Darwin quote in calligraphy

I loved working on this large-scale Charles Darwin quote, commissioned by a client for her father's birthday.

I used walnut ink, which is quickly becoming a strong favorite. Walnut ink also felt like a great choice for such naturalistic sentiments.

Darwin quote / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Darwin quote / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Calligraphy art quote / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Calligraphy art quote / Bluestocking Calligraphy

© Bluestocking Calligraphy / Abby Farson Pratt

© Bluestocking Calligraphy / Abby Farson Pratt

Calligraphy for a classic British wedding

I'm living in London this summer, so it was a delight to get a tiny taste of a classic British wedding while working on some calligraphy for Caroline and Ben. I worked on their stylish invitation suite earlier, so it was a pleasure to get to see how some table numbers and place cards looked at the reception.

Bluestocking Calligraphy

Bluestocking Calligraphy

Bluestocking Calligraphy

Bluestocking Calligraphy

Bluestocking Calligraphy

Bluestocking Calligraphy

Warmest congratulations, Caroline and Ben!

Calligraphy workshop at Blenheim Vineyards

It was such a delight to host my first calligraphy workshop on 19 March at Blenheim Vineyards, as part of Blenheim's Library Series.

We had a full class of 15 fun (and naturally gifted!) ladies, and enjoyed a cozy afternoon in the vineyard library with a glass of fabulous Blenheim wine.

A special treat was having my former foster puppy, sweet Laszlo, there. Laszlo belongs to the head of events at Blenheim, and I haven't seen him since he was a wee pup. He has turned out to be such a handsome boy! 

I really enjoyed this foray into teaching, and I hope to host more beginner's calligraphy workshops in the future. Many thanks to Blenheim for the opportunity and to all of the lovely students!

How to address envelopes in the 21st century

As a wedding calligrapher, I think a lot about names. As a feminist, I also think a lot about names and the meaning that they convey. Particularly, I find the "traditional" way of addressing envelopes a bit, shall we say, dated. I've been gratified that many of my clients feel the same way and have instead been moving toward a new, 21st-century model of addressing wedding guests. 

The Old Way: Patriarchal Etiquette

The traditional standard for addressing envelopes follows the dictates of our patriarchal society, in that the man's name is the one that counts. 

If guests are married, this means that the structure is: 

Traditional way to address envelope for a married couple / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Traditional way to address envelope for a married couple / Bluestocking Calligraphy

If a woman is single, she should technically be "Miss," which indicates her singleness. Men, on the other hand, get to always be "Mr.," regardless of their marital status. The invention of "Ms." during the women's movement attempted to even the honorifics playing field. Mercifully, "Ms." is widely used now, but young unmarried women are still supposed to be "Miss."

The traditional way to address an envelope to an unmarried woman / Bluestocking Calligraphy

The traditional way to address an envelope to an unmarried woman / Bluestocking Calligraphy

The traditional etiquette that especially galls me is the guidance for widows. Even after her husband dies, a widow is still supposedly his property and doesn't even get to use her own name; she's Mrs. [Husband's first name] [Surname]:

Traditional way to address an envelope to a widow / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Traditional way to address an envelope to a widow / Bluestocking Calligraphy

I'd like to call for a revolution in the way that we think about politeness. I think most brides and grooms default to this patriarchal standard for names because it's tradition, it seems more formal, and there's an established rule book.

Five years ago, when I was married, I followed this patriarchal structure myself when I addressed my invitation envelopes. Honestly, I didn't know that there was another option. So, now, being a little older and wiser and having learned from many of my thoughtful clients, I'd like to propose a new way.

The New Way: Equality Etiquette

If you're having a less formal wedding, just use people's names! Radical, I know. But it can be done.

Here's a simple, modern way to address an envelope to a married couple:

Modern, informal way to address a married couple / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Modern, informal way to address a married couple / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Or, here's how an envelope to a family could be addressed, particularly if the couple have maintained their own separate surnames:

Modern way to address an envelope to a family / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Modern way to address an envelope to a family / Bluestocking Calligraphy

If you're having a more formal wedding, what about giving women back their names? Even if you want to keep the Mr., Mrs., Ms. distinctions, give women, who, it turns out are people too, the chance to be named.

If a couple is married and shares the same surname, here's one way to address the envelope:

21st-century way to address an envelope to a married couple with the same surname / Bluestocking Calligraphy

21st-century way to address an envelope to a married couple with the same surname / Bluestocking Calligraphy

And if a couple is married but with different surnames, put them on the same line with their full names:

Addressing an envelope to a married couple with different surnames / Bluestocking Calligraphy

Addressing an envelope to a married couple with different surnames / Bluestocking Calligraphy

As you can see, it's possible to preserve an element of formality AND return some simple dignity to women. When it comes to weddings, sometimes the little things really do count. And I, for one, am looking forward to this (slow but meaningful) revolution in the way that we think about weddings.