From the Design Desk: Calligraphy and Cocktails

A couple of times each year, the designers at Chronicle Books go on a retreat of some sort. We are thankfully spared such team building exercises as firewalks and leading one another around with blindfolds on. More typically we get to engage in some sort of amusing activity that also includes a glass (or two) of wine or beer. Last week we had one such retreat, a calligraphy workshop, that was by far the most aesthetically pleasing one that we have had yet, while also being fun and surprisingly relaxing. Yes, that’s right, calligraphy can be relaxing, especially when you have the genuinely sweet and encouraging teacher, Maybelle.

Maybelle is well known in the calligraphy world for her unique and pretty style. She has worked with us illustrating a few projects including Bridal Shower Games. Maybelle teaches calligraphy workshops in the Bay Area at Makeshift Society.

For our workshop Maybelle created the loveliest set of tools for each of us, carefully laid out around 3 tables. Each set included a personalized ink well, pen, nib, ink, a letterpress printed alphabet guide, a practice book, vellum and black paper.

We were all pretty taken with the inkwells that Maybelle’s woodworker husband makes for her classes.

Maybelle had us practicing our letters in no time.

Fellow, Dinah Fried, minded her E’s and F’s.

Tired Turtles Like to Letter by Senior Designer, Neil Egan.

Senior Designer, Alice Chau, tried her hand at some recipe titles from a recent cookbook.

I never would have guessed how fun calligraphy can be until I had spent a couple of hours doing it. I think most of us were also pleasantly surprised by how relaxing an activity it can be. And now that we are all set up with our very own inkwells, we can fill up our practice books on our own. If you are in the Bay Area and so inclined, I highly recommend Maybelle’s classes. They are a welcome opportunity to slow down and focus on one thing (that’s not a screen) for a little while. Refreshing!

Brooke Johnson
Senior Designer



  • Katie April 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm

    Awesome!!! I took the Makeshift class in April! So much fun.


  • mbimasa May 1, 2013 at 3:41 pm

    This was a fun afternoon. Each time I teach a workshop I find inspiration from my students. Can you imagine how exciting it was for me to be in a room for the afternoon with such talent??? Thanks for the great post Brooke!


  • Ryan Diaz May 16, 2013 at 12:45 am

    This is so beautiful! I'm so happy to see you all in that photo together hahaha. Thanks again for an amazing experience! And hi Brooke!


    • Brooke May 16, 2013 at 7:27 pm

      Hi Ryan, Nice to hear from you. Glad that you like the post. I hope all is going well for you in Seattle!



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