Friday, January 22, 2016


In the Middle Ages, artisans and tradesmen organized into guilds to protect themselves from excessive taxation by the lords who ruled over their countries. The guilds flourished and became the foundations of the middle class in many Western countries. We still have guilds among us: trade unions are modern versions. Artisans still collect into guilds too.

Clockmakers Guild

On a rainy Saturday recently, I sat with fellow calligraphy guild members in a church hall in Japantown for a day of Trivial Pursuits. Instead of intense classes in a chosen 'hand' such as Italic or copperplate, we spent the day with six different instructors who directed us through six short art lessons.

We drew each other's faces using a technique called Blind Contour Drawing:

We found the entire alphabet within a series of crosshatched lines we drew on paper:

Can you find the letter R?

My version

We built fold-out display/gift boxes:

We learned the best technique to add glitter to calligraphic inks:

Use glitter powder and just touch the tip of a parallel pen into the powder. Change ink colors as you work.

We made a small box out of a milk carton:

We practiced lettering on chalkboards:

None of these short classes mirror the disciplined classes usually associated with mastering calligraphy. Instead we had fun working together, meeting new people and extending our creativity through these brief exercises. We had good food, good fun, and learned something too.

 Another good way to stay connected: send a decorated envelope to someone. Recently, I sent an envelope that looked like this:

My instruction: get out colored pencils and start coloring!

Envelope folded and glued together

 To my surprise, I received the envelope back, beautifully complete:

Check out these websites to see more beautiful calligraphic work:  sign up for a calligraphy class  check out their Graceful Envelope contest sponsors of Letters of Joy


  1. Wow. You are having so much fun! And so I am too...albeit, vicariously.🌉🌈🌇🌄🗻


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