Archive for the ‘blog’ Category

One of the best parts of being a calligrapher is that I get to play with ink and call it work. Yesterday, I was working on plans for the fall calligraphy workshops I’m putting together, and since I want the class materials to reflect the season, pretty falls colors were on my mind.

I’m obsessed now with the color I created and want to add it to everything. This rich, deep, coppery color is the glorious love child of two of my favorite inks—Dr. Ph Martin’s Copper Plate Gold (iridescent) and Ziller Buffalo Brown. It’s more red than copper, but that depends on the light, too.

If you’re wondering about the formula, I’m not much help there. Mix a bit of the buffalo brown and a little less of the copper plate gold and stir until the color takes your breath away. That’s pretty much it.

If I had to name the color, I guess I would just have to call it November. It’s high summer here in the Phoenix area, but this ink doesn’t know any better.

Thank goodness for that.



I just love this quote so much.


copperplate gold ink bella grafia

Jul 03

Midas touch

If I had to choose a favorite ink color, that would be pretty close to impossible. But I have to say that this copper plate gold from Dr. Ph Martin’s easily makes the top three. The flow is beautiful; the color is gorgeous. And the loveliest detail is that you can actually feel the texture of the ink on top of the paper. I can never resist running my hand over the first sample once the ink has dried.

(The brown ink at the bottom is another favorite: Buffalo Brown by Ziller Ink.)




It’s one of my personal missions to add beautiful words to everyday things. I love giving a new kind of life to my favorite quotes and adding them to unexpected things.

And, so, jewelry.

I’ve been selling the pieces at my other site, Fifty8 Acres, but I’ve decided to offer them through Bella Grafia Marketplace, too. I’m adding new pieces all the time, so be sure to check back often.


Not long ago, I was talking with an acquaintance at my son’s basketball game. I knew she had recently purchased a new car, and I was curious to know how a high-end car dealership says thank you after a sale.

“They gave me a key chain.” She shrugged.

“Did they send a note?”

She shook her head.

I spoke with another friend who had just driven home a new mid-range Mercedes. The dealership didn’t send him a thank-you, but he received a plush blanket and a pre-printed card from Mercedes-Benz USA.

Better than a key chain, sure, but he received nothing at all from the salesperson or the dealership, and the note from the national office was pre-printed and impersonal.

I asked them both a few questions about how they felt about their experiences, and they both said that even though a gift was a nice token, they felt no emotional impact from it. They didn’t feel special or appreciated.

And they said one more thing (psst: this is the secret sauce): a handwritten note would have altered the after-purchase experience for them. Companies who aren’t making that effort to connect with their customers after a sale are missing a huge opportunity to extend the memory of the client’s last great customer service experience with the company.

Creating an emotional connection with your customers can have a huge impact on your bottom line, too.

“Customers who have a true human relationship with a brand typically buy double from that brand and stay loyal for a longer period of time,” wrote Mark Robeson, senior vice president of sales and marketing at VIPdesk, in the March 2012 issue of Loyalty Marketing Magazine (“How Luxury Brands Can Reinvent the Customer Experience“).

Makes sense, doesn’t it? We want to do business with the people we like and who make us feel appreciated. Like we matter.

“The good news is,” Robeson continued,”that there is an opportunity for luxury brands to increase their customer loyalty, starting with a seemingly simple technique: a note. In the era of e-mail, handwritten correspondence can go a long way in developing a bond with a brand. One luxury executive who is a strong believer in a handwritten thank-you note is Fendi’s head of accessories, Silvia Venturini Fendi. Every one of the brand’s made-to-order Peekaboo bags come with a handwritten note from Ms. Fendi. Another brand that is well known for sending handwritten notes to its customers is Montblanc, purveyor of luxury watches, writing instruments, jewelry and leather.”

I’m pretty sure those companies know what they’re doing. A note. Pen, paper, a few sincere sentences of appreciation for doing business with you. With all the high-tech ways we keep in touch these days, sometimes going old-school (think: timeless, with proven results) can have the biggest impact.

{If you would like to learn more about how I can make it easy and simple for you to send beautiful handwritten notes, just fill out the contact form here.}

The back of the envelope has always been my favorite place to write a return address. There’s the advantage of space, of course, always appealing to a girl who likes to give her letters room to sprawl and flourish and show off a bit.

So it makes sense that I love designing custom address stamps.

If you’re anything like me (Pinterest says there sure are a lot of us), you’re drawn to the something-extra that can transform what’s ordinary into something special. Things that reflect a certain amount of effort and care.

Anything in its best dress, anything that can slow the world down a little.

A pretty envelope has some superpowers, it turns out.

Because there’s that moment when the recipient turns the envelope over to see who was thinking of her. There’s a smile and the quick decision to open the letter right there or to wait and savor it in a quieter moment.

And, just like that, the day takes a long, slow breath and hangs back a little.

It’s lovely, every bit of it.

So if you’re working your way through your holiday gift list, consider a custom return address stamp from Bella Grafia. Several styles are available, or we can work on something new together. Each stamp is made from high quality rubber mounted on a wooden handle and will arrive with a black stamp pad in its own keepsake muslin bag.

(A custom stamp can also be used to personalize books or other belongings. Think beyond addresses, too. A stamp can be customized with any text of your choice.)

It can be difficult to find a truly personal and memorable gift, but giving a custom stamp makes it easy on you.

You might even want to order one for yourself. They’re irresistible like that.


(Email me at or through my contact form to start your order.)


Here’s what I love the most about the work I do: I get to be part of your stories.

Years from now, when time has sanded away memories, as it does, you might invite your daughter or or your niece or maybe your grandchildren to open a box filled with your mementos from all the years. Things you kept because they marked a moment that meant something to you. A theatre ticket, a napkin with ‘I love you’ written on it (only you know who and when and why). A sprig of dried rosemary (‘That’s for remembrance,’ Shakespeare wrote). A bit of ribbon. A boarding pass. A leather-bound journal filled with quotes and sketches.

Your things.

And tucked away among them all, a wedding invitation (what a day it was). Or a menu from that holiday party in 2015, the one where your guests got snowed in and had to camp out at your place overnight (prepare yourself). And there on the age-softened paper in the hands of someone you love, a flourish of script that – while it may be worded any number of ways – says, “This was important. This day was really something.”

And, so, that memory lives on.

That’s why I love what I do. That’s what makes up for the moments when the pen nib catches on paper and splatters ink across what was perfect work so far. That’s what keeps me practicing and experimenting and holding my work to a high standard. To make something beautiful and to pass it on. And on.

Maybe it sounds greedy, and so maybe it is. They’re your stories, not mine. But here’s the thing: I take a lot of joy from knowing that someone halfway across the country will open her mailbox and find something special inside, an envelope that’s not a bill or an advertisement or a letter from the mortgage company. I like imagining that she will hold that envelope with care, that she will stop in the middle of her day to see something beautiful, and that she will know that someone (you) thought enough of her to take the steps that would put that envelope into her hands.

The envelope that I got to decorate in a favorite script. The style with the M that is so fun to write. The one that lets me make the H with the swirl. And then there’s the white ink on a colored envelope and, well, that’s my favorite, too.

And in that moment, your story, her story, and my story are all woven together. Three people connected by one small, lovely, nearly weightless thing.

And suddenly, if you think of it that way, it’s not so small anymore. Now it’s weighted with time and care and love and the social graces that tether us to the best parts of ourselves.

Some time ago, I wrote three words on a piece of paper. “See what’s beautiful.”  Turns out, there’s lots to see, and that simple mantra guides my calligraphy work and makes a path for me through my days. I think of it as a reminder and an invitation. A talisman.

One that I am happy to share with you (that’s how these things work). Carry it with you (it’s portable). Once you get used to the feeling of having it in your pocket, you won’t want to be without it. (It has staying power, this one.)

Make confetti of it, even. Share it. Pass it on. Three words.

See what’s beautiful.