It’s rare to receive a handwritten anything, really, these days (let’s start sending postcards, ok?), which is why we are in awe of those who put pen to paper with an artistic and elegant flourish. Jenny Milwid, a Boston-based calligrapher and artist (launching a leather goods business later this month), is just such a person, and she is just as darling in person as the incredibly beautiful and whimsical works she creates. We are especially fond of her because she designed the gorgeous signage for our Holiday Pop-Up Shop last December, as well as these lovely gift tags for you to download. Without further ado, we give you Jenny and her truly wonderful work. ~Kate
What is it about calligraphy that you love?
Calligraphy is a craft, and like any craft, it requires patience and practice. What I love about calligraphy is the challenge of creating lines and strokes that appear fluid and effortless. When I first started practicing calligraphy, I noticed it took all of my concentration, not only to make the letter forms, but also to make sure I spelled each word correctly. This constant requirement of focus and refinement keeps me picking up the pen to try again.
What’s been the greatest struggle in becoming a professional maker?
It is not always easy to maintain confidence in your point of view and communicate it in a clear and deliberate way. It’s up to you to create your own rules, and while that can be liberating, freedom of expression can sometimes be very daunting. It’s truly an incredible experience, and I am very thankful to have the opportunity to explore my creative side.
How long have you been doing calligraphy?
I’ve been interested in drawing letter forms from a young age, but it wasn’t until a year ago that I really got serious about learning and practicing calligraphy. I drew a lot growing up and I initially thought calligraphy was based on similar techniques, but let me tell you, calligraphy is quite different! I’ve read accounts from other calligraphers that have said having good handwriting does not necessarily translate into good calligraphy. I believe it.
Aside from beautiful handwritten notes, how else do you use calligraphy as a gift for those you love?
I’m always exploring different methods of integrating calligraphy into gifts. The possibilities are endless.
A simple handwritten detail goes a long way. I usually like to write the name of the recipient on a simple gift tag or sticker. When sending packages in the mail, I like to write out their names and addresses on the envelopes in large letters with a combination of calligraphy and lettering.
Recently, I’ve been making rubber stamps from my calligraphy that I intend to either use to stamp tags or give them as gifts. I’ve also experimented a bit with engraving calligraphy into metal. For my brother’s 30th birthday, I cast him a sterling silver signet ring and then engraved his initials on it. In the near future, I hope to create some calligraphy designs for letterpress.
What advice would you give for an aspiring calligrapher? How should they get started?
Practice, practice, practice!
It took me a while before I was comfortable writing with a nib pen, so be patient with yourself as you begin this process. Even as someone who has done lots of drawing in the past, it still required lots of time and dedication before I became comfortable with the medium.
There are two really great reference texts for calligraphy. One describes a traditional calligraphy style called Copperplate and the other focuses on modern calligraphy styles and applications: Mastering Copperplate by Eleanor Winters and Modern Calligraphy by Molly Suber Thorpe.
What do you eat when no one is looking?
Chocolate! And lots of it!
What’s the best homemade food (or food-related) gift you have ever received?
When my husband and I got married this past summer, we went to Denver to celebrate with our friends and family there. One of our friends is a hobbyist baker, and for the celebration, he made this incredible 3-layer red wine cake with buttercream frosting. It was absolutely the most generous and decadent homemade food gift I’ve ever received. To this day, it makes my heart swell to think about it. We keep begging him to open up a bakery one day soon!
Eat Boutique discovers the best small batch foods by boutique food makers and shares our version of #foodgiftlove. We share recipes, maker stories and city guides to eating boutique. We host tasting events and markets for food makers, cookbook authors and food fans. We craft seasonal, regional gift and tasting boxes and sell individual items that you can order in the Eat Boutique Shop.
Eat Boutique was an award-winning shop and story-driven recipe site created by Maggie Battista – an author, business guide and alignment seeker. After hosting retail markets for 25,000+ guests, Maggie now supports entrepreneurs as they create values-based businesses through We Are Magic Studio. Follow Maggie Battista on Instagram.