Monday, January 31, 2011

sandy 49

i think i will finish up the sandy series. this one is pretty fun. love the stamp. i can't really give instructions on how to do the envelopes that involve a little bit of drawing. i did take college level classes in drawing and while it is not difficult to draw, i don't think i can teach it by blogging.

Sunday, January 30, 2011


here is an example of crossdrills. if you take time to write pages of these it will cure you of any shakiness.

kathy silver scroll

envelopes are a good place to practice flourishing. not sure i can give flourishing lessons by just describing them. you need to make nice loopy loops. they can be a little rounder or more oval. the shape to avoid is the fish hook. and if the curls are too tight they look like pig tails. they should be graceful like cinnamon rolls. i do need to get a video camera....

Saturday, January 29, 2011


i had a request to post the link to my Facebook page and I can't figure out how to do that. If you search for Jean Wilson Des Moines Iowa, you should see a list of 3 or 4 Jean Wilsons. I used the same photo of myself that I have on the blog, so, that should help. If anyone wants to try telling me how to find my *link* please far, I can't even figure out how to find my list of friends.

ok...i tried one more time and i think this might be it:!/profile.php?id=100001973053184


does everyone know that the exclamation point has a nickname? screamer. kathy made a comment implying that she did not like screamers. so, of course, i had to send her some mail asking her to explain...she did not respond. maybe she will feel like posting a comment today. and, feb 17 will be the one year anniversary of this blog. should we have a celebration?

oops below...that one was posted a couple days ago. i need a new filing system.

kathy - flag stamp

i've mentioned several times that i am not a big fan of the flag stamps. but, this envelope is fine with me. i like the white space. i like that the red is crisp and has a bit of curve or wave to it. that's just enough to tie the lettering to the stamps. and contrast is a design element that i have mentioned. i like one really big word and the rest...very tiny.

Friday, January 28, 2011

kathy ribbon writing

for several years the local calligraphy guild would make birthday cards for all the members. this was the last one. we called it ribbon writing. you don't really need an exemplar. you just write a big loopy name. then go back and write it again, overlapping the second line. then color in the ribbon with colored pencils. and add a drop shadow with a soft gray or very pale blue bullet marker. it wouldn't hurt to pencil the name first. after you did 10 or 12, you'd be able to write names without penciling.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


i was talking to beth on the phone and doodled this flower
then, i used up the pad of paper
so i glued the flower to the tablet back. now it is a postcard
but considering she will see this before i mail it...i wonder what i should even say on the back? her address will go below the line. sadly, she did not choose a nice little address like 420 east ohio (my all time favorite address...that i use on a lot of mail) i wonder if i hold the world record for producing the largest amount of fake mail..and i am not even done...

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

kathy series

i don't recall how many times this style of lettering has popped up. it's fun and easy. once in a while i teach it as an introductory style. neuland is my favorite for a first hand, but if i think the class wants instant gratification, this is the one to use.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

luddites on facebook

i joined facebook.
seemed like the right thing to do after a day of beating my head on the keyboard.
so, *friend me* if you are a fan of FB.

kathy series

i need to go back and put a dark outline around the leaf. i like the way this one turned out because it's a little scribbly. i started with a pale marker and then kept adding details. it's a little busy, but the stamp is a little busy. so they go together. inside the envelope was this thank you card. it has the architectural lettering that i keep saying i will post. maybe today....

Monday, January 24, 2011

head banging

the one below has so many problems, i thought i would dig into the scheduled posts and find something better to post today. this one came up. it had a bang-my-head-on-the-computer element. i know i clicked on the [rotate] button and i know the image appears right-side-up on the computer screen, but it still wants to post sideways. so fine. be that way. these are not overly inspired designs. and they were done when i was having an attack of traditional lettering.
it passed.

kathy series

this one is 50/50. half of it has some good ideas the other half is yucky. the idea of pale lines is good, but i should have used a ruler or done something more deliberate in making them curved. they just look *off.* the black lettering is too thick and clunky. chose the wrong writing tool. then, those little polka dots are creepy. they needed some darker orange or something. on the positive, i like the way the elements are arranged. and once again, i had the good postal workers looking out for my mail and putting the cancel in just the right spot. and the worst thing of all, that 6200 in a light pen. geesh....i have no idea why i did that. looks awful.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

ever feel like this?

i am trying to see if this will load on the blog. i am also trying to figure out a way to organize all the images that are on this blog, which is what causes me to feel like this image.

kathy series

this style of lettering is called the button alphabet. peter thornton invented it. louie lemoine teaches it. it's lots of fun. a little hard to read, but perfect for names. design principle...use the minor colors for the name and accent with the brightest color. i should do a version of this with the name in red to see if it looks boring. it wouldn't be bad. it just wouldn't be as fun. using just a touch of the red makes the eye hop back and forth between the elements.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

sandy 29

fun way to cram all the words into a box that mimics the shape of the stamp. you should probably pencil it in first to make sure it will fit.

Friday, January 21, 2011

sandy 28

one of my favorites. i'll say it again, if you write one name 50 times, you'll get some good ideas. i like the green and blue shading that reflects the change in background color. i like the double stroking at the top of the letters to give some punch to the letters. and there's nothing better than a smattering of eyeballs..

Thursday, January 20, 2011

sandy 27

more neuland. this time done with a lighter color then outlined the outlined parts of the images on the stamp might have inspired the lettering. great stamp. it is symmetrical, so, actually, it would have been even better to use yesterday's layout with this stamp.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

sandy 26

such a nice stamp
love neuland, too.
i made the Os and the zeros into squares, set on the diagonal to reflect the shape in the quilt.
this would be a good layout for any symmetrical stamp

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

sandy 25

here is a way to make bolder strokes with a marker that isn't bold enough. make two strokes. fun use of accent color. just random marks. while this one is in the very quick and sloppy category, it's actually fine. i used two minor colors from the stamps. looks like the random yellowish strokes all point in different directions. probably didn't think about that, but probably spun the envelope around as i made the strokes. i encourage students to spin the envelopes around rather than keep them straight up and down the whole time. i think it makes the doodads more interesting.

Monday, January 17, 2011

sandy 30

if you look closely, you will see the image on the stamp is of the back of an envelope. so, i addressed the back of the actual envelope. and i tried to make my script match the script on the stamp.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

sandy's book - bird's eye view

from the top, you can see the construction. it is pretty simple. i used a lot of double face sticky paper. i do not recall the brand, but it is used for dry mounting, it's really strong.
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sandy's book unfurled

this shows how the book is really just a stack of envelopes connected by pleated paper and there is nothing holding into the binding. but, when you flip through the pages, they don't really fall out like this. you have to pull it apart to see it this way.
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sandy's book - covers & binding


that's ribbon across the back and the cover is just railroad board. the accordion fold is Readi-Shade, pre-pleated paper.
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sandy's book

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sandy series details

below is the sunday post which reminds viewers that the sandy series is a set of 50 envelopes that i never intended to mail. so, i used a few current stamps as well as some old stamps. and then, i used some stamps that were peeled off of old mail. at the stamp collecting store, they have old used stamps for a penny apiece. i used to buy them and use them in classes so students could practice taking the design principles off a stamp and pulling the colors and themes into their lettering.

hopefully, today i will take a picture of the sandy set of envelopes which are compiled into a book. i showed it to sandy on her 50th birthday and then asked to borrow the book so that i could get scans of all the envelopes. i believe sandy is turning 60 this year, so i am hoping to actually get them all scanned and turn the book over to her. the question is, should i do 10 more ???

if you are just seeing this post this morning, the following post is also a new post.

sandy 23

i hope everyone remembers that the sandy series was never mailed. i did 50 for a fiftieth birthday and after about 20, i started to get pretty sloppy. this one is in the getting sloppy range. it's fine for a layout, or suggestion for how to do a layout based on a stamp. but, it's more scribbly than i would do if i were actually going to mail it

Friday, January 14, 2011

sandy 21

i like when the p.o. puts fun lettering on the stamp. i had to change sandy's name from kavanagh to cavanagh to make it match the stamp

Thursday, January 13, 2011

bird day

my dear penpal, nancy, sent this to me yesterday, and then i saw the penguin pop up this morning, so i just had to post the birds together....and this one includes lettering. i was feeling a little guilty about not having lettering today, since i am determined to not let this blog stray off of the topic.


this is not an envelope, but, i was scheduling posts and did not realize that i was out of scans, and it is such a hassle to get this far into a post and not have a picture.....besides, i love the story that goes with this. the cutest groom called me and wanted a message custom lettered for his gift to his bride. he had the words and i asked which flowers they were using. he said calla lilies and red roses. so, i put some calla lilies down the side and then wrote the words. he oked the layout and then wondered....if i could maybe put in a penguin somewhere. the bride loves penguins and when he proposed, he arranged for the two of them to go to the zoo and feed the penguins...and at some point he proposed. how could i not put a penguin into the piece? i made it really small....and carrying the red roses. i really loved the way it turned out. when he picked it up...he was so happy. he said she was a graphic designer and he noticed that she had trouble finishing projects. he thought she would be impressed that he was able to come up with a custom art idea and get it done. so...that's my story for the day. tomorrow we will be back to envelopes. now that i look at it...those feet are too big and they look like flippers...but this was the practice one, i hope i made the feet smaller on the final. i always forget to take a picture of final artwork....

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

my mail

the person who sent this wrote several comments on the back. she was not that thrilled with the way it turned out. i think it is just fine. she did not like the red. honestly, it does not bother me at all. i think sometimes we just don't like the things we do and don't really have a reason. i go through times when nothing i do pleases me. when that happens, it is a good idea to dig out old stuff that does please me. just seeing something that i did once upon a time helps me remember that most people do not turn out gem after gem. i think if you settle into a formula that works, then, yes, you can keep turning out that formula. but, the trouble with that, gets boring. so, we start playing around with new ideas. some of them are clunkers. but, eventually, we stumble on to something we like. i don't think there is any way to avoid the ups and down of exploring uncharted territory. maybe somebody else can rewrite this pp and make it more coherent. i know what i am trying to say....any mind readers out there? or editors?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

my mailbox

jackie sent this really pretty postcard. first she put two 44-cent stamps on a postcard. then she decided that the paper might not conform to postal regulations, so she put it in an envelope and mailed it. this was a good idea, since i now have a pristine postcard. it's a really lovely drawing and it is taking every bit of self control

to continue with my chores and not pull out my colored pencils.

my old penmanship

this is what my penmanship looked like before i got into penmanship. i saw a Hallmark greeting card with a similar message. i rewrote it and tailored it to my family. i remember that one person who received the letter called up to tell me how much she enjoyed it but she was laughing so hard she could hardly speak. she had read a couple of the actual holiday letters before she opened this one and so, the contrast tickled her funny bone. i still like it after all these years. thanks Hallmark...when you care enough to steal the best. i don't think i will go to jail because i did not actually pay myself to make this card. the weird stain is from some tape.

Monday, January 10, 2011

the secret to nibs and ink

rena commented that she would like to write like the writing on the stacey envelope. i commented that it's not that hard...but you must start with the right supplies.

i spent a fair amount of time trying to get the hang of pointed nibs and ink. i took several classes and things would be ok in class, but then, at home, and trying to write on a variety of papers, nothing worked. then, i took a class from Mike Sull who is devoted to pointed pens. he recommended an ink/nib/paper combination that works well for beginners. i hesitated to invest in more stuff...but, i ended up loving the combination and realizing that the right paper/ink/nib combo is ESSENTIAL.

finding this combo really changed the direction of my work. i had basically decided to give up on pointed pen. now, i have pretty much ditched broad edge.

so, here it is.... McCaffrey ink, Clairfontaine paper and Nikko G nibs. I buy these three items from John Neal. After getting good with the Clairfontaine paper, i have found other papers that also work. the paper from Paper Source is a good combo with the inks and nibs. John has also recommended a new nib that is getting rave reviews. It is a Zebra or something. i have not tried it yet, but i bet it is great. these exciting new nibs are japanese innovations. anime has been hot for a few years and that has motivated companies to come up with really great nibs.

prior to the good anime nibs, if you wanted a good nib, you had to buy vintage nibs. somewhere i have an article that tells how much work was involved in making nibs back in the day. i'll try to find it and post it.

i also like the ziller inks on paper source paper. but, i only recommend ziller after you get comfortable with McCaffrey ink. walnut ink is pretty nice, too. both McCaffrey and walnut is rather thin, which seems like it would be bleedy. but, it is not...if you are using the right kind of paper.

other things to know: you need to prepare the nib. and you need to have a holder that fits the nib. if anyone is going to try pointed pen work based on my recommendation, let me know and i will fill in the rest of the things you need to know.

stacey likes real ink

so...sometimes i get out the real ink.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

pencil lines

"booklore" posted a comment about seeing pencil lines when he magnified a scan....and wondered if it was a trick of the trade. not so much a trick as a tool. it often surprises people that scribes use pencil lines. or even write out the whole piece (or address) in pencil.

in my classes, i teach people to pencil everything...if they want it to control the placement of the elements. and definitely pencil the words first if you are doing a piece and want to get all the words spelled correctly. one of the most frequent questions that people ask when they are looking at a poem or something that has a lot of words written out...."What do you do if you make a mistake -- spell a word wrong or leave a word out?"

or...they ask....How do you do that without making mistakes? and i answer...i pencil it first...and then i don't have to worry about it.

if i am doing a piece where i want all the spelling and words to be 100% accurate, i always pencil the entire thing. when i do the final lettering, i may not put the final strokes exactly over the top of the pencil, but at least i am looking at exactly what i want to write, so i don't make any spelling or word errors.

beginners do not have any trouble understanding the concept of penciling everything first. and they usually try it once. but then, they see how much time it takes. plus it takes a lot of time to erase the pencil. so, down the road, they go back to just hoping they can write what they want, without penciling. and then they make errors and then they whine. they get no sympathy from me. repeat offenders get *the look.*

there really is no shortcut to avoiding errors. there is one other method that is almost as good. you print out the piece on a computer, in the size you want the final to be. then you fold the paper at each line and hold the line you are writing right under the space where you are writing. you can see exactly what you need to write... just below where you are writing. i have even done this on envelopes and it really doesn't take much time. it is the best way that i know of to write centered addresses. i'll scan a sample in case this is hard to picture.

i saw an exhibit of some of the pages of the st john's bible and it included pages of layouts and tools. i noticed that there was a printed out copy of the text and it had been folded between each line. so, i assume they are using the technique of putting each line right under (or above) the line they are writing. i can't imagine they just sit around and fold every single page 30 or 40 times, just for the fun of it. if anyone reading this blog does not know about the st john's it. it is a huge project and the website has lots of information.

back to the topic of centering and avoiding mistakes... some people will say that a light box is the best way to center (or avail yourself of an accurate template. that's fine if you like light boxes. i just never forced myself to use one enough to get used to it.'s like coffee or tea. can't really say one is better than the other. it's just what you prefer.

so *booklore* i hope you try penciling...and let me know if it is helpful.


i have no idea what stamp i had in mind
but this is a way to use many colors, if the stamp is colorful. just cram everything close together. as i said a couple days ago, i hardly ever center things. this shows how you can start large and then tuck things in, gradually getting smaller. if space permits, make the zip a little larger

Saturday, January 8, 2011

safety pin alphabet

chuck just sent this to me. and it only took me about 7 tries to figure out how to move the file from an email to my library and then post it on the blog.
thanks chuck.

holiday mail

this one must have come in 2009. i was impressed with how the albuquerque po has such a splendid cancel marker. i've never seen anything like it. i slipped the card into the scanner, too. it is beautiful. subtle and soft. not sure how it will look on the blog. i enjoy popping open the blog every morning to see what's on it. i schedule these posts a week or two ahead of time, so by the time they pop up, time has passed and i do not recall what is coming.

Friday, January 7, 2011


ok, eduardo, i figured out how to take the photo, move it into my library and then post it. i feel like columbus, except i forgot to have the crew board the ship before i took off for the other side of the world.

note to self: sign up for a class.

in the mean time, i hope i get a chance to try some paper clip lettering. i have 800 envelopes to get done by, i might have to focus on those.

paper clip alphabet

try clicking on this and see if it takes you to the complete paper clip alphabet.
eduardo left this comment on my jan 3rd post with his envelope:

This alphabet came after the paleographic work I did on some 12th to 14th century Spanish diplomatic handwriting. I think those old courtly alphabets look like they are made out of wire; hence, the inspiration for my "paper-clip" alphabet.

i tried to upload the image...but i don't know where it went.

happy stamps

what's not to love about the comic stamps? this is called architectural lettering. i can't remember if i have posted it before. if not, it would be a fun one to post a whole exemplar. if time permits, i'll do that today. basically, it is just block lettering with a bit of a slant to it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011


there was something wrong with this one. it was from a set done for a client. i don't remember what i didn't like about it so i left it on my desk and made dots every time i was on the phone. now i like it better...but the chances of finding a stamp to go with it, or a reason to send mail to someone i do not know are slim-to-none.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

my mail

thank you jeri. this is such a pretty envelope. jeri does such a good job of centering things. maybe she will post a comment and tell us if she has any tips for centering. i do not. as you can see, i hardly ever center anything. the bottom half of the scan is the inside of the card. very clever. and i love her note, alerting me that she has used my favorite stamps :-) as if i would miss something like which stamp was used...

Tuesday, January 4, 2011


well, stacey, i thought if i kept scribbling enough, this one would come around, but, nope...there is a point at which an envelope needs to retire to the bottom of a bird cage. let me know when you get a bird, stacey, and i will send this along

Monday, January 3, 2011

my mail

i pre-posted a lot of envelopes over the past month, so i am going to extend the holiday season and post envelopes that i received last month. A+++ to eduardo for sending me some mail. eduardo says he likes the blog and finds it to be inspirational. clearly, he is skulking about finding inspiration elsewhere. there have not been any paper clip inspired envelopes on my blog. but, you can be sure, there will be more.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

scripty christy

same old
same old
and this is the last of the christy envelopes. starting tomorrow, there will be more variety. thank you for your patience :-)