Author Archives: Beth

Bridger Mountain Scribes

The Bridger Mountain Scribes of Montana comprises calligraphers in southwest Montana, including Bozeman and Gallatin Gateway. We meet once a month to discuss calligraphy, artists books, and other book arts, usually on the 2nd Monday of the month at the Bozeman Public Library.

We are a member guild of the statewide Montana guild, Big Sky Scribes. If you’d like to find out more about calligraphy in southwest Montana, attend our meetings, or join the guild, email

Next meeting June 10

Our June meeting of Bridger Mountain Scribes will be held on Monday, June 10, 2019 from 11 AM to 1 PM at the library.

This month we are working on gothicized italic. Here are the instructions for practice:

  1. Gather your materials. 
    Paper*: at least letter size, any practice paper (Strathmore Drawing 300 is good, but copy paper will work). 
    Pen: #1.5 Mitchell Roundhand nib or a 2.5mm Brause or Tape nib, or the 2.4mm size Pilot Parallel pen is close enough to work pretty well. 
    Writing fluid: Use ink or gouache or the ink that comes with the Pilot Parallel pen. 
    Model: the Sheila Waters page of lettering that was handed out at the April class.
  2. Place your practice paper on top of the model. Using a light box or (window in daytime) mark the baselines and guidelines in pencil and then make penciled guidelines with a t-square or by measuring down on both sides of the paper. 
  3. Using the light box again, lightly trace the skeletal forms of the lettering.
  4. With the original piece in front of you for reference, replicate the lettering as closely as possible. Make notes as you go, about what surprised you, what you’re having trouble with, what is working, what you’ve learned, and so on. Think about shape (inner and outer), spacing, ligatures, pen angles, etc. 

If you’re up for a further challenge, pencil in the same guidelines on a fresh sheet and try it again without the benefit of the penciled-in skeletal forms. Much harder, but very educational!
* If you want to begin practicing so that you can bind your practice sheets, I recommend Strathmore Drawing 300 or 400, 18″ x 24″ and cut the 18″ x 24″ sheets in half to get 2 sheets 18″ x 12″ each, and fold them into folios that are 9″ x 12″ when folded. Nest 3 or 4 of these folios to make a section. I number the pages in my sections to keep myself organized. (Unfortunately, this means that your folio folds are against the grain, but that’s not the end of the world.)
Next month, please bring your work and your working materials so we can practice together at the meeting. We’ll discuss how it went, improvements we can make, and what is working too.

Here’s an example of one of my practice sheets. I had moved on copying a sample of Edward Johnston’s gothicized italic (partially shown beneath my sheet).

Next meeting May 13

Our May meeting of Bridger Mountain Scribes will be held on Monday,May 13, 2019 from 11 AM to 1 PM at the library. Also, add June 10 to your calendar for the June meeting.

The program

  • Bling! Barb will lead us in adding some cool bling to our calligraphic pieces. Please multiple completed calligraphy pieces suitable for embellishment. Use any size, but think about where you might want to add some sparkle. The tape runs 1″ wide and comes on a roll.  Barb says: “My only comment regarding the paper is that I have not had any problems with it sticking.  It should be fine unless the paper is too porous.  It’s pretty sticky tape.”
  • Studying gothicized italic — In April I shared an exercise designed to jump-start calligraphy practice. Beginning with an excellent piece of gothicized italic by Sheila Waters, I analyzed its x-height, pen width, and pen angle and made a close copy of the piece. I talked about how I worked and what I learned. (See the April 11 email for details.) I also wrote a blog post about it here. If you’ve tried the exercise this month, please bring it for discussion at the May meeting. We will talk more about analyzing hands for study.
  • Show and share — Bring anything you’ve been working on. And how are our year-long projects coming along, eh? Bring your ideas, trials, finished work, anything you want to discuss.
The bling in its unapplied form!
Barb’s example with bling applied.

What to bring to the meeting