IAMPETH 2016 | Calligraphy Convention Recap

IAMPETH 2016 | Allocco Design and Crafts

Let’s play a game called “How Nerdy Can Christen Get?” I think win after passing my ink, pens, erasers, pads of paper and nibs through TSA and flying my way to Portland, Oregon for the 67th annual IAMPETH calligraphy convention.

IAMPETH is the International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting. Yup, it’s a mouthful. After an insanely early flight, I landed in Portland and spent a week with nearly 300 calligraphers from across the globe. We took a new class each day, with course offerings ranging from Spencerian, to Roman Capitals, to Modern Storybook lettering, to Uncial, to Engrossers Script and Text. For one week I entered a calligraphy bubble and it was marvelous. That was probably the coolest thing–being in a world where I can have the nerdiest of nerdy calligraphy conversations and everyone gets it.

Calligraphy Convention IAMPETH | Allocco Design and Crafts

Also, I should note that the whole conference was decorated with letter balloons. How appropriate ;).

Here are some things I learned:

  1. Ornamental Penmanship out the wazoo: I took two Spencerian classes, one of which was quite advanced. I also took an Ornamental Penmanship Analysis 101 class. You’ve probably seen this type of lettering before–it’s very consistent, almost looks like an old-school secretary’s handwriting. My great grandparents probably learned it. Spencerian is a particular style based on the writing of Platt Rogers Spencer. I’ve been wanting to learn this for a while because I heard it’s a bit quicker to write than my typical Copperplate, but is still very elegant, especially when one incorporates elaborate majuscules (that’s fancy talk for capital letters).

    Ornamental Penmanship | Allocco Design and Crafts

  2. Broad Edged Uncial: Pronounced “unch-ul.” It’s my favorite of them all to say. Uncial, uncial, uncial. Uncial is like Lord of the Rings style writing. In fact, that’s what I’ve been practicing–all the LOTR quotes I can remember written in uncial. And yes, they misspelled my name on my nametag (got it fixed). And initially they gave me a “California” tag and I was like “EAST COAST BEST COAST WHERE’S MY VIRGINIA AT?!” (Kidding. I kindly asked for a new state).

    Uncial Calligraphy | Allocco Design and Crafts

  3. I want to be a Nurturer: I want to be the type of calligrapher that includes and teaches. I heard someone say “sometimes we forget about the ‘teachers of handwriting’ part of IAMPETH.” I really want to be intentional about embracing that part of my calligraphy journey. It can be easy to see other calligraphers as competition. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be someone who empowers others to do the best they can in their craft, whether they’re new, hopping on a bandwagon, or have years of experience under their belts.

    Vintage Garden IAMPETH | Allocco Design and Crafts

  4. Victorians love some sparkle: I took a “vintage garden” class with Heather Held. She taught us how to create Victorian style wreaths with all the stops–paint, pencil, ink, gel pens, real gold. This was one of my favorite classes because I learned new techniques and just had fun! My other classes were fun too, but it was nice to just “garden” and not have to think about letter slope, angles, and precision. My favorite part of the class was that everyone’s wreaths looked beautiful and they were all different from one another. I’ve adapted this style of flourishing to include some modern succulents and I think I’m in love!
    Calligraphy Convention | Allocco Design and Crafts

I’m so glad I went to this convention. It was tiring and challenging for sure–who knew you could be so tired from sitting and writing all day!? But in the end, I learned so much and connected with some great people.

We also had some free time during the week, so I was able to explore the Rose Garden in Portland and even meet up with some friends from college. Our hotel was on a river that overlooked Washington state, and it was my goal to make it across the water. I was a little disappointed that I ran out of time to meet that goal, but alas, at 5:00 AM the morning I left Portland, the shuttle driver drove through Washington state to get to the airport! It’s the little things in life :).

Portland Rose Garden IAMPETH | Allocco Design and Crafts

Friends IAMPETH | Allocco Design and Crafts

One of the coolest connections I made at the convention was with a gentleman named Nick who lives in Williamsburg, VA. Not only does he live near by, he also used to live just minutes from where I grew up in New Jersey! After chatting some more, I learned that he and my calligraphy teacher had a mutual friend named Gwen. My teacher Betsy uses all of Gwen’s exemplars when she teaches Copperplate. Small world!

Uncial Class IAMPETH | Allocco Design and Crafts

One last highlight from my trip–there were two rooms FULL of calligraphy archives. I got to touch and look at some stunning works of art from calligraphers over the years. What a treat and privilege!

I’m looking forward to next year’s convention in Louisville. Fun fact, I also created a video blog of my trip, which you can view below.