Spring weaving

Last spring I started a bright landscape weaving... and then I procrastinated the last steps of taking it off the loom. It was a fun project to test out using different types of yarn and fibers as this is only my third weaving. 

While I was making the weaving I documented it on Instagram as part of my 100 day project.

While I was making the weaving I documented it on Instagram as part of my 100 day project.

My cat helping with the weaving process.

My cat helping with the weaving process.

The finished piece!

The finished piece!

Tinsel, stickers, and tape

XmasWrap2014_6412.jpg

This is definitely the time of year to break out the metallic tape. Pretty ribbon is not the only way to top a present. Every year I seem to find ways to adorn Christmas wrap other than with ribbon. Here are the results of last years gift wrappings. 

The winter beanie was a special card I made for my dad last year. I seem to always get him hats for Christmas. Last year I forgot so I made him one with zentangle.

The winter beanie was a special card I made for my dad last year. I seem to always get him hats for Christmas. Last year I forgot so I made him one with zentangle.

Little Window of Horrors at The Succulence

The last couple years I've made some creepy crepe paper flowers for Halloween. This year they're back and bigger than ever! I had the pleasure of creating a window installation for The Succulence; a garden store in San Francisco's Bernal Heights. I was able to pair my creepy blooms with some real life carnivorous plants. 

You can find my original man eating plant project here. For another creepy bloom I also have instructions for flowers that stare right back at ya.

The carnivorous plants were provided by Predatory Plants.

The carnivorous plants were provided by Predatory Plants.

This amazing planted chair was a prop I took right from The Succulence shop.

This amazing planted chair was a prop I took right from The Succulence shop.

For scale you can see my original flower design sitting in front of the giant bloom.

For scale you can see my original flower design sitting in front of the giant bloom.

California Calligraphy — practice list

Written with a watercolor palette as ink source.

Written with a watercolor palette as ink source.

I've got a new practice list to share! I've actually been using it for awhile now and it's become my default warm-up list that I've memorized.

Unlike the list I've used to compare my progress learning calligraphy it's easier to practice all the minuscule letters by just writing the list as Title Case. There is of course a word starting with each letter of the alphabet but also nearly every letter is accounted for within the body of the words. The two exceptions are the letters X and J. It's tough enough to find words that begin with X. As for the J, that was tough to find while fitting with the California theme I was going for. Luckily a minuscule 'y' holds the same properties as a 'j'.

Testing out a few different nibs.

Testing out a few different nibs.

Testing a new ink and practicing with an oblique nib holder.

Testing a new ink and practicing with an oblique nib holder.

One little note about the green practice sheet above. I wrote it with an oblique nib holder! That exclamation point is needed because for over two years I've only used a straight nib holder. Straight is the tool I learned to write calligraphy with and I assumed it would feel weird to use the oblique. Then a couple weeks ago I took a flourishing class which must be done with the oblique. I was surprised to find it feels pretty easy to go back and forth between the different nib holders.

Now for the full California inspired list for easy copying and google searching. This is also the moment when I realize how much I've been spelling wrong on my practice sheets.


Avocado, Bobcat, California, Desert, Eagle, Flower, Grapes, Harvest, Iris, Jasmine, Kelp, Lemon, Manzanita, Nuts, Ocean, Poppy, Quail, Raisons, Squash, Trees, Uncork, Volcano, Water, Xylonite (yes, this one is a stretch), Yosemite, Zest. 


Remember I share these practice lists so you can get to practicing all the letters without having to think of something new to write. They're not meant for imitating the letterforms themselves as I am also still learning and these are just evidence of my own practice.

Celebrating two years of calligraphy + resources

In May 2013 I started my Calligraphy practice. That kinda makes it sound as official as being a lawyer. I call it a practice because just like anything else, to become proficient, it takes practice. And I finally feel proficient. Not perfect, but proficient. And while I don't get called for legal advice I am happy to offer my calligraphy skills to you. Get in touch.

Before it gets too much further beyond the two year mark (it's now September 2015) I wanted to see where my hand began and where it is now. To complete the circle I started with a blog post I wrote in 2013, a few months into learning calligraphy, I shared the wee-progress I'd made from even being able to hold a pen to starting to feel more fluid. I knew I wanted to be able to visually see my progress so I created a set of words to consistently practice.

It seemed important to do this comparison now because at the two year mark I could really feel a shift in the ease of my writing.

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013, miniscules

June 2013, miniscules

September 2015. Same size paper as the images above but I no longer need a whole page for just one practice set.

September 2015. Same size paper as the images above but I no longer need a whole page for just one practice set.

September 2015, a fancier version.

September 2015, a fancier version.

There you have it. My progress with 26 words. Check out that older blog post to see more of the early days. And this is how I was doing last year.

If you're just beginning your calligraphy practice, Copperplate or Modern pointed pen, Here are some book resources I've found especially helpful.

The subtitle, A step by step manual, really does say it all. This book was a huge help after I finished taking my first calligraphy class. It helped with the particulars of understanding the letterforms created by the pointed pen. Each letter is meticulously described. Variations are provided as well as common mistakes. It's an old school book on technique.

Where the previous book was about precision this book embraces imperfection. I've mentioned this before, that in the past perfect letterforms were exalted. This importance of perfection continued from the calligraphers hand, to typewriters, and to the digitally printed page. 

Modern calligraphy is a reaction to those shifts in technology. The idea of modern calligraphy now celebrates the variation in hand that creates the letterforms. 

Modern Calligraphy, the book, is an excellent resource for learning about materials and the basics of getting started. There is also lots of variation of letterforms. This might seem a little overwhelming if you're just starting. I'd suggest picking just one of each to continually practice at first.

These first two books especially guided me in finding and playing with letterforms to see my own hand start to emerge.

If you've fallen in love with calligraphy and letterform you'll want to get your hands on this issue of UPPERCASE Magazine. It's an inspirational piece vs. tutorial but you'll definitely learn a lot about different calligraphers practices and creative paths.

This is a good general reference for a broad range of calligraphy types beyond pointed pen. I will say the projects feel dated... especially the digital ones. 

This last suggestion is not a book about technique. It's actually a catalog of blackletter and fraktur typefaces (including a CD with a good selection of fonts from the book). If you've fallen for broad tip calligraphy then this could be an excellent inspirational resource for you.

Lastly, besides the word list I've used to keep track of my progress I've shared a bunch of other lists. They're helpful for warming up the pen.