Everett Custom Calligraphy: Book of Curt

Everett Custom Calligraphy: Book of Curt

Calligraphy Retirement Gift Everett, WA

“Are you ok with writing really….non-polite stuff?” What does one say to a new client request like this? For me, heck yeah! Magnolia Marks aims to create one-of-a-kind gifts that are as memorable as they are personal. If that means straying from etiquette to be more meaningful to the recipient, let’s do it.


This client inquiry came from a group of firemen with a clever idea to send their chief off into retirement. Their chief was a gregarious leader, with a penchant for storytelling, and the mouth of a sailor. As retirement grew closer, the station crew began documenting the chief’s phrases.  Ending up with over 120!


The guys contacted me to create a surprise book for him.  “We want one that looks like it was found in a pirate ship in the Goonies”. They hoped it would show that his phrases had been around since the dawn of time. Oh yeah, we can do that.


We began with finding a script style.  I specialize in traditional calligraphy that hails from centuries of prior penmanship study. Our goal was to hone in on one that felt “old”.  I sent a few samples over, and Italic was the hand of choice.


Linen Aged Paper with Custom Italic Calligraphy

From there we needed paper that felt that it had been at the bottom of a ship.  The crew didn’t have much in mind for this, but when you work with paper for a living, your standards are a bit higher than what Amazon has to offer. The client asked me to take the reins and go wild in creating their vision. Sure thing!


For the paper, I wanted something that had texture, the aged yellow look, a hefty yet soft feel, and would take calligraphy ink without too much fuss. My first attempt was ordering parchment.  The color was close, but the translucent nature of it was not a good fit.  Attempt two was hand staining watercolor paper with tea, but this wasn’t cost effective, soft, nor took ink without a lot of extra steps (like hairspraying the heck out of it). I’d ordered a few other types of paper without much luck.


Handmade Paper Calligraphy Book

Then! suddenly! The fiber gods smiled upon our endeavor. A small batch paper maker in France had just released a bunch of tea colored paper that was bound in a book form.  I cannot tell you how quickly I ordered that! It was exactly what we needed.


Custom Calligraphy Everett Handmade Paper Book

Task number 3 was finding a cover.  What says old, beaten up a bit, and lasts?  Leather. Luckily Seattle has several bookbinding artists, but I found Nobound books at Pike Place Market. Deneen was a joy to work with and her leather options are out of this world! She even does cool gem clasps!  I met up with her at the market to explain what I was looking for, dropped off the paper, and picked it up a week later. The book had come together even better than any of us had expected.


Calligraphy (ironically for this calligrapher) was the last step.  After meticulously measuring and determining the layout, we were able to get all 100+ phrases on the pages with plenty of room for the guys to write their farewells and memories.


Custom Calligraphy Writing Everett, WA

The crew requested one last piece: a good title page.  We needed to really wow the Chief right out the gate because the guys were dead set on making him cry. The Book of Curt was named. 


When I dropped it off, I luckily got to meet the firemen and hear more of their tales of Curt. You could just feel how much they admired him and what he meant to the whole station. When they opened the book they were stunned. While they had seen progress photos throughout the process, this was their first time they had ever seen calligraphy in person.  They kept running their fingers over the marks and talking about how much cooler it turned out than they thought.  Graciously they let me nab a photo. 


Everett Custom Calligraphy Gift, Firemen Reactions to seeing the handwritten book

Their reaction speaks loudly to how different seeing something hand drawn, like calligraphy, is compared to just printing out a font from the computer. There are minor inconsistencies much like handwriting, the experience is tactile, and there’s an overarching elegance that just can’t be digitized.


Thank you to the local Fire Department and congratulations on your new chapter Curt!


If you’re interested in creating a one-of a kind gift through custom calligraphy or custom wedding stationery, I’d love to talk. You can find more about my current writing styles here or we can devise something completely you just like I did when working on this Bar Mitzvah. Check out my latest work on social media

Chelsea is a professionally trained classic calligrapher from Seattle, Washington.  She has been mentored by some of the top calligraphers in the world including employees of the White House.

Everett, Washington



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