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The inspiration behind Stella – an exclusive calligraphy font from Smock

Here at Smock, we’ve developed six exclusive calligraphy fonts based on the actual penmanship of master calligraphers. New for the 2013 wedding season are two brand new calligraphy fonts: the Smock Stella and the Smock Plaza. Last week, we gave a behind-the-scenes look at Sarah Hanna’s inspiration for the Smock Plaza, and today we’re sharing Kelle Ann McCarter’s inspiration for the Smock Stella font.

How did you develop the Stella Hand for Smock?
I spend much time developing new styles of calligraphy and experimenting with different types of calligraphy nibs. I normally think of a character or personality and then try to translate it to the lettering. In “Stella”, I envisioned the French American stage and movie actress Claudette Colbert. I wanted her to be strong, quirky, independent, playful- perhaps with a touch of mysterious contradiction; one who has self-possession and is comfortable in any setting; understated without excessive flourish.

Kelle McCarter creates a swirly and fun calligraphy font for smock

The inspiration behind Stella:
I purchased some vintage straight pins and the packaging design in which they were enclosed showed a lovely lettering- dainty and spritely. I was smitten with the movement and simplicity of the strokes. I knew I wanted to create something in this vein which is different from my other calligraphy styles.

Stella is inspired by vintage details, and Claudette Colbert

(sources from left to right: decor | Claudette Colbert | clutch and jewels | dress | cake )

What kind of weddings do you picture this font used for?
Since “Stella” was conceived to be a well-rounded lady, she can be used in any wedding – from modern to vintage to formal. For example, in the current issue of Brides Magazine, “Stella” in foil stamping is shown as a perfect pairing for a black-tie soiree.

Stella by Kelle McCarter is a calligraphy font with personality

Visit a Smock dealer today to see the Smock Stella font (and all of our other fonts) in person and get started on your next custom order!

The 2012 Smock Design Contest: Letterpress Plaques for the Honorees

Our first Smock Design Contest for 2012 was a huge success — we were so excited to recognize the beautiful work that our amazing retailers have sent us over the past few months! Today we are thrilled to share the stunning plaques that the 10 winners of our design contest received — they were created by our talented in-house designer Lindsy Aragona and letterpress printed in Moss and Butter inks on our 2-ply white bamboo paper for a fresh look. The plaques feature elements from our ever-popular Dawson design, and Kelle McCarter hand calligraphed the names of all the winning store names onto the plaques in her Bescal style for a beautiful finishing touch.

Congratulations to all of the stores that were selected as honorees! The next Smock Design Contest will take place later this year – don’t miss it!

The winners of the 2012 Smock design contest received these letterpress printed signs to display in their shops

All New Letterpress Wedding Inspiration from Smock

We’re excited today to introduce you to the latest letterpress wedding invitation inspiration from Smock! Now available at a Smock dealer near you, we’re happy to unveil our latest design – Piedmont. A sophisticated and fun new take on modern wedding invitations, the Piedmont suite features a whimsical graphic pattern printed in blind deboss letterpress and boasts Smock’s exclusive (and new!) Bescal calligraphy font, a vibrant hot pink patterned backing and a striped envelope liner in our sherbrooke pattern. Piedmont also introduces our new square invitation shape, also available as inserts and reply cards.

On trend with the latest styles for upcoming 2010 and 2011 weddings, we’re also thrilled to introduce six gorgeous new ink colors; violet, peach, hot pink, aquamarine, pumpkin and royale. These colors are bright, vibrant and perfect for celebrations of all shapes and sizes.

We’ve already hinted about our two new exclusive calligraphy fonts, Harrison and Bescal, created by world-renowned type designer Richard Kegler featuring the hand lettering of calligraphers Patricia Mumau and Kelle McCarter. (Read more about the calligraphers here and here.) They join our existing calligraphy fonts by calligrapher Debi Zeinert, Spencerian and Clermont, as part of our exclusive font collection available only through Smock.

For all of the latest inspiration from Smock, visit your local Smock dealer!

A Little Q + A with Kelle McCarter from designsgirl

New for 2010 and recently unveiled at the National Stationery Show, we are excited to introduce two new calligraphy fonts exclusive to Smock! Calligrapher Kelle McCarter of designsgirl is the talent behind our new Bescal font, a playful modern lettering style that we feature on our 2010 National Stationery Show invitations. Kelle hand lettered each of the characters in our new font, which we developed with an internationally recognized typography firm. All of our calligraphy fonts (now four in total!) are available with no additional calligraphy fee when you order stationery from Smock. Visit one of our awesome Smock dealers to see samples!

Today we are thrilled to be welcoming Kelle to our blog for a little Q + A session. Thanks, Kelle!

{Our new Bescal calligraphy font featured on our 2010 NSS invitation.}

How did you become interested in calligraphy?
I have always been enamored with beautiful writing. I remember vividly the day I became excited about learning calligraphy. I saw a logo of “Bell ‘Occhio”, a San Francisco ship, in a book. It was designed with a pointed pen illustration and whimsical lettering and it was magically captivating to me. This is when I knew I wanted to be a calligrapher.

What tools does one need to start learning calligraphy?
You need to find a good teacher (through a local calligraphy guild) or good instructional books such as The Zanerian Manual of Alphabets and Engrossing for Copperplate style lettering or for a more modern instructional guide, I like Lisa Engelbrecht’s Modern Mark Making. Then you will know what nibs inks, and papers are best for the type of calligraphy you want to learn.

What was the process like for designing a font for Smock?
I love typography and to have my calligraphy made into a font for Smock was thrilling. The key to this work, which was done over several months, was to not worry about the results and to be free with my strokes so that the personality and the movement of the style would be preserved.

What do you think makes calligraphy so special?
Everyone loves the beauty of a hand lettered envelope or invitation. For those whose budget does not allow for calligraphy services, the calligraphy font is a fine alternative…True calligraphy is where pen and ink meet paper and there is no substitute for this artistic, textural and organic element. It is one of the most special details of a wedding; just ask any bride who has heard the oohs and aahs from those receiving a hand lettered wedding invitation in the mail.

What was the first calligraphy style you learned?
I spent months with my first teacher, Laurie Doctor, learning monoline lettering, the simplest form of lettering with no thick or thin lines, to gain a foundation for developing the basic strokes of each letter. At this time, I did not even know how to put ink on my nib.

Are you right or left handed?
I am a left handed calligrapher which presents some challenges in calligraphy because most oblique pen holders and broad edged nibs are made for right handers. But an artist and fellow calligrapher recently hand carved a left-handed oblique penholder out of African Blackwood for me that I am learning to use.

What is a normal workday like for you?

Since I work from my home studio, I must establish a regimented schedule. I handle client correspondence in the morning and then work in my studio until lunchtime. Our two Golden Retrievers, Garner and Gibson, are always by my side at my desk and can often be found with splatters of ink on their noses. They are very good assistants. I break for lunch, maybe hike with our “girls” and then resume projects in the afternoon. I usually end my work before dinner. If I did not set limits on my workday, I would be in my studio around the clock. I reserve time in the evening for practice and experimentation.

Other than invitations, envelopes and place cards, what other fun things do people have hand lettered?
Wedding vows are a popular anniversary gift that I am asked to do. I love doing calligraphy for custom rubber stamps and one of my favorite projects was creating forty “I Love You” note cards for a client to place in her husband’s suitcase when he traveled. My goal is to be the first to do custom calligraphy for golf balls. The idea comes from my father who was a PGA Tour professional and he was the first to have his signature imprinted on a Titleist golf ball.

What is your favorite letter in the alphabet to calligraphy?
It is the capital “D”. There is a rhythm to this stroke that is like a waltz- one and two and three and four. It is done with only one stroke and ends with a beautiful swirl that tucks into the vertical stem of the “D”.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you be and why?
It must be Super Woman for her ability to fly, have daily adventures, right wrongs and save the world.

What do you look to for inspiration?
This is the most exciting aspect of my work and my designsgirl business. I awake and fall asleep filled with ideas of what I want to create and calligraphy styles I want to develop and I love incorporating my calligraphy into embroidery and journaling projects. The inspiration is everywhere, particularly from fashion designer sketches and illustrations, textile patterns, flowers, architecture, typography, interior design, paintings, magazine and books.


What is your favorite book of all time?

This like asking to name my favorite child; impossible. For classic literature, The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton. For artistic creativity and uniqueness, Century Girl: 100 Years in the Life of Doris Eaton Travis, Last Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies by Lauren Redniss.

How long have you been doing calligraphy professionally?
I started designsgirl officially when I married and moved to Denver four years ago. It has been a dream of a lifetime.

You are very accomplished on the golf course. How many hours do you get to spend on a course a week now that you have designsgirl?
My husband began playing golf when we married, just for my sake, but now he is an avid golfer. We practice three to four hours each week and play about once a week at the Country Club at Castle Pines, where we live.