Meet Our Members
This page features the calligraphic achievements of some of our professional and amateur members in the Washington, DC area.
Tour of the White House Calligraphy Office
Chief White House Calligrapher Pat Blair (foreground) spoke about the calligraphy office’s operations as they prepared invitations for a state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II. She also talked about the daily operations of the office and printing official correspondence, invitations and other special documents. Pictured in rear is calligrapher Debra Brown. Not pictured is calligrapher Rick Muffler, who appears on the C-span video.
More sources about White House calligraphers:
Pat Blair speaks about her work as White House chief calligrapher.
Kathleen S. McCann, former White House calligrapher, has written Have Pen will Travel: Tales and Travels of a White House Calligrapher.
From the White House to the Amish: A Story Inspired by the Life of Thomas E. Kirkman by Katrina Hoover Lee about a former WH calligrapher.
WCG's Scripsit journals showcased the work of White House calligraphers:
Pens & Protocol: The Calligraphy of Official Washington, Fall 2007/Winter 2008 issue (Vol.29 No.3/Vol.30 No.1)
Pens & Protocol: The Calligraphy of Official Washington, Vol 2 (Vol 39 No 2, Fall 2016)
An Afternoon with MOHAMED ZAKARIYA: The Story of the Poem by Anika Ahmed.
The Art and Practice of Calligraphy in Arabic Script 2023.
The Walters Art Museum has a series of videos about the art of calligraphy, featuring world-renowned calligrapher Mohamed Zakariya and two of his students, Mariam Lodin and Emin Leliç. Their different perspectives and experiences reveal the process of learning and the precision required to master calligraphy in the Arabic script.
More information about Islamic calligraphy can be found in WCG's journal Scripsit Vol.45, No.2, Spring 2023.
Washington Guild members design U.S. postage stamps
The U.S. Postal Service re-issued a postage stamp designed by WCG member Mohamed Zakariya in October 2002. The USPS initially issued the 34-stamp in Sept. 2001 to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid. The stamp features the Arabic phrase "Eid mubarak" in a script known in Arabic as "thuluth" and in Turkish as "sulus." Zakariya describes it as "the choice script for a complex composition due to its open proportions and sense of balance." He used homemade black ink, and his pens were crafted from seasoned reeds and bamboo.
The paper was specially prepared with a coating of starch and three coats of alum and egg-white varnish, then burnished with an agate stone and aged for more than a year. Zakariya's black-and-white design was then colorized by computer. The colors chosen for the stamp—gold script on a blue background—are reminiscent of great works of Islamic calligraphy. The Eid stamp commemorates the two most important festivals—or eids—in the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Fitr, which marks the end of Ramadan, the month of fasting, and Eid al-Adha. On these days, Muslims wish each other "Eid mubarak," the phrase Mr. Zakariya lettered for the stamp. "Eid mubarak" translates literally as "blessed festival," and can be paraphrased as "May your religious holiday be blessed."
WCG member Julian Waters lettered this 1991 stamp for the U.S. Postal Service to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the signing of the Bill of Rights. Waters' work includes logos, posters, CD packaging, titling for books and publications. He works with design studios, publishers and ad agencies on projects which may be enhanced by the warmth and refinement of calligraphy and hand lettering. Julian contributed this article to our website:
In 2005 the USPS issued the Presidential Libraries stamp with lettering by Julian Waters. Julian has done a number of philatelic projects for USPS, including lettering for Wildlife America, Wildflowers, and 1991 Commemorative Stamp booklet. (See below for more of Julian's commercial lettering.)
WCG member Julian Waters did the lettering for the 70th anniversary cover of US News & World Report (9/22/03). In addition to the calligraphic lettering, he used his Adobe typeface Waters Titling for "70th Anniversary Issue" and "American Milestones."
IAMPETH honors Pat Blair as a Master Penman
WCG Past President Pat Blair was named a Master Penman by IAMPETH, the International Association of Master Penman, Engrossers and Teachers of Handwriting, at its 2005 convention. The organization recognizes members who have achieved an exceptional level of excellence in Engrosser’s Script (copperplate), Spencerian and Ornamental Script, Engrossing and Illumination, Offhand Flourishing and Text Lettering. Master Penman inductees are required to produce their own certificate as proof of their ability.
Pat Blair served as White House Chief Calligrapher from 2006 to 2018. The artwork, procedures and numerous images of White House calligraphers are featured in the Fall 2007/Winter 2008 and Fall 2016 "Pens & Protocol" issues of Scripsit.
WCG members’ egg art at the White House
Easter eggs lettered and painted by WCG members Michael Noyes (below left) and Lorraine Portner Swerdloff were among the 51 eggs on display at the White House during the 2002 Easter season. The White House Easter Egg collection, introduced in 1994 as part of the White House Easter Egg Roll and coordinated by the American Egg Board, featured real chicken eggs decorated by artists from each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia to reflect their state. Michael, who lives in Virginia, honored the memory of the Pentagon terrorism victims, and District resident Lorraine paid tribute to the U.S. Constitution, which is housed in Washington. Michael and Lorraine got to see their creations on display during a tour for the 2002 Easter Egg artists that included meeting First Lady Laura Bush.
Guild's 'Party Animal' exhibited in Washington
The DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities selected the Washington Calligraphers Guild's entry to be among the 100 donkey and 100 elephant statues on display in every part of the city during the spring and summer of 2002.
The WCG entry, titled Baby Elephant Walk, took viewers on a "walk" through many of Washington's favorite neighborhoods and sites, whose names were lettered in a variety of styles and colors by WCG members (from l) Pat Blair, Linda Levine and Marta Legeckis.
Calligraphy outreach at National Postal Museum
nn Pope (seated) and Lorraine Portner Swerdloff (r.) demonstrating and discussing calligraphy at the Smithsonian's National Postal Museum in Fall 2005. Below, Lorraine Swerdloff gives a calligraphy demonstration at the Museum in January 2006.