Mainly Menus

Lately I've been turning to cookbooks when I sit down to practice calligraphy. I write out the recipe names, ingredients, directions, and notes in no particular layout and focus solely on letter forms, slant, and posture. If I practice with inspirational quotes or excerpts from literary fiction, I tend to get too caught up in the saying or message and end up making the session more about presentation than actual calligraphy practice. For whatever reason, this doesn't happen when I use text from cookbooks as fodder for practice (although I do get pretty hungry).

Anyway, I've spent some time refining my calligraphy skills and testing out a few new-to-me techniques for writing out menus, and I've been pretty happy with the results.

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I'm also finding my stride with style. The more disciplined I am in my practice, the more I see a certain style emerge, which has been very gratifying. 

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Each tutorial and workshop that I've watched or participated in has taught me something new about how to approach my practice, but it really is all in the doing. It's easy to get caught up watching demos, reading blog posts, or simply scrolling through websites and Instagram looking for tips and style inspiration. Nothing beats picking up a pen and putting nib to paper, though.

Merry Little Christmas Cards

One of my favorite holiday rituals is writing out Christmas cards. Before I became interested in calligraphy and lettering, I used to dread having to write out all those addresses! Now I find it fun because I get creative with my writing style. Even though it takes longer to produce a ton of perfect envelopes, I really enjoy immersing myself in the process, and I savor the time I spend doing it because it makes me feel festive and Christmassy. 

I experimented with a few different calligraphy and lettering styles this year, which was half by accident and half on purpose. I wanted to create a few different batches of envelopes in various styles, and it became necessary to do so when I encountered some issues with my ink and nibs. For some reason, the Bombay white India ink that I used kept drying prematurely on the nibs and became very difficult to write with. It didn't help that the envelopes weren't the smoothest, but I powered through what I could and opted for a white gel pen to finish the rest. Envelopes are calligraphed with ink above and lettered with gel pen below.

The calligraphed envelopes have a refined, crisp look to them, which is undeniably pretty. I do love the whimsy of the lettered envelopes, though.

Some envelopes ended up being craft paper with red ink. Oddly enough, the red India ink worked well the whole time.

If you sent Christmas cards this year, I hope you had as much fun with them as I did!

A Midday Menu Board

I'm so thrilled to have received a positive response from my postcard mailing! Within a day or two, I was contacted by French Press Bakery & Cafe in Needham, MA to create a menu board. This is one of my favorite local cafes, so to say that I was happy to hear from them is an understatement.

The details were pretty simple: the owner needed a large sign listing the cafe's midday menu. This was something I needed to create completely from scratch! The final board measures just over 7' x 2'. I sourced the plywood, had it trimmed, and primed and painted it myself. The same goes for the frame—I proposed a few different options, and the owner chose this classic style which I stained and lacquered. I am in LOVE with the color of that frame! It's a weathered grey, which coordinates so nicely with the cafe's cool, modern aesthetic. 

Then there's the lettering! The owner was drawn to the hors d'oeuvres chalkboard menu posted in my gallery, and he wanted a clean and contemporary look for the board. I adapted the printed font to create a more streamlined uppercase style and combined it with the calligraphy style of the script. I think the result is beautiful! White ink on a black board with a grey frame = perfection! 

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Mail Doodles

My BFF's birthday is coming up, and I'm sending her a little something in the mail. 

I made this label using a recycled paper grocery bag (one of these days I'll remember to buy a roll of kraft paper), a Tombow brush marker, and my trusty Copic Multiliners. My friend's name is written in whimsical calligraphy while all the other lettering is in a playful serif style. I added the doodles because the label looked too plain without any embellishment, and I didn't want to overdo it.

Doodling seems like such a hot thing right now. I've discovered so many Instagram accounts where people are posting doodle diary drawings. Doodle diaries—that's probably the technical term. Autobiographical doodles? Anyway, they're cute, and I wanted to give it a whirl, so I drew myself and my friend. I can't wait to send this off in the mail!

A Pretty Postcard

I've been working on a little postcard project for my business that I just recently had printed. My goal was to create something that I could send to shops and restaurants in my town and neighboring towns to advertise my lettering and calligraphy services. I wanted it to be cute and not overly solicitous because I really despise the "Call now!" and "Contact me for a quote today!" kind of language that is so often used on mailed advertisements. 

I wanted mine to be simple and attractive while being informative but direct. Postcards, after all, are small. There's not much room for tons of writing, and brief phrases are more likely to make an impression on someone who is spending two seconds looking at a random postcard they received in the mail. 

I painted a watercolor wreath to frame the words "lettering" and "calligraphy," and I chose a few keywords for the bottom that apply to both restaurants and boutiques. At first I thought about creating two different postcards, one specifically for restaurants and eateries, and one for boutiques such as flower shops, but it was more economical to combine the two. Plus, flower shops may not have menus, but they do have displays and create arrangements for events. Displays and events could be relevant to restaurants, as well. 

Because there was limited space to feature my calligraphy and lettering, I chose to include my Instagram handle and website so people can easily view photos of my work. 

I'm excited to send these out! I'll be keeping my fingers crossed in hopes that I get a good response from them.