modern calligraphy by molly suber thorpe via besotted blog

modern caligraphy by molly suber thorpeNow this is exciting!  I haven’t done a “bestowal” in ages and I am so pleased to launch my first one since arriving on terra firma a.k.a the West Coast and it is such a good one too!  It seems to me that the majority of you that visit here are either interested in lettering, either just because you have an  appreciation for the medium or have a deep desire to try your hand at it (how could you not?  You with the refined eye and exquisite taste?) When I found out that the indomitable Molly Suber Thorpe of Plurabelle Calligraphy fame was going to launch a book entitled Modern Calligraphy I knew that I would be willing to beg, cheat, steal to get my hands on an early copy, once that happened, I had to again beg, cheat, steal so I could get my hands on another copy for you!

Molly’s book will not disappoint if you are a lettering enthusiast and have questions that you feel still need answering (for the modern calligrapher there is a huge need for a resource like this) then you will want to add Modern Calligraphy to your lettering arsenal. At nearly 200 pages she has covered everything from getting started, utilizing different mediums (such as watercolor) to create stunning effects, to an extensive DIY section. Molly also divulges many of her resources (that alone should be well worth the price invested).  My absolute most favorite part of her book are the specimen pages, she could have just published these and made a small fortune.  As a novice to modern calligraphy I am always on the hunt for specimens to reference so I can build on them and hopefully one day create my own distinct style(s). Molly generously has created 14 pages of gorgeous specimens, multiple variations on each letter and in turn unlimited inspiration to try this yourself.  I am thrilled that this book exists and it will be my go-to referral for anyone that contacts me and asks, ‘help!, where do I start?’  You start with Modern Calligraphy that’s where!  The book is set to launch September 24th, which if you are like me seems like forever, I promise it will go by in a flash. I have already pre-ordered multiple copies as gifts and so should you!  If you feel like lady luck may be on your side I am giving away one early copy, to one very lucky individual.  I have been hemming and hawing, chewing my thumb trying to figure out both a good question for you to answer to enter and how to help Miss Molly out; I want her book to get tons of exposure (as it should). What an incredible accomplishment it is to have a book published and one that is so well done deserves to be lavished in kudos and collected by many. Technically, I can not ask you to Pin this, tweet it or anything of the like, but if you find a creative way to get the word out that Modern Calligraphy is coming, do feel free to come back and let us know what you did!

Without further ado, to enter to win please answer the following question in the comments below, I will choose my favorite answer this weekend and contact one individual (a.k.a. the winner) by Monday, August 26, 2013. Good luck!

Why do you need this book before launch date? Please let me know in detail why YOU should have it? 

Bonus question: What is your favorite word to write out and why? 

P.S. mark your calendars, Molly has agreed to an interview and it will be up this Thursday!

Author / Miss Tristan B

Miss Tristan B. is the proprietress of Besotted Brand and the writer of this delightful blog. She recently re-located to sunny Seattle with her handsome husband and two pups, they are expecting a baby girl in December. Her lofty goal here is to make this a creative resource repository and to inspire you to fall truly, madly, deeply in love with your life.


  1. I feel like you seriously just read my mind, as I’ve been thinking about other calligraphy resources! This would be such a great resource for me and even if I don’t win it, I’m definitely adding it to my library. I’ve just started learning calligraphy myself but there’s so much more I want to learn… how to switch it up and make it my own, for one! The other thing is, I’m working hard on putting together a letterpress stationery line to have ready to debut by mid-September (quite the goal) and I absolutely know that I want to have some awesome calligraphic cards and prints to debut then. Plus, calligraphy is a very zen-like experience for me… I get lost for hours working on my lettering and this book would definitely help feed my soul and give me some new challenges and ideas to work on!

    I wish I had a favorite word to write out now… currently, I’m practicing my letters like crazy and am obsessed with writing the uppercase “X”… those swoops and the contrast between all of the strokes that make that one letter is so beautiful and luscious. Looks like I’ll have to find some words that start with “X” to write out! :)

  2. I just finished the online class “I Still Love Calligraphy” and have been looking for more resources on modern calligraphy. So far the only books I’ve been able to find are those published pre-1990. They’re not bad, but this one looks perfect! I’m so excited to check it out … Especially the part about watercolor!

  3. I recently downloaded the ebook of ‘Script in the Copperplate Style’ from Joseph Vitolo and while I am anxious to get started working on the more formal letterforms, I can’t exactly day that anxious means the same thing as excited. My love, like many letterers, is given to more modern scripts and the genius of self-created alphabets.

    I atudied calligraphy as a child and though I fell away from my practice, I continued using calligraphic-styles of writing for my own handwriting and designing letters in the margins of my notes. others took notice and over the years, I have received complimentsmand requests to do little projects for friends and family. Inspiration from that has led to a fledgling Etsy shop. it may or may not succeed as a business venture, but the philosophical side of my mind says that it will be good for my writing simply to keep working at it. Of course there are other parts of my mind saying, “Just buy something! Take it, take it all!” Anyway, in trying to find a more centralized style for my shop, I have been created some embarrassingly amateur work trying to imitate the calligraphy of my childhood with my Micron collection. They are a joy to work with and can create some beautiful lettering, but for some of my work, I know that I am ultimately after something that only a true calligraphy pen and nib can achieve. So I am reviving my practice amd have some supplies hurtling through the mail service as I write this.

    After going through a slew of calligraphy manuals at Half Price Books yesterday (summer budget’s slim), I found myself frustrated that none of them seem to align with the aesthetic I love whilst still providing practical, up-to-date advice. I think this book from Ms. Molly would be a great catalyst for my re-finding of my calligraphy practice and it would be a joy to receive it! Even if I don’t, I a, glad to have the link to Plurabelle because it looks like a treasure trove in and of itself. Definitely pinning her designs and the book as well!

    My favorite word to write out would be Здравствуйте which in Russian means, ‘Hello.’ It is crazy complicated to my American eyes and thats why I like it. There are so many ways to make it look intricate and detailed. I am sadly not Russian, but rather a student of that wildly beautiful language and alphabet!

  4. Oh my goodness!!! I remember being in 5th grade and bringing my case of 150+ gel pens to school every day using every chance I could to use them. I then spent my whole summer practicing my handwriting so I could get it just right. After that life got busy, and a graphic design degree, a husband, and a baby girl later, I want to put that passion back to use and learn this art form. I am desperately trying to get my hands on anything that can help me make this happen. There is something about these letter forms that make the world prettier while teaching you to slow down and pay attention to the details.

    I am excited that people are making modern resources for us to learn from. I have pinned this book and once I get my hands on one, I will continue to spread the word. I hope this book gets the attention it deserves. Thanks so much for sharing. :)

  5. Dear Miss T ~ I would love, Love, LOVE to win your Modern Calligraphy book giveaway, so I can step up my mail art to new heights! You see, it always seems that I decorate an envelope I’ve made or go to put the finishing touches on a gorgeous handcrafted card and doh! I mess it *all* up with my craptastic handwriting. If only I could improve upon my lettering to take my beautiful creations to their highest level. I feel very confident that Miss Molly’s book will help my lettering soar to new heights. AND it will be just in time for lots of practice before the holiday season. Fingers crossed!

  6. Since when does it have anything to do with need? Probably when something you love so much — like calligraphy is for me — becomes a passion and brings so much joy. It takes over my mind during my day job, and all I can think about is what I’m going to pen when I get home. I spend most of my free time playing with new nibs and inks, and everyone I know has been getting “custom calligraphy” notes, prints, framed quotes, etc.

    It’s probably pretty cliche, but my favorite word to write out is “Love”… I suppose it’s fitting considering how much I enjoy this hobby of mine.

    I’ll be buying this book regardless, but I sure would be ecstatic to win this giveaway.

  7. I love, love Molly!! So excited to see her book:) Can’t wait for her interview….staying tuned. I guarantee that this is a must add for any calligraphers library.
    The weirdest word–my favorite is “Robert”. It is the loveliest name to write out in calligraphy-it just flows. Haha

  8. Hello! I am new to calligraphy (after dabbling as a child) but found your blog a few months ago and find my interest is rekindled. I am hoping to win, and the reason I hope to win and receive this book prior to its publication date is that I plan to host a back to school brunch, asking my guests to each bring a new pair of children’s shoes so we can distribute to local children who cannot afford their own new shoes. I would love to use this book to create beautiful invitations to a special event and hopefully encourage even more of my invitees to attend!
    Thank you very much! And congratulations on your sweet pregnancy. Best, Jennifer xo

  9. Bonus entry – my favorite word to write out and why: effervescent. It describes my favorite beverage – champagne – and my dearest 4 year old daughter, Layla, equally brillianty.
    It also incorporates fun to write letters – two f’s in a row! and the v – and is similar to another lovely word, efflorescence (flowering). Thank you!

  10. This book looks SO perfect. I’ve put in months and months working on classic copperplate (also working through the Vitolo videos like Paige!) and I love it, but lately my eyes (and hands) have been straying toward modern calligraphy! The fun energy of it is just irresistible. I’m struggling to define my own style and to swim in a world that has fewer rules than classic copperplate, so I would LOVE to get Molly’s expert guidance!

    Favorite words to write…my husband and I became friends in our high school French class where we had to memorize a French love sonnet from the middle ages that ends “Ni vous sans moi, ni moi sans vous” (neither you without me, nor me without you). Once we began dating, that became “our” poem, and on our wedding day, I gifted him a poem-painting with those words.

    1. @Sarah – i’m inspired! that portion of a french sonnet you mention is beautiful! do you know who wrote it? thank you so much for sharing. it’ll definitely be a phrase i will letter as soon as i can get my hands on my nib pen when i get home tonight!

  11. Like you, I am a huge fan of Molly Thurber. I contacted her several months ago for advice. She promptly replied with many tips and the announcement of her new book. I have been on the edge of my seat waiting for her book ever since. Like an impatient child, I want it yesterday!

    My favorite word to practice is “Michael”. I have a huge crush on this guy named Michael!

  12. Well, if I don’t win this book here I will never get it, as it is so difficult to get any copy of book from US to Poland…your giveaway is my dream-come-true, as I am now starting whole new chapter in my life and opening my own company that will design individual stationary, for which I want to use my own designs and could add on my own calligraphy loopies :) I am so inspirited by you, I have to try it and this book (for I am use) will teach me the best.

  13. It may seem silly to some, but the feel of dipping a pen in ink and gliding the nib across the page is so relaxing. Calligraphy is something I feel, if done, I should give it due diligence. To practice this beautiful art and to work toward finding my own style. The resources I’m finding, particularly through your posts, as wonderful but I’m dying to find that one resource that will push my understanding of calligraphy and help me dive deeper into learning. From what you’ve described, this is exactly the piece that’s been missing. I do also absolutely love that I share a name with Molly. My maiden name is Thorpe and that is a fairly unusual name. :)

    I think that my favorite word to write/practice is my daughter’s name Elizabeth. It’s a beautiful old name for a beautiful little girl. There is something about practicing write a name with the care of calligraphy rather than jotting it down as when filling out forms. I also love that she will often pull out a pad and markers when I’m practicing and ask me to help her with her “fancy letters”, as she calls them. We usually practice by writing her name. I love the memories we’re making when we’re practicing our “fancy letter”s and drawing together. :)

  14. I would really love to have this book. I am teaching a class this fall and I would love to have this book for my class. I have always admired the work of Molly Thorpe and can’t wait to see this book!

    Favorite word to write? Sophia, my daughter’s name.

  15. This book looks absolutely beautiful and amazing! I would love to have it early to help guide me through wedding invitation envelopes, baby announcements, and holiday cards that I will be addressing in the coming months.

    My favorite word to practice is “Scotland”, because it is where I was born and I don’t get to write it very often otherwise.

  16. I would love to improve my daily penmanship and learn the beautiful art of calligraphy! Have been interested in it for a while and I need to take the plunge.

    My favorite word would be Louis, my cat and Paul, my hubbs!

  17. i need this book because i’m always hungry, starving, for new calligraphy information in order for my own skills to continue to grow. i need this book because i know i can and will fully appreciate and devour EVERY word and image that molly has chosen to put in this book because she was one of the first calligraphers i’d admired and truly one of whom initially sparked my obsession in calligraphy and lettering at my start. i’ve also emailed her in the past with questions and she has generously and kindly responded with answers – even more reason to appreciate and support who she is and her work.
    my favorite phrase to letter is “thank you” – i know, i’m cheating with two words – but it has so much meaning to me and i’m always inspired when i letter it or write it out, to discover more ways to express the depth of my sincerity in those words to whom ever is the recipient. i can’t wait for the chance to write out those words to all those calligraphers and lettering artists who’ve inspired me – once i get my hands on a copy of molly’s book to aid me in that important endeavor.

  18. I love the whole idea of this book! Going through my rebrand I know I want to add hand lettering and lace to everything and this book would be perfect!

    And my favorite word, by far, is Love. Whatever language, whatever font, however it is written, it shares the meaning all the time!

  19. Hello! I do calligraphy and hand lettering myself and I am eager to learn more and more. Molly is one of calligraphers I like very much and follow by reading her blog. My dream is to attend some calligraphy classes, I read about them and only dream, since they are in US, but I am from Latvia (Eastern Europe), so this is quite a long way to go, but who knows…maybe one day :) So, this book would help to fulfill my dream… instead of on-site calligraphy class.
    I still search for my favourite word to write. There are some letters I don’t feel comfortable writing, so I ”fight” with them writing over and over to become my favourite instead :)

  20. I have been looking for resources on how to do pointed pen and modern calligraphy for the past year. I have just ordered a variety of nibs and a few oblique pen holders and can’t wait to devote some time to practicing. I have a daughter who just started fifth grade here in SoCal and sadly they no longer require cursive to be written from fifth grade on. Finding this out has inspired me to learn and practice my own penmanship and learn how to write with a pointed pen. I am seriously considering starting a penmanship club for students who want to learn how to write “pretty” – I know there are other parents like me who feel handwriting is a valuable skill not to lose. I am looking forward to this book and just happened upon your post by chance! Thank you! Maybe it’s my lucky day :)
    I don’t write that much yet, but whenever I do, I practice my daughter’s name “Ella” so I guess that would be my favorite!

    1. That’s such a wonderful idea. I stumbled upon letters from my grandmother the other day and her penmanship was beautiful. It’s so sad that the next generation will lose this.

  21. As Frank Zappa says: “So many books, so little time.” So… if I was lucky enough to receive an early copy it would be put to use the day it arrives and used in my letterpress business. Who does not love the feel of cotton paper along with the beautiful {calligraphy}written word? Hummm… my favorite word to write out– Woot I like Bespoke too!

  22. Well, I just started learning calligraphy on Monday night from a book written in 1973 by a guy named Abraham Lincoln. As you can imagine, it’s uh…. not the best book. :-) I’d love to learn modern calligraphy from a talented, hip woman! Not a guy named Abe… no offense Abe. :)

    Since I’m just starting, I’ve been practicing my initials a lot and I like the way they look – I’ve been TRYING to master a capital “A” for my husband’s initial and it’s just not working… I need help!

  23. I am also in the calligraphy business (newbie) and I found Molly’s work as an inspiration when I was first learning. I’m self taught and I know this book will be full of information I may not know yet. Can’t wait to read it!!!

    Favorite word to write in calligraphy: gorgeous (G’s are my favorite)

  24. it would be fantastic to have your book as soon as possible, as your work is so inspiring that your book would be an absolute plus in my continuous learning about calligraphy.
    I’m an avid reader, writer and learner and, having you as a guide, it’s SO better to be a student !

  25. I NEED this book before the release date because I just spent $17 in library late fees for calligraphy books that were not quite what I needed. I am pretty sure I need this book!

  26. Hi there! I don’t think I need this book but I’m delighted I stumbled across your blog today. I love your writing and will be back some day ;-)
    I love to calligraphy any word, “minimum” is my favorite though, when it comes to copperplate writing!

  27. I’ve been practicing calligraphy for the past two years, and just now feel like I’m hitting a stride, sort of. I got an amazing (paid!) job and the bride was awesome and wanted a modern style, which I loved and was super excited about. But throughout the project I still struggled from a crisis of confidence because when doing a traditional style, its easy to know what you’re doing “right” and what you’re doing “wrong”, but that’s much harder to judge when doing a modern style. Molly is such a pioneer of doing “right” by modern calligraphy styles. You can tell her work is grounded in extremely wonderful technique, so this book will no doubt be an amazing inspiration and resource for us calligraphers who love the foundation of traditional styles but the freedom and creativity of modern styles.

    My favorite word to write is “hush”.

  28. I took a calligraphy workshop with Molly a few months ago and she was an awesome teacher. I know she put a lot of heart into this book, so I would love to get an early look at it! Because of her I am still practicing my calligraphy (though not as frequently as I would like), but perhaps the book will inspire me to get on a more regular practice schedule.

    My daughter’s name, Camille, is my favorite word to write. Aside from obvious reasons, it has a wonderful loop-y ness to it. The C, double Ls and E allow for a very whimsical look.

  29. ironically, even though i’ve been quietly lurking in the corners of your blog for a little while now, i happened upon this giveaway mid-google-search for information to feed my lettering fever. (i finally figured out, between a dusty studio art minor and a job as a writer, that my favorite form of art has always involved words. i used to get in trouble in college drawing classes for trying to sneak them in.) this book would be an incredible resource (and, obviously, some very pretty eye candy) for my newfound adventure.

    p.s. my favorite word to write and see written is “beloved.”

  30. Hi Tristan,
    Molly’s Calligraphy is beautiful.
    I would absolutely love to have this book. I am a stay at home mom with 8 children. Yes, 8 children. It is very difficult for me to get away and take Calligraphy classes. I watch Calligraphy lessons and tutorials online and then I practice. Every free minute I get, I practice my Calligraphy. I know this book would be an inspiration to me, and I know that it would help me to study Calligraphy at home, and still be able to take care of my kids. I am absolutely in love with Calligraphy. It is the one thing I do just for myself and it just makes me so happy. It has brought me so much joy and it means so much to me. I would be so grateful to own this book.
    My favorite word to write is ‘Love’.
    It is so simple, and so beautiful.
    Thank you Tristan.

    1. My mother also stays home with her children and though I’ve long since left the nest, I come back for visits (as I am doing right now) and seeing how busy and chaotic it is here, I am astonished you are able to do calligraphy! Just today we had a mishap of ink spills on the table and tears over a blotted card. It is very difficult to do without a quiet, set-aside workplace, but it is a wonderful art form you can pass onto your children. :)

  31. I have and continue to be enthralled with the art of calligraphy. Molly’s book will be invaluable as I continue to learn more and more about this beautiful skill!

    As silly as it may sound, my favorite word is Louisiana. I’ve started addressing wedding invitations and since Louisiana is home, I get to write it a lot. It’s definitely still a challenge but I love the flair I get to add to it each time.

  32. I don’t need it but I want it.
    Even though I’ve already got a ton of calligraphy/lettering books, I STILL get excited when I see a new one advertised. My eyes get big and my lips go ooh. Modern Calligraphy would be a wonderfully fun and fresh addition to my collection!
    I’ve tweeted it and shared it on Facebook. Thank you for the giveaway!

  33. I have been taking a Modern Calligraphy class on and off for several years. It is more a “practice” class and less an “instruction” class. I feel I need now to move on to defining my own version of Modern Calligraphy, though maybe I have and just don’t know it! Having a beautiful resource would be helpful. I tend to like to write my name…love writing an “S”. Thank you for the giveaway and all the inspiration!

  34. I just picked up copperplate calligraphy as a hobby a couple months ago and I didn’t think I could find more of myself in something. My mom taught me how to write before I was in kindergarten and I learned cursive in 2nd grad,e before they even taught it to us in 4th. I was so eager to learn how to write in cursive, I would spend hours practicing my cursive letters, especially ‘R’ – which I still practice to this day because it’s still not up to par! By the time they did teach us cursive in school, I already knew how. I was actually reprimanded for it because I had my own “style” and wasn’t doing it properly. HAHA!

    I’m new to calligraphy that I am so eager to learn, I took the online class but still have no grasp at where to start or if I’m doing anything right. I feel like I’m a kid learning my cursive letters 24 years later, and I couldn’t be more excited. This book would give me more guidance and inspiration to feel that feeling again and make something out of what I’ve loved doing all my life.

    My favorite word to practice is my own name, Jazlee. It reminds me of the ocean waves when I practice. I love how the J can expand into both the ascender and descender areas causing a “large impact wave” and then the “wave” swell with the z and the l, both opposite loops causing two opposite “waves” and then fading out with the double e’s.

    Thank you for the opportunity of the giveaway, you’re an inspiration!

  35. I’ve really wanted a hobby of my own lately, something that I can do to take my mind off things and really devote my energies to. I’ve always been told that I have lovely handwriting and I’ve wondered if it translates to calligraphy. This book would be a great chance to learn! My favorite word to write is my name — I’ve been practicing different and fun ways to write that since I was a little girl!

  36. Over the past few years I have taken a couple of calligraphy classes and have had a few small jobs here and there. I love calligraphy and the beauty of hand written lettering. It is very therapeutic for me. But as of late I have been stuck in a rut and have lost some of the joy and excitement that I had when I first picked up a pen and nib. I have been struggling to find my own style and there is so much I want to learn regarding the different types of ink, paper, nibs, etc. When I get frustrustrated and need some encouragement I ALWAYS find myself going back to Molly’s website. There’s something different about her work. I find it soothing and inspiring. I watch her videos and look through her work over and over again in case I missed something before. I believe Molly’s book is just what I need to rekindle that love I had for calligraphy a couple years ago. Her experience and wisdom would be enlightening and I would be grateful for the opportunity to have this book early.

  37. Sweet Tristan…you are so very generous with you little giveaways. My love affair with writing and script began when I could hold a pencil. When my father was packing up the family home just a few short months ago I came across my mother’s wedding keepsakes each with a story written in her self taught and very beautiful calligraphy (they were married on her birthday in 1966). These are keepsakes I treasure (my mother sadly lost her battle with cancer nearly 11 years ago) and a tradition I long to continue. I had a few lessons from a very dear family friend and talented calligrapher a few years ago, but I love the fluidity of the more modern style and just this weekend completed a wonderful workshop. Molly’s book looks like the perfect reference to keep my inspiration going…to encourage me to practice and to master this beautiful art. Merci….it’s so lovely to write and I am thankful for any opportunity that encourages me in my lettering endeavours. x

  38. Thank you EVERYONE for these heartfelt, touching, and personal comments. Reading each new one as it was posted was a real treat. I wish I could give away copies of the book to every one of you, but alas, this is not in my power. To those of you who do buy it, I hope you enjoy it, and always feel comfortable contacting me through my site if you encounter questions. I wrote this book because I really believe that anyone who wants to can learn calligraphy, create a unique style, and find meditative relief in the practice, can do so, but I also know the initial learning curve can have its frustrations. I am here to help!

  39. I have self taught myself calligraphy and while it has been fun, I would really love to have a mentor/guide to improve my skills. There isn’t any calligraphy workshops in my country so this would be the closest I can get to a real-life workshop! =)

    Rather than a word, I love to write the letter ‘R’ especially in lower case. I think ‘r’ intrigues me the most as it looks so different from what we usually read/exposed to. Frankly, when I first started, I through it was an error! But I love how it looks – so classy and elegant.

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