• Carol Wiebe

Give Your Quilt a Tattoo

Yulia Brodskaya‘s art looks like calligraphy made with sinuous strips of paper rather than flowing from a pen. Her work demands long looks in order to capture all the detail.


If you are ready to put calligraphy on your quilts, you might want to pick up some tips from Marisa Zucek. She utilizes calligraphy for quilts, quilt labels, purses.  Pigma pens, she advises, are “forever without heat” (no heat setting required). I also appreciate her simile “Writing on your quilt is like giving it a tattoo.”

Nafila jawad makes traditional Mahar dresses. Each Galabya is like a piece of art which can tell a beautiful story beautifully written in shiny gold or silver and can be studded with beads and colorful stones.

Bernard Maisner is an internationally renowned calligrapher, stationer and contemporary artist. This umbrella is one example of his stated desire to “take calligraphy off the page.”


Bernard Maisner design on umbrella


Junko Azukawa combines Japanese calligraphy with images and original graphics  . . . to  “create stunning and original brand labels and designs” for businesses or websites. An example is the central brush stroke artwork she created for a KIRIN beer, released in the Australian market in 2007.

Christine Tischer teaches calligraphy at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts. Her work is characterized by a unique blend of calligraphy with visual elements.

Annie Cicale, whose initials are ABC, is the author of the book The Art & Craft of Hand Lettering. Her “calligraphic paintings” have a terrific energy.

On page 15 of Cicale’s book is Lisa Engelbrecht‘s Be Yourself, which graced the cover of Quilting Arts in the winter 2005 issue. Lisa, once an instructor of calligraphy at Cerritos College in Norwalk, California, “is interested not only in classical letterforms but also alternative surfaces for lettering and current street influences on modern calligraphy.” Visit her blog to view some of her 2008 work, as well as find out about her book, DVD, and teaching schedule. Lisa seems to be all about making calligraphy accessible and fun.


All that said, today’s word processing programs offer a mind numbing array of fonts, and there are literally thousands of them available on the internet, many free. Being an art quilter, I make wide use of collage. Between collage and image transfer techniques, I can add a lot of gorgeous “lettering” to my work, without ever having to wield a pen. This in no way takes anything away from the master calligraphers. It simply affords the unpracticed, and even uninitiated, the means to have their work look quite professional. Of course, you still need to pick fonts that are compatible with the rest of your work, be aware of scale, and placement.

Then again, when I watch John DeCollibus demonstrate flourishing, the difference between pasting letters on a base and actually creating them becomes abundantly clear.

And watching Shozo Sato is remarkable! Calligraphy, he says, is a Zen discipline. Before you even pick up a brush, you should prepare physically and mentally. You do this by performing exercises, to attain energy, after which you show your humbleness by bowing. He talks about opening your heart to someone’s work: I certainly felt mine opening as he reverently moved the brush across the paper.


#wordprocessingprograms #fonts #calligraphy #BernardMaisner #tattoo #ChristineTischer #Nafilajawad #Marisa #YuliaBrodskaya #AnnieCicale #Zencalligraphy #LisaEngelbrecht #give #JunkoAzukawa #discipline #ShozoSato #JohnDeCollibus

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