Boise Event: RAW Signature: March 24


I know the majority of my readers aren’t anywhere close to Boise, geographically, so I’ll keep this brief, but I thought I would see if anyone living close by might be interested.


I am participating in an art show put on by RAW, which supports artists in all types of mediums from performance art, to hair and makeup, to fine art. They’re sort of an indie art show. I’ve been asked to showcase my calligraphy at the event, and I’m supposed to sell tickets, which is easier said than done. I will be giving free calligraphy bookmarks to anyone who buys tickets. (If you want a personalized calligraphy bookmark and you don’t want to buy a ticket, message me on Facebook or leave a comment at the bottom of this post).


The Details:

Where: Revolution Concert and Event Center in Garden City (Boise, ID)

When: March 24 from 6-10 pm

What: An artist showcase featuring artists across platforms. There will be live music, drinks, performance art, art for sale, and more—suggested ages 18+

Cost: $15 if you buy tickets online, $20 at the door

Why: To support local art and have a fun night out!


Rest In Peace, Alan Rickman

IMG_3254It’s really hard when you lose great artists. Or when you lose people who represent your childhood. Even though you never would have met them, and there’s no way they could know that they had an influence on your life, it’s still painful to lose them.


I was so sorry to lose both David Bowie and Alan Rickman so close together. So I did a little calligraphy–my tiny way to honor them.


I will miss Alan Rickman in all the great roles that I loved him so much in, like Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility. But I will especially miss the person who embodied Severus Snape and made him come to life off of the page.


(If you’re interested in having any of these pieces or one like them, you can find them here on my Etsy shop).

50th Anniversary Cruise

Toasting at their wedding in 1965, my grandparents Irene and Mike.

I’ve been doing a lot of work for a very special project, which I thought I’d share with you.

On August 22, my grandparents will have been married for 50 years. To celebrate, they’re taking the family on a cruise to the Caribbean where they will renew their vows and celebrate being together.

IMG_2637 (2)

For the trip I have designed t-shirts (to be unveiled after the trip, as they haven’t come back from the screen printer just yet), invitations, door markers (because if you’ve ever been on a cruise you know that all the doors look the same), music playlists, and a smattering of other projects I’ll show you later.

Before the trip, I thought I’d share some of my packing tips and, the question foremost in any reader’s mind, how to choose the best vacation reads. After the trip, I’ll share stories and pictures as well as my top 5 must see/do in this part of the Caribbean (we’re visiting Puerto Rico, St. Martin/Maarten, and St. Kitts).

The door markers with first initials–they’ll be laminated so nothing happens to them, and then they’ll go on everyone’s cabin door.

The font I’m sharing was created just for this occasion (though it is now available on the Etsy shop), and it is one of my absolute favorites. I’ve called it ‘Rapunzel’ for all it’s little curlicues like the curls you get in your hair, but what makes this font so perfect for my grandparents is its traditional mixed with modern elements and its whimsy.

My grandparents set a great example for other couples with their dedication to laughter and communication, and I’m so honored to be a part of this very special celebration for them.

You can find the playlist I created for their vow renewal on Spotify–a short mix of danceable oldies from the 60s and 70s.

My First Calligraphy Class


On July 9, I was fortunate enough to teach my first ever calligraphy class with some wonderful ladies. I was contacted about setting up a class via Etsy, and was able to set up a lovely night out for some great gals at The Coffee Studio in Meridian. We had six women show up to try their hand at this wonderful art. They were very patient with me, as I was learning the ropes as much as they were.

In the end I think we all had a great time, and in just two short hours they were really starting to get the hang of the calligraphy pen. Their artwork turned out beautiful; I was as proud as a mother hen. Even though the class was centered around watercolors originally, classic black and white ruled the day with some fantastic results.


Are you in the Boise area? Interested in setting up a class for you and some friends? Let me know via Etsy or private message me on Facebook!

My Shop was Featured on the Etsy Blog!

I am so excited and honored and thrilled and all those lovely things to have been included as one of the featured artists on Etsy blog. All of these artists make truly special, beautiful, romantic gifts and I’m proud to be included among them.

Please go to my Etsy site, Aliza’s Inklings for more information about my Valentine’s day offerings, especially my custom love letters.

How Not to Make a Quill Pen


Today, once again, I find myself in the ignominious position of having less of a how-to, than a how-not-to. However, since there are probably many people like myself who jump into a tutorial and find myself less than equipped to finish a DIY project, I thought I’d share my issues, which will hopefully mean your attempts will be more successful. This is just another project that sounds easy, but has a lot more going on.

Step One: gather the feathers

I should start by saying that the ideal feathers for a quill are goose (though turkey and ostrich and peacock all work too). They are readily available and they’re both flexible and strong.

We found these feathers at the beach, and Mom thought I should try making them into quills. I don’t know if the length of time I had them before starting the project made a difference (almost two months), but I’m not sure I advise making feathers with gull feathers you find at the beach, though they can be quite pretty, and it’s still worth a try, especially since there’s not always a lot to do at the beach.


Step Two: wash the feathers

There are different recommended methods for washing feathers. Mine probably didn’t need too much work, but they were a little sandy, since I’d gotten them from the beach. I cleaned my feathers in warm soapy water and then let them dry on a towel.


Step Three: divest the feather of some of its fluff

Shaving the feather so it sits comfortable in your hand is probably the easiest part of the process. You just use a sharp knife and trim some of the lower layers off. You could run some sand paper along this, but as I had less and less luck with successive quills, I was less and less concerned with this and started to ignore it altogether. Don’t be like me, even if you have several feathers, make every part of the process feel important so you’re less likely to go too quickly and get careless.

Step Four: the first cut

So my main problem with this project was probably the fact that my chosen knife was not sharp enough. I cut too quickly with too little precision, and ended up messing everything up. Don’t be like me. Cut carefully with a very sharp knife (using extreme caution–please no one get hurt for a quill) at an acute angle. The end should be somewhat pointed, but fairly blunt.

Step Five: remove the quick

There’s stuff in the feather (I won’t dwell on what it is–I’d rather not know) and it’s best removed with either the point of the knife or a pair of small tweezers. It is not advisable to try and stick the tweezer so far in that you crack the feather, as I did twice.


Step Six: the second cut

You’re basically trying to make this thing look like a fountain pen or calligraphy nib. That is, it roughly comes to a point, and then the point is refined. You don’t want to finalize the pointed or flat shape yet.

Step Seven: cutting through the point

So as you’ve no doubt seen, pens have a slit through the nib. When pressure is place on the tip, the tines open and the ink is allowed to flow. You have to make a cut into the quill to replicate this slit. It is better to do this in the middle of the nib, not at a weird angle, and again, with a sharp knife.

Step Eight: refining the look

At this point you can shape the nib to get the effect you want. It can be either pointed, like a traditional calligraphy look or can be cut flat so that it produces an italic look. It may help to look at the shape of a pen you like (which I didn’t do).


Step Nine: dip in the ink and write

This is where I had the most trouble, the culmination of an hour’s work. Though I made some marks on paper, it didn’t flow the way I was used to. I had little control over the width of the line, the nib cracked, and ultimately it was pretty unsuccessful. I still want to try again, with different kinds of feathers and a better knife.

Hope this inspires you to give it a try–knowing it’s okay to fail. Or maybe you’ll go back to your trusty fountain pen and remember the reason we moved away from quills in the first place.

What’s your favorite writing implement?

A Collection of Banned Book Bookmarks

With quotes from Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men, Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover, and Nabokov’s Lolita.

So as you may or may not know, this year’s Banned Book Week ran September 21-27. Banned Book Week gives us an opportunity to discuss censorship and literature and to celebrate reading in all its forms.

Banned Book Week may be over, but it’s never too late to talk about these ideas. This year I created a few calligraphy bookmarks that take quotes from some of my favorite banned books and put them together in groups that I think illustrate some of the reasons the books are banned in the first place (power and social justice, love and relationships, and adventure).

With quotes from Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, and Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I always take opportunity of banned books week to read or reread a banned book. As the title “challenged book” suggests, these titles are ones that are controversial and stir people’s passions. Many people believe that children especially should not be presented with this material as it is difficult and often challenging to one’s fundamental beliefs about the world. But this is exactly the reason these books are some of the most important works of our time. Many of the books people cite as more appropriate for children, like the works of Dickens or Shakespeare challenge some of these same beliefs and say similar things, they’ve just been accepted by society at large over time.

We read challenged books because they have something to say about our struggles as human beings. They provoke us to think critically about the world around us, get us to ask questions and yes, sometimes they put our beliefs on the line. We should be encouraging people to think critically about the world around them and about their society in particular. People shouldn’t be afraid of thinking–just the opposite should scare us. If the beliefs we hold are valid, they should stand up to just this type of challenge, and if they don’t–then they really did need to be looked at more closely.

But beyond what these books teach us, how they can change our lives if we let them, they are also expressions of art. And these works of art are a vital part of our culture, and shouldn’t be ignored any more than we should shut up a Picasso or a Pollock. After reading, we can evaluate the work of art of course, but that doesn’t mean it should be censored or shunted aside. It is worthy of consumption, evaluation, and perhaps appreciation.

If we don’t read banned books, we lose the greatest works of our greatest writers. We miss ideas that both elevate us and that bring us down to our most animalistic natures. The content of the individual work is ultimately of minimal importance. What’s more important is how we’re taught to read it.

With quotes from Orwell’s 1984, Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

And so ends my little rant on the importance of banned books. To learn more about banned book week and which books are banned, check out the American Library Association’s page.

To take a closer look at my bookmarks honoring these great works, head over to my Etsy page.

What’s your favorite banned book?


Julia Child Quote

Since Mondays are all about calligraphy, paper, and crafts, I thought I’d start off with a post on why I do calligraphy, how I got started, and how I continue to practice.

I’ve always been interested in calligraphy because it was like writing and drawing. When I was younger, I thought it was something that needed to be done with a specially shaped italic pen. At that point, my experience was limited to the colorful markers that make up children’s calligraphy kits. I had nice handwriting, and so my calligraphy looked pretty decent–though it was soon given up in favor of different artistic pursuits.

Oscar Wilde Quote

More recently, I asked for a calligraphy pen or kit for Hannukah. My parents got me a calligraphy fountain pen with a variety of italic nibs. This held my interest for longer, but I found the fountain pen to be a bit troublesome and I really wanted my work to look like the pointed pen calligraphy which was becoming popular. You really can’t achieve those results with an italic fountain pen.

Some online investigation after I graduated college (and was supposed to be starting my novel), I found a site called Skillshare, which offered (and still offers) some online calligraphy courses. I enrolled in a class, and bought my first pointed pen. The rest, as they say, is history.

My first time markings with a pointed pen.
My first time markings with a pointed pen.

I took the class (though I still haven’t uploaded my class project–I probably should do that) and another class (ditto), and then I did my first real project. Of course, I didn’t really take pictures of it, because that would have been way too smart. Nevertheless, doing the envelopes for my friends wedding really showed me how much I love doing calligraphy. You can see what the font I created for her developed into on my Etsy site here.

I started my Etsy site not long after to continue developing my craft and to share my love of handwritten things with others. It also helps me to fund my writing (save the starving artists! Though my family and my Paul do a great job of feeding me) and gives me another creative outlet.

Practicing my name in different styles.
Practicing my name in different styles.

Pointed pen calligraphy is really more like drawing or even painting than like regular writing. I happen to be left-handed, and that makes it even more challenging. When everything goes smoothly, the ink is the right consistency, the nib is the proper one for the font and the paper, the motions are fluid and I slip into a kind of flow state. But that doesn’t always happen, and sometimes it’s a struggle to put pen to paper because things are constantly going haywire. There are some days you have to just step away because nothing is going right.

Victor Hugo Quote

But the next day everything seems to make more sense. It really is a craft–one that gets better with practice. It helps encourage me not to take the world and my work too seriously. And even though I see all the little imperfections and inconsistencies, it really does look quite lovely. Sometimes it’s hard to look at these early samples of my work, but it’s always good to know where you’ve come from and to continue to experiment and practice.


If you’re interested in learning calligraphy, I recommend finding a class (either online or in a classroom). It won’t be perfect at first, not even close, but it gets better with practice. And if you’d rather leave the calligraphy to those of us crazy enough to do it, you can indulge your love of all things handwritten on my Etsy site (or troll around Pinterest–that always works for me).

Is there an art form you’ve always been fascinated by? What was it and did you pursue it?