I grew up in Raleigh at a time when the nuns taught at Our Lady Of Lourdes. They lived out back of the school and wore those imposing yet Holy Habits that commanded your adoration, attention, and, quite frankly, your fear. So, when they asked you to "sit up straight" with your "feet flat on the floor" and compose your letters properly according to the Palmer Method of Handwriting, you did just that! I believe it was at that impressionable age that I became infatuated with the formation of letters. When I was introduced to calligraphy in 1978, it was no wonder I fell in love with this beautiful art form. My first taste of the calligraphic world lasted no longer than one hour. The instructor turned a piece of chalk on its edge to form calligraphic works of art from A to Z on the chalkboard. That was that! But it was all I needed to fire the embers that had been sparked in elementary school. Watching the slow, rhythmical shaping of those letters was like listening to classical music. It was not until 1997 that I enrolled in my first formal calligraphy class. Boy, were my eyes opened! I knew I had a lifelong road of learning ahead of me. It's been 34 years since that white piece of chalk was laid on its side. I am still learning. Come learn with me!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Sailboat Design Sketch & Color

My current Bride and Groom both like to sail, so she wanted me to design a boat to be used in the Wedding Program and/or other places.  I had her "name" the boat, and I thought I'd put a banner trailing from its end as one would from a car leaving the ceremony.

Since the wedding colors include royal blue, I used blue in the sail. 

Finished Chalkboard Design

And here is the finished product! (See earlier posts for the step-by-process up till now.)

Okay, so I left you with the transfer of the design from computer paper to chalkboard. Once this was done, I just needed to add color, to fill in the transferred design and lettering. I used basic chalk. Nothing fancy is necessary. Since the Bride's Wedding colors are royal blue, I used blue chalk for the lettering. I shadowed the lettering in white chalk which made the lettering stand out better. I used green chalk inside the compass since green hydrangeas will be the flowers at the outdoor wedding ceremony. I chose to make ocean waves under the lettering and have Mr. Wind blowing above. 

I really enjoyed this whole process and I hope to do more chalkboarding in the future!

And here's a helpful hint:  sharpen chalk with a pencil sharpener!

Transferring lettering and design onto Chalkboard

Here is the next step in the Chalkboarding Process. (If you are coming in late, see earlier posts.)

Once the chalkboard has been primed with the white chalk, the next step is to transfer my lettering and compass design from the computer paper layout onto the chalkboard. This is done by first turning over the computer paper on which I laid down the design and rubbing the underside with white chalk. Now, lay the computer paper face-up on the chalkboard, chalky side down. Take a pencil and trace the design and the lettering.

As you can see from the image above, the design and lettering will transfer onto the chalkboard. All you need to do now is put color to the design.

How to make the sign into a Chalkboard

If you have been following my earlier posts on the making of this Chalkboard, this is the step where the sign is painted over with Chalkboard Paint. First, I taped the edges so that none of the paint would get on the frame. The Chalkboard Paint was put on with a sponge roller so that it would go on smoothly. You could also brush it on, if you like. After this 1st coat dried the specified time, a 2nd coat was administered. And now I had to wait a few days before the next step.

Which is "priming" the board. How do you do this? You lay a piece of white chalk on its side and cover the entire board with it. Then you wipe it off (it does not come off completely...it's not supposed to!) with a dry cloth. Now it looks like a regular Chalkboard! The tape was removed, and now the next step can be taken. 

Layout for Chalkboard Design

Before painting the board with Chalkboard Paint, I thought it would be best to layout the lettering first. I taped used computer paper together and laid them on top of the sign to gauge the length of lettering space I would have to work with. Next, I lettered on the paper with brush markers. 

Here is a closeup of the compass. The Bride wanted this incorporated into the design since she and the Groom are both love to sail. And the phrase she wanted me to use is also sailing-ish.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


I have a commission from a bride to make a chalkboard out of an old sign (above picture) she gave me, then letter on it. This is exciting for me as this will be my first time to go through the process.

I talked with two calligrapher friends who had made chalkboard signs as well as researched the topic. I bought chalkboard paint from Michaels and a foam roller.  I taped the edges of the frame of this sign so that it would prevent the paint from landing there. Then I rolled on the paint, one thin coat, and let it dry the specified time. Once dry, I painted over it a second time and let it dry.

Once the chalkboard paint is done, you "prime" it by rubbing white chalk all over the paint. Once you wipe that off with a dry cloth, it is ready to be lettered upon with either regular chalk or chalk markers.

Ribbon Writing

Today I learned Ribbon Writing in our Triangle Calligraphers' Guild Meeting. The woman who shared this with us is Nell. She said there was not a whole lot written about this type of lettering, but she fell in love with it a few years ago and uses it a lot. I looked in my library of books and actually had the book that shows this exemplar. The book is "Hand Lettering" by Marci Donley & DeAnn Singh, and this exemplar is on page 102.

Nell explained how she forms these letters, and then one of the members, and engineer, came up with a completely different way of making them! And it was really easy doing it her way. 

I had fun with this. I think the choice of colors make the lettering. I like the pinks and greens together with a touch of blue. Nell showed us a piece she did using only a pencil for shading and coloring and it was nice as well. 

I laid down a curved line on my bond layout paper, then placed the exemplar underneath my layout paper, making sure the letter I wanted to trace was sitting on the line. I traced over each letter in pencil. Once done, I went over the letters with a black micron pen, then erased the pencil marks. Next, I chose the colored pencils I wanted to use inside the letters.

This is fun. It's easy. And if you want to make a quick Thank You card or Easter Card or Get Well Card.....
this would look grand.