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 March 9

The March meeting of Bridger Mountain Scribes will be held on Monday, March 9, 2020 from 11 AM to 1 PM at the library in the small conference room. Thank you, Rose, for making the room reservation.

This month we’re going back to basics with monoline italics .. and group critique. 
If you’re on the email list, you’ve received two PDFs: one of 1/2″ x-height guidelines with a 12% slant, and one of a pangram in my very best italic (at least for today). Using any monoline tool — pencil, marker, firm pointed pen nib and ink — write out the pangram in your own best italic at 1/2″ x-height and 12% slant. 
Next: evaluate it. Here are some things you might want to look at:

  • letter shape – is your bowl shape consistent? are the joins made at a consistent place on the stem? is the width consistent?
  • slant – are the stems all slanted at 12%?
  • width — are the a’s, o’s, h’s, etc. the same width?
  • letter spacing — is there roughly equal space between the letters as within the letters?
  • word spacing — is it wide enough to separate words but narrow enough to keep the reading flow smooth?
  • line quality — are your curves smooth, your straight lines straight?

Bring your work to the meeting and be prepared to talk about these things. We’ll also talk about group critique: basic rules, how to be constructive, etc.

We’ll work on what we’ve learned for awhile, so bring a monoline tool, a marker, some paper, and a printout of the guidelines if that is helpful. After some practice, we’ll make a simple note card with a message of your choice, such as Happy Birthday or Congratulations.

Also, how is your year-long project coming along? Bring what you’ve done so far. If you’re stuck somewhere in the process, let’s talk about it at the meeting.

Next meeting February 10

The February meeting of Bridger Mountain Scribes will be held on Monday, February 10, 2020 from 11 AM to 1 PM at the library in the small conference room. Thank you, Rose, for making the room reservation.

Last month we decided, after some discussion, to each make a calendar on our own for the 2020 year-long project. Teresa presented the various printing options she had found during her extensive research for the group. She has since sent that information to us in an email, so you should be planning the size of your calendar based on the printing method you will choose.

At the January meeting I demonstrated of couple of surface design techniques with ink and folded paper, and then we each decorated at least one large sheet of paper. While those were drying, we folded and cut 4 sheets of 12-inch square paper into 4 different meander book structures, discussing the drawbacks and features of each structure as we did so. Rose had brought a few meander books to demonstrate what a finished book could look like, and I had made some basic sample structures. Then we chose one of the four structures and folded our large decorated sheet into a meander book. There was not time to letter in the books, but we discussed the possibilities and participants were charged with writing in the books at home. What about it? Did you write in your meander book? Bring it to the meeting in February!

Next week we’ll be doing some embossing. Please bring the following:

  • a simple letter or design that fits a 3″ square (see below for examples) on paper*
  • pencil, 2B or softer
  • a piece of matboard at least 4″ square**
  • X-acto knife with a sharp no. 11 blade
  • bone folder and/or ball stylus tool
  • scrap of Arches Text Wove or drawing paper, at least 4″ square

* The paper on which you draw your design should be fairly light-weight. Don’t use watercolor paper or Bristol, for instance. Copy, layout, and tracing papers are all good.

** I’ll bring some extra mat board for those who don’t have this lying around their work space.

More about the design you’ll bring

The fewer lines in your design, the fewer cuts you will need to make. The simpler the design, the less exacting your cuts will need to be. A very simple flower or a Neuland letter is perfect for embossing because it has simple areas. Here is a Neuland alphabet with letters that would work well.