Tuesday, September 30, 2014

smash red black row

from smash. i love this font. i don't know if it is something smash found or if she invented it. i hope she leaves a comment and tells us. and i love the way she added the flourish at the end. i don't think of these gothic-y styles as having a lot of flourishing, so it's fun to see some gothic-flourish. and the color scheme is classic.
love it.
thanks, smash.

Monday, September 29, 2014

t.y. jan

big thank you to jan for organizing the envelope exchange. also thanks for making use of some of the items i am discarding. and then also returning the items i have discarded when i realize they would have been useful.

her address will go in between the lines. the purple was made with a galaxy marker. i don't know if you can buy them. they were not reliable and the two places i know that sold them have discontinued them. but i imagine you can find glitter gel markers out there in the land of markers and pens.

luv the earthscape stamps. someday, i might get another sheet of them. because they are so abstract, they are PERFECT in many situations.

Sunday, September 28, 2014


this arrived from someone who has written -do not post- on a previous envelope. this one did not say to not post, so here it is. i'll leave it anonymous in case he or she did not want it blogged.

i really like the idea of abstracting the whole word with the fewest possible strokes - yet still having the word legible. this is like a puzzle

and...i love the stamps.
red and black - classic color combination.

i can see me spending some time on this *puzzle* writing.....need. more. time.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

zazzle bright liquid ink highlighters

back when i was still into buying stuff, i bought a set of highlighters that are pretty fun. they really soak into these bamboo envelopes and the colors are very bright. i didn't pencil, just used a jean-o-matic guideliner. and made up rather geometric shapes that implied letters. the 9 had a blob, so that line has some gel pen on the edges. i think this one would benefit from something else, but there is a good chance i will mess it up by trying. it suffers from being not relaxed on the first line, but then getting more relaxed as i went down the page. if you don't listen to anything else i recommend, listen to this.....before you start an envelope, grab a piece of cheap notebook paper and do one rough draft of at least the first couple lines, just to get your hand and arm loosened up. i am pretty sure that athletes do not just crawl out of bed and pull on the uniform and go directly to the first tee, or the pitching mound. i am am pretty sure they take a few practice swings or pitches. do not be lazy (like me) although, by making this completely avoidable mistake, i have created a need-to-be creative situation and i actually just had an idea that i like, so, maybe my convoluted be-lazy-then-fix-your-mess is a valid avenue. i'm pretty sure it won't be embraced by pitchers and golfers. but then, they are playing to win and we are only playing to avoid our daily chores. so, i have already won. dang, the coffee was just the right strength today. (i went back to proof read this a couple weeks after i posted it and i know what happens with this one and it ended up being one that i rather wanted to keep....)

Friday, September 26, 2014

smash - asemic

from smash-girl.
a peak at the enclosure.
i believe smash has been doing some asemic writing which is the uptown word for scribbling.
you can look it up and get a better definition than that.those colors are so pretty on the dark envelope. i always loved that magnolia stamp.

i wish the p.o. would let us order whatever we wanted, in a new *forever* printing. you can order whatever you want on stamps these days. why don't they allow us to print whatever we want from the old designs?

another splendid idea that will be buried in my blog.
and smash might have suggested not opening the envelope and that paper might have been scrap paper, just for filler, but lots of us like scappy paper :-) 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

jeri's LAR page -

a page out of Letter Arts Review. that's right. jeri is tearing up her Letter Arts Reviews. i've suggested that she pass them along to people who are in the beginning stages of their collecting. my sift and purge is going very well. i guess i am about half done.

but i digress.

jeri also color coordinated the note on the inside. it was the patterned paper on the back and the flip side was a solid color with coordinated ink color. very pretty.

thank you, jeri.

check out johnnealbooks.com if you want more info on LetterArtsReview

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

nib lessons

i guess frankenstein has nothing to do with halloween. that's walnut ink on a william arthur envelope.

i am redirecting the nib lessons to a new blog. i will probably post one lesson a week. i will announce new posts on this blog, so you only need to follow this blog daily to know when there is a new nibs.and.ink blog post.

so, click on over to the new blog and read through a bunch of rambling suggestions. then dive in.

then, send me some feedback. this is only going to work if i hear from you. i need to know what your problems are. or, if you do not have any problems, just drop me a note telling me that i am the best teacher you have ever had. that will encourage me to post lots more lessons.


and there is a new envelope for today below
and in the comment section, there is a link to the page with the alphabet, in case you want to give it a try.

muster font

i found this font while looking for something else

i did a very hasty attempt at a couple of the letters and they were way off. i hope i have time to work on them a little more. they remind me of the wrought iron letters.

the envelope is covering up a lower case that goes with the caps. at the very least, i will do something where i use them. for some reason, i felt like this envelope needed all caps.

i wish the ashman part of mashman was closer to the M. i didn't want to overlap the details, but, i can see now, it would have been just fine. i used a big bold kids marker on the green and g-tec for the detail and red lettering.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

alex's earth stamp

i like the earth stamp and had a bunch leftover. this is a simple idea, but full of possibilities. i might do some variations. notice that i did not force the letters to be complete. where the Es were overlapping, it was getting congested, so i left out part of the green E. then, i left off the crossbar on the gray A. not sure why. just seemed like it did not need to be there. i see i forgot her last name. maybe i should write it in where the cross bar goes. see...sometimes good ideas happen when you aren't even trying. you just leave some space open because it's getting too congested
and then voila, there was a reason you needed that space.

Monday, September 22, 2014

nib lessons - getting close

i have been doing some pondering and planning on the nib lessons. it is that time of year when quirky lettering is appropriate. so, the first lesson where you actually dip a nib in ink will be along these lines.

that big writing is with a marker. actually the small writing is, too. but, i wanted something that did not have fine hairlines and looked easy for the beginners.

wrought iron with shadow

while i was happy with the one to elizabeth that i posted a couple days ago, i kept looking at the colors on the stamp and decided to add some shading and really liked the addition. so, i did another one to jeri for an excuse to do more shading. any name with an R seems to work out nicely.

i've mentioned to several people that i don't even like the looks of this alphabet, what i love is the feel of making the shapes and then the adventure of writing the name without penciling it first to see if i can make the shapes fit together nicely. looking for interesting spaces and shapes.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

from carol

thank you to carol dubosch for sharing the envelope that she sent to legacies. that was the summer conference for lettering people. it was held in texas. the other lettering gathering, iampeth, was in indiana. both are great places to rub elbows with the BEST lettering teachers in the US and there are several who come from other continents. both are very welcoming to beginners. some day i am going to go to one of them and invite all of you so we can have our own crazy fun gathering within a gathering.

this is way spiffy, carol. thanks for sharing. we are impressed...although, we probably won't be attempting to do such disciplined work. we are lazy. maybe i should just sponsor my own lettering-for-lazy-people conference right here in des moines. that would be fun.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

walsh cancan

i've been trying really hard to stop with this style. i can't. i'm obsessed. sorry.

Friday, September 19, 2014

more blue

i couldn't see the embossed lines on the envelope when i scanned it. i made a border to try to fix the clunky placement of the name and address. this is another warm up with gouache and use up the stamps for little-miss-i-will-chew-on-anything-i-get-my-hands-on. it is acryla gouache, so should be fairly waterproof.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

half-off topic


this image is off-topic, but it's so cool, i wanted to share the link to the video with anyone who has four and a half minutes to look at something quite lovely.

also, i received a very cool paper source envelope with the wrought iron lettering (in gold) and no return address and i can't make out the postmark. i need to post it to the blog, but would prefer to have permission from the person who sent it. so, please email me privately and tell me if it is ok to post it. thanks
my email address is
jmwilson411  (at)  yahoo  (dot)   com


i am a bit behind in responding to mail and everything else....i may catch up...or not.
jan sent out the lists for the envelopes exchange. if you did not receive your list
please contact jan. if you lost her email, please contact me

buncha blue

using up my stamps. warming up with gouache for an actual job. nothing new or interesting about this. but alex seems to like blue, so we'll see if she responds to this one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

from elizabeth

elizabeth shared this one with us. she was inspired by the grafitti styled lettering that i posted a while back. seeing it made me want to try it again. but, i do not have a very organized stack of exemplars. so, maybe someday.....

thanks for sharing :-)
it is always fun when people send me examples of ideas they saw on the blog and then tried. that's the point of this blog.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

JPPanter's fish

i saw this on jeri's facebook page and asked if i could post it. i am not sure who JPPanter is. maybe a friend from IAMPETH. if i find out more, i will let you know.

Monday, September 15, 2014

winter flower jeri

after struggling with the winter flowers, discovered the orange envelope is an easy solution. and white ink is always pleasing.

it was a Recollection's Marker from Michael's. once in a while i have to shop at the local craft stores for emergency jobs.

i touched it up with a white uni-ball signo. 3 stems have prongs. originally, there were only two (mistakes or corrections), the third one made it look like an intentional design element.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

nancy hills

this just in from the lovely nancy hills. i can't wait to do my version.
super stealworthy.
thank you for sharing.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

white iron - last one (or two)

y'all are probably tired of these - even though i could keep going with them for quite a while. i hope you try them. they are really fun to do.

before i stopped, i thought i would see how they were when i did not make any guidelines and i am pretty happy with the result. the top one needs a holiday stamp.

the bottom one is an exemplar if you want to try this style. it has 26 letters and 10 numerals. i will try to find a link to the original exemplar.

Friday, September 12, 2014

white iron - 4

the rest of his address will be tiny white lettering on the purple gel marker line

Thursday, September 11, 2014

white iron - 3

that alphabet works fine with 4 equal rows.

the multi-colored pencil was fine, but then the only stamp that worked did not fit, resulting in upsidedownedness.

lettering got better after i loosened up a bit

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

white iron - 2

same style as yesterday.

on saturday, there will be an apology for running this style for 5 straight days, but hopefully you will see that as i loosened up, it was worthwhile spending a little time with it.

also on saturday, there will be an envelope with all 26 letters, so you can print it out and have an exemplar. and if you look carefully at all the envelopes, you might see some variations.

i like to morph the letters a bit, depending on which letters are next to each other. some tuck nicely. and down the road a bit, i know i did one that was overlapping that i rather like. there are plenty of opportunities to fling some of the strokes. as tim gunn says when he is reminding the contestants to use the wall of accessories *thoughtfully.* fling your curlicues thoughtfully.

should i go listen to tim gunn speak next wednesday? should i stay after and ask him if he saved that envelope i addressed to him? yes, he was on a guest list of a wedding that i worked on. along with donna karan (whose name was spelled donna karen...pretty pitiful wedding planner who needs a housewife in des moines correcting the spelling on the east coast guest list.)

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

white iron work - 1

reminds me of wrought iron. first attempt. some clumsy letters. uniball signo gel pen.

Monday, September 8, 2014

nib lesson - (finding all the lessons)


once again, i googled *nibs on envelopes* and found this. the link will take you to the website of Iwona Konarski who is happily making a living at design and she has branched into writing with nibs and ink. her work is the new uber-popular naive style that is uber-popular.

if i allowed myself to surf every day, i could probably find 365 young people who have bought nibs and ink and are now selling items on websites and etsy. so, you should feel empowered to do the same. some of them have written books and are teaching workshops. i'm pretty sure you don't need a workshop. a book might help - but - you might do fine with the free exemplars that i will direct you to on the IAMPETH website. more on books and exemplars later.

some calligraphers frown on this naive style. i really love both ends of the spectrum. i will be covering both ends of the spectrum and i will be putting a little label at the bottom of each post [nib lessons] so you may find all of the lessons by clicking on the label...which you will find over there on the right in the long list of labels.

or at the bottom of this post, you will see the words [nib lessons] and you may click on that to see all of them, in reverse order.

8th of month - netflix

a bunch of netflix envelopes with doodling, etc. if i ever needed some ideas, i'm pretty sure i could find something at this site.

and this is just a post about doodling on netflix envelopes. if you go to the top, you could surf around and see lots more stuff.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

an oblique holder (part 2 - of YIKES - i forgot the nib holder) see below

ok....this post is the end of the post right below about the nib holder you will need to hold your nibs. if you are right handed and if you want to spend an additional $1.99 go ahead and order this nib holder (pen holder) too.

as the description says, they are not ideal with a Nikko G nib....but they are adequate for your first attempts. if you really love pointed pen work, you will want to invest in a very nice nib holder at some point.

you might want to order one of the Hunt or Gillott nibs.  the Gillott 303 is a good beginner nib that will fit your oblique holder. it's not a bad idea to try different nibs. but it is a slippery slope - you can end up with a huge pile of stuff....that you never use. the flip side of the coin, is starting with one nib, never trying anything else and never finding that there are other nibs that might work better for you.  down the road, i will have some suggestions...but, i really think your nikko G will be your friend.

H23. Hunt Oblique Penholder
Speedball Oblique Pen holder

Black plastic hourglass shape penholder with offset for nib. For copperplate and Spencerian. The offset helps righthanders with the letter slant. Most lefthanders use a straight holder not this oblique holder. However, some use an oblique holder.

These pointed nibs work in this holder: Hunt 22, Hunt 56, Hunt 99, Hunt 100, Hunt 101, Hunt 103, Hunt 104,
Gillott 170, Gillott 303, Gillott 404, Gillott 1950
Hiro 700, Esterbrook 354, Brause Rose Nib.
The Nikko G nib will work okay, but the holder is not ideal for this nib.

YIKES - i forgot the nib holder

i forgot to recommend a nib holder in the post about nibs, ink and paper.
since i have such good luck surfing for images, i did it again and found this site where someone who is into drawing comics has lots of photos and conversation about nibs and nib holders. the holder is a bit of a problem to explain because there is a the whole issue of writing at a slant and using an oblique holder, which is the one at the bottom of the photo.

i will find some youtube videos and post them later. you need to see them in action to understand why they are helpful.

for the beginners, i am going to recommend this holder:

H63. Marbled Pen Holder
Beautiful penholders in gold & black, silver & black, and gold with multicolors.  on sale right now for $2.97

This is a good choice because not every nib fits in every holder. Also, it does not have the hour-glass shape. and that will allow you to vary your grip on the pen.  pen holder-nib holder...same thing. eventually, i will get into the whole oblique holder - but for now, a straight holder will be just fine.

hot mess

boring story. still showing the messes. it looked just fine before i added the words. the universe is telling me to talk less.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

nib lessons - no. 3


once again, i wanted to find a random image to go with the post. i googled *nibs on envelopes* and was happy to see the first option was one of my envelopes from this blog...the xmas ornament turned into a nib.

this one looked like fun, so i clicked on it and it seems like shirley is a kindred spirit. i hope i have time to go back and surf around her site for a while.

this post is for the people who are interested in trying nibs and ink. if you already have nibs and ink, go ahead and use what you have. if you do not have any nibs and ink, please resist the temptation to buy something from a local craft store. there are a few things on the shelf that will work and if you really don't want to spend more than $10-$15 then, you can go that route. but, if you can afford a bit more, please order these supplies from john neal:


N113. Nikko G Nib
These nibs from Japan are hand cut, extremely smooth, and long lasting. They are chrome plated and have a medium flex. Extremely popular with pointed pen men and women! $1.55 each. You may get by with one lasting for a while. Maybe treat yourself to three or four. There are a gazillion nibs on the market. These are great for beginners. Trust me.

I37. McCaffery's Penman's Ink
McCaffery’s Penman’s Ink
1 oz. jar.  This oak gall ink writes brown but turns a dense black. Good for fine hairlines.  $7.25 


I actually prefer the McCaffery's ink in colors, but they are $9.25. 
McCaffrey inks are really wonderful and worth the investment. I could write a lot more about ink, and I will if people want to hear it, but for now, just trust me that these are almost the best inks ever. The BEST inks are the ones you grind by hand on a stone, but, I don't think I can talk anyone into that route long distance. You need to be introduced to ink stones in person. Or, if you believe me, let me know and I will try to talk you through ink stones long distance.

PAPER - you may want to just try the paper you have on hand. I can have fun with the above nibs and ink on just about any paper. If you want to buy some super paper that will give you the best possible results from the very beginning....try this:

PA37. Clairfontaine Color Copy Pack 8.25"x11.75"
Clairefontaine Color Copy Pack.  Extra smooth surface. Acid Free. Pack of 100 sheets. Recommended by Michael Sull for Spencerian and Off-hand Flourishing. 8.25"x11.75". Blank. From France. $11  or graph paper for $12

The shipping will be about $7-8 - so you can get the best possible start for less than $30.

Again...if you already have materials on hand, it is OK to use them. But please don't go out and buy the nibs, ink and paper that you will find at your local stores. You will spend at least $15 and the materials will not work very well. Go ahead and spend the $30 to get materials that will last a very long time and will give you much better results. 

any questions - email me at jmwilson411  (at)  yahoo  (dot) com

finn's cursive stack

more stacking. this time cursive. fun way to use up all my stamps.

Friday, September 5, 2014

a note about the envelope exchange

i don't like to post anything without an image, so i was surfing around while i had my noon coffee and i found this website. lots of it is in something that looks rather russian, but clearly a coffee drinker :-)
she said they are envelopes - i guess they do not have their addresses yet. not sure if i will have time to look at more of her blog...maybe someone else can do that and report back.

anyhow...here is the note about the envelope exchange:

if you signed up for the envelope exchange and requested a very specific number of envelopes to exchange - please be agreeable to the possibility of a little variation in that number.

there are requests to do only two envelopes as well as 12 or 14 - and then various numbers in between.

the numbers do not work out to a perfectly even exchange of one-for-one between the exact number of people, so you might have one extra name or one or two fewer than requested.

if this is a big problem, please let Jan know right away.
Jan and I have had a couple conversations about how to run the exchange. we want to include as many people as possible, so we want to allow some variety in the quantity of envelopes exchanged.

in the future, i think we will word it this way:
number of envelopes to exchange:
fewer than 5
between 5 and 10
between 10 and 15
between 15 and 20

then, if we had more than 20 people sign up,
we could just split it into two groups.

this is probably more information than anyone wants....
but, we do want to keep everyone happy with the exchange.
if you have any suggestions, feel free to speak up.

skip stack NV

you thought i was through stacking things. you thought wrong. it took a while to find some colors that i love with this stamp. not surprising since i am not always good with color.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


i love this one
love the sun
love the houses
love the serpentine address line
love the flowers
love love love it
gonna steal it

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

nib and ink - lesson 2

here is a link to a ton of information about penmanship.


this is a very old article on penmanship but it covers many basics that are still true. rather than paraphrase it, i suggest you read it and then we will move on to a more contemporary approach.

i am including this more traditional information because the contemporary approach is a simplified version of this...and while contemporary is very popular, i don't think the traditional approach is all that difficult. so, i want my students to be aware of both branches and there will be no judging. i have nothing against people who want to just go the easy route.

i know how to cook. i can make all kinds of wonderful things from scratch. but, if i lived alone, i would probably just buy Hot Pockets or go to Taco John's. when it comes to desserts, i would never buy anything. my desserts have to be my own. it's the same with penmanship. you decide which route you want to go. and you may jump back and forth. both routes are valid.


desk cleaning. found the envelope with the stamp adhered - and sadly, stamp was crooked. used waterproof markers so she can just chew on the envelope since that's what she likes to do at this point in time. address will go in between the two words.
i didn't spend much time making the lettering lovely. as i said, it's just a chew toy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

two vanes

intense day of desk cleaning. filled this one with some experimental stuff that has already been on the blog. tombo brush markers on a nice 100% cotton envelope. ho-hum design, but i could write in brush marker on 100% cotton all day. sadly, nobody ever hires me for that style.

Monday, September 1, 2014

krafty brenda

this is the last of the first of the month kraft envelopes. i guess this one was my favorite. it is very simple, but, what's not to like about simple. as the quaker hymm says, 'tis a gift to be simple. quaker or shaker? i'm not going to let myself be distracted by researching...google is just waiting to hear from you.