Openinkstand Art & Calligraphy

IAMPETH 2014 at Sheraton Hotel, Indianapolis


The 2014 logo was designed by Don Marsh

For those who don’t know, the IAMPETH (The International Association of Master Penmen, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting) convention is held annually around August, for a week of classes, panels and good old fashioned pointed pen fun. The convention is held in different cities in the US, and this year 2014 it was held in Indianapolis, Indiana in the Sheraton Hotel from August 4-9.

This was my second IAMPETH (2013 was in New Mexico, Albuquerque), and will be rather long blog post as I (try to) recall the week, which was admittedly pretty hazy due to all the fun, class information overload, not enough sleep and running purely on adrenaline and cheap wine. So if you want to know what it was like and perhaps join us next year, please read on to see what happened at this year’s convention, stream of consciousness style.. this will be a long post!

The Iampeth 2014 family, top row from left: Ritchie Wei, Gillott Principality, Bailey Rivera, Rhonda Smith, Tittivilus, Kathy Saunders, Maggie Cravens, Brian Smith, PR Spencer ; second row: Skyler Chubak, Rebecca Sinnen, Melissa Esplin, Emily Fitzpatrick, Brittany Lax, Amy Dunn, Joi Hunt, Maradasz ; third row: me, Eileen Gustafson, Valerie Williams, Mike Ward, Jacob Ira, Mary Ellen, Marcus Carlini, Taylor Dunnahoe, Rick Muffler


imageMy cat didn’t want me to leave…

What I remember most about Monday, besides arriving at Indianapolis and meeting all my friends, was running like hell through the Vegas airport while the overhead speaker was calling for my name rather urgently and saying I have 4 minutes to get to the gate before they close it…

What a way to start the week! Don’t worry, I did make it to the gate in time.. completely out of breath and sweaty..

Anyway, so Monday is when registration starts, so people trickle in, register and get situated. and go to a beginners orientation in the afternoon. Sometimes people arrive on Sunday or even Saturday, but I decided to arrive on Monday evening instead. Registration is all day so there was no hurry.

imageThe registration tables were decorated to look like the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.. hehe! Photo by Greg Minuskin

imageLast year Mike Sull was in the beginners orientation room helping people set their flanges.

At the next room is the One on One Beginners Orientation.. this is where beginners learn about how to set and hold an oblique pen, what nibs to use, how to prepare them, etc. Very informal and beginner-friendly! Last year, first timers were even assigned a liaison (mine was JP Panter) who introduced us to people and made sure us newbies were having fun and not feeling left out. Very considerate!

It was also a good time to go shopping! There are three rooms besides the classrooms: the Archive Room, the Vendors Room (John Neal Booksellers and PaperInkArts alternate every year) and the Marketplace, which is where members can rent a booth and sell whatever calligraphy-related stuff they want.

Photo courtesy of Kathy Saunders: This is the John Neal vendors room.. it is so much bigger than this! In the middle of the room are some tables and chairs where you can try out all their stuff.. heaven!

imageThis was a photo of the Vendors room from 2013, when it was PaperInkArts. Look at all the goodies! The Vendors also run a tab, so if you are in a hurry you can just grab something and let them know and pay it all off on the last day. Very dangerous for my wallet..

imageHere is Brian and Rhonda Smith of Unique Obliques set up in the vendors room. My little Painted Pens are on one of the racks!

At 6:30pm the Opening Reception starts, and a buffet style dinner is served, and a few speeches about what to expect, new announcements and honors given. It was all very casual, but only to be expected as most people have been traveling all day!

imageThe opening night buffet. They served a nice variety of American style food. Photo by Kathy Saunders.

imageMarian Gault was honored this year and presented with this beautiful certificate. Photo by Kathy Saunders.


Titivillus, the demon of calligraphers even made an appearance. He’s the demon who is responsible for spelling mistakes, spilled ink, etc amongst calligraphers. A celebrity star studded event, for sure, they even got a demon to show up!

Once you’ve registered, they give you a welcome package full of stuff.


I love these bags, they’re big enough to tote around supplies to class! It even has the convention logo on. Let’s see what’s inside.


The all important folder. This is where you can find class notes for all the classes (I know!!! Awesome!) and your personal class schedule. In addition to notes, they’ve also included a full schedule, map of the hotel, attendee names, a list of restaurants (complete with closing time, phone number and distance) etc. Very thorough and helpful, but kinda heavy so everyday I just carry notes for only my class.


We’re not supposed to share the notes, out of respect to the teachers, but here is a sneak peek from the Masterpiece Flourishing class by Michael Sull. Some of the notes are in color, some black and white, some typed, some handwritten, and some really funny! What else is in the bag?


Swag!! Hell yeah! It’s not supplies for class, but just freebies and samples that they throw in. This is not all of them, there were a lot more.. I found a tube of gouache (just my luck though to get a color I dislike though- yellow ochre, no one would trade with me), a pan of Finetec gold, a brush, a Zebra G nib, a business writing card, some papers etc. All very welcome.


And of course, a badge which conveniently has zips and storage. I find it very useful for keeping candy, my phone, lipstick, spare change etc. Cat not included in the welcome package. Maybe next year.


There are three classes with three different instructors each day (pick one), plus night activities and additional classes. Each class starts from 8:30am-12 (with one tea break in between), then lunch, and then classes continue from 1:30-5pm (with another tea break). Quite a lot can be covered in that time!

Tuesday was a choice between Pat Blair “Spencerian Script”, Bill Kemp “Engrosser’s Script and Mike Kecseg’s “Pointed Pen Variations.” Alas, Pat Blair and Bill Kemp couldn’t make it and was substituted by Michael Sull and Bob Hurford respectively. If you think picking classes was tough and wish you could be in both at the same time, oh yeah.. they know it too! Switching between classes is strictly forbidden and there were even staff members posted by the doors to check your class schedule. Yikes!

What it looks like in the biggest class. There are two big projectors on each side of the room and as you can guess, the front seats fill up real quick. Photo by Kathy Saunders.

imageA view in the other classroom. So many students!

imageSome class notes and practice sheets for today.

Dinner was from 5 – 7:30. The hotel is connected to a mall, which I was super excited about (there was a PaperSource and Papyrus store!), and  a number of restaurants. I think we went for pizza on Tuesday, don’t remember..

At 7:30 the night activities begin, with a choice of “Writing Night with the Penmen” and “Panel Discussion on the Business of Calligraphy.” We went to the panel first, and they had JP Panter moderating and a panel of veteran calligraphers giving their thoughts: Alesia Zorn, Jenny Muffler, and another two ladies I can’t recall who (argh sorry!). It was very lively.. lots of back and forth discussion about pricing, beginners, what to charge, where to sell work, etc. I hope they have this panel again next year, it was very informative, but I didn’t stay till the end because I wanted to go to…

“Writing Night with the Penmen” in the next room, where the Master Penman and other professional calligraphers all setup tables and you can ask them to write your name. This is my favorite part of Iampeth! You get to see how they work, what they use and ask questions too. Some of the lines are pretty long, but what a thrill to see them write your name in their style.

imageMike Sull at his table. Note the queue in the background! Photo by Kathy Saunders.


John DeCollibus had a table too, and I was prepared to wait in line till the end of time, but he said he had already written names for people who are in his class and will give it out then. Awesome!! Nevertheless, I stood at his table for some time though, like a total creep, watching him write names..


My loot. I didn’t get as many this year because I was in the business panel next door, but from the top: Marian Gault, John DeColllibus, Heather Held and Vivian Mungall.

imageJake Weidman writing names at last year’s event.

Some stayed on late to write everybody’s names, some stayed till all their paper ran out, but it went on for quite some time and before you know it, it’s bedtime.



I was totally wide awake and bushy tailed because it is finally time for my favorite class day! Today’s choice of classes was Jake Weidman’s “Courtney Style Flourishing”, John DeCollibus’s “Add A Dash of Madarasz” and Sheila Waters “The Golden Thread.” I know!!!! They put all these amazing classes together and ask us to choose?? I wish I could split myself in three parts, but in the end I chose John DeCollibus’s class, because a) I’ve already taken Jake’s class last year and b) are you kidding? ‘Add a Touch of Madarasz’? By John “Seriously” DeCollibus?

imageUm, hell to the yeah? I waited all year for this!

Dinner was again at 5, and I think we went for pizza again. Don’t remember.. all I know is we had a lot of pizza because it was the most convenient restaurant.

That evening was another three choice of classes from 7:30-9:30pm: Ned Gault’s “Photoshop for Calligraphers”, Bryan Platt’s “Muscular Movement Writing” and Bob Hurford “Colored Pencil basics.” I went to Muscular Movement Writing because as you may know, I haaaate drills and thought maybe a 2 hour class could help make up for a lifetime of not doing drills. Nah didn’t work.

After class, they leave the study rooms open, so here is a photo of us studying real hard.

imageFrom left: Rhonda Smith, Brian Smith (Unique Obliques), Michael Ward, Taylor Dunnahue (in green), me, Wendy Xu (her back towards us), Melissa Esplin and Eileen Gustafson. Photo by Kathy Saunders.


At this point I was not really getting enough sleep due to late night chatting and drinking late night studying, but still I am very excited for class. Today’s choice was Michael Sull’s “Masterpiece Flourishing”, Rosemary Buzcek’s “Drawing and Painting the Decorative Letter” and Harvest Crittenden’s “Illuminated Borders of Angelo Rassu”. I picked Masterpiece Flourishing, as it is based off of my hero of heroes George Bickham.

imageSome of my practices. It was tough..

Dinner was pizza again, I’m sure of it! I remember because the night activity was…

The Round Robin! My other favorite part of Iampeth. This is where there are about 20 tables/stations set up, and each station introduces something new for conventioneers to try out, and people can move around from table to table as they choose. It’s very educational and informal!


Here is Barbara Close demonstrating Gelli printing. It was easy to make, and beautiful outcome.


Linda Schneider demonstrating Brush Script and Design. Photo by Kathy Saunders. There were plenty of other stations too: Phantom liner demonstrations, a Gold and White Ink Petting Zoo (lol!), Engraving, Embossing, Quill Lettering, Don Marsh even had a station explaining how he created the Iampeth logo. I couldn’t get to all the stations, unfortunately, because I was busy tending my own.. ‘Fancy Envelopes!’

imageSo. Effing. Nervous!

Basically all I demonstrated was my glitter technique where you write an envelope with sumi ink, and while the ink is wet, just sprinkle glitter over it and some of it sticks even through the mail. Another style was my rose stickers and writing in the shape of a heart, but all everyone wants to try was the glitter thing. Oh well. Here we have Jake Weidman demonstrating the technique:

imageStep 1: Inspect your one of a kind hand carved Jake Weidman oblique pens to write on with sumi ink. Note the deliberate choice of hot pink envelope.

imageStep 2: While ink is still wet, carefully sprinkle glitter on the ink. It’s gotta be pink. Gotta be matchy-matchy.

imageStep 3: Carefully tilt the envelope to see if you have covered all the ink, if not repeat Step 2. At this point please be aware you will be covered in glitter for at least a week.

imageStep 4: Wait for ink to dry, revel in own masculinity- wait is that a gold Chanel bag? Giiiirl!

imageStep 5: When ink is dry, gently tap away the glitter to reveal beautifully sparkly letters! In case you can’t read it, it says ‘I am a Manly Man!’ surrounded by pretty rose stickers. Awww.

Here is the handout sheet I made for the station, maybe you would like to try it for yourself!



Is it Friday already? Boy, time flies.. so does sleep. When I woke up on Friday night I thought wow there is no way I can get through today. But, I got up and dressed and went to class anyway! It was a choice of Valerie Weilmuenster “Exploring White Vine Illumination”, Kathy Milici’s “Flourished Monogram” and Bob Hurford “Spencerian Ladies Hand” (yes, if you’re keeping track, he taught three classes this year!). I went to the Ladies Hand class, and it ended early at 4:30pm for the business meeting. It was you know, business stuff… reports on finances, plans, proposals, changes to policy, new committee etc.

imageAnd the swearing in of next year’s convention committee.

The final night event starts at 7:30pm, so there is time enough for other stuff. Here is some actual studying we were doing on one of the previous nights.

imageFrom left: (not sure who the person in black and white stripes is.. Bailey Rivera maybe? Skyler Chubak (the guy in black), Jacob Ira, Michael Ward, Melissa Esplin, Ritchie Wei and Rebecca Sinnen. I’m not sure who took this photo.. sorry!


In the Archive room. This place has to be seen to be believed, vintage scrapbooks, exemplars, magazines everywhere! From left: Valerie Williams, Ana Gonzalez (I think?), Rebecca Sinnen, Jacob Ira, Brian Smith, Ritchie Wei

imageThese works of art has to be seen to be believed. There is even some Master Penmen certificates on display.

Check out that hottie on the bottom right. Phew! Getting hot in here!


The Archive room is a highlight of Iampeth, and the specimens in it are priceless. There are original scrapbooks, specimens by the most famous penmen: Madarasz, Zaner, Lupfer, Courtney.. plus the rarest penmanship books.

Friday night was another event that I was looking forward to.. the Auction! Eeeeee!! Anyone can contribute, and they accept anything and you can find anything, from rare vintage nibs, ink wells, artworks, specimens from Master Penmen, rare books… to props from the convention, and last year I even found an earring and scarf set which I placed a bid on (didn’t win though). All the proceeds go to Iampeth and I believe they get much of their funding from this event.

imageLook at the amount of stuff! Every piece of white paper represents one item. Photo by Greg Minuskin

So what happens is there is a bid sheet next to the item you want, then you just write your bid and whoever gets the last bid when they call out the end of the auction wins the item. As you can imagine, this can lead to camping out at the item you want, some friendly warnings to your opponent which then leads to dagger glares and then actual homicide. Very exciting! I don’t often win the items I want because I tend to shy away at the last minute, unfortunately. Gotta improve my glaring game.

imageThese are some items from last year. Engraved perfume bottle by John DeCollibus, engraved McCaffrey inkwells and Bill Lilly penholders. Photo by Greg Minuskin

imageA beautiful piece by Michael Sull was for auction too. I bidded but didn’t win.. too many deaths around this one.

Here is a photo of Michael Sull working on the piece.

As for myself, I contributed four items, three artworks: A Poe, Audrey and Shakespeare, and a flourished bird Painted Pen collaboration with Brian Smith of Unique Obliques.

This pen was marked Iampeth 14 on the bottom for commemoration of the occasion.. although we never found out who won it. If you know who did please let us know!


Starting to feel real sad.. it’s the last day. The Archive room is closing, the Vendors are starting to call in their tabs (yikes!) and many people do choose to leave today so they get Sunday to recuperate. Despite that, there are still morning classes: Marian Gault’s “Chancery Cursive Italic”, Tamara Stoneburner’s “Psychology of Wedding Certificates” and Barbara Close’s “Copperplate Garden.” These classes ended early though, at 12 so we get the rest of the afternoon off to relax. I went shopping, finally!

The banquet is at 6pm, and it is kinda dressy. Also kind of bittersweet because it’s the last day and many people have already left and skipped the banquet.. if you come to Iampeth, don’t skip the banquet.

Placecards made by Heather Held for the banquet. What an amazing souvenir. Photo by Kathy Saunders.

At one of the dinner tables. All the centerpieces are different and made by the Indianapolis guild. Clockwise from left: John DeCollibus, Louis Lemoine, Linda Schneider, Kathy Milici, (sorry not sure who the guy in blue is), Jake Weidman, Hannah Weidman and John D’s wife. Photo by Kathy Saunders.

It was a great atmosphere, people were eating, chatting and just taking photos. Here are some more I took.

With Bryan Platt. I love this guy!! He is always so cheerful and smiling.

With Jake Weidman and his gorgeous wife Hannah Weidman. They’re such a lovely couple!

With John DeCollibus! He looks tired don’t you think? Check out my huge smile!

The special guest that night was Tom Costello, great-grandson of PW Costello, and he showed us his work.. amazing and inspiring. He was then presented with a beautiful certificate by Michael Sull for his work. One thing you can say about Iampeth.. there are a lot of beautiful certificates!

And that’s that.. the end of Iampeth 2014. It was a wonderful week and I wish it was longer, but I met amazing people, had a great time, learned a lot and will be back for next year. Will you join us at Franklin, Tennessee next year?

The 2015 logo is made by Mike Kecseg.

Oh! The night wasn’t quite over. Because at around 3am, the hotel was evacuated and three firetrucks came to put out the amazing party that was Iampeth! Heck yeah!

Our studying was interrupted.. with Pringles and beer and red party cups.. clockwise from left: Taylor Dunahee, Mike Ward, JP Panter, Skyler Chubak, Erin Shannon, Valerie Williams, Mary Ellen Seidman, Brittany Lax, Eileen Gustafson, and me!

Convinced yet? Here’s more information about the convention.

First of all, you have to be a member of Iampeth to join. The fee is $35 so it’s best to join now so you can register for next year’s convention. The actual convention fees is about $200. That is a surprisingly small price to pay for a week of full day classes taught by famous and amazing penmen such as John Decollibus, Michael Sull, Pat Blair, Jake Weidman, Sheila Waters, etc. I mean come on, if you consider how much it costs to attend their classes elsewhere, plus all the other stuff in the itinerary.. it is such a great deal.

Of course, traveling and hotel costs and all that does add up, but don’t worry.. there are the IAMPETH Scholarships to help you out. There are three categories: the Local Scholarship (for residents of the city where the convention is going to be held, the convention fees will be waived), the General Scholarship ($1000 for travel and hotel costs), and for the first time in 2015, the International Scholarship (up to $3000 for travel and hotel costs). I know!! So exciting!!!

If you have more questions about the convention, you can always post in the Facebook or contact a committee member.

See you next year!

2 Responses to “IAMPETH 2014 at Sheraton Hotel, Indianapolis”

  1. anasaziwrites

    Terrific post. So looking forward to seeing you and everyone else in Franklin.


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