Calligraphy Addressing with Kelle McCarter

Ever wonder how long it takes a calligrapher to hand address a set of envelopes? Curious which ink color is used most often when it comes to calligraphy addressing? We sat down with Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter to learn about the ins and out of her business, how she got her start, and her favorite way to dress up an envelope.

How did you get into calligraphy? I fell in love with calligraphy and lettering art when I discovered the fabulous work of French artist Francois Gervais. When I moved to Denver seven years ago, I joined the Colorado Calligraphers’ Guild, with the goal of incorporating calligraphy into my graphic design business. I was fortunate to study with renowned artist and calligrapher Laurie Doctor, who was president of the CCG at the time.

Where do you do your addressing?  I am blessed with a beautiful space in which to do my work. I have a window view of the Rocky Mountains from my Denver studio. And, having two Golden Retrievers always by my side makes it the most pleasant of work environments.

Kelle McCarter at home with her girls, Garner & Gibson
Inside the studio with Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

Take a peek inside the studio of Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

How long does it take to address an envelope or a set of envelopes?  It takes about one hour to complete eight to ten envelopes because I rule pencil lines and erase them after I hand letter each envelope. I call the process “painting lettering” because each envelope is a miniature piece of art that can not be rushed.

What’s your favorite way to dress up an envelope?  I adore envelope liners. They are a simple, yet beautiful, way to incorporate another layer of design, color and texture into the presentation of an invitation. Wax seals can be beautiful and modern with a bright colored wax and a simple calligraphy monogram or initial. Also, vintage or themed postage stamps can add character and interest to any envelope.

For my own wedding, I placed Marvel Comics postage stamps on the envelopes to match the commissioned comic strip wedding announcements that my husband and I sent to friends and family after our wedding.

Hand calligraphed envelopes from Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

How many ink colors do you offer? Because I work with gouaches (opaque watercolors), I can offer a beautiful array of color options- from opera pink to leaf green, two of my favorites.

What are your most popular ink colors for envelope addressing?  Black is the most popular, as it should be. It is classic and elegant always, regardless of the invitation color. A rich antique gray and sepia brown are popular, too. For save the date envelopes that are less formal than the invitation envelopes, white ink on a colored envelope is striking.

Hand calligraphed envelopes from Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

Hand calligraphed envelopes from Bella Figura calligrapher Kelle McCarter

What’s your most popular style?  “Maura” is the most popular calligraphy that I do. I think it is because it is a blend of modern and classic lettering.

Colette, a Bella Figura letterpress wedding invitation featuring Kelle McCarter's Maura hand calligraphy accents

Many thanks to Kelle for giving us a behind the scenes look at her studio! Visit her website to learn more and to work with Kelle for your wedding calligraphy! Be sure to shop Kelle’s collection, too – her designs are currently on sale for 10% off!

 Studio & envelope images courtesy of Zorn Photography