notes from kestrel

keeping your calligraphy inks spill-proof for travel

kestrel montes

keeping your calligraphy inks spill-proof for travel

If you have been around for a while or if you have read my book, you know I'm a huge fan of simplicity. I am not a supply hoarder. In fact, I kind of get a thrill out of seeing how LITTLE supplies I can have. I know - weird coming from someone who sells supplies! But I'm all about quality over quantity. I'm currently traveling as I'm a vendor at IAMPETH (if you are not familiar, you need to be. It's the calligrapher's haven.) Here's what I travel with: 1) My oblique holder. I only brought one for my own use. 2) Fountain pen as my "regular" pen option 3) Mechanical pencil 4) Eraser. I like this Pentel Hi Polymer eraser (soft). 5) Dropper of water for diluting ink 6) Dropper of rubbing alcohol for cleaning nibs (marked with washi tape for easy identification) 7) Two small glass jars that will become my ink jars but one is currently serving as my nib container. 8) Transparent ruler 9) Camera phone stand (definitely not necessary but inspiration to film may strike) 10) Clairefontaine notepad (I use the ruler to cleanly rip the pages out) 11) And now, here's the important part!! Inks.... Ink #1: I take a small amount of dry walnut ink crystals in one of the glass jars. Crystal form walnut ink is available at Paper & Ink Arts. It is very inexpensive and a little bit goes a long ways (one teaspoon to one cup of warm water). Therefore, I travel with it dry, mix it up on location, then pour any out that is left at the end of the trip and travel home again with my empty jar. No risk of spilling! Ink #2: I take a tube of gouache. For this trip, I picked an indigo but gouache comes in soooo many colors. To use gouache for dip pen calligraphy simply add water until it is about the consistency of milk. For about half a jar of ink, I will use about a Jelly Belly size dollop of gouache. And, like the walnut ink, I will simply pour any leftover ink out at the end of the week before flying home. It's about $.75 worth of gouache so it's certainly not worth ruining a $50 pair of pants over.  If you have any other great calligraphy travel tricks, I'd love to hear them!


my secret trick for pointed pen calligraphy on handmade paper

kestrel montes

my secret trick for pointed pen calligraphy on handmade paper
You really can't get any more breathtaking than pointed pen calligraphy on handmade paper! But, how do you deal with all those fibers (the very thing that makes the handmade paper so yummy) getting in your nib and totally ruining your calligraphy day? Here's my super simple trick.

hand engraving on wine bottles

hand engraving on wine bottles

Hand calligraphic engraving can be done on glass, metal, stone, and many other surfaces. It is perfect for extra memorable gifts or for live promotional events. Using professional equipment that is quiet and portable, I can create a unique attraction at a product launch or special party. Everyone loves seeing their own name in beautiful script and they love even more seeing it created live while they watch!


how to do calligraphy on agate

kestrel montes

how to do calligraphy on agate

Who doesn't love calligraphy on agate?! Pretty + Pretty = Stunning!! But it can be tricky to get the ink to stick and the lines to look nice. Here, I'm sharing my tricks with you. I'd love to hear what you think or if you have found any other helpful techniques.


envelope addressing ruler

envelope addressing ruler
My light pad is without a doubt my best friend. However, with dark or thick/lined envelopes, I can't see my guidelines through. Here are the tools I use to make my life easier when my light pad is not an option.