Quest For Jewelry Brings Calligraphy Success

Here is Kris MacDonald’s story of entering the 2018 Graceful Envelope contest:

After Charlie Hughes' passing, I contacted the Washington DC Calligraphers Guild in search of any ABC/XYZ jewelry, which he had designed. They own the design and have sold necklaces and earrings with the design. I was hoping they might have some last item that was still unsold. Received a nice reply that no, there was nothing left, they even queried their BOD. A few weeks later I received an offer from Lorraine Swerdloff, one of their very active members and the coordinator for the Graceful Envelope contest. She offered to trade me a pair of ABC/XYZ earrings in exchange for promoting the contest to the Colleagues. Of course I agreed and she wouldn't take any money.

Kris’s winning entry

Kris’s winning entry

The envelope before "weatherization"

The envelope before "weatherization"

So, in 2017 I promoted the contest and dutifully sent in an entry. In 2018 I promoted the contest and thought about my entry for the theme "Whatever the Weather". I drew a blank, and had no appropriate stamps to spur my imagination.


It was a few days before the deadline and I had a promise to keep so I decided I would just simply do an envelope and be done with it. For those of you who follow the contest, you know there are a lot of submissions with fantastic illustrations, which I don't do. I grabbed two American flag stamps and decide to letter the address in waving lines echoing the waves on the flag. The large address was in gouache with small letters repeating the address with a waterproof micron pen. At the beginning and end of each line you can see my illustrative abilities. Final step, add the weather. I took the envelope outside and smashed it onto the spring snow, twice, which made the gouache bleed perfectly. It didn't look quite weather-beaten enough, so I laid it down in a muddy soggy spot. Couldn't decide if it needed more abuse so I stopped while I was ahead. I didn't care, but really I guess I did.

I mailed it off with a clean conscience that it was a decent enough entry and I had fulfilled my promise to Lorraine.

Later, I was shocked beyond belief when the certificate arrived stating my envelope was part of the Honorable Mention group. Never in a million years...did I expect that to happen. I will keep sending in entries each year as it was a small price to pay for Charlie's earrings. Will remind you next year when the theme is announced and it is time for you to submit.

P.S. I had no idea that the cancellation stamp would have the wavy lines on it. That is a design element that was a happy accident. Couldn't have planned that any better.

Kris MacDonald