Color For Calligraphy with Jes Gordon – Sept. 6th, 2013 Penabler Meeting

JessicaGordonPortraitOur next September Penabler meeting is Friday, September 6th from 6-8PM at Binders Art School. We’ve a special night planned with Artist and Color Specialist Jes Gordon, who will demonstrate and guide us through an evening of color exploration and discovery – a subject we cal all relate to. Read below for details!

Color for Calligraphy with Jes Gordon

Learn to expand your sense of creative color in your paper and ink choices.  We will discuss the ins and outs of color mixing so you know how to make the perfect color. Discover how the tools of the trade can help you to create better color palettes. There is always more to learn about color and how it interacts in different forms (ie – paper, paint, ink, etc), so why not start here?

What to bring?

  • sketchbook or notebook for taking notes and collecting hand-outs
  • different papers you have always wanted to use
  • your favorite papers
  • your calligraphy materials
  • a variety of inks and paints that you use for calligraphy
  • a snack or drink to share

Blooming Brushes

Blooming BrushesJoin us for our next Atlanta Penabler meeting, Blooming Brushes on Friday, August 2nd from 6-8PM for an evening of experimentation with the brush. Whether you’re a broad edge or pointed pen enthusiast, there’s a brush out there waiting for you.

We’ll discuss the numerous advantages to using a brush, over a steel nib, bamboo shoot, or quill and demonstrate with each other the possibilities a brush gives you in both texture, weight, and size.

We’ll also give a quick recap of Barbara Calzolari’s most recent American Cursive Handwriting workshop. Take a look at the fun we had here!

And don’t forget, Carl Rhors will be with us in October for a weekend brush workshop, so dive deep with us and be prepared for your calligraphic hand to be liberated by the movement and grace of the brush. If you’d like to be updated personally about sign-up availability for Carl’s workshop, please contact Jacob Gunter at

What to bring:

• Paper (as large as possible)

• Pencil & eraser

• Ink

• Brushes (old, new, flat (for broad edge) or round (for pointed pen), watercolor, Pentel Color Brush, or Niji Waterbrushes)

• A snack or drink to share

• Yo Bad Self

See you there!


Barbara Calzolari: Courage, Passion, Strength, and Grace


Barbara Calzolari is coming back this summer to Binders Art School. Her new workshop, American Cursive with Barbara Calzolari will fill up three weeknight evenings this July: Wednesday – Friday, July 17, 18, & 19 from 5-9PM. We are all so excited to see her again. If you think you know cursive, think again! Cursive handwriting is the skeletal structure of Spencerian. Its history is as profound as any other calligraphic hand and its benefits are numerous.

Last summer we conducted an interview with her and are publishing it yet again. If you’d like to get more of a taste of her profound talent and sensibilities, take her Cursive workshop later this month. I (Anne Elser) will be there – so come sit next to me!! The irony of having a highly talented and poetic Italian Calligrapher come all the way to the states to teach us the beginning of this story is not lost on us! Wouldn’t you rather be led through the experience by a passionate poet like Barbara, instead of trying to revive your dimly lit and dry memories of learning handwriting in grade school? I sure would. 🙂


American Cursive with Barbara Calzolari: 3 Sessions | Beginner to Intermediate | Price: $190 | Max.18
ARTZ1391 | Wednesday – Friday, July 17 – 19, 5 – 9pm  


This American Cursive workshop with Italian designer Barbara Calzolari will be an all new opportunity to delve into the understanding that simple lines become beautiful letters wherever you envision them to be!

Based on Jenkins alphabets, the six shapes that formed the group of 26 letters are still studied today and used from people that want to achieve a fast elegant and personal way to write. Barbara will share the magnificent lines that turn into letters, and letters that will join together into words.

From lines into words… the capital will complete the rhythm of this beautiful style that from 1791 has been loved from people the world over that are passionate about penmanship.

Complete a page for a letter, a document, or just for everyday messages. Celebrate your new found expressions at the end of class with merriment and presentation of your work!


~Anne, Mary, & George


Anne Elser: What is your favorite word?

Barbara Calzolari: “Love.” Absolutely.

AE: What is your least favorite word?

BC: “Modern.” The idea of a modern trend I find unnecessary and fleeting. When work is done without structure or reason, when there is no tradition in the back, I find it fake. It’s thoughtless and is less about YOU because it doesn’t come from within. <<smiling>> I am vintage.

AE: What turns you on?

BC: Letters. Music from the cold countries (Iceland, etc) : Dead Can Dance. Brian Eno and his deep roots. Bjork, who has a deep voice that comes from her heart. She uses her voice like that of nature’s – a waterfall, yet with human emotion. I also love a group called Air, from France.

Nothing of my music collection is downloaded. I prefer actual CD’s because they are tangible, I can hold them in my hands and it’s easier for me to categorize them from the design of the jacket and the spine you see on the shelves. I am inspired by the graphic design of the case.

AE: What turns you off/makes you angry?

BC: Fighting. Useless conflict. And students who cannibalize your work/ideas without giving credit to their inspirations. Before every workshop I teach, I give thanks to the great teachers I’ve had and credit them for the gift of their instruction, how they’ve guided and inspired me.

I used to be a caterer. I’d double my recipes so I’d have backup. If I had leftovers, I’d give them away freely. I once had a girl who had her own coffee bar come to a party I catered. I gave her some leftovers. She then took them and sold them in her shop. Without asking. People who do dishonest things for a profit make me angry.

AE: What is your favorite curse word?

BC: Bastardo!

AE: What sound or noise do you love?

BC: City noises. Traffic, buses, movement. Life.

AE: What sound or noise do you hate?

BC: Car alarms.

AE: What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

BC: A chef.

AE: What profession other than your own would you not like to do?

BC: A surgeon. <<shuddering>>

AE: If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

BC: Enter at your own risk. <<smiling>>

AE: What was your earliest creative memory?

BC: I fell in love with letterforms in my Uncle’s shop. I remember watching him create beautiful black labels for boxes. I distinctly remember falling in love with letters at that moment. I also remember my father, who was a cabinet maker/fine craftsman. After dinner, I’d watch him work with fine woods, cut flowers out of ivory and mother of pearl. AE: You have your father’s hands, don’t you? BC: <<smiling>> Yes.

AE: What was the best part of your childhood?

BC: In my youth, while my mother was away, I had a nanny to look after me, Brauna. She was very much a mother to me and later, a grandmother to my daughter, Frida.

Brauna was a tailor, and a great inspiration to me. In the afternoons, I’d come home after school to Brauna at the kitchen table, embellishing a dress by hand with fine beads and jewelry. She had clients come to her house for fittings and there was a beautiful striped gray silk scarf that hung on a hook by the front door of the house. When I walked in and the scarf was missing, I knew Brauna was working with a client. She used the scarf to protect the shape of the big hairstyles popular in the mid-seventies of her clients while trying on a dress.

Brauna was an angel. She had long, well-manicured nails. It amazed me that she had the time to take such good care of her hands, considering how much she used them for work.

She was also a mother for my daughter Frida. She made her the best, most fancy dresses and costumes for Carnival, like Frida Kahlo or Red Riding Hood and fine miniature clothes for Frida’s Barbie dolls.

Brauna had a pillow she made for her house, onto which she embroidered my name to remember me by, once I had grown. I don’t have that pillow now, but I do have the heavy vintage foot-petal sewing machine she used. I use it now.

Both of us connected deeply with Brauna. She died of cancer 6 years ago. Friday cried for three solid days.

AE: What do you love about teaching?

BC: To know people. I love finding a way to be understood and to understand our differences and similarities.

AE: In comparing the differences and similarities between your home country, Italy, with the US, what do you love/dislike?

BC: In Bologna, Italy, I love the mix of art from the past as far back as the middle ages, with that of our contemporary surroundings and lifestyle. The arts are so easily accessible there, because it’s physical. Real. Everywhere you look, there is tangible ancient history. But because of this, the expression and flourish of the creative spirit can become somewhat stifled. The arts can become ordinary and lose their impact. Because art is everywhere, the need to find it and recreate it isn’t as prevalent in Europe.

Americans are different than Europeans in that they have an acute hunger for the arts, because it’s not such a strong physical environmental presence. Developing personal artistries and crafts are very important to Americans. They want to share, to give, to express, to constantly make things. They create this kind of open environment where people can share and encourage one another. Europe is different. Artists and craftsman can be very guarded and secretive about their information and processes.

AE: How large is your studio and is it genrally kept clean or messy?

BC: Small. One quarter of my wall space is filled with shelves of music CDs. And it’s messy.  <<smiling>>

AE: What gets you up in the morning?

BC: Walking or running with my dog, Tina, named after Frida Kahlo‘s lover, Tina Modotti.

Enjoying a tree.



The daughter of a cabinetmaker and restaurateur, Barbara Calzolari was born in Bologna, Italy in 1963. She attended the ENALC, a school of commercial art, in Bologna and studied with Roberto Canaider, art director of Buton, who played a major role in her training. Later, she worked for Publiflash (the silkscreening laboratory of the painter Otello Brocca) and completed projects for Bologna’s Galleria díArte Moderna, where she met and came to know artists such as Aligi Sassu, Virgilio Guidi, and Ugo Nespolo. Other encounters would later come to change the direction of her professional life, among them her meeting with Massimo Osti, founder of StoneIsland and C.P. Company, who offered her the chance to work in the fashion sector. She began to work with large firms in the garment trade and to collaborate with Daniele di Montezemolo and Ferrante Gonzaga on designing collections and developing products for Pirelli, Ferrari, and Ferrero.

Meanwhile, over a period of years, she cultivated and pursued her greatest passion: calligraphy. She contacted the Associazione Calligrafica Italiana, where she met Anna Ronchi and Giovanni De Faccio. In 2000, she took part in a training workshop with the American Brody Neuenschwander, who is famous for his ìscriptî in several films by the English producer Peter Greenaway. In the United States, she studied in greater depth the use of the flexible nib for Spencerian script, participated in a retreat at YMCA University with Michael Sull, and, in 2007, went to Ohioóhome of Platt Rogers Spenceróto attend the Advanced Spencerian workshop on this very elegant script of Anglo-Saxon origin that employs strokes and skills accessible only to the most expert calligraphers.

She regularly attends international calligraphy conventions, where she has met and worked alongside Pat Blair, current calligrapher for the White House; Joe Vitolo, master of the flexible nib; and Sheila Waters, founder of the Washington Calligraphers Guild, which Barbara Calzolari has joined. In 2008, Barbara Calzolari applied her skills to the creation of the masterpiece ìDeus Caritas est,î a complete work of art in book form, for the Italian art publishing house Marilena Ferrari-FMR. For the same publisher, she engrossed ìas a souvenir of the Italy of beautyî the national anthems that the prime minister of Italy wished to present to the heads of state assembled at the G8 Summit in 2009.

Regularly she teaches internationally in USA and Europe.


Penabler Summer Holiday Break!

Hello Inkers!!

We at the Atlanta Penablers are going to take a little break for the month of July and enjoy family and friends for the holiday weekend. This means there will NOT be a meeting on July the 5th next Friday.

Stay tuned for news about our meeting in August on Friday the 2nd!!

Happy thoughts to all of you!

~Anne, Mary and George

The Art of the Letter



Join us for our next Atlanta Penablers meeting Friday, June 7th, 2013 • 6-8pm at Binders Art School in Buckhead.

“The Art of the Letter” Learn how to elevate your own natural handwriting into a more elastic and expressive way to communicate. Using common writing tools of any kind, your voice on paper can turn into an enchanting, expressive and more legible art form. By adding time, rhythm, and structure to the letterforms you naturally make, whether cursive or blocky caps, the exercises on spacing for the page and for your letters will add to your correspondence toolbox.

What to Bring

• Common writing tools of any kind (pens and pencils.)

• Ruled or grid paper.

• Mechanical pencil, ruler, and eraser

• Transparent practice pad such as Borden & Riley Layout pad or Canson Marker Layout Pad.

• A snack or drink to share

• Yo Bad Self

• Optional Items: 1.Your calligraphic tools for broad edge or pointed pen, to intermix with the handwriting you’ll be developing during the meeting 2. Envelopes.

To become an Atlanta Penabler member just visit or contact Jacob Gunter at or 404.237.6331 (x203) 

Inside the broad heart of Carrie Imai: Rebellion, Color, Patience, and Dignity.



In anticipation of Carrie Imai’s upcoming July 5-7th workshop “Foundation Meets Bone” Victoria Lansford conducted a compelling interview with Carrie Imai, giving us a glimpse of what magic she might bring with her.


Victoria:  You’ve worked as a teacher/consultant on some big film productions such as the movie, JOBS, and HBO’s series, Rome.  What is it like to fit the calligraphic art-form into the specific and speedy demands of directors and actors?

Carrie:  The world of media is certainly an exciting one and one that was fun to visit – but I wouldn’t want to live there.  The director for the “Jobs” film phoned me about 4 days before shooting and needed EVERYTHING…artwork for Jobs’ home, the classroom, board demo paper for the teacher, supplies for the teacher and all the students, journals and homework and even the students for the classroom!  They fortunately came to the right person – I had everything they needed – even the students, who were from my class at UCLA.  They wanted to know if I could train the actors to do calligraphy.  I told them I was a teacher and could do that, but could only make them “look like” they knew how to do calligraphy in the hour I had to train them.  Interestingly, Aston Kutcher, who played Steve Jobs, already knew some calligraphy through a class he had taken.  I was the calligraphy advisor on set to be sure everything looked authentic.  Fun to do but a lot of hurry up to wait.  But it pays well and it’ll be fun to see all my artwork on the big screen. 

Victoria:  If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have one type of pen, one type and color of ink, and one type of writing surface, which would you pick?

Carrie:  Without question it would be my Automatic pen, Arches Text Wove paper and my faithful Prang watercolor set.  Use these all the time.  The large (#4 & #5) Automatic pen allows me to manipulate smoothly.  The Prang watercolors are brilliantly colored and ground fine so that they are transparent and blend beautifully with eachother.  Arches Text Wove paper has changed it’s sizing recently, so has some resistant properties in the sizing.  But it still is a good surface for writing and holds watercolor well.  You can paint a wash as a background and it does not buckle as most papers do.  This surface of background watercolor also improves the resistant qualities.  I’d be a happy camper.

Victoria:  You have a great sense of color and aren’t afraid to use it.  What is the most difficult color for you to work with or combine in a composition?

Carrie:  I love color and use it with some abandon.  I find that the combination of colors opposite on the color wheel – complimentary (orange and blue, purple and yellow, red and green) are the most successful.  And if you go to the secondary opposites – blue-green and red-orange; blue-violet and yellow-orange, etc., you get a whole new set of compliments.  I have the most trouble using the primary colors – red, blue and yellow.  I tend toward the jewel colors of purple, violet and red-violet …doesn’t every female calligrapher??

carrie studio

Victoria:  What is your studio like?  Is it tidy with a place for everything or creatively chaotic?

Carrie:  My studio is far from tidy.  I’m usually preparing for or cleaning up from a workshop or class.  And it seems that when I work, I need to get everything out to do it.  It’s a small room to boot – about 10’ x 11’ and contains a flat file, a file cabinet, my desk, a metal tool chest for my supplies and my computer desk and printer – pretty crowded.  But I feel at home there and have learned to live within the chaos.  Though I feel the need to neaten up before I start work.  I think it’s a method of avoidance, but I’m not admitting to that.  I’m attaching a few pictures that were taken for an issue of Calligraph (SfC’s annual magazine) on studio spaces.

Victoria:  Not only do you do Jacquie Svaran’s Bone hand well, you’ve gone on to create your own “Imai-Talic.” which, if I may say so, is pretty darn fabulous.  What drew you to hands with pen manipulation?  Was it the visual look or more the feel of the process?

Carrie:  I have been kind of a rebel throughout my calligraphic career and never liked the lines and the rules.  So when I learned Bone, many years ago, I found nirvana.  I could bounce up and down on the line and cast aside most of the rules.  I love the look of the beautiful curves that happen when you manipulate your pen, but it’s the feel of floating on the wet ink (you remember that and had a dramatic response to it) and dancing with your pen that I am hooked on.  It must be what sky divers feel or ski jumpers.  Well, I’m never going to jump out of a plane or off a ski ramp, but I can fly with my pen.  It is magic!

Victoria:  In reference to the title of your piece with the same name, would you tell us the significance of the Japanese word, Gaman, and how it relates to your work and life?


Carrie:  The Japanese term “Gaman” means to endure the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity.  My piece of the same name is a tribute to those Japanese people who suffered and lost everything during the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan.  With perseverance and strength, they went to work to rebuild.  I so admired that spirit that I was moved to do that piece.  I used Japanese Unryu paper, Sumi ink, brushes and metal pens to get the sense of the power of the water and the strength of the Japanese people.

To read more about Carrie Imai, visit her website here.

To read more about her fabulous upcoming workshop Foundation meets Bone, follow this link or keep reading. We dare you not to sign up. 🙂

3 Sessions | All Levels | Price: $210
ARTZ1382 | Friday – Sunday, July 5 – 7, Fri. & Sat. 10am – 5pm, Sun. 11 – 6pm  


Foundation Meets Bone Description 

The Foundation alphabet was aptly named by Edward Johnston as it is based on Carolingian, an early Humanist Roman hand and became the “foundation” for a calligraphy revival in the early 1900’s.

This class will begin with a study of the beautiful, strong, round Foundation alphabet and then morph into the Bone alphabet which was the brain child of Jacqueline Svaren as an exercise to loosen up the rigid pen holds and stiff hands of her students.  It is based on the very formal Carolingian, but is manipulated to the MAX to create a wild, amorphous, sexy alphabet.

Be prepared to learn to walk all over again.  Doing this alphabet is like nothing you’ve ever done before.  The beautiful thing that happens once you master these manipulated letters, is that this skill integrates into your other alphabets and gives them that life and bounce that you drool over in books and at exhibits, but were not quite sure how to get into your own.

There will be lots of personal attention to assure your success.  We will have lots of time to play with the many wonderful variations of these two alphabets and to create several easy and fun projects using the skills we learn.

Each participant will receive a bound book of exemplars, samples and handouts.