NOTE: This is the BLOG.  The website is here.


Publication dates are random and unpredictable and often filled with helpful information for wannabe Calligraphers and Engravers…as well as those who already are!  Your input is welcomed and appreciated in the Comments block at the end of each piece.  Let me hear from you.

Screen Shot 2015-10-23 at 9.51.15 PMIn mid-January this framed piece of parchment paper will be 55 years old.  It still hangs on the wall of my office as a frequent reminder of where all this began.

Margaret Webb, my 9th grade English teacher taught me the mechanics of rhyme.  Sally Murray, a charming and beautiful country girl, and a classmate, at Hugo High School, inspired my earliest ones that were not Mrs. Webb’s assignments.  The rhymes in my blood first met the india ink, soon to flow there, when I lettered this piece.  It was the first assignment in my architectural design class that cold January morning at OSU.  ‘Down here’ was the basement classroom in the Engineering Building where the classes were held.

Nothing came of those verses for Sally.  However, a few years later, more polished ones took flight with Gail Ferguson, the Soper, Oklahoma, girl who became my bride 13 months after this poster was done. And still is!

In light red pencil marks just above and to the right of my name, you’ll see that I received a grade of M.C.  I questioned that and was told it was ‘Mention Commendable.’  A kinder term for a B minus.  I took it proudly.  I recall vividly, walking across the campus to my dorm room after getting this back with a grade.  I decided that was the coolest thing I had ever done and that I would learn to do it better!  And it was all with a fifteen-cent dip-pen and a fifty-cent bottle of india ink.

Fast-forward to the present day and you’ll note that, most of the time, I spell better than I did in this assignment.  No additional marks were taken off for that infraction on the piece.  Perhaps the instructor was a poor speller.  My Calligraphy is also somewhat better and it’s because my passion for it never died.  That’s an important part of it all.  The passion to keep an idea stoked in you, to keep pushing ahead, striving to get better, is key.  It will keep you out of that zone of mediocrity.  Or worse.

All this is to say that learning this, whether with a fifteen-cent pen (now $3.00!) and a fifty-cent bottle of ink (now $6.00!), a $2. marker, a tongue depressor dipped in tempera pain, or a wood chisel in wet cement, it’s not about talent.  It’s not about the handwriting.  It’s about desire, learning a technique, and… guessed it.  Passion!

For me, now, it’s almost all about the drill.  Still pretty letters strung together to make poetry, sentiments, congratulations, or whatever.  The way I teach it, anyone can learn it.  Everyone loves it.

Oh yes, Gail is a quite talented, self-taught artist herself.  No training.  Just hard work.  Countless hours experimenting and developing her own technique with tiny brushes and watercolor paints.  Lucky that my Calligraphy caught her attention on an envelope I mailed to her just after we met.  Years later, my rhymes, a bit of Calligraphy, and her exquisite artwork, combined and printed in color, have spread across the planet since 1970 and we just sprinkled a few on a new web site.  Take a look and see what a lot of dedicated work and midnight hours produced.

Here is the last minute info about our November Engraving Workshop.  If you have some extra passion and a few coins to invest in your future (it’ll take more that six bucks!) there is low-hanging fruit out there in the world just waiting for you to walk by and pick it.  There are only a few of us on the planet who do this and each of us can be in only one place at a time. Opportunities are going unanswered every day.  Everywhere!

AND….if you have an interest in coming for the November 9-12 Workshop, and you can’t buy the equipment and get it here in time for the class, I’ll lend you one of my systems so all you have to do is enroll, pay for the class, and show up.  You won’t need to bring anything but a ruler and a few other misc. tools.  Time is short.

-Ken  214.250.6958

Just one more thought.  In the past few years I’ve taught several high-school kids how to engrave with my method.  Not one of them ever flipped a burger during high school or college. One of them worked through college doing fragrance engraving events in department stores for seventy-five bucks an hour.  Somewhat above the burger joint’s pay scale.  If you have a child or a grandchild you’d like to see learn in invaluable skill, here’s the place.

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