Medieval Calligraphy for a Bar Mitzvah
"I suppose the nearest equivalent to a bar mitzvah in terms of emotional build-up would probably not even be one's wedding day, but one's coronation."
To be more accurate, the bar mitzvah = coronation comparison extends past emotional build-up, but to party planning, hosting, and preparation. Bar Mitzvah’s are a gigantic milestone to celebrate. Families and friends come from all over to usher the boy into adulthood with pomp and festivities. Planning a full-out celebration like this comes with a host of moving parts that all need to meld seamlessly on the day of to pull it off. My job as a calligrapher is to make sure you don’t have to worry about the paper goods. Working together, we will come up with that special finishing touch which your guests will be sure to gush over long after the event.
This client contacted me almost a year in advance with all their ducks in a row. The chosen theme was a medieval gathering. (The renaissance faire nerd in me jumped at the chance.) They had already had an invitation printed, but wanted calligraphy to really bring the event to life. I specialize in several medieval scripts, but we both leaned more into the font choice on the invitation for design consistency.
The invitation calligraphy had a great monoline, narrow, angular font, that just jumped off the page (parchment?). I began to practice.
The client requested hand addressed envelopes with a custom wax seal, and a return address stamp.
Tip for party planners – have your calligrapher or stationer create a return address stamp or embosser for you. Then you can keep it, reduce writing hand cramps, and you don’t have to pay for each return address to be written.
The wax seal was my first item to create. With the custom calligraphy monogram with the blood red wax just screams regal 14th century, don’t you think? The client wanted her son to help pack the invitations, so I formed the wax seals with sticky backs (much like a sticker), so rather than having to literally melt each seal, they can just peel and stick.
The envelopes came out beautifully. Ecru felt envelopes with a gorgeous walnut ink. These invites travelled round the world and definitely stood out from the regular bill ephemera in the mailbox.
For the day of goods, we made table numbers in the same calligraphy script choice with a hand drawn celtic knot border. Celtic knots are tricky, but by the fifth one I felt like I could do it in my sleep. We made 2 sets – 1 for the tables (dual sided) and 1 for the place card table.
Finally, my favorite element of their event was the place cards. The client had found these from an online supplier and boy were they perfect! The dragon fit the medieval theme like a glove and the paper was great to write on. Seeing them all lined up I was awaiting a trumpet to blare or a drawbridge to drop.
Mazel Tov Flynn! I hope your Bar Mitzvah was the best party you could have imagined.
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.