Thursday, 15 December 2011

Christmas Card 2011

Ah! a Blog again!
This is what our Christmas Card is like this year.
This year I thought I would make something beautiful. What I did not anticipate was it jumping the gun and kick starting out plans to launch the stationery company next year. We have already sold 30 packs of them. And of the 30, 15 packs had to be opened up and hand addresses and messages written in.
The cards are A4 folded down to A5, portrait. 350 GSM, GFSmith Colourplan Racing Green. Envelopes are C5, deep wallet flap, Colourplan Bright Red.
The cards are for sale – they are £25 for a pack of 5. And we also offer a hand addressing service is a script of your choice. Usually it is our Quick Script III (the slanted quick script) in white ink on the red envelopes. But we have used Copperplate in white as well.
The inside can be personalised in gold ink with a message of your choice – for an added fee. Cost depends on the volume of text to be written in.
So here is the process at Mount Street
Gold and RunGold MixingHot off the PressOff the Press

The cards with various of our scripts

Card Detail
In Pack
But the true joy of the cards is seeing them from a distance, the column of holly looks like it is moving up the centre of the card. Naturally this is tricky to see as the engraving of the front is so raised it is difficult to put it down, feeling the texture between your fingers is really something special.

Evening Standard Dec 2011

We have some work in the Evening Standard today! Thanks to the wonderful Simon at Charles Burnard see
Simon styled a shoot centred around Made in Chelsea’s Cheska. The images I saw from Simon were so beautifully shot – cant wait to see it.
I thought I would post images of what I sent in – they are only there for you to see a close up shot of the work we provided.
All of the text and addresses are made up.
Thanks Simon!


Saturday, 28 May 2011

April - 2011

Once again the blog is late – I am going to have to get someone in to start doing this – but seriously, we have little images of what was done in May as it was fairly standard work with the standard work – Placecards, placement envelopes, escort cards and envelope and invitation addressing. Those were the standard, usual things. But the reason there are not that many photographs is there seemed to be a proliferation of people wanting us to sign Nondisclosure Agreements. And with the events leading up to May I am sure you can work out at least two of them on your own.


This was a massive bit of paper I was asked to work on. It was a present to a client’s husband. Am looking forward to seeing an image of it framed and in situ.

Last month ended a 10 week course I was studying on. The course was run by........... on Arabic Decoration. It was spectacular. It also gave me so much food for thought and I started to work on incorporating some of the intent of the designs, and in some cases, the designs themselves, into my western calligraphy. This was to be the crux of the work I am seemed to be aiming for on the Society of Scribes and Illuminators Advanced Training Scheme, of which this is my third and final year. The course is about self development and why you do calligraphy. It has been a real challenge, a wonderful one at that. I wont post any images as yet though, well not until I have some finished work.

The month began with us finishing off a job for the delightful Amaury at Ralph Lauren. Such a gentleman to deal with. The first week saw us finalising the designs for Joelle Rashti’s wedding. I think I might have to do a separate blog on that.

Mathew Bates has moved from Fulham Palace to ‘the Royal Society of Arts’ and we are looking forward to work with him there. And the suppliers list grows!.

We had a job to do for Dior as well which was a rushed job, but it did give me the opportunity to work with Charlotte again.

Half InviteA last minute change due to printing issues, Victoria Watson, a good friend of the lovely Daniel Marks at The Communication Store got in touch with us to deal with her invitations, she is also dealing with Javier and Tony at By Appointment Only Design for her floral details. Hearing of us from two companies made her approach us about her invitations. We were only too happy to assist, the timing was a little tricky as everything needed to be done quickly. I do try to remind clients that the faster you want something the longer it seems to take as so much needs to be pinned down before agreeing to handwriting an invitation. It was also the first time that we printed all the invitations for a job in the studio on our super duper digital printer! We were happy with the results, but more importantly, so was she and her fiancé. Here is half the invitation to show the mix of scripts used.

This week also saw me prepping for a meeting with some publishers who have asked me to write a book on calligraphy. I must confess it is something I had been thinking of for about a year but the sheer scale of the task, and running the studio, made me shy away from it. My mother proceeded to point out to me the nature of this opportunity in that it presented itself and I needed to take it. Alistair was so supportive but a little concerned about the book and my existing work load! Lindy and Isheeta came to see me about my ideas and we all seemed to get over excited. They were great in showing me what an outline would look like and how I needed to plot what I needed to do. I need to add here whilst we were discussing, the feeling of an axe hanging over my head! There is so very much to. I was asked to prepare the table of contents and a sample chapter of one of the scripts by the second week of May. So no pressure there!

Midweek saw me at the wonderful Peggy Porschen Cake Shop to talk about some lettering they are thinking of using for some signage. It is not necessarily a good thing when creative people get together our brains start churning, out came the writing tools and Peggy, Bryn and I were laughing like children.

Wednesday evening saw me at the Bluebird Wedding Event organised by the beautiful Sarah Widdowson. What a great event, saw so many people including the lovely Miranda Eason from Cosmo Bride and You & Your Wedding. She promptly introduced me to Stephanie Stafford new editorial assistant who interviewed me for the online magazine. I ended up disclosing some very hush-hush information about the business which I will tell you about soon enough.

Zoe Couper’s invitations and envelopes arrived. They were printed using our Spencerian Script and needed the names being inserted in the text – and that meant matching the colour they printed in. Something I sort of take for granted. It was not always that I could match a colour exactly – it has taken about 5 years to know when it is going to be correct. So, Zoe’s invitations and envelopes needed to be done and ready by the end of the week. Printed by Downey and Co on Vellum White Colourplan. They made up the envelopes and lined them in blue – genius. Their work is ALWAYS so well executed.

AmandaHenry_Invite3 copy - SmudgeLast year we started working with Amanda Henry for her ‘Save The Dates’ and now came time to produce the invitations. She opted for ivory on dark grey card! The envelopes were addressed to suit, in ivory on dark grey envelopes. We were so pleased with them, as was she!

More certificates to do for the Princes Trust – these are all handwritten in delicate copperplate script.

And Joelle Rashti’s job finalised and sent to print. The main invitation to be diestamped in gold on Vellum White 700gsm, the other two invitations to be letterpressed in antique pink rose on Mist Colourplan 540gsm, RSVP card in white on dark brown, RSVP envelope in dark brown on white, and the envelopes in white Spencerian on Nubuck envelopes. Bliss.

Thea Darricotte formally of Brides Magazine, now at Conde Nast Traveller, had her envelopes arrived as well, did some slanted quick script to get them out and off quickly. Congrats Thea!

Royal Academy’s invitations and RSVP cards were addressed and send off to Bethan at the RA for them to go out as well

The week ended with a call from Harriet from Party Planners. So lovely to deal with. And a call from the girls from Kasimira Party Organisers to do all the stationery for a wedding – two invitations handwritten out and a map hand drawn with handwritten text. I also got a bollocking from my mother. Two months ago I was interviewed by a television crew for a documentary on the Royal Wedding for Living TV in the US.

My mother lives in Trinidad and Living TV is shown there. She only caught a little bit of the interview but it showed again on the Friday so she was able to see all of it. I had a copy sent to me and will see if I can cut the bit with me in it to put on line.

Week three started with 1000 envelopes coming in from Selfridges to be done in one of our modern scripts. It also had a very sad note to it as one of our calligraphers, Nicola, had to deal with the passing of her mother. It was a blow to all of us as we love Nicola so much and knowing she was upset made focused working much more tedious. Sarah also saw a death in her family. Both funerals were planned for the week of the 26th.

The end of the week saw Sarah reminding me that we had a stand at the RSVP show, something which I knew was happening but simply forgot! I nearly fell out my chair when she reminded me and thus began furious preparation for work for the show.

Setup was the 18th the show was the 19th and 20th and we then had Friday off. Sometimes holidays are more of a hindrance. Of course the following week would be the Royal Wedding and yet more holidays. I worked all Easter and right through the short week and all through the Royal Wedding celebrations.

The short week also saw us putting the finishing touches on Britta Kjerkegaard’s (The Couture Gallery) menus, place cards and placement envelopes. We also spoke with Stefania at Ganisbury and Whiting, did a design for Polly at Brides for a mock up of a possibly invite for Zara Philips and one for Kate Moss! Nigel at the Fishmoners’ Hall and a bevy of brides about place cards, envelopes and the like.

And there I was thinking the month was quite!

Monday, 11 April 2011

March - 2011

March has come and gone and I am only just beginning to realise that going away from the studio, and out of London is probably to best way forward, when it comes to writing the blog! Much has happened this month but off the top of my head I cannot say what. There have been a few things of which I am not allowed to speak and a few things of which I can speak of but only until they are done and dusted and one major thing once the contract is signed – for which I am ecstatic!

February ended with the paper work going through for the setting up of ‘The Bespoke Stationery Company’ which is the stationery side of the business, so more complications for Sarah to deal with not to mention the technical issues of purchasing materials, and VAT registration! Can you believe – I am still in shock! Thankfully, Gary, my business manager at the Bank and Steve, the wonderful accountant, held my hand through it all, still don’t understand a word of what they said but hey! I had a film crew in the studio, once again, filming me writing for a documentary on what might be used for The Royal Wedding, to be aired in the US. Hope I don’t get into trouble for that!


We finished off Olivia Paton and Mark Townsend’s wedding invitations in style and the loved them. It was a real chance to embed written calligraphy in the printed calligraphy text to create something really special. Since then we have done two other invitation of a similar type. Look closely at the names ‘Jonathan & Kelly’ there is a slight colour variation due to the flash but in real life you could not tell what was written in!

End of Feb also saw us still sending out emails from contact from the DSW. So many enquiries but how many will turn into actual jobs? Really makes me think of streamlining our various pdfs of the many things which can be done, they do need to be image rich and that means a lot of writing and photography.

March saw me changing out tack a little. We had a really unpleasant situation where a bride became increasingly problematic making unreasonably demands. It got to the point where both Sarah and I was at the end of our rope with her and then she sent an email that stunned us both by asking if she was unhappy with the work what was the procedure. I told her that if our reputation and that level of work seen in the pdf was not good enough they it was better she went elsewhere. This was an unfortunate, but important decision, my management consultant friends said. I guess we cant please everyone and if you get the sense that it is not going to be worth it, walk away!

The first week also saw regular clients Polo Ralph Lauren come to us to get some calligraphy done. They have these invitations which need names, a contact and a number all centred, and centred address labels too. It is an EXTREMELY difficult job to do because of the centring. Then the invitations arrived and they were enormous but dealing with Anne-Charlotte is always fun. We also got to deal with a new guy called Amaury, lots of laughs.

A little mix up as well that drove us nuts – two clients same month – one called Amanda Henry and the other Annabel Hendry – well you could only imaging the confusion which ensued. Fortunately one was for stationery and the other only envelope addressing.

P1060973Emilia Wickstead’s invitations came up as well, and we opted for something like Olly Paton’s but with both sets of parents, no name written in. A slightly oversized invitation and we did the text and she sorted out the printing. This again was a learning curve – this type of invitation needs to be what it is – uncentred! If it needs to be centred then that is a completely different matter.

The final set of vids on Video Jug was posted – the one on Copperplate being the main one I was after. I was so happy with them. Not to get some full length DVDs done, when? I have no idea.

P1060921First week of March ended with a chat with Polly at Brides, Placecards for an upcoming shoot! A long chat with Laura at Atom about some white Small Caps on invitations and envelopes, and sorting out the Vows logo for Chelsea Bidwell. And seeing a friend, Armin, to do a logo for him. We got the sign off on the contributors card for the Matthew Williamson Trunk Show and will get it printed next week in time for the show – that pink is a nightmare to print! Dealing with the beautiful Fong at MW, such a joy.

The second week started the text for Joelle Rashti’s wedding invitations and finalising the design, talking with the die-stampers, letterpress printers and the litho printers about the job. Getting a definite fix on numbers and colours – I am so excite about this job. Joelle’s mother, Ava is an absolute scream! And the fuel for the design is as much Joelle as it is Ava (and her magical cheesecake, and food!). The final bit of the list for the Outset dinner at the V&A arrived. Plate menus blanks arrived from Cutture for Polly’s shoot at Brides. The Placecards were from Hello Lucky and were a dream to write on.

While all of this is going on we had to start working on the copy for the invitations for the Royal Academy’s Summer Event – mock-ups to be done! Not something we normally do as it would entail writing out all the text. I explained this to Bethan but then had a brainstorm!

P1060940End of last year, after much deliberation and soul searching (and I should add anguish and tears) I decided to make a font of one of our scripts. For the sole purpose of making something beautiful easy to use, especially for large blocks of text, and for menus and the like. I decided to use the Small Caps we have and worked very hard to originate something that is so subtle and honest. The font it not available on the market, and is only on one computer, but is has given us the flexibility to do many things, and more keep coming up. I must say, I did not envy the font designer, having to deal with me on something that was so much my own. In the end this is what we ended up with.

This then gave us the ability to produce the mock-ups needed for the Royal Academy. Every dark cloud eh? I guess one could never anticipate what life has in store down the road.

P1060952James Gillick’s vellum strips were prepared and written on with the text of the specific paintings and let me tell you, wow! Angelo had a chance to play with some of the tiny off cuts of vellum, once I had prepared the whole skin. ‘This is what writing should be about’ was his words when we tried writing on the vellum. Cant wait to sit him down with a quill and some iron gall ink and vellum. I have such a clear memory of what it was like for me.

In 1999 I won a scholarship to go to the University of Reading’s Typography and Graphic Communication’s Department to study letterform history under James Mosely and Michael Harvey. This week saw me going back to demonstrate the history of writing from the Greeks up to the present day, essentially doing what Michael did – it was such an emotional thing for me to do. To give back what they gave to me.

The week ended with me preparing to see a very good friend of mine about some business advice on the direction of the business – Sunday is going to be a tough one. It turned out Sunday was tough but mainly because my good friends Javier and Tony from By Appointment Only Design and I met for one drink the night before. Needless to say this turned into me getting home at an unreasonable hour. In hindsight, I think I really needed the alcohol to deal with what Stephan had in mind for me. What insight to the business he gave me. More on that much, much later on.

Sunday also saw us preparing for Photographer Cat Hepple and Annabel of Love My Dress to come stay with us to spend the Monday with Javier and Tony and the Tuesday in the studio with me and my team. This all began with Alistair coming home from visiting his parents in Derbyshire, on the Sunday and making a Banoffee Pie so it would set for dinner for Monday night!

The girls arrived at Kings Cross and were collected and taken to 38 Chiltern Street for a day at By Appointment Only Design. My day was a little broken up with little bits of jobs and wrapping up early to go collect them, take them home and start cooking. Dinner was for six, Annabel, Cat, Javier, Tony, Ali and myself. We talked shop, poor Ali!

Tuesday say us taking the tube to the studio and me spending time with them explaining how both the stationery and calligraphy businesses work individually and co-operatively. I particularly enjoyed hearing how they both started as well. Kindred spirits. We are all here to help each other! We ended the day with learning how to emboss, boy that was funny, for me! Took them home, then to the train. We were all so tired by the end of the two days but so much richer for it.

Rebecca Wilkins of TCS called about doing Daniel Mark’s invitations for a party. Mixing that deep blue is always tricky, but well worth it. He went for copperplate script to contrast the caps the invitations were printed in.

The weekend saw me spending time with Javier and Tony, up at 530am to head off the Stapleford for a little wedding show. The drive was a hoot and we had a great day out. It also gave me an interesting way to look at the way our colourful stationery works when tied into the stunning flowers produced by the boys!

Our invitation for the Luella’s Boudior Wedding Fair arrived from the beautiful Tiffany Grant-Reily. Sadly I missed it due to work. The week of the 21st saw me sleep in the studio on the Monday night to play catch-up. The rest of the week was 5 am starts and 10pm home. It was not fun, I am not as young as I used to be became so apparent. I felt like a zombie.

The week ended with some amazing news – Sarah and Michael got a puppy – Daisy and she is so cute! The week also ended to Sarah heading off to Sicily an d we know what that is like. Angelo is off to Paris with Liv for most of the last week so it is just me and Nicola, and the many couriers!

Joelle Rashti’s invitation are done and at the printers, thanks to the wonderful Rachel at Mount Street, and they are magnificent. Easily the most sumptuous invitations I have even designed, and that is on the screen. When they are printed they will be something else. The main invite is die-stamped gold on 700gsm vellum white (a beautiful blush pink) with vintage rose brushed edges. The other two invites are in the vintage rose on a greyish pink board. RSVP card is folded and printed in white on a light dark brown called Nubuck, RSVP envelopes are a lighter brown called Harvest, with the RSVP address printed in the darker Nubuck. Envelopes are the dark Nubuck with white hand lettered calligraphy on them in Spencerian Script!

What a way to end the month.



There is more but I cant show it at the moment!

Friday, 11 March 2011

February 2011–BAOD

At the beginning of November 2010, Javier and Tony at By Appointment Only Design told me about an event they were planning to hold at One Mayfair. It was to be a show casing evening of work for a wedding event like no other. Three looks, completely laid-out as a table setting with a few plinths around with an invitation or a dress or something amazing. ‘It is going to look like something in a museum!’ he said. Can I come up with an invitation that will be mind blowing!

The first port of call was the Save the Dates. Ideas were tossed around and the sketching began in earnest. I plunged into my Colourplan book with pens at the ready. I tried different looks, scripts, colours and then went on to produce five roughs. One based on a hanging Christmas Bauble as it was being sent the week before Christmas.


All the while the, furious designing of the invitation went apace. ‘Cutture want to have something to do with the invitation!’ And so this was thrown in the mix. We met almost twice a week to see how it was coming along. In the mean time I was also asked to consider invitations for two the three looks, BAOD’s ‘Paris Couture’ look and the wonderful Polly Atkinson from Brides’ ‘Valentine’s’ Theme.


We settled on a ‘circlet of text of the two main names with some kind of corner decoration and a pop-up feel when the card was opened’. I wanted something that seemed alive and moved, but something that also helped the circlet feel like it was rolling. I sent off the images to Javier. He chose the most complex one (number 3) with Anne-Marie (Cutture) and me opting for the simpler of the three (number 1).


Then came the working out of the text and the decoration. The circlet started life as our ‘Upright Copperplate’ and was a serious headache getting it right. Anne-Marie then suggested something in the corners so the flourishing began.


I was not happy. It did not balance well. I knew our Small Caps would fill the centre but could not get my head around then circlet. It was my intention to place all the contributors as a frame at the front and back, blind embossed in our caps, but we could not get all the names together and the printing deadline was upon us.

Still I was unhappy with the lowercase with the flourishing. The Save the Date was done and sent off and Christmas appeared and everything stopped. Well not the designing. On Boxing Day, Javier and Tony dropped by at home and Alistair had to put up with us discussing more designs. That morning I had an idea to do the circlet in interlocked copperplate capitals, I tend to steer clear of copperplate capitals but in this instance it would work. More hassle – have you ever tried writing capitals, in copperplate, on a curve and getting them to look right? Not fun, as the tops of the letters need to be narrower than the bottom. I had to also make sure the letters were large enough to go all the way round and connect up. Then came the hell of the printing.



I knew I wanted it in gold, die-stamped on black Colourplan, with a sunk plate border on the back and front of the card. A mock up of the thing was made, sunk plate and all. All of this whilst working out the dentelle pattern for the corner pieces. This done, I sent of off to Anne-Marie for her to work out the complexity of the laser cutting, because if we don’t make the design correctly, when it is cut, it will fall out! To work this out in my head, I drew the pattern out and shaded in what needed to be cut out. Steep learning curve.

P1060823Then came the clincher – Cutture cut the dentelle pattern and there it was in dark grey Colourplan for real. I was thrilled. All the while I was talking with Rachel at Mount Street Printers to work out how we were going to print this. It was too large to be die-stamped in one hit and so two plates needed to be made (10 working days!) printing still to be done.

This was a little bit tricky, I say a little but Rachel would tell you another story. We thought of printing it in 4 hits but the registration would be a nightmare. I cannot tell you how important it was being lead by Rachel on this one.

Wrote the text out, scanned it and sent it to her to print. The plates were made up and off we went.



P1060825Javier was also sending out letters to brides who purchased tickets and so a handwritten letter copied up and filled in where the name and number of tickets were needed were done. Envelopes were addressed in the same script.

This was an on going thing as tickets were purchased. We, Javier and I, decided that it would be best to do these on a daily basis, or 10 at a time, which ever came first.

They were printed the BAOD pink or nubuck paper with nubuck envelopes. I must say the pink letter with the nubuck envelopes look stunning.

P1060824All the black Colourplan envelopes arrived and I started addressing them in gold ink on the slant. The envelopes were A5. I opted for the slant as I made a crazy decision to do the contributors list on the slant, in interlocked copperplate script.

There were about 300 envelopes to address, all by hand. Came in on the weekend to do these.

I have included some of the roughs for working out who went where, these are the better ones – there were about 20! Fitting this much text in that space, oh well. I knew what I was getting myself into. These were done on a train back from somewhere, I forget. To say the stationery for this event was consuming my life is an understatement. Not to mention there was all the studio work to keep up with. Off it went to print, unfortunately Matthew Williamson came on board after the printing was started.


Invite outers and inners were sent to Cutture to laser cut and stick together. Envelopes were sent and delivered personally to Javier and Tony for stuffing. I turned up at BAOD Shop on the Friday to see the printed contributors list and to help stuff and post. This was the first time I was seeing the finished invitations, contributors list and the envelopes together. I was so excited!


I got to BAOD on Chiltern Street and was practically jumping. Javier thought I had seen one. When he took it out of the box I honestly nearly cried! Of course I then started to pick holes in the and was told to be quite!

Apart from that we also needed a programme for the evening and lots of little place cards with the names of the looks and the contributors to each look. The ‘girandole’ design was done and sent to Mount Street to be litho printed. They arrived on the evening at the show Friday 11th February at One Mayfair, in time to be put out.


Javier and Tony’s ‘Paris Couture’ look called for pale colours and delicacy. I immediately thought of something I had a toying with – a beautiful lace invitation where the names of the couple were written first and the lace constructed around their names. All in white on a heavy tracing paper duplexed to a 700gsm board with a pale blue frame exposed (it does actually work as an invitation)


Polly’s mood board came and I was stumped! I called Polly as soon as her mood board came in to talk options. Hers came in on a Friday and I really needed the weekend to figure out what to do. In the end I opted for a red background with a heart in the middle made up of the text for the invitation, the couple’s names made the arrow all framed by an embossed border with gold graining in the embossed areas, like heart strings. Polly’s look also came with a beautiful envelope to match with text in copperplate in a beautiful vintage rose dark pink. The place cards were gold gilt with the rose pink and sumptuous menus with a strip of red with speckled gold down the left side.



With both designs I was VERY careful to discuss with all the printers we work with, the scale of complexity, degree of difficulty and duration of printing each project would take. It makes little sense in designing something that cannot be done easily, well and with a budget in mind.

Arriving at the event after a very long day, to see all those petals strewn around, I had to write one more thing – and that was to tell people to ‘Write their details here!’

Below are images Sarah took when they were in place at the venue. I hope you enjoy what enjoyed working on. Thank you Javier, Tony and Polly. Love you lots!


For a better close-up. Oh! And this is what I did to mine – it is lined with GFSmith Gmund Treasury Shimmer.



There were also little gold gild edged placecards with the names of the specific contributors placed next to their contributions!