Knotted Versals Birthday Card


I’ve noticed that a lot more people read my card-making posts than ones on more obscure topics like the stationery items historically used by Canadian fur traders so here’s another one.

My inspiration for this card was the Learn to Letter session at the April 2018 Edmonton Calligraphic Society meeting ( This month’s style was Knotted Versals. Versals are the decorated letters found in illuminated manuscripts, often at the beginning of a verse (hence the name) or paragraph. While the Celts weren’t the only ones to use knotted designs in their manuscripts (most famously the Book of Kells),  knotted versals are often associated with them. I used the alphabet provided by Pauline Baynes at the meeting as my guide for the outline of the letters.

20180414_155757That was as far as I got at the meeting but later on at home I used watercolour paints with a very fine paint brush to colour them in. I think markers or pencil crayons would have been easier, especially where the lines are quite close together.  


Once the letters were painted, I mounted on coloured paper and attached to folded cardstock to make the card. So here’s to a very happy birthday for Alison!



Sealing wax

The use of seals goes way back into ancient times but originally these were made out of clay or, in the case of the Romans, bitumen. Wax started being used for seals in medieval times. Originally, they were a way for someone like a bishop or monarch to authenticate decrees and documents by having a distinct seal that they would press into wax. Later, wax seals were used to seal letters closed and while this is no longer necessary (just like handwritten letters), that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. For one, it looks great, and secondly, you get to play with molten wax. While it is possible to use any kind of wax, sealing wax has been specially developed for the job so works the best.

There are different kinds of sealing wax, those with a wick (the only kind I have tried) and those without. I have also heard of a sealing wax manufacturer based in Victoria, B.C. called Kings Wax that have invented a glue gun style wax as well as making traditional sealing wax. While squirting wax on with a glue gun is no doubt easier than traditional sealing wax, there is no flame involved. Where is the joy in that?

My red sealing wax and rose seal were gifts from my daughter. Red is a traditional colour for sealing wax. I also tried my sister’s gold coloured sealing wax and seal. Her seal is a fancy capital E and has a wooden handle while mine is smaller and all brass. Although the packaging is different, the wax sticks look like they were made in the same mold as the size and design are identical. I couldn’t find a brand name or a country of origin on the gold wax package but there was a website for Nostalgic Impressions, a company based in Naples, Florida. My package said that the wax stick was made in China but the paper insert said that the company had been using the same Scottish factory for 300 years. Again, I saw the Nostalgic Impressions website listed so I am just not sure where these were made.20170506_164524

Both wax sticks came with instructions which basically are as follows:

  1. Melt wax and start dripping it onto the envelope. It really helps to use a lighter for this. It takes a bit of practice to know just how much wax to drip onto the envelope and I was too skimpy when using the gold wax. It doesn’t bother me if there are a few stray drops as I think they add to the charm.                                                                  20170430_105530
  2. Once you have a good size blob, huff onto the brass seal (a little moisture on the seal helps it not stick to the wax) and press into the molten wax.20170430_105623
  3. Send your letter on its way.

If wax seals were a person, I think they would be a wise old sage with snowy white hair and gnarly, ink stained hands.

Coming up next week: I recently won a Rhodia Memo Book from so am looking forward to discussing it.