We are thrilled that 7th Annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is on the horizon! Saturday, May 5th, at Schurz HS! If you are a maker, there’s still time to sign up HERE.

We launch our Meet the Maker series 2018 with Katje Sabin of the Write Stuff. We had a chance to chat about her work. She explained: “I use pen and ink/paint to build letterforms on paper or fabric.” I asked her how she got into this type of work and she told me, “In the 1980s, I was a professional typesetter. Desktop publishing was still but a gleam in the eye of Steve Jobs, and I used big Compugraphic machines for newspaper, magazine, and book publishing. Then I got my art studio degree from University of California Davis while working my way through school as a journalist and layout artist for the student paper. So I’ve always had an interest in letters and graphics. When I joined the Society for Creative Anachronism about five years ago, one of the activities they offered was scribal arts. I fell in love with the dip pen and the beautiful medieval scripts, and have been practicing and teaching calligraphy ever since.”

CalligraphyAbout her plans for Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, she said: “I will have a display that includes some pre-lettered examples of my work, books with ancient and modern examples of calligraphy, and paper and pens for anyone who wants to give it a go (plus some watercolors and brushes for little ones to have fun with). And if you want to take some calligraphy home, I will create a custom hand-lettered bookmark just for you!” You should definitely check out her work and even try your hand.

What does Katje think people should know about calligraphy and illumination? “It’s not handwriting! It’s closer to playing with Legos than actual writing. You learn and practice the forms that the letters are built with, then put them together to create words. All you’re missing is that satisfying click, but a manuscript hurts way less to step on in the middle of the night!” But most importantly, she said, “Don’t be intimidated! It’s not as hard as you might think. Like any new skill, calligraphy can be broken down into its component parts, and learned step-by-step. But you’ll get some incredible results in a relatively short amount of time. And it’s not very expensive, as far as a new hobby goes.“

Thanks Katje Sabin! We can’t wait to see your beautiful work at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire on May 5th!


Elisa Shoenberger is a writer and oral historian in Chicago. She has written for Ozy, the Billfold, LoveTV, Rebellious Magazine, the Reset, the City Creatures blog for the Center for Humans and Nature. She is the co-editor and co-founder of the Antelope Magazine. You can check out her blog Not Without Her Bowler Hat.

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