Washington, D.C. — My niece Claire has always exhibited a strong interest in drawing, coloring and writing. It is obvious that she is a natural artist. When she came to visit us during the summer, she was so excited to see my big desk with all its supplies of inks, markers, paints, pencils, and papers. She was very enthusiastic to try her hand at using a calligraphy nib. I have to say she took to it really quickly. Perhaps I need to groom her as an intern!
Washington, D.C. — In my spare time, I volunteer tutor for the Reading Partners school program at Dorothy Height Elementary School. At the end of the school year, we are allowed to give our reading buddies a gift book. It made total sense to me to give them bookmarks too. I loved seeing their surprised faces when they saw their names done in calligraphy with fancy flourishes.
A little bit later in the summer, my sister asked me to make bookmarks for her first-grade students. She asked for a simpler, unflourished style. There was such diversity in the names of her students. She picked a bright orangey-pink for the accent ribbon.
Raleigh, N.C. — I love any opportunity to collaborate with my super talented sister-in-law Nikelle Orellana-Reyes, owner and floral artist of Wylde in Raleigh. When the discussion came up to do something together for Valentine's Day, of course, it made perfect sense--little notes and flowers go hand-in-hand.
Customers stopping by Nikelle's downtown shop on Martin Street were able to pick up personalized cards to accompany her fabulous florals. Shoppers finished the sentences on each card--a la Mad Libs--with words and phrases meant for their Valentine. Some sentences were heartfelt and earnest, while some were cheeky and clever. No request was ever out of bounds, even when a customer asked me to calligraph an illustration of a butt with hearts. Sometimes you just got to laugh when it comes to love.
New York, New York — One of my favorite experiences in 2016 came at the very end when I teamed up with Haerfest at the holiday Pop Up Flea in the 69th Regiment Armory (a really cool historical site).
I've known brothers Tim and Dan Joo since 2011. They are the hardest working—not to mention nicest—guys in the fashion business. It was my sincerest pleasure to collaborate with them and hand-calligraph gift tags for their clients. The whole team (Tim, Dan, Susan, Tai and Zoe) was great and we managed to keep our holiday cheer despite the snow and the cold.
Looking forward to our next time working together!
Haerfest x Handmade Letters
@ Pop Up Flea NYC
New York, NY — Stop by the Haerfest pop up shop this weekend and get a free personalized gift tag* with every item purchased. I'll be on site hand lettering names and festive words for your special ones.
Pop Up Flea NYC
The 69th Regiment Armory
68 Lexington Avenue at 25th Street
New York, NY 10010
Pop Up Flea Hours
Friday, December 16, 3-8 PM
Saturday, December 17, 11-7 PM
Sunday, December 18, 12-6 PM
Friday, December 16, 3-8 PM
Saturday, December 17, 11-5 PM
*Personalization includes a name or a short phrase like: For You, With Love, or Merry Xmas!
Washington, D.C.—A wedding client asked me to paint little Lithuanian flags on her wine bottle table cards. It's amazing how a little bit of color (especially when dispatching some Finetec gold) can add the right touch to an already whimsical piece.
Washington, D.C.—Preparing a batch of sample envelopes to send to my sister-in-law Nikelle, who is opening her floral design shop Wylde in Raleigh, NC. She graciously offered to keep a sample book of my calligraphy envelopes in her shop. Can't wait to show her the final set and to visit her shop.
Washington, D.C. — I find it very instructive to browse through my old practice sheets to see where I was before and where I am now. It's important to keep critical eyes on our work; otherwise, we can never improve. Even though the difference between my lettering then and now is encouraging, I can see that there is a lot more work to do. We can never be perfect, but we can strive to do our best. But of course, it's always good to remember to laugh and have fun along the way.
Song lyrics are meant to be sung to the Thomas the Train theme song. My nephew played the song incessantly, so it always got stuck in my head. My husband and I turned what could've been a pesky thing into something useful—lyrics about our cat Frances. Regretfully, this description of her personality is very apt.
Washington, D.C. — A client reached out to see if I could mimic a Victorian-era love letter. Since I did not have vintage paper on hand, nor had the time to go look for some, I had to craft my own.
After doing some research on distressing paper and consulting with the ever-knowledgeable gang at the Flourish Forum, I was able to transform my Strathmore ivory stock into vintage-like paper, complete with faux deckle edges, smudges of "dirt", and a whole lot of wrinkles. To enhance the overall look, I mixed Higgins Eternal ink—which is fairly grey in color already—with walnut ink to achieve the faded aesthetic of the letter.
It turned out to be quite the labor of love, and I believe that the end result captured the heartfelt words that lay within.