Happiness Through My Eyes – March :: The Art of Lettering

March has already come to a close! Where does the time go? For my happiness this month, as promised last Friday, get ready for an onslaught of handwriting bliss! The next blog in the circle is written by the magnificent Ana Quiroga in Barcelona, Spain. She and I share a great affinity for delicious food, her thermamix, le cruset and of course, fantastic photography. Be sure to head to her blog Los Baltasar and continue to follow the circle around the world!

Confession: I am an impulse pen buyer. As I walk down the aisles of plastic packaged writing instruments my heart gets all a-flutter at the thought that I could find the most perfect tool for a new handwriting style. I am also a pen hoarder. I have left jobs with gallon ziplock baggies full of felt tip signing pens that I had managed to stash in my desk. I blame my obsession with handwriting which began bright and early at age seven. Yep, seven. My mother would bring out her calligraphy set from college circa 1975 and would proceed to create beautiful swirls and swashes of lettering in styles I could only dream about. Passing notes with my girlfriends in high school was an art form. I carried around a make-up bag chock full of pens in every color of the rainbow. In a least one class a day I would set out to create a masterpiece only to be handed off in crowded halls between periods. It dawned on me that everyone’s handwriting has a story to tell. It would seem that mine would develop a severe case of schizophrenia, taking on a different personality as my mood shifts. College only fed the handwriting beast that craved picture perfect penmanship as I was required to create my own handwriting style to use on a daily basis.  My studio teachers would accuse me of being too “fonty” and “girly” shaking their heads and sighing with deep seated disappointment as though I was a broken thing that couldn’t be fixed.

But still I persevered. Fast forward to 2012, three years after college, when I am in the throws of chaotic wedding preparation. It was all color palettes and dress material… and which shoes? peonies or roses? and which shoes? and the invitation suite… and seriously which shoes? Some how or another like every bride, I stumbled upon Besty Dunlap, the original pioneer woman of modern calligraphy. I was starstruck by her loops and whorls and completely breathless at the delicate art she created by hand. Of course me being the DIY-er from hell, I thought to myself… “I can do that! Sure!” And thus, all of those years of handwriting obsession and practice finally paid off as I addressed in calligraphy by hand over 100 envelopes, return address envelopes, name tags, and other various bits of flora and fauna for our big Texas wedding.

By then I became painfully aware of the fact that I have this quirky insatiable need to bring the art of hand lettering to the masses. I’m an old soul who loves hand written letters in beautifully calligraphied envelopes with a custom wax seal. A mail isn’t just a letter, it’s an art form. Why do something boring, when you could make it beautiful and spectacular? No matter where life has taken me I always managed to come back to this place of pens, ink, nibs, and paper. The smell of fresh ink on cotton paper will always make me giddy. Seriously, why has no one bottled that scent?

This March I decided to incorporate the art of hand lettering into Kirsten Ashley Photography making it Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design. The details are currently still in the planning phase, but I am accepting orders for custom calligraphy and design work. The possibilities are so endless, which means if you can dream it, I can do my best to make it happen. From addressed outer envelopes to inner envelopes to business cards and branding identity design, I want to use the art of hand lettering to add a bit of sparkle to your life. I invite you to take a peek at past projects below.

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design Calligraphy StylesJesse's Girl Photography Branding by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignAddressed Envelope by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignHoliday Card & Calligraphy by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignCalligraphy by Kirsten Ashley Photography & DesignHandmade Valentine by Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design

I know that there are other handwriting obsessed souls out there who are dying to learn modern calligraphy so that they too can send pretty mail. Well you’re in luck, as I have compiled a list of AH-mazing artists, each with different calligraphy styles, who teach classes in various states and even online!

Heather BloemDesign Roots – Heather was my first find and therefore became my favorite. Her calligraphy is outstanding and her classes for both beginners and experienced folks are fantastic with titles like Grit & Gold Calligraphy Workshop…. I mean who wouldn’t want to join in on THAT fun? She also sells supplies {which can be incredibly hard to find depending on where you’re located. I had her put together a custom package to ship to Germany and rarely have I been so excited to get mail!

Victoria & JennyMoira Ink Calligraphy & Lettering – These ladies have a knack for everything Victorian and super classy. I adore their website {all creams and pale pinks} and their calligraphy is ridiculously inspiring. These ladies conquer some serious territory one living in Portland and one in Philadelphia. Classes are offered here too for beginners and advanced in phoenix and portland. I am also in awe of their buisness brackets Moira Ink, Design House of Moira, Moira Design Studio & Moira Events all under one roof. Swoon!

Bianca Mascorro – Little Miss Press – Holy gold leaf and princess crowns Batman! I am positively obsessed with letterpress right now and this girl has seriously done it right. Bianca’s designs are stunning and her calligraphy is positively delicate. She offers a class called Champagne Calligraphy Brunch… that’s like my three favorite things all before noon! Be sure to sign up if you’re in the San Francisco, CA area!

I also wanted to take you through a glimpse of my handwriting world. I own way too many nibs, fountain pens, inks, wax seals and sealing wax…. but it makes me happy. It also tends to bring some sunshine to whomever is on the receiving end of what ever I use it for, so it’s definitely worth it. Here I will showcase some of my favorite nibs, different dip pen holders, writing styles, and every day writing pens.

Below are some of my all time favorite nibs and everyday use pens. I tend to favor Pilot as their ink is super black and the quality of the point is unsurpassed. Enjoy!

Kirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Nib FavoritesKirsten Ashley Photography & Design | Awesome Everyday Pens

For those of you just starting out I wanted to note a few things that have been particularly helpful in my calligraphy journey. Some of these things are common sense, but I have tried a great many brands and these in particular rock my world.

1) Practice Pad Marker Paper – Bought from Design Roots it’s great for slipping a guide sheet underneath the translucent paper for practice! 2) Guide Sheet – found on iampeth.com, guide sheets help your hand learn to size your letter appropriately at the correct slant. 3) Draftsman Mini Duster Brush – A LIFESAVER when brushing off any pencil outlines or guides. 4) Dr. Phil Martin’s Bombay Pen Cleaner – helps keep your nibs clean and removes stubborn acrylic residue! 5) Watercolor Calligraphy Pen Brush – Makes it easy as pie to make beautiful brush lettering. Just fill the pen and go! 6) Gouache – This particular brand is an inexpensive student grade, which I recommend if you’re just wanting to try out making your own differnent color inks. Once you get the hang of mixing to the right consistency, move on up to Windsor Newton’s Designer Gouache! 7) Glass Mixing Bowl – Found at IKEA and was supposed to be used for tea lights, these little dishes are great for mixing inks! The wide mouth allows both oblique and regular dip pen access! 8) Omnigrid Rulers – My mother first introduced me to these amazingly stellar rulers although she used them for quilting. You never have to worry about keeping your lines straight with this baby. Creating mock up lines is a breeze with it’s handy dandy grid system and helpful angles too! 9) Q-Tips – Found everywhere these little suckers will help you keep your nibs squeaky clean! 10) Small Round Brush – Once you get the hang of the watercolor brush, you can graduate to using a round brush. Make sure the brush you purchase has a very sharp pointed tip! 11) Mixing Brush – When you are mixing your own gouache inks, I’ve found it super helpful to have separate brush used just to help mix the gouache medium into the water. Sometimes it gets a little stubborn and having a brush handy is so helpful! 12) Magic Rub Eraser – Seriously y’all it’s magic. I swear by this eraser! It will get out even the most stubborn of pencil lines without ruining your dry ink!

All in all, I am thrilled at the opportunity to continue forward with my handwriting endeavors. Thanks for following along in my little pocket of happiness for the month of March. I look forward to working with some of you in the future on custom calligraphy designs!

To continue to the next link in the “Happiness Through My Eyes” blog circle, head on over to Ana Quiroga as she writes about happiness through her eyes in Barcelona, Spain click -> HERE!

Did you know that you can have posts from Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog sent directly to your email? Be sure to sign up here! Emails not your thing? Then check out Kirsten Ashley Photography’s Blog on Bloglovin! Here you can follow along just like on the old Google Reader and never miss a post!







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