I’ve been away for a while. I know. I have loads to share with you and day by day I will get to it. So let’s get started.

FlickingerSpec0001{image via IAMPETH}

In September I was lucky and fortunate enough to attend a weekend Spencerian workshop hosted by Write On Calligrapher’s, of which I am a member. The teacher for this workshop was none other than the Spencerian God, Michael Sull. Jealous?! I thought so! That is, if you know much about calligraphy.

sull_certificate{picture from here}

Allow me to give a little background. Sull, a Master Penman, is very well-known in the calligraphy world. He is a master of the Spencerian letterhand in addition to flourishing of all sorts of things including birds, cherubs, feathers, quills, horses and various other animals and objects. He is a master at many, many, many things and has a wealth of knowledge to share.


{picture from here}

Isn’t he the cutest? Off the subject for a second, I just love bow ties! Sull is recognized by his circular glasses and bow ties. They’re so perfect! Back when I was in high school and when I went to university guys wore bow ties a lot more than they do today. We need a bow tie come back, don’t you think? Every now and again I see a groom in a seer sucker suit, bow tie and saddle shoes and I’m always taken by how handsome he looks.

Anyhoo, back on topic. I was at first a bit star struck being taught by Sull. In comparison, it’s almost like having to cook a meal and entertain for Julia Child, Jamie Oliver, Eric Ripert or Jacques Pepin. Just having him look over my shoulder to see how my practice was progressing made me…oy vey!…a little nervous, to say the least! But he is so willing to teach, open to your questions and really wants to share and pass on what he knows. That’s exactly what put me at ease.

Sull, a former President of The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting, aka IAMPETH, is a marvelous teacher. Even for just a two day workshop, I learned so much! We were even able to get to a little bit of flourishing. We learned a little about birds and feathers and even just his brief instruction and direction helped me tons! I’ve never thought I had the skill to pull that sort of thing off, but something clicked in this workshop with me.

555_2054_large{image from John Neal Books}

I would never have thought to try a nib most commonly used by Japanese cartoonists, but the Nikko G really does give a superb thin hairline. Along with Old World Iron Gall Ink or McAffrey’s Penman’s Ink, you’re sure to receive great results with practice.

146_75_large{image from John Neal Books}

If you’re looking for a good book on Spencerian instruction, I highly recommend all of Sull’s books & DVD’s, but one Sull himself highly recommends is Spencerian Script & Ornamental Penmanship Volume II. And if you’re even a little interested in Spencerian script and you have the chance to take a class from Michael Sull, jump at it! You will not be disappointed.


A nice gift from Sull was that he took the time to write each of our names and add some flourishing to it upon some dark gray paper in white ink. If I recall correctly, he used Dr. Martin’s Bleed Proof White Ink.


How awesome is that?! And all done freehand! He just thinks about what would go well with the name and it all looks so great!


Here’s a picture of the majority of them. And another cool angle below. I totally want to frame mine!


Since the class I’ve been thinking about trying to draw an owl. It’s a different kind of bird, but one thing’s the same, its head can literally be in any position in comparison to its body. What I mean is, birds can turn their head practically all the way around, right? Well, so can owls. Once you get the head down, the body should just flow in whatever direction you want, just like the usual ornate birds you see. Yes, I definitely would like to try this with an owl. Have you seen this done before? If so, please do share! I’d love to see one! Feel free to leave a comment or drop me an e-mail.

Also, if you are interested in improving the state of penmanship and the way it’s taught today, Sull will soon have a book out for just that purpose. It’s already being used among home school programs. (It should probably be given to medical doctors too. Honestly, they have the worst handwriting!) With the use of computers and technology today, students just don’t get the same amount of practice as we did growing up. Seriously, I’ve seen some bad handwriting from some and wondered if a 1st grader wrote it!! It makes me want more and better for my nieces & nephews and future children. So keep your eye on Sull at John Neal Books. I’m sure it will be available soon.

spencer_new_standard_image0{image from IAMPETH}

Getting back to Spencerian, lower case letters is by far the most important. Everything has a sense of curve. Michael Sull says, “Every curve is part of an imaginary oval”. “Envision the oval.” “Strive to be aware of the oval.” As with any letterhand, practice is key. Spencerian is unique in its flow and arm movement, but with time it will come, so it’s said. Don’t worry about having it all come quickly, arm and shoulder movement, shading and spacing. “Just relax and have a cookie”, as he says.

Oh! I hope to soon offer this letterhand for envelope work along with custom invitation work. Contact me if you’re interested. And if you’re looking for Christmas, Hanukkah or New Year card addressing, time is ticking away!

Jacques Pépin



Filed under calligraphy, envelopes, weddings

2 responses to “Spenceri-Man

  1. Wonderful post Tiffany. It looks as though it was a wonderful workshop! I love Michael Sull’s soft spoken passion for penmanship.

  2. Tiffany thank you for taking the time to leave me such a long and sweet comment, This class looks FABULOUS! I would love to attend one of these conferences one day.

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