Magpie Paper Works calligraphy font Ondise is featured in MyFonts November 2013 issue of Rising Stars

MyFonts just mailed out their November Rising Stars newsletter and it featured a familiar ‘face’ that you might recognize: Ondise! To say I’m excited & honored is an understatement; the fonts and designers included in this edition are just incredible. I mean, Charles Borges de Oliveira? Jeremy Dooley?? I’m pinching myself! As many of you know, I fell into font design almost by accident so to have one of my fonts mentioned alongside heavyweights like Le Havre, is pretty incredible.

It seems pretty crazy how far I’ve come since creating my first font, Vermandois. My background is in hand-lettering and graphic design; in early 2011 I was designing a project with a large amount of text that needed to be written in calligraphy. Lettering the piece by hand would have taken eons, so I figured I should try to turn my writing into a font. Easy, right? Well, no. (Stop laughing, typeface designers.)

Teaching myself the nuts & bolts of font design turned out to be a whole lot like teaching myself Japanese – exponentially complex and totally confusing – but it was also rewarding and addictive! (Ganbarimasu.) People, making a functional end product is hard. Every single letter of the alphabet (and then some) must be designed and harmonized with every other letter in the same alphabet. Unlike calligraphy, however, the characters can exist only in a straight line & must appear balanced no matter how they’re arranged. (No hand-lettering tricks allowed!) There’s spacing and kerning to contend with, connections must be designed to blend seamlessly and of course Opentype coding. All of these aspects make it sound like the medium is very limiting but honestly, once you really start mucking around you see that the real challenge is actually infinite possibilities. The most difficult part of transitioning from calligrapher to font designer has been developing the logical side of my brain so that I can recognize them. Folks, there is as much strategy in a font as there is design.

And Ondise is really the culmination of all of this self-teaching. She’s a much more robust font than my earlier releases, and I guess that shows – Ondise was released in late September and in that short time she’s rocketed to the top of MyFonts’ Hot New Fonts list. Right now, she’s the 15th best seller on the site. (Say what?!) I feel like I’ve hit my stride with this one, and am really, really proud of how much I’ve grown. There is so much more to come from my burgeoning solo foundry, Lovelies! Stay tuned…


Happy Halloween everyone! I’m celebrating today with kettle corn, Charlie Brown, and a brand new calligraphy font that I made called Dasha!!!

I drew Dasha up with a vintage dip pen and sumi ink, and really tried to keep the bouncing baseline look that is so beloved these days. The fantastic-amazing thing about Opentype is that designers can program fonts to look just like handwriting by adding clever features; things like letter pairs that automatically connect or alternate versions of the same letter, and even different initial and terminal letter forms. If you have access to Opentype software like the Adobe CS suite, you’ll see several ‘tricks’ in Dasha that make it look just like calligraphy:

– a full set of alternate capital letters
– seamless ligatures that automatically connect as you type
– beginning and end-of-word swashes
– a set of elaborate swashed capital letters
– old-style numerals
– arbitrary fractions
– 22 (!) alternate ampersand characters

Most of these fun features also work in recent versions of Microsoft Word (2010 and newer) so if you’re designing your own invitations or wanting to print envelopes that look hand-addressed, you can simply turn on the advanced font options. Yay!

If you don’t have access to Opentype-friendly software, don’t fret — you can still access all of the extra characters, you’ll just need a third party application like Ultra Character Map (Mac) or PopChar (Windows) to view and copy/paste all of the goodies.

Personally, I think Dasha would make some amazing holiday cards! Or maybe wedding announcements?

It’s delicate, feminine vibe pairs well with vintage imagery too. I’m dreaming of gilded business cards!

You can pick up a copy of Dasha in our shop here. Right now she’s on sale for $32, but in a couple of weeks she’ll be available through my vendors too, and the price will go up a bit. Early birds, now is your chance!


Have you seen our new font, Ondise? She’s curvy and fluid, with a natural baseline that dances across the page. In addition to a full set of upper and lowercase letters, she has a full set of beginning & end-of-word swashes as well as several alternate ampersands. You’ll see just enough irregularity in the letters & numbers to give an authentic hand-lettered feel. Basically, I designed Ondise so that you could write awesome-looking script that seems as though it came out of a pointed pen instead of a printer! (Or a press, if that’s how you roll. Pun totally intended.)

Of course the best part is that she won’t break the bank. For the cost a real pointed pen, nibs and ink, you can pick up a convincing digital alternative and get started lettering right away.

And like proud moms everywhere, I can’t help but say that I’m super proud of Ondise. She is currently #8 in MyFonts’ Hot New Fonts list. Woo-hoo!


Just a little sneak peek into my newest font project, currently under development. The inspiration for this one was scribble-chic! She’ll have dancing baselines and a realistic hand-lettered feel, just like Saissant and Vermandois, but looks a little more uptown. Scribble chic!

Stay tuned for more updates by following me on Twitter — I will be putting her in the shop sometime in the next two weeks, and fellow birdies will get a special Twitter-only discount code on release day!


Just starting to dabble in calligraphy? Wondering what inks to buy? Don’t want to spend a ton of money on a giant jug of sumi black? Lovelies, I have just the thing for you! Here is a little chart I lettered up today, so you can see the differences between a few of the most popular brands of black and navy inks.

First up is Speedball’s Ultrablack. Of the three black inks, Ultrablack is definitely the most opaque. It’s also totally waterproof and dries pretty quickly – this is my go-to ink on papers that are prone to feathering. The drawback is that it has a tendency to pour out of a nib unexpectedly, rather like paint. Despite this annoying habit, it seems like the little ink pot lasts a very long time, which is always good!

Noodler’s black ink is a pleasure to use; it flows beautifully right out of the bottle. It’s waterproof as well, but expect this ink to take forever to dry in heavier strokes. Like Speedball’s black ink, it is also very opaque. However, unlike the Ultrablack, Noodler’s black is a cellulose ink. This means that it reacts with the surface of most papers & becomes permanent/waterpoof. Great for envelopes!

The least opaque, and most ‘antique’ looking black is made by McCaffery’s. This effect is most visible in hairlines and areas of lighter coverage, where the ink becomes transparent. Depending on your project, this may be desirable. This ink also has a really bad tendency to crackle as it dries into in an alligator skin, if it’s allowed to pool too much. See the swatch up there? Gross, right?

Onto our blue friends… The funny thing about navy ink – a good one is hard to come by. It’s very difficult to find a navy that is dark, opaque and truely blue! Some store bought inks come close; Ziller’s midnight ink is a true blue, almost cerulean. It’s waterproof as well, which is nice.

Like their black version, McCaffery’s indigo gets more opaque in thicker strokes and more transparent in thinner areas. It makes for a very vintage look, especially on creamy paper stocks. This ink has an almost reddish-purple sheen. If you like a traditional grey-blue, this is not the ink for you.

The truth is, when I need an opaque navy ink I often prefer to mix my own! You can do this too. Plain ‘ol white gesso is a great base; it gives opacity to the final ink. A little bit of water is added to thin the gesso so it flows out of a calligraphy nib, and gum arabic is added by the drop to stabilize the blend so it doesn’t crack as it dries. Pigment can come from dry powders and paints, or as often happens in my studio, other ink. I reach for the McCaffery indigo a lot, as you can see below.

Unfortunately there’s no easy formula — if you’re mixing your own inks, it is best to start with small batches (1 tablespoon at a time) and to experiment ‘by feel’. Dip your nib into the ink and see how it writes, then adjust your ingredients as needed to get the consistency and look that you like best.

So, fellow letter-lovers, do you have any recommendations for bulletproof black or navy inks?


Don’t know about you, but for me, fall is a time of reflection and deep thought… I decided to celebrate the arrival of the season with four free printable posters; each one features a quote from a famous artist. (Click on the pic for a full-size version.) Each poster is typeset with my newest font family, Mirabelle.

A new poster will be released each Tuesday this month ~ Enjoy, Lovelies!