2019 Spring Workshop and

Annual  General  Meeting

April 12-14, 2019 - Asheville, NC

CLAS is pleased to present

Versals –

Convention to Invention

A workshop with Peter Thornton

The Versal letter has served us well for 400 to 500 hundred years - acting beautifully as a signpost to the reader simply by its size, form and color. Historically, Versals have been used as the large uppercase initial capital letter in a paragraph of text, usually the first paragraph of a chapter. Often these initial letters were decorated and sometimes whimsical. Versals can be used in conjunction with other calligraphy styles and can also work very well on its own.  


Peter tells us that this workshop “is the surprise result of much work/play over the past year or so here in my studio. Originally started as preparation for the Seattletters Convention, it seems to have grown to become a rewarding workshop on basic practical skills and thoughtful invention/creativity.

On our first day we will focus on Convention. We will use the pencil to produce the characteristic form of Versals, which includes absolute thick and absolute thin strokes. The letters were generally legible, often resembling Roman and uncial forms. We will then move on to pen and gouache paint to explore some of the many variants that were used in early medieval manuscripts.

Invention will be the emphasis of our second day. We will again start with the forgiving pencil. We shall re-examine the Versal letter, making small adjustments and modifications to create letters perhaps more relevant to our times and needs. A feature as we proceed will be using the subtlety of watercolors as we enclose them in boxed shapes to give ourselves another area - à la Adolf Bernd - to please and satisfy the eye. Throughout our time together many progressive exercises will be introduced that will help when practicing at home.


  • Layout pad (Peter is now using a Borden and Riley #37 11" X 14" which is excellent)
  • Arches Text Wove, Arches MBM, Fabriano Ingres, BFK Rives or similar, weightier paper. Please have at least five (5) sheets that are at least 11” x 17”; quarter sheets of larger papers will work well.
  • HB pencil plus sharp knife and sandpaper block
  • Rexel nib sizes 4, 3.5, 3 or Brause or Tape sizes .75mm, 1mm, 1.5 mm
  • * Speedball C2 and C3 *
  • Gouache paints: Vermilion, Ultra Marine and Green were used by medieval scribes but your choice plus white
  • Old brush for loading your nibs
  • Watercolors - again your choices (*Payne's Grey and/or *Neutral tint are helpful to achieve subtlety)
  • Palette
  • Water pot
  • * Drawing board *
  • * Straightedge for drawing lines on better quality papers *

* Optional items


Peter Thornton has been a full-time professional and an enthusiastic calligrapher for over 45 years. He has taught widely for 28 consecutive years throughout the UK and Europe as well as Japan, Hong Kong, South Africa and the US. This includes teaching at over 25 International Conventions in the US, Canada and Europe. In 2006 he moved permanently to Tennessee to marry Sherri where they now live. They teach weekend and longer workshops throughout the US and Canada as well as private classes at a more focused and student-specific level on Traditional Gilding, Letterforms, Layout & Design etc. in their home. When not teaching, Peter enjoys experimenting (or is that playing?) with letterforms.


Versals: Convention to Invention drew quite a crowd!

Peter demonstrates versals 

Versals demonstrated. Practice, practice, practice.

A gift for each student from Peter.


January 14 - 18, 2019


11th Annual CLAS Retreat

Seabrook Island, SC


A chance for our members to . . . unwind, experiment, share, work on a personal project, walk on the beach, practice, read, rest and rejuvenate in a peaceful remote setting where one can be immersed in the activity of your choosing.

Images of the retreat can be found on our Instagram account or #clas2019retreat








Marbling Magic and a Coptic Codex

 A Workshop with Anne Murray on October 13 and 14, 2018

 Have you ever looked at beautifully marbled paper and wondered, “How do they do that?” Have you ever tried your hand at marbling and thought, “Wow! It’s difficult to get the effects I want! I need some help with technique.” And then, have you ever thought, “I would really like to make a book that uses marbled paper and opens flat” or “Gee, calligraphy on a marbled background is really effective!”? If the answers to any of these questions are “yes,” then have we got the weekend for you.


On Saturday we will learn the magic of marbling paper with acrylic paints. Marbling is the ancient art of floating paints on top of thickened water (size), manipulating the pigments into patterns, then transferring the pattern to an object by gently placing the object on the surface.  We’ll be introduced to the materials and methods as we create both traditional and contemporary patterns. Each student will end the day with many decorated sheets suitable for a variety of further artistic purposes as well as resources for continuing to learn and create.

Patty Pape calligraphy on Anne’s marbled paper.


On Sunday we’ll use papers created on Saturday as we make and decorate a hard-cover book with a Coptic binding. The earliest known codices – books with folded sections sewn together - date from the second century of the common era from within Egypt and use a linked stitch we now call Coptic.

This exposed stitch binding allows the book to open completely flat, making it ideal for sketching, calligraphy practice, written journaling, and lots of other uses. We will learn the multi-needle Coptic stitch, which allows for a variety of pattern variations. Beginners will focus on the basic stitch while more experienced students will be able to focus on more complex patterns.


** All levels of experience are welcome. Come as you are. **


Hosted by the Coastal Calligraphers, our workshop takes place the weekend of October 12 - 14, 2018, at the Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation (BEMC), 795 Ocean Highway W (Hwy 17), Supply, NC 28462 (near Southport, NC).


We begin Friday night (October 12th) with a gathering at the BEMC about 6 o’clock. We will have a light supper and catch up on our colleagues’ news while looking at samples of marbled papers and their uses and books made with Coptic bindings.


We will open each day at 8:30 am. Formal workshop hours for Saturday are 9:00 am to 5 pm, with a break for lunch. On Sunday we will again begin instruction at 9:00 am, but will close by 4:00 pm to allow for clean-up.


The instructor will provide ALL necessary materials. Instructor will provide Arches Text Wove paper both for marbling and for interior pages of the book. If participants so desire and it is easy to transport, they may wish to bring their own bookbinding tools. Participants may also wish to provide their own favorite papers to include in the text block. If so, know that we’ll be making books that are 7 ¼” tall and 5 ¼” wide. Cost of materials is included in the registration fee.


Lunch (sandwiches and salads) will be served at the workshop: there will not be time to go out for lunch. If you have special needs, please let us know on the registration form and we will try to accommodate you.

We will have a pot luck dinner on Saturday night. Accompanying persons are cordially invited to join us for both this and the Friday night gathering.


Participants are responsible for their own lodging arrangements. There is a hotel near the venue: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Southport–Oak Island, 3400 Southport–Supply Road SE, (Highway 211), Bolivia, NC 28422. Phone (910) 253 – 9100. A coastal area scribe may be able to offer lodging; please indicate your interest on your registration form.


Workshop enrollment is limited to 12 because of the equipment required for marbling. Registration is taken in the order postmarked on or after August 27th. Any registration mailed before August 27 automatically goes on the waiting list. Mail your check (payable to CLAS) to Liz Simmonds at P. O. Box 250, Black Mountain, NC 28711. E-mail confirmations will be sent in early September. The cost of the workshop is $197 per person for CLAS members, $227 for non-members. This amount includes the materials fee of $37.


Anne came to bookbinding in 2006, learning her skills from classes at the John C. Campbell Folk School, the Sawtooth School for Visual Art, Asheville Bookworks and the Penland School of Crafts as well as from books and individual practice. Particularly well-known teachers include Steve Pittelkow (pamphlet stitch and marbling), Jana Pullman (historic bindings), Dan Essig (Coptic stitch and wooden covers), and Jim Croft (Gothic style).  She loves making books that are historically accurate in style and materials, and especially those made of materials created "from scratch" -- hence the need to develop skills in paper making, marbling, creating book cloth, and woodworking! At heart, Anne is a teacher, finding pleasure in sharing her passion. She periodically offers classes at her studio (ArtConnections in Winston-Salem, NC), the Sawtooth School for Visual Art (Winston-Salem, NC), the John C. Campbell Folk School (Brasstown, NC), and many regional arts councils. See more about Anne’s work on her website, https://www.annesbooksandpapers.com.

Workshop fee: $197 CLAS members     $ _____________

                         $227 non-members)     $ _____________

Make check payable to CLAS and mail to Elizabeth Simmonds

P.O. Box 250 · Black Mountain, NC 28711




From the wonderful workshop in October lead by artist Anne Murray.

Looks messy but wait till you see what happens!

The big reveal! SO gorgeous!

Look at the gorgeous Coptic binding.


What a great use of our marbled paper!

Here's a close up of the Coptic binding. Look out everyone on my holiday list :-)