Saturday, July 6, 2013

Calligraphy Outside the Box

Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with one of Bellingham's most creative wedding invitation designers.  Kerri Efendi (Kerri Efendi Designs), is one inspirational gal who likes to push the limits in design.  As a result, she has challenged me a few times to think "outside the box" of my usual formal calligraphy and try something new.  I love the challenge!


A New Challenge

Last winter Kerri asked me to literally think—or rather, letter—"outside the box."  She was putting together a wedding invite for a Seattle Met Bride & Groom Magazine photo shoot and the "envelope" was a flat metal box.  The color theme was "Red, Red, Wine" so she spray painted the box with a burgundy red paint, and gold became the accent color to match the inside of the box.

The finished box

For the calligraphy, "Something free-flowing and fun", she said.  I had some reservations about writing with a metal nib on a spray painted metal box, but to my delight, it worked beautifully! 
The final piece, along with Kerri's invite, appeared in the Winter/Spring 2013 issue of Seattle Met Bride & Groom.    

trials of the name with variations in the capital letters

As any calligrapher can attest, a 'free-flowing' style can take more practice and warm up than traditional formal styles if the end result is to appear effortless.  There is still structure underneath those dancing forms!

working out the size and address lines to contrast the name

As always, I can see what I may have done differently—changing a letter form here and there—but in the end it worked as I had
envisioned it.  


The Details...

For those who like the details, my practice work was done with Moon Palace Sumi ink and a Brause Rose pointed pen nib on Canson Pro Marker Layout paper.  Once I'd completed a sample on paper, I scanned the name separate from the address lines and set it up as a finished layout using InDesign.  Once approval of the work was received, I used Saral white transfer paper to lightly trace/transfer the design onto the box with a stylus.  Then I was ready to do the final lettering with the Brause Rose nib and Dr. Ph Martin's Copperplate Gold Calligraphy Ink (my favorite!).


 What I learned in the process:

  • as lightly as I pressed, the white transfer material did not want to completely rub off of the painted metal surface;  
  • paint on metal takes at least several days (ideally a week) to dry and cure.   


  1. Clever envelope and beautiful design for the address. Great work and even better tips. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I love the fact that you show us the steps that lead to your amazing work. Great insight!