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Becker Gallery Art Show: Process

I have wanted to document the details & work that went into creating all of the pieces in my art gallery show. In a few words: it was a big ol' mess.

Each piece was created using a variety of items from nature. For all pieces using a charcoal effect, I mixed a stick of charcoal dust by shaving it into a cup, soot (essentially, the same thing), & water. The reason I added a bag of soot to the mix was to help give my charcoal + water mix more substance, since I was using this mix as my "ink" to scribe with my calligraphy pen. Without the soot added, the "ink" was too watery & thin to work well flowing out of the calligraphy nib. It also helped to add a subtle "dirty" effect to the finished piece, which I kind of liked. All pieces with white writing was used using a white charcoal stick. 

With some of these pieces, I also wanted to steer away from my need for perfection in my work, & literally let my writing tool & concept of nature guide me, not my controlling hand to create a perfect letter. It was difficult for me to let go of the goal to create nice-looking letterforms, but I kind of enjoyed the end product of some of the pieces looking more nostalgic in this way; almost like that of an old-fashioned, handwritten letter. No erasing allowed, no going back over to make it look just just...was.

Some pieces were created from a strong sense of procrastination. This "L" masterpiece didn't quite make the cut...

...speaking of other pieces that actually didn't make the cut was the one above. It's ironic, because it was this piece that inspired the idea behind "Nature's Way with Words" as my theme. It seemed too literal of a piece (almost like, "duh, turning twigs into writing utensils, captain obvious."), so I went toward the direction of more subtle uses of nature to focus on the "natural" artwork itself, not the literal translation of nature-to-writing-using-nature. Make sense? It does if you don't think about it.

Other pieces were created using raw pigments. It's a dangerous job, really (for those of you who don't know, generally speaking, raw pigments are fine dust particles that can be mixed with adhesives, such as water, oils, etc., to create paints. It's the natural way to make your own paints). The fine dust particles, if breathed in, are very toxic, so I had to makeshift my mask, since I didn't have any on hand. Scarf + Mom's dental gloves for the win.

I wish this photo would show just how vibrant this green was. Using raw pigments to make my own paint was more addicting that I anticipated. It's amazing how much more vibrant the paint colors are when using raw pigments instead of already-mixed paint in a tube. I might have just been converted.

Speaking of being converted, I am Not converted to dealing with moss ever again. I had big ambitions for this piece--I wanted to carve into the moss a message using a calligraphic/lettering style, & it turned out to be a big ol' mess & very time consuming. But, I didn't give up. I had collected some moss around the area, & from an art store, & learned that mixing egg yolks & water to the moss helps it become manageable. Thank you, Lord. However, it was still difficult. I used half a can of spray adhesive (whoops, not a natural element, I know!) to adhere the moss to the surface, & take away teeny portions of it where I wanted the lettering to show through in the negative space. Hours upon hours, & a sore back later, here is a close up of the final product:

Truth be told: it wasn't 100% what I had envisioned; however, I let my original vision go & welcomed the idea that 1. I am only human, & 2. the fact that I did the best I could only shows my humanity; & therefore, it fell into the theme of "nature" that much more: Nature runs her course, & some things are what they are accordingly (this is what I kept telling myself & how I talked myself out of eliminating it & the hours I spent on it out of the gallery show line-up).

So, there you have it, a little peek-inside the studio as I gathered some of the pieces to fit within a theme. It was challenging, but it also served as inspiration & a spark for me to create more original artwork. Some of the "favorite" pieces will be translated into ready-made prints into my shop & available for purchase, as well, so I will keep you posted on when they'll be available!


Becker Gallery Art Show at Otterbein University: January 8-March 31

Last Winter, I was asked to showcase some of my calligraphy work at my Alma Mater, Otterbein College (now Otterbein University). My first reaction? Oh my goodness, yes! My second reaction? What did I just get myself into? I create a lot of artwork; but it's mostly for others. I don't keep most of it, as it's all on a custom-made basis. But, it's always been a dream of mine to have some of my artwork in a gallery... I just never thought it would actually happen. So, this was an opportunity to not only try my hand at some different methods of creating art; but also, make each piece work cohesively together & flow, as a gallery show should.

What a challenge. How do I create a bunch of calligraphy pieces without making it all look the same? Calligraphy is a beautiful artform, don't get me wrong, but to display 10-15 pieces on a wall of the same artistic medium was something I didn't want to come across as monotonous. So, I challenged myself to use something other than calligraphy ink to bring it all together: things of nature. 

Each piece I created came only from nature: I wanted to connect the flow of a calligraphic stroke & letterform with the everflowing nature of...well...nature. From there, the concept snow balled from one connecting concept to the other: 1. calligraphy is a slow-paced artform. You can't rush through it for it to be done successfully. As is nature, she knows no hurry, & everything is done in her time. Thus, the theme, "Nature's Way with Words" was born.

This theme also caused me to stop & realize how fast-paced our world has become. I wanted to push myself to create artwork as one would have many many years ago, & it turned out to be a humbling, & challenging process. So many times I told myself, "just use regular calligraphy ink so you won't have to mix your own from "items" from nature, no one will know!" No. I wanted it to be a genuine, slow-paced process, as nature would expect of me. 

To mix my inks, I used soot, shaved charcoal (essentially the same thing, but to help with the thickness so it wouldn't run out of my calligraphy nib, I had to add more substance), & water. I also used soot + charcoal for any pieces with a darker background. 

I also used raw, green pigments for the green pieces. I mixed the raw, vibrant pigment dust with water to create the paint-like mixture. When doing this, you NEED to wear a mask & gloves, because it's a very toxic mixture, so these pieces felt somewhat like a science experiement (you'll see the first piece on the far left, & the second "green" piece under the stair on the far right of the collection).

The moss piece was created & formed mixing moss, egg yolk, & water. Moss is a very frustrating thing to piece together, so making it somewhat sticky helped the lettering I wanted to achieve come together (also, spray adhesive may or may not have saved the day on this one).

It was so special to be able to "talk art" with my art professors from college & teachers from elementary school, too. So grateful they stopped by, & will be some moments I will never forget!

I am blessed with a pretty awesome support group: my family. Thank you for sticking around & helping me through this wonderful adventure. 

If you're in the Columbus area, the Otterbein University Courtright Memorial Library hours are here, & the Gallery Show is downstairs underneath the "Edward Munch" style staircase (that's what I have always called them). The show will be up until March 31st! 



Calligraphy Workshop Recap: Fern

Last August, I had the pleasure of teaching calligraphy in Fern's gorgeous & bright space. Every time I step foot in Megan's shop, I leave inspired (& praying for the small collection of succulents I end up carting home for their survival). Her eye for making a space look & feel open & well designed is unmatched, & makes for learning calligraphy in such a space extra special.

photo credit, Megan from Fern

photo credit, Megan from Fern

Since it was a sunny, August day, we felt it would be a fun touch to make their name "tags" on some river rocks I found near a riverside in my hometown. It definitely added a nice summer-y feel to the day, & served as perfect paper weights when dealing with that flowing summer breeze.

Thanks, Megan, what a beautiful day it was!



Calligraphy Workshop Recap: Heart & Dash + Powel House

One of the most elegant calligraphy workshops I've been a part of to date was at the gorgeous & historical Powel House in my old home of Philadelphia last July. I teamed up with the fun & sweet Sarah's of Heart & Dash (they're truly awesome), & I am still dreaming of that day (even though it was an unbearable 95 degrees). To be in such an ornate, bright, & white + yellow room was simply a dream!

This room was particularly interesting, because it's where George Washington would dance, & many "Pride & Prejudice" style parties & dances were held here. Naturally, we played fancy music during the workshop. 

The Sarah's put together wonderful sips & treats (especially that Summer Sangria).

Thank you, folks from the Powel House, & to the best 2 Sarah's I know! What a fun day this was, can't wait to get back & visit again.



Calligraphy Workshop Recap: Studio of Christine Wisnieski

Last May, I had the pleasure of sneaking up to Cleveland to spend the weekend teaching calligraphy in the lovely Christine Wisnieski's bright & spacious studio. We spent Friday evening teaching beginner calligraphy, & Saturday morning doing the same, sipping on coffee & delicious food all weekend long. 

Parse & Parcel graciously lended us beautiful envelopes & papers packets for our students to practice on. Everybody was over the moon & made for scribing so much more fun & elegant. Thank you Christine, & Parse & Parcel for such a fun calligraphy-bright-sun-light-filled weekend!



Madewell Gift Wrap Event & Pop-Up Shop Recap

Over the Christmas holiday, I was kindly asked by the ladies at Madewell to host a gift wrap + pop-up shop event to help celebrate the cheery season in their store. I was so grateful & excited! 

Any customer that purchased a certain amount from the store had their gifts wrapped in my calligraphy gift wrap. It was such a fun way to meet & greet everybody, & I hope their gifts served them well. 

Did I mention there were macaroons, as well? Yes. Yes, there were. Thanks, ladies from Madewell--it was such a treat to do this event!



White Ink + Calligraphy

Hey, y'all! A couple of months ago, I posted over on Atly a little guide on how to a. properly use white ink with a calligraphy pen, & b. some resources & recommendations on products & brands I recommend. If you're interested in learning more, hop on over to their site for the scoop!





Well, hello, hello. Where do I even begin? Has it really been this long since I typed on this thing? This year has been full of new things, packed calligraphy workshop schedules, new wholesale adventures, a new line of products, a fun trip to California, & turning my black thumb to an almost hunter green thumb (still in the brown-ish area). I'm going to provide some updates to what this year has brought over the next couple of months, & get back to a weekly schedule next year. To start, I'll share some of the new items that are grazing my shop that may interest you in the (very exciting) upcoming season: CHRISTMAS.

Here's a few of what's new:

Just for You Letterpress Gift Tags

Oh By Gosh, By Golly Letterpress Gift Tags

Have Courage & Be Kind Blind Impression Letterpress Flat Card Sets

Hello Darling Mini Notecards Sets

Christmas Postcard Sets (Double Thick Paper)

Hope you enjoy some of these new additions & whimsies to the shop! I will be sharing some of the rest of the additions soon, but until then, hope you're all doing well & enjoying this Autumn season!





Calligraphy 'Hood Maps

Well, gee, Happy New Year! I've been busy relaxing from a great Christmas holiday for the studio--so many fun custom orders this year! I hope you all enjoyed your Christmas holiday with friends & family. Taking the tree down was my least favorite part.

To start off the new year, I wanted to share some new items listed in the shop. There are a lot of Valentine's gift wrap, mini Valentine's, & gift tags, so if you are into the lovey dovey holiday, hop on over to the shop to check them out!

However, I wanted to share with you a new Map series I'm excited about: Calligraphy 'Hood MapsI'm going to research & dive into the neighborhoods within cities (or small towns) & simply draw the streets within. I wanted a reason to celebrate & get to know all of the great small towns & unique neighborhoods in our country, & this seemed like a fun & simple way to try & do that! Each map is drawn using pencil, & the titles are written in calligraphy using liquid graphite, & edited a bit in Photoshop since it can get messy, sometimes!

I don't know about you, but I love the feeling of supporting small & local, & this series brings it to heart, so I'm excited to add to the collection! Please feel welcome to comment or message me with any local towns or neighborhoods I should keep in mind! & if you'd like a custom neighborhood/town map, you can get details here!

Enjoy, & Happy New Year! 


Calligraphy Workshop with Fern Studio

This calligraphy workshop ranks up there in the beauty department, let me tell you! Megan of Fern Studio has quite an eclectic, yet minimalistically designed space. It is simply gorgeous. Can you tell it was once a garage? If you happen upon Cincinnati, I highly recommend stopping by her space.

It was a perfect evening filled with charming people, delicious food & drink that would be found in a Sunday Suppers event (still dreaming about that mulled wine), luscious greens, bright whites, & beautiful calligraphy. A great set-up to cozy up to on a cold, Fall evening. What more do you need?

Thanks, Megan for hosting a pleasant evening in your space!