals. I scanned them, so that both Sue and I could reproduce the table numbers, in case others wanted to use them. My Epson printer prints on two sided digital Entrada fine art paper, so it is easy enough to do.

theroom-032-d21569The wedding favors, were two special little cookies in a box, that the Martha Stewart Weddings people hired out. My lettering did include a flourish, which I thought for sure would be perfect for a ballerina wedding. I had envisioned them reducing the design so it would fit on the box. Instead, it was removed. Nevertheless, I’ll show you! It’s below the last picture in this blog.

To see all of the wedding credits and pictures, go to 20th Anniversary Edition > Tiler and Robbie wedding > Slide show > page 44, to see all of the fabulous people who helped to make their wedding a day to remember.


May these two beautiful ballet dancers, live happily ever after. What a fabulous couple they are…with a bright future! tiler-robbie-005-d21569 (2)ASweetPasDeDeux_1200Again, check us out: Calligraphy: Holly V. Monroe, Stationary Design: Sue Corral,  and Photography: Charlotte Jenks Lewis

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

Calligraphy in California!

September 2014 – I continued my summer fun by heading out to teach in San Diego and Huntington Beach! Wendy Watson-Diedrick worked her little fingers to the bone arranging a fabulous line up of classes for me to teach as well as a talented group of people to study with. She also opened her home to me and drove me to Huntington Beach. Gracias! As you can see from the picture below, the San Diego crowd was a large one. Thank you to Terry Bajo for taking over the workshop duties, and to Victoria Kibildis for hostessing me at Wendy’s house, when Wendy had a family wedding conflict. A big thank you to Linda Mirth who orchestrated the Huntington Beach class…found the venue, rounded up the students, the housing and fixed a delightful lunch for Wendy and me at her home.


Back to San Diego. What you can’t see is that we started on a Friday afternoon with a 10 person “Business of Calligraphy” seminar. Topics in the session ranged from copyright, to workshops and retreats, taking the orders, pricing and scheduling our day. We all grew by sharing our insight and expertise.


Friday evening, the guild hosted my “Calligraphy Today” digital presentation to a group of about 25. I walk you through my personal calligraphic background along with pictures of my studio, my father’s and mother’s work and later, I promote colleagues of mine, by showing select pieces of their work with different applications….lettering on glass, clay, tables, walls, violin, logos, greeting cards, books, etc. The lettering arts are still alive and well in this current day and age. Nothing can replace the human artistic touch!

PastedGraphic-1The weekend’s 2-day workshop was my popular Fantastic Flourishes class. Students learn the basics of flourishing on Saturday and then create a circle or a spiral, interlocking the flourishes on Sunday. What seemed to help most was, thinking-out-loud as I penciled in the flourishes on a circular design. I walked away without calligraphy pictures from this class (so San Diego…send examples to me when you can!)

IMG_2877Above, hostess Victoria introducing me to a San Diego beach! Glorious! Below is her penciled spiral complete with interlocking flourishes. Great job Victoria….now to finish!



Monday, Wendy and I drove up the coast to Huntington Beach, where we met with Linda Mirth, who graciously orchestrated the evening Decorated Letters classes there. It was hot, hot, hot! Still there was a wonderful attendance of about 18 students, putting their hand to creating beautiful letters. Here are a few…..first, Wendy’s decorated S with Seashells…..IMG_2986A very clever shoe makes the crossbar of a G, representing a family’s initial and interests…I need the name of the talented designer!! One of their exercises was to illustrate the letter.


Nancy Kazanjian created this lovely “H” below….she is planning on adding another ‘musical’ layer to her creation. This exercise was exaggerating a part of the letter.


Below, Carole Johnson created this flourished “B” combining a more Fraktur looking B with flourishing….


Stephanie Chao worked through the exercise of decorating “on” and “in” the letter. There were more, but these are a few of those who created the letters in about 5 hours or less.


And below is Stephanie, Carolyn, Chris and Wendy smiling in the front. Here we were in Huntington Beach. Thanks to all of them for a wonderful California calligraphy experience!

IMG_2981IMG_2876IMG_2980At the front table, Sandy and _________. Back from L to R, Linda Mirth, ______ and ______