Skip to content

Posts from the ‘calligraphy’ Category

The Art Nouveau Ketubah

21 December 2008


Finally, after three odd years, I sifted through all my Art Deco wedding photos. Despite a constant conversation with myself about why I chose to wear that particular hairstyle, I love my wedding pictures. Reminding me of joy and insanity, friends and family, the photos serve to highlight that blur of a day. I do not know if I would have remembered Uncle Stu wearing a tuxedo with a clown nose or “Redbeef” (my husband’s roommate from college) donning a kelly green suit and matching top hat.

However, while photos jog the memory of a place and time, the ketubah, or Jewish marriage contract, serves to remind the couple of the emotion felt, the feelings had.

The Art Nouveau inspired Ketubah pictured is just that. An original design painted in gouache, the stylized waves are reminiscent of the bride and groom’s time in Santa Cruz, where they met many years ago. Contacting me personally to execute both the text and design, it was a joy to create. The text, Art Nouveau inspired English and Hebrew calligraphy, is their vows: promises to each other to be met over a lifetime.


The Art Nouveau Wedding Invitation & An Appreciation for the Handmade

20 October 2008


I love to write. As in cursive. Or calligraphy. Maybe even a nice block alphabet. In eighth grade my Social Studies teacher, Mrs. McIntyre (who, by the way, wore a bouffant), had a post of the signatures on the Declaration of Independence. I would spend class period upon class period perfecting my proverbial John Hancock.

When I got to college, I would laboriously recopy notes as to both allow the knowledge to sink in and to practice my penmanship. Thus studying became a process to be somewhat enjoyed (and my notes became a much sought after commodity).

Now I create wedding invitations, many in an Art Nouveau or Art Deco style. Each and every letter I forged by hand from my own stylized Art Nouveau alphabet. Much to the chagrin of graphic design buddies, I do not draw my alphabets on the computer nor do I scan them in. Rather each letter is unique unto itself, an organic creation based on the letters both before and after and with special attention to the layout of the whole; an entirely holistic creation rather than a series of computer generated text.

Plus, I enjoy creating fonts (especially those from the Art Nouveau and Art Deco periods. Please see the matching RSVP card for this invitation!). Although my labor would be cut down exponentially by using a computer for text, my enjoyment level would proportionally decrease. Many tell me that only I can tell if an alphabet is created entirely by hand, but I beg to differ. Although the average person may not be able to discern hand-wrought lettering, there is a human, organic, emotionally charged feeling emanating from only that which is handmade.

Calligraphy As Art: Hebrew, Font and The Invitation

25 February 2008


The beauty of Hebrew calligraphy is its malleability. One can render letters to create a mood, atmosphere or theme.

Pictured is the cover of a wedding invitation. The graphic is the Hebrew names of the bride and groom interlaced with one another.

The design of a wedding invitation can be quite a process–possibly involving the bride, her mother, the groom, an aunt or sister or two, and, of course, a mother-in-law; quite a force to be reckoned with.

However, so many minds at work produces a work of art in which everyone has played a part. Feeling truly part of the festivities for this most important aspect, the wedding invitation, allows for the family to help the bride and groom begin their life anew.

But sometimes, I am given full artistic license (as in this case) and just go with a feeling I have about the couple; allowing my creativity to simply grow from there.

Hebrew Calligraphy, Watercolor and The Ketubah

20 February 2008


The Ketubah pictured was commissioned by a bride and groom from Los Angeles. The wedding took place in June in Bel Air; just the picture of springtime. Creating a forest of flora and fauna, I sought to capture the beauty of blooming California flowers.

The Ketubah is a Jewish marriage contract dating back 2000 years. Although traditionally written in Aramaic, in Hebrew the word literally means “it is written.”

The Ketubah is one of the first legal documents securing financial and legal rights to women.

The calligraphy is executed by my own hand. The font chosen is modern and informal. Hebrew calligraphy is done with the same calligraphy pen as one uses with English. As a left-hander, Hebrew calligraphy suits me well as it is from right to left. When executing English calligraphy, I must constantly take care not smear my work with the side of my hand. When writing Hebrew calligraphy I do not have this problem so my work is actually faster, more fluent.

The illustration, design, calligraphy and watercolor of a Ketubah is quite a large job. Poster size (16″ x 20″), each inch is detailed, every centimeter given care. Meant to hang on the wall for life and be kept for generations to come, the Ketubah is a work of art meant to capture a specific time, place and the love of two very unique people.

An Ephemeral Identity

17 February 2008


A font illustrates a theme, an era, a mood. The collaboration of the art of calligraphy with the beauty of Art Nouveau alphabets make for a modern elegant invitation.

The inspiration for this font was derived from a French perfume bottle circa 1920. Combing Art Deco and Art Nouveau design books, sheet music, magazine advertisements and the boxes upon boxes of ephemera I store haphazardly in my studio allows me to connect with a time, feel a place, transcend my present state.

Calligraphy & The Wedding

13 February 2008


Calligraphy finds its place most comfortably in the context of the wedding. The graceful lines, organic forms and classic flourishes exude formality and elegance.

I have had the occasion to calligraph numerous wedding invitations. I create my own alphabets based on examples from Art Nouveau and Art Deco scripts.

As a left-hander, I have a very specific nib that I must use. Unlike the majority of calligraphy nibs, a left-hand nib is oblique.

I am fiercely loyal to the brand of my first calligraphy set gifted to me at age 11. However, about a decade ago, this small British company was sold and the pens are now made in China and of lesser quality.

I still have the original British calligraphy pen and have since bought a spare as well, but locating left-hand nibs for a now extinct calligraphy pen proves quite a difficult task indeed.

A Font Renewer and Creator

6 February 2008


I like to think of myself as a font renewer and creator. Cursive, print, italic, gothic, copperplate script ignite a little fire inside. A font tells a story–portraying a mood, feeling and era. To create a symbol that expresses a thought, an idea, an emotion is empowering as each letter serves to create what is in essence, history.

Pictured is an example of a Bat Mitzvah invitation I executed the calligraphy and font design for. The Art Nouveau style font is my very own creation.

Sharing the Road–Portland’s Bicycle Community

1 February 2008


Portland is a town run by the bicycle. Relatively flat terrain, streets that run along a grid as well as a green mentality allow Portland to be the city with the most bicycle commuters.

Last night I watched Foreign Correspondent, a very old Alfred Hitchcock movie featuring Amsterdam. Bicycles dictated traffic and seemed to be the primary mode of transportation along the cobbled Dutch streets.

Bicycles still rule the streets of Amsterdam, but like Portland, they no longer dictate traffic as SUVs now rule the road. And while much of Amsterdam looks as it did through Hitchcock’s lens in 1940, the bicycle is not quite as prominent.

Although the city of Portland protects cyclists through legislation, accidents occur. Every year Portland’s bicycle community puts on a concert and bike ride to promote bike safety and celebrate the lives of those who were lost to bicycle accidents. The benefit is called “Share the Road.”

The benefit is a consortium of local bands. I illustrated this concert poster using as my inspiration a picture I had taken of my sister riding her bicycle through the Dutch countryside. (This was our first international trip together and we had a grand time, despite our ridiculous matching backpacks.)

Each font is hand-wrought and from my own unique alphabets. Along with calligraphy, designing alphabets is my favorite aspect of my profession. A well drawn font can articulate a specific theme, era, and mood whilst drawing proper attention to the message at large. However, the font style must also match the illustration to allow for a well executed event poster.

Calligraphy in the Modern World

30 January 2008


I received my first calligraphy set at age eleven from my great aunt Octavine.

As the family correspondent, Aunt Vinee appreciated excellent penmanship and the art of font. Octavine was old fashioned. She wore bloomers and muslin dresses from the 1950s.

Aunt Vinee encouraged me and I found I very much enjoyed the rather “old lady” pastime of calligraphy. I practiced and practiced. I bought alphabet books and taught myself fonts. As a left-hander, I couldn’t follow the instructions given thus I developed my own style and technique.

Once I had the basics of letter formation, spacing, and placement I began to practice Hebrew calligraphy. I was taught the Hebrew alphabet at a young age, so the letters were familiar.

Luckily, I have figured a way to turn my “old lady” talent into a practical art. Finding that Ketubah (Jewish marriage contract), wedding invitations, Bar and Bat Mitzvah invitations, marriage contracts, concert posters, baby announcements and graduation announcements all require the flair of calligraphy allows calligraphy to blossom in the modern world and bring beauty to the everyday.

Art Deco Wedding Invitation

24 January 2008


An Art Deco wedding. The bride came to me with a clipping from an old calendar and the idea for an oak leaf motif. Her inspiration for her wedding invitation included something in an Art Deco style, hence the clipping from an antiquated Art Deco cafe poster calendar containing a bit of letting she loved. And the oak leaf was symbolic of the San Francisco Bay Area, their home and the location of the wedding.

I developed an Art Deco style alphabet from the small example of about a dozen differing letters. For the oak leaf, I went for a more abstract, cut-out style illustration to offset the Art Deco calligraphy.

Designing, executing the calligraphy and illustration as well as working with the bride and groom was a lovely experience. Feeling truly part of the festivities, I was able to actualize their vision whilst creating my own.

%d bloggers like this: