Masthead header

Gil Schafer – Classic, All American Style


We are running around like crazy here with preplanning going strong, and the students start back this week.  I did want to do three things before I get back to my school work, though.  #1 – Thank you for all your very kind comments about the home tour of our house over at A Stroll Thru Life.  You all are wonderful!  #2 – Say hello and welcome to all of Marty’s readers that came over here to visit thanks to that home tour, and #3 – Give you some eye candy to enjoy while I am busy cutting, gluing, and taping things until the wee hours of the morning.

I would bet that many of you are quite familiar with the amazing work of architect, Gil Shafer.  If you are not, pick up this month’s issue of Veranda magazine, and you can read about him there.  His work is simply first class…elegant, respectful of American history, and warm.  According to the article, even though he lives in New York, his style has been strongly influenced by many years of visiting his grandmother’s estate in Thomasville, Georgia as he was growing up.

You can certainly see that influence in many of the spaces he designs.  He is almost always in Architectural Digest’s list of their top 100 designers.

I am going to just let you enjoy the photos of his gorgeous projects , and then I am getting right back to my work.

Mr. Schafer gave a lecture last fall in Atlanta, and I hate that I missed it.  He does have a beautiful book out though, that I have yet to read.  It is to be my next book purchase.

The Great American House: Tradition for the Way We Live Now

Hope you enjoyed seeing some of the beautiful spaces that he has designed.  As I mentioned at the start of the post, if you want to read more about him, please check out the July-August issue of Veranda.  His grandmother’s estate sounded quite interesting (with its own movie theater where they screened Gone With the Wind!)

Until next time…

Kim - July 29, 2013 - 7:38 am

Oh, Kelly, I could move right in. Love his style.
Kim, I actually thought of your home when I was putting this post together. You two have that similar great style!

Arlene@Nanaland - July 29, 2013 - 7:51 am

Love Gil’s style as well!! And I will be looking for that book. Fortunately, our library carries a lot of nice decorating books. I can’t believe school is starting so soon there. Students return the third week of August here. I have enjoyed having the summer off from my granddaughter’s homework and from car pool!!

Paula B. - July 29, 2013 - 8:00 am

I was not familiar with this name, but now I know I have a decorating style. I love the classic elegance that is evident in each of these pictures, but also like that each of the interior rooms also exudes a warmth and sense that real living will be going on in them. Thinking of you, Kelly, on this foggy, humid day, I know it’s a BTS Monday! (Is your classroom all decorated? Isn’t it fun to always begin anew each year? Enjoy.) And, thanks for the introduction to this designer.
We have had fog and humidity each morning as I have helped to unload children from their cars in the drop off line. I can forget rolling my hair when the mornings are like this! My classroom is not quite finished…bulletin boards to go. I hope to post before and after photos once I get it to the “done” stage since there are so many teachers among the sweet readers here at Talk of the House.

Victoria - July 29, 2013 - 8:39 am

love,love,love Gil’s work his book was on my Christmas list last
year but alas it was not to be. It is indeed the next book I am going to purchase. I am not the least surprised that his work
was influenced by Southern architecture. Great post Kelly. By the
way I did stop by Marty’s for the tour your home is perfect.
Well I hope someone will get you that wonderful book for this Christmas (if they don’t before then!) Thanks for viewing the house tour over at Marty’s! (and thank you for your kind compliment on the tour!)

yarlette - July 29, 2013 - 8:41 am

Kelly, loved seeing your home featured over at Marty’s blog. She has a great site also. I have the Great American House book in my library. I love his style. I look at this book very often. I will have to pick up the issue of Veranda and read about him. Hope you have a great start of a new school year. My granddaughter started back last week. The older one starts college in August. Summer is going by so fast.

Marlene - July 29, 2013 - 9:14 am

I love Gil’s work. I got the book the day it came out. Your post today is as always wonderful.

Megan - July 29, 2013 - 9:17 am

Hi Kelly,

Thanks for the introduction to the work of Gil Shafer. I am coveting the stools in the first kitchen picture!!!!! I also absolutely adore the bathtub in the alcove – oh how I would love to have that in my home!!!!

I have really enjoyed your lessons and decorator introductions. Our styles are so similar! I absolutely loved your house tour – you have done such a great job making your home lovely and welcoming :)

Good luck with your upcoming school year!!!!!

I covet those stools too…in fact the entire kitchen! And I am so glad you enjoyed the house tour over at Marty’s blog. Thanks for the well wishes for the school year. Can’t believe we are already into another year! Where in the world did summer go???

Mary from Virginia - July 29, 2013 - 9:21 am

I love his work! I received his book for Christmas and it is great! His style is so clean, neat and comfortable.

Great post, and I did look at your home tour. Beautiful!

Have fun at school. My husband teaches but it seems they have a longer summer than your school district. When do you all let out for the summer?
We are all jealous of you Mary for already having that book! :) Thanks for going through the house tour, and I am glad you liked it. I wish we had a longer summer break. We normally get out right after Memorial Day. I figure they will go back to an after-Labor-Day start once I retire. LOL

Louvina - July 29, 2013 - 9:30 am

Thank you for thinking of your blog readers and showing us this designer’s work all in the midst of preplanning! I just LOVE the bathroom with the finished front on the tub! Have never seen this before. Hot, humid, stormy weather here in The Sunshine State! Come on Autumn!

Marianne in Mo. - July 29, 2013 - 10:03 am

I wasn’t familiar with him, but wow, I love his work!I’ll be sure to look up his book now.
Good luck with getting yourself prepared for the school year. I’m sure it’s hectic!

Susan - July 29, 2013 - 12:06 pm

I loved learning more about this designer. I appreciate your post, with the business of the beginning of your school year. I am a retired teacher and remember those times very well! Have a great start to the year :)

Sandy - July 29, 2013 - 3:46 pm

What an amazing designer! I enjoyed the article in Veranda and loved your photos here. AND, I adored your house tour over at A Stroll Through Life…my favorite is the chalkboard map in your boys’ room! Thanks for sharing everything!!

Thank you Sandy! I am glad you liked the house tour over at Marty’s blog. The boys’ room is a current disaster. I feel like I need to pay college tuition and get that room over the garage finished before moving ahead on the bedroom…unless of course I win the lottery! :)

Lisa - July 29, 2013 - 4:39 pm

Have a great week back, Kelly! You inspire me so much with your beautiful taste.

Garden, Home and Party - July 29, 2013 - 7:50 pm

I was traveling for work last week so I got to see your home tour but didn’t have a method for commenting. It was fun to see your home in a tour format. So pretty.
I love Gil Shaffer and have his book on my Amazon wish list. Such great design and so inviting and appears it would be comfortable.
Don’t work too hard this week. I hope you have a great year.
Thank you Karen. I hope your trip was fun – even if it was for work. We all need to get that book for Christmas. Last week was a very busy one. Hopefully things will start to slow down some this week.

Martha - July 29, 2013 - 9:15 pm

Oh Kelly, I am learning so much from you. Gil Shaffer is amazing, what lovely, classic and inviting rooms. I like his use of white, it didn’t seem cold and sterile. I am going to look for his book this week.
I feel like my whole life has revolved around school schedules. I am a retired school librarian and for the past 10 years my daughter has been teaching. I keep her 2 little ones and before they were born she brought her dog to me everyday.I keep thinking one day I won’t anticipate a new school year every Aug and think about vacationing only in the summer…..but for now, I am still planning my life according to the school calendar. I hope your new position will be fun and fulfilling. I tended to resist major changes at work, but once I let go of my initial feelings they were positive experiences. Computers scared the daylights out of me at first and now I can’t imagine life without one.
Isn’t Gil Schafer’s work beautiful?! I hope to one day not have to follow the school schedule, too. I hope you get to abandon it soon. I am still scared by all the technology we are supposed to use, and it is nothing to the students. So I always ask them for help! :)

Dawn - July 29, 2013 - 10:13 pm

Thanks for sharing some of Gil Schafer’s style with us. Good luck with your cutting, gluing and getting back to school stuff until the wee hours of the night.It will be my turn to do that stuff in a week or so also.
Good luck with your school year Dawn! We are off and running here.

Jayne - July 30, 2013 - 3:23 pm

He may live in New York, but his southern roots are all in his designs! Thank you for sharing! I will have to get his book. Here’s hoping you have a wonderful school year! I remember getting my room ready for the kiddos. Lots to do! I just thought of it as a whole different kind of decorating! lol

Wanda - July 30, 2013 - 7:19 pm

I love this post and when I popped over to the blog featuring your house I was able to solve the arrangement dilemma in my family room!
Yay! Glad you got your furniture arrangement figured out. (Hope it didn’t knock your back out of whack to move it all. :))

paula - July 30, 2013 - 9:21 pm

One of my children gave me a copy of this book for Mother’s Day (a suggestion from my amazon wish list:)), and it is an absolutely beautiful book from start to finish. I highly recommend it! Love your blog!
I am so looking forward to getting this book! I know it must be filled with beautiful homes.

A Home Tour to See…

Happy Friday everyone!  I have run away from home.  Not really, but I have run over to very kind Marty’s blog, A Stroll Thru Life.  She has a post up today that is featuring our home here at Talk of the House. Wasn’t that super sweet of her?  So run on over there, and tell her, “Hello.”  Then I hope you enjoy finding all the rooms from our home in one post, AND on top of that, there has been a fun series of home tours there this week with 26 homes.  Look for the details on Marty’s sidebar. You definitely should check them out while you are there.

And while we are talking about home tours, I want to show you my favorite spaces from the Southern Living Idea House, 2013 near Nashville.  First, I love the exterior with all its porch space.

And I think that richly colored kitchen is very pretty.

Of course I like this porch (and I really need one of those trees for a corner in our family room!)

The bunkies look like perfect little cottages.

My favorite room in the entire house is….the laundry room! It is practical and pretty…so very Phoebe Howard.

If you are near the Nashville area, the house will be open for tours every Wednesday through Sunday, now through December 29.  It looks like it would be a fun one to see!

Now run on over to Marty’s blog and take a look at some of those home tours she has there, (including mine in her post today please. :))

Enjoy your weekend!

Talia - July 26, 2013 - 9:20 am

I NEVER get tired of touring your beautiful home. It is truly one of my favorites. You have an amazing talent and your home is so very welcoming. Love your blog and am so glad I found you!
Goodness! How sweet of you to say all that, Talia! I am glad you enjoy the house and the blog. I am so glad you found me too! :)

Nancy - July 26, 2013 - 9:27 am

You did great over at Marty’s. Loved the tour!!!

Katrina - July 26, 2013 - 9:27 am

I hardly ever leave a comment for you but let me just say that your blog is by far the best one I visit!!! I get so excited when I see an email alerting me that you have a new post…well actually I have you bookmarked so I can check your site faster that way!
Every post gives me an idea to dream about! My husband and I are soon to rip out a small and pretty sad looking 1970′s kitchen. The cabinet guy was over last night and I was trying to make a decision about whether to paint the cabinets a gray shade where the cherry counter top will be used. I just opened today’s post and there was that gorgeous wooden counter top with the painted cabinets on the island. Decision made!
Good luck in your new school position! After 30 years of teaching
I just retired…woo hoo!! You need to try it! I think you would be an awesome professional decorator and event planner in your second life!
Thanks again!!!!!!!!!!!!
Wow…so many decisions to make in a kitchen makeover…certainly NOT an easy task! I am glad that you could get that decision made by visiting the blog here, and I bet your cabinets will look great! Enjoy your retirement. Maybe one day I will be able to do that too!

karen - July 26, 2013 - 10:12 am

Loved the tour over at Marty’s….LOVE your house. I guess I never realized or didn’t read the post that you pretty much designed your house yourselves….NICE. JOB.! :)
Thanks Karen! At the time we built, the children were very young, and the master bedroom was on the other side of the house in that plan. I loved the exterior, but we did not like the master bedroom so far away from the children’s rooms…so that was the start of all the changes. Major domino effect after that!

Vicky Hunt - July 26, 2013 - 10:28 am

Hi Kelly…..just stopping in from Marty’s blog! I am absolutely in LOVE with your beautiful home. Thank you so much for sharing…:) I read at the end that you’re a teacher…so am I. What do you teach? I look forward to visiting again. Have a wonderful school year!

Blessings, Vicky
Oh I am so glad you came over from Marty’s blog! You know how crazy and time consuming the start up of a school year is, so please forgive my delay in replying to comments these last couple of weeks. I taught 1st grade forever, and second for a few years, third grade for 12 years, and this year I am to be an eip math teacher – one who floats from room to room helping students with math. I begged for the job and hope that it will give me more time to work on the blog with not having a homeroom for the first time in 3 decades. I hope your school year is a great one!

Dawn - July 26, 2013 - 11:13 am


I would love to tour that Southern Living home in Nashville some day. Thanks for sharing the pictures of it with us!

Pinky - July 26, 2013 - 11:28 am

Hi Kelly! So nice to meet you! I came over from Marty’s and LOVED the tour. Your home is gorgeous, I love every inch. I will be following you now. The SL house is beautiful too. Sure would LOVE to have that porch! XO, pinky

Martha - July 26, 2013 - 12:37 pm

I truly love your home…..I adore the color red……. and gingham, plaids and checks. I have never known anyone who like them as much as I do until I stumbled upon your blog.I look forward to your posts and being inspired. Thanks for the tour!
We must be twins separated at birth, Martha because we seem to have all the same tastes!

Classic casual home - July 26, 2013 - 2:18 pm

Loved your home tour at Marty’s place. Beautiful!!
Thank you Mary Ann! Your home is gorgeous, and I love the garden shop you wrote about in your latest post. Thank you for stopping by here.


Louvina - July 26, 2013 - 5:14 pm

My goodness!! I feel like I got to have a double dessert– by having a new posting from you with the Nashville house tour and then hopping over to your other guest spot and tour your posting over there!! What fun! Cute new picture of you sitting by the fence with your toes in the grass! Every time I tour your house I see and learn something new– and I never get tired of seeing your home! You did real good by not talking but there were many things you surely could/should have said and hopefully the readers will come over to TOTH and read and view your archives and be blessed by doing so!! PS my bookcase and entertainment center is finished as of yesterday! So pleased with it! Now on to the bathroom remodeling project!!:)
Slow down! You are making me feel like we are moving at a snail’s pace around here! (but then we are.) Perhaps I need to hire you to get some things accomplished on the house here. :) Your contractor must be phenomenal!

Jennifer from Chesapeake, VA - July 26, 2013 - 7:05 pm

I tell you I never get tired of looking at pics of your beautiful home! It is just so……..FRIENDLY looking!!!! I Love it! I would also love if my laundry room looked as fabulous as the one Phoebe Howard designed! Thanks for sharing! Happy Weekend!
Jennifer, thank you for your sweet compliments! Friendly looking is so nice to hear. I wish we could transform our laundry closet into a laundry room like that one- especially with all those windows…kind of hard to do with a closet that is not on an exterior wall! :)

Miss Kitty - July 27, 2013 - 12:11 pm

Wow! I loved seeing and hearing about your house over at Marty’s blog…isn’t she a doll? It was a real treat to see your home.
Thank you for coming over to visit from Marty’s site. She IS a doll and just so gracious to give other blogger’s such wonderful shout outs! I am glad you enjoyed seeing our home over there, and I hope you will come back to visit again.

missy - July 27, 2013 - 5:57 pm

I LOVE this house. I read SL on my Kindle now and there were videos of the room with Phoebe telling why she picked what and put this there and etc. I really enjoyed it. I do have to say that I didn’t like th emaster bedroom, but just loved everything else.

Shirley@Housepitality Designs - July 27, 2013 - 11:20 pm

Hi Kelly…that Southern Living home is on my list to visit..already planning a trip there with friends!…I am drooling over it as I read and study the article in this months Southern Living…Will hop to to sweet Marty’s !!!
You get to go to the best places, Shirley! Thanks for visiting the tour over at Marty’s and leaving your super kind comment there.

Stephanie - July 28, 2013 - 7:59 pm

Hey Kelly! I love having your whole house tour in one spot! I’ve pinned it on my Awesome House Tours board for easy reference. I have a question though…we are getting ready to build and we’re looking for plans… you know all that fun stuff…I looked at your plan and I was wondering if you could post an actual picture of how you changed it or try to describe what changes you made. Did you add any square footage? Thanks a bunch. I know you’re crazy busy now with school starting so I won’t hold my breath. We’re from Georgia too but now living in Virginia so I remember those early school starts.

A Lettering Post for You

I have been promising you a post on lettering, but I will be honest with you.   This has been a difficult post to write… from several viewpoints. First, I don’t do lettering for a profession, so I feel quite inadequate even giving advice on it.   Secondly it is difficult just from the content.  I can’t seem to narrow down lettering to one thing.  If this was being written for you twenty-some-odd years ago when I was teaching calligraphy to children, it would be easy.

I would tell you to get felt tipped calligraphy pens (perhaps like these…),

Elegant Writer Calligraphy Set- – 639521

some practice paper,

Inovart Calligraphy Paper And Lettering Guides

a copy of an Italic style alphabet,

and then, holding your pen at a 45 degree angle, practice writing your letters over and over and over. (And if you are left handed you will need to be careful to not let your hand smear the letters as you write.) You can put the letters together to make words and sentences from that.  Just remember, you have to lift your pen after each letter which is quite different from cursive where you mostly flow from one letter to the next.

If that style of calligraphy is what you are wanting, then I will still tell you to do all that.  With enough practice you will get comfortable with taking this basic style and adding your own flourishes to it to make it your own personal style of calligraphy.  Doodle with it!  But that is not the only style of lettering out there, and it is rare if I use it these days.  So that complicates my narrowing down the topic of lettering for this post.

If what you mean by “lettering” is what I do for wedding invitations and other big projects then I would tell you something a little different.  I don’t use the felt tipped pens for those projects.

I like cartridge pens for those. They do a much better job to me than the felt tipped ones. The ones I use are made by Sheaffer, and I prefer them because I am able to get a very fine line with them.  (And I have tested quite a few.)

Sheaffer Calligraphy Maxi Kit (SH/73404)

If I were a professional, I know I would practice with and use dip pens.  The range of ink colors is limited by the cartridges you can find for the pens I use, but the range for the dip pens is pretty much unlimited. Maybe after I retire from my current job I will learn to use the dip pens.:)

Speedball Calligraphy No-1/2 Artists Project Set

Anyway, for these kinds of lettering projects, I look online for fonts I like, print them out, and practice on lined paper copying the letters until I feel I have mastered their style.  You can, of course, print out the entire invitation or project using your selected fonts,and then just handletter it from looking at your printout. Nothing compares to the look of handlettering to me.  (But then I am a little biased.)  Here is one of my favorites from, (but there is a fee for its download.)

And here are a few free fonts that I like from

In the case of my niece’s invitation, she brought me a wedding invitation she had received that she loved. We both looked online to find a font similar to it, but we could not find an exact match for it.  So I used the letters in the invitation to develop my own alphabet from it.  (Not all our needed letters were on the invitation she had, so I had to improvise to match the style.)

After practicing the designed alphabet (or any font style), I write out a mock up of the invitation on lined paper in pencil to begin with. I did this 12 times for my niece’s (no joke) until I get it like I want…the centering I like, the spacing, the flourishes that seem right for it.  This is where I know you want a tutorial, but so much of this depends on personal preference.  I will tell you that one crazy thing I do is write out each line (say 11 lines), then cut them into 11 strips, line them up underneath each other to get the centering and spacing correct,(shifting it until it looks right) tape that down, and then use that as a guide to help me with the finished ink version.  The final version is shown to the bride for approval, and then it is taken to be printed (or letterpressed).  Once the envelopes are in hand, the addressing process begins.

A shortcut for me in doing envelopes is to make a line guide.  That is the messy notebook paper you see up there.  I heavily traced over the lines so that when inserted in the envelope, I could see the lines visible through it (with my super x-ray vision :)) to help me write straight across. The heavy vertical line is the center line.  I glue the notebook paper to cardstock so that it is sturdier.   (You need it sturdy when you are doing hundreds of envelopes.)  It is cut to fit inside the envelope.When inserted inside the envelope, I can tell where the middle of it is.  I can then count the letters in the line I am writing, divide by 2, and can “eyeball it” to know about where to start my writing.  For example, let’s say I was writing this:

There are 24 letters and spaces.  I add in an extra letter space for the capitals in this case because they are so large.  That makes 28 spaces needed for the line.  Divide that in half, that’s 14.  Count over 14, and you land on the period after Mrs.  That means I have to start to the left of my center line so that there is just enough space to write Mr. and Mrs.  With enough practice you can visualize how much space each letter will take.

I say all this to again say, get pens, get paper, get a font you love, and practice.

But…if you mean all the labels and tags that I do when you ask for lettering, that is different, too. (Do you see why I have had such a hard time with this post?)  Again I would tell you to look for fonts that you like.  But for little one or two word things (like labels, tags, etc), you can think of it kind of like drawing – but with words.  My favorite pen for doing that is this one:

Zig Memory System Calligraphy Dual Tip Marker, Carded, Pure Black

For those things, I use the narrow tip of this pen and write the word in cursive trying to make each letter jump either up or down on an imaginary base line.  And I also try to not be consistent in whether each letter stands straight up, leans left, or leans right.  This is just me playing with my regular cursive writing.

Then I come back and write another line to the side of every single down stroke in the word.  (A down stroke is where you are pulling down with your pen in writing your letter.)  This gives the lines of each letter more contrast in width.

If your cursive is not to your liking, then there are some fonts to look at that can help you.  I especially love Jacques & Gilles available for purchase at

and Unnamed Melody at is a nice and free font.

Has this helped you any at all?  I’m really not sure.  We have discussed basic calligraphy, big projects with formal lettering, and casual small lettering.   And I am still having a problem with this post.  I have a feeling that when you are asking for a lettering tutorial many of you are talking about chalkboard lettering. Right??  Okay… this post is more than long enough, so there will have to be a part 2 strictly on chalkboard lettering with tips and tricks for you…But I cannot get to it until next week because of all that goes on as we start the school year here.  So please come back then for that, and come back on Friday for a little something fun here.  I think you will like it.:)

Until next time…

Kathy - July 25, 2013 - 1:57 am

Kelly, I can’t tell you how excited I got when I saw the title of this post! Your lettering is so pretty! I can tell you worked so hard on the post. Thank you! Thank you! I feel like if most of your fans/followers are like me, they are interested in the lettering you do on tags, place cards, and chalkboards. And, I think we are interested in YOUR style….SO, I got this idea…… What if you wrote out your style of each letter (sort of like the calligraphy example)and you wrote the letter as you would write it if that letter were the first letter of a word, and then again if that letter were in the middle of a word. For example, you start with “a” and write your style of capital A, your style of lower case “a” and write a word like apple that begins with a, and then a word with an a…. but not as the first letter and you do that for each letter? You see, I have been waiting for this so long that I have thought about how I want to learn it. I think it is your style of little curly Qs that I am so interested in learning. (I have done calligraphy and even addressed many wedding invitations so I think I am ready to learn your style.) I will be buying the zig calligraphy pen asap so I can start practicing the down strokes and making them wider. I can’t wait for Part 2. Thank you for sharing your talents with us!
Great suggestion Kathy! The letters do vary some depending on where they fall in the word so yes, a couple of variations will be needed, but I will definitely give this a shot for the beginning of part 2 before I jump into the chalkboard things (or make it part of it.) Thanks for the smart suggestion!

Arlene@Nanaland - July 25, 2013 - 8:05 am

Thanks for sharing Kelly….I love lettering and I usually use the calligraphy pens at Hobby Lobby but I may just try my hand with the real thing. What I would like to know is how you get the lettering on your chalk boards so perfect. My chalk board results have been less than pleasing. Maybe you could do a separate post on writing with chalk. I loved your tip of making the letters go up and down!! That will help me a lot as I letter!!

Scribbler - July 25, 2013 - 8:07 am

Thank you so much for this interesting and informative post. I am definitely bookmarking it. I probably won’t take up calligraphy because I don’t have the patience, although I have long admired those who can do it. I am getting ready to make some labels for about a gazillion storage baskets, and some of your tips are very helpful indeed.

Our Learning - July 25, 2013 - 8:45 am

Thank you for all of the great information! I especially appreciate knowing what calligraphy tools you use. I know it took a lot of work to explain your processes. Thank you for sharing! I look forward to your post about your chalkboard lettering.

Barbara Hinske - July 25, 2013 - 9:30 am

Perfect — thank you SO much! I can tell that you spent hours on this very helpful post. I’m going out this weekend to buy pens!!

Paula B. - July 25, 2013 - 10:22 am

So many thoughts on this. I love your lettering and can certainly take some tips from here for my own use, although when things get technical, my brain gets foggy. Other thoughts: this takes me back to my Palmer Method learning days with the Sisters of Mercy, our writing samples were mailed to New York monthly, as part of a contest. Winning was such a big deal, and we had to use pen and ink! Next thought, handwriting in general is becoming a lost art and that discourages me for many reasons. Lastly, I have such a great admiration for honing this skill and continuing to pass it on. Not only can brides partake of lovely invitations, look how much folks here want to brighten their everyday lives with beautiful calligraphy!
Paula, I know exactly what you mean about handwriting being a lost art. Not only is there less and less interest in it in general from students with the rise in electronic media, but with the curriculum in school so crammed to “teach deeply” with everything, there is no time left for a subject that is not tested…and we all know testing is the tail that wags the dog in education (that and money…and the two are tied together.) I would really like to see handwriting moved to the art department. It would make the most sense to me there…the supplies, the practice, and I truly do think of it as an art.

Dawn - July 25, 2013 - 10:37 am


Thank you so much for sharing this lettering tutorial with us! I love your cursive lettering best. It makes the tags, household labels and gifts you put them on extra special.

Susan - July 25, 2013 - 11:53 am

You did a wonderful job with this post. I especially want to thank you for including the links for the supplies. This is a great help!

Ann - July 25, 2013 - 1:01 pm

Thanks so much for sharing this with us! Your tutorial was wonderful, but I think there’s one element you left out…talent!!! Your work is just beautiful!
Aw Ann…thank you for your sweet words!

Louvina - July 25, 2013 - 1:21 pm

Excellent tutorial! Great job in explaining–loved it! Off to get the tools! I too have done calligraphy and have taught children in an informal class just for fun at summer school many years ago. Now to learn to do it with chalk and liquid chalk — there are many surfaces with chalk paint on them. I just got coasters and small metal place cards to use, plus a large one to use in the kitchen. Thanks so much, Kelly. I know this was not easy to do and time consuming.
All your busy crafting just amazes me, Louvina! Yes, this was not an easy post to write. Chalkboard one coming soon.

Andrea - July 25, 2013 - 1:34 pm

I have admired your beautiful handwriting …….fun to know how you do it. Now….to have the patience to try!


Kitty - July 25, 2013 - 4:14 pm

Oh my goodness Kelly, you are SO talented! I would love to be able to do that fancy lettering. Unfortunately patience is NOT one of my better virtues :p Thank you for sharing this wonderful tutorial.

Marianne in Mo. - July 25, 2013 - 6:34 pm

What a great post! I am a lefty, and back in school, I vaguely remember learning the very basics, (possibly art class?) The 45 degree angle, and we used the old pens that had to be dipped almost every stroke. It was disaster for me, being a lefty, but I still loved it, and from time to time I doodle lettering with a sharpie paintmarker. Not at all the same, but still a fun fun way to pass time! I look forward to the next lesson, but in the interim, have fun a bit before school starts again!

Martha - July 26, 2013 - 1:25 pm

This post is so great…I waited to read it so that I would have time to digest all the info. I remember using the dip pens and wonderful black India ink. I loved the way the ink was so opaque and the control I had with the dip pens….this was a loooong time ago. I tried doing it several years ago and the ink wasn’t as thick as I remembered and I was just awful at the lettering. I even went back to old (really old) portfolios of mine that contained some of my work just to see if I really could do it at one time. You have inspired to try again….. I think I will try the Sheaffer pen kit.

Garden, Home and Party - July 26, 2013 - 1:55 pm

I’ve wanted you to teach us some tips on this topic for some time. I have taken calligraphy classes but the newer fonts are the ones I’m most interested in learning. Your tips on where to find fonts online are helpful and I love the tags and labels you create for your smaller house projects.

Your niece is very lucky to have you…hiring a calligrapher for wedding invitations can be quite expensive.
Karen, I love the more modern fonts too! The tags are fun to do in them since they are such “small” projects…it’s more like doodling. :)

emily - January 2, 2014 - 11:29 pm

What a delightful post to stumble upon! I love writing and hand lettering. I use the same pens you suggested here and agree that they are the best. Beautiful penmanship is indeed a lost art and I am always happy to know there are people like you keeping it alive! Just this evening when I was putting up my new calendar (a real dandy from Paper Source, by the way!) I noticed there is a National Handwriting Day on January 23! Hooray for handwriting! :)
I so agree with you Emily. Definitely hooray for handwriting! Our school has cursive in the third grade curriculum, but the curriculum is soooo packed with everything else that it is difficult to give it the proper amount of time that it deserves. I have spoken with a number of people about moving it to the art department’s curriculum because I think it would fit better there. It truly is an art, and it would get more time devoted to it there. I think I need to lobby the state department for this though, because the local board can’t really do anything about a state standard. Handwriting is definitely becoming a lost art. I will remember to celebrate it later this month. :)
Thank you for reading and commenting!

S u b s c r i b e   b y   E m a i l