I am SO excited to share more about how we came to offering handwritten wooden calligraphy signs! Ever since I was little, I loved writing; not stories or diary entries, writing as in visual art. Practicing my penmanship was something I always enjoyed and I couldn’t wait to learn cursive. Before I was in Kindergarten, I copied text out of a newspaper. My parents came across it later and thought I was a genius! Ha! I wasn’t that gifted, I just had an overwhelming urge to write text.
I worked diligently to perfect my print and cursive at school, received calligraphy books for gifts, and eventually started learning the art of calligraphy more formally from one of my teachers. I wrote out things like the Pledge of Allegiance, the chorus of “America the Beautiful”, and “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” with my felt tip pens. Since I practiced Old English style calligraphy, all the angles and spacing had to be perfect. My calligraphy wasn’t very pretty in middle school, but my mom made me feel special by having me write family members’ names on Thanksgiving place cards or newly confirmed members of our church in the front of Bibles.
Over the years, I kept journals full of handwritten quotes in different fonts I created or practiced. I lost touch with formal calligraphy as I explored other crafts. It wasn’t until I took Laura Hooper’s modern calligraphy class in July 2015 that I really started practicing again. Modern calligraphy takes some of the guidelines of traditional calligraphy, but really allows the artist to develop their own style. For instance when making the wooden calligraphy signs, I use an oil marker. Since I’m not using a nib, I go back and thicken all of the downward strokes after I’m finished writing that word. Some letters are written higher, lower, smaller, or larger than others. The font I practice is not about each letter being at the perfect slant and size as the letter before it. It’s about how it looks all together – the bigger picture.
It also means so much to me to offer wooden signs as a nod to my family. Both of my late grandfathers were carpenters who made me jewelry boxes, a hope chest, and my bed just to name a few. My dad followed in his father’s footsteps and has run his own construction business for over 30 years. When I was little, he made me treasured pieces like a swing and a clubhouse. Most recently, he made the wooden gift box used in our Chesapeake Bay inspired shoot.
My stepfather, Paul, works in the fine cabinetry industry. He helped me get a lot of wood cut needed to make my first batch of signs of which I am so grateful. While I sand, stain, and write the signs in my Virginia home, it’s so nice to have support from family in Pennsylvania to make this all possible. Below is a picture of all the wood I brought back to Alexandria ready to sand and stain.
The Welcoming District will offer predesigned options in the shop, but everything will still be made to order. Since we are staining natural wood and writing by hand, each piece will be unique and one-of-a-kind. If there is a special sentiment you have in mind, we would love to hear about it. Creating handwritten, personal sentiments makes our heart flutter!