Wine-Tasting & Candle-Making Workshop in Montreal

If you follow me on Instagram or know me in real life, you know that I really love staying home. I love a full, matching flannel pajama set and I cannot think of anywhere I would rather be than wrapped in the four arms of my 60 pound lapdog, Teddy. So the fact that I left my house - I repeat: I, Jodi Tellier, Professional Art Hermit & Netflix-Binge-Watcher left my house on a Tuesday night - is pretty significant, and what I’m about to tell you about is something pretty damn special.

What could get me out of my canine-cuddling cocoon and out into the world, you ask?

Wine!

(…Are you surprised?)

Actually, it was a combination of wine, candles, and the fact that my friends Tricia & Cindy at T.Lees have created an absolutely beautiful space with their new boutique, that I am more than happy to spend time in (the fact that it’s full of plants like my house, coupled with the fact that I got to drink wine the whole time, certainly helped me feel at home). Their gorgeous, Pinterest-worthy shop opened recently in my old neighbourhood (#southbest) but T.Lees has actually been in business for a few years now, making my favourite candles and being my go-to source for Christmas & birthday gifts that are a little extra special and unique. So when I heard they were hosting a wine-tasting and candle-making workshop - hence combining my love of wine and scented candles (am I basic? I don’t even care) - I just had to be there.

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The workshop consisted of two parts: Part 1 was a wine-tasting led by the ridiculously well-spoken, annoyingly gorgeous and extremely well-dressed Maude Gendron (I coveted her jumpsuit).

She led us through a tasting featuring a selection of organic wines, and encouraged us to talk about what kinds of smells & tastes we could identify, as well as take notes about each one. We tried two white wines (the first was German, the second Austrian) and two reds (one from France and the other from Italy) and finished the evening with a glass of Cava (from Spain obviously - and side note, it came in the prettiest bottle).

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In Part 2, my friend, fellow girlboss and partner-in-wine Tricia showed us how to mix our own custom scent, and then we learned how to make our very own candle! (And yes, I called mine “Hot Mess” - appropriate, no?) The fragrance is a mix of leather, smoke, and linden flower and I think it’s pretty fabulous.

This was a much more science-y process than I ever would have imagined and I have a whole new appreciation for the candle-making process! It was super interesting to see how much goes into it, and how much time and experimentation it must take to get the perfect combination of scents.

While we waited for our candles to go from piping hot liquid in a jar to gorgeous little home decor item, we had the opportunity to socialize and check out all the treasures in the main boutique.

All in all, this workshop was a wonderful, productive and enriching way to spend an evening and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxing and fun evening out of their pajamas! Head on over to the T.Lees website to sign up for their newsletter and be notified when the next workshops are posted!

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is sponsored, I just loved this workshop and wanted to share the experience with you darlings!

How to Find Your Calligraphy Style (And Why It Matters)

Let’s talk about Your Calligraphy Style:

Why exactly should you have one? Why do I care so much about encouraging other artists to find their unique style? Does it really matter?

Well, it matters a lot to me because I’m a Type 4 on the Enneagram which means that I would rather die than be unoriginal. I also value individuality and artistry both in my business and life, and have for as long as I can remember. I believe that it should matter to other calligraphers too, because your style - along with your creative voice and unique perspective - is what has the power to set you apart, and elevate your brand above the crowd.

A little back story: I first learned calligraphy by taking an in-person class, once a week for several weeks. Over the course of that Fall “semester” and afterwards, I noticed that my fellow students started having a very similar look to their work. Of course, that’s fine when you’re first learning - your work is bound to resemble the example you’re learning from. But for me, it was very important to avoid that, because I knew right away that I wanted to turn this new skill into a business, so I was intent on developing my own style.

Even with determination on my side, it took a long time - about 2.5 years - of practice & experimentation to really get there. Mostly due to a ton of self-doubt...and honestly, because I was just trying to make things that I thought people would buy! For the first year or so, I made the mistake of looking at what was out there already & thought “okay, that’s what people like, so that’s what I’ll do”. And I really lost myself for a little while there.

At a certain point I got fed up, and then I got re-inspired. I started looking within myself. I analyzed my practice sheets & past projects, tried to pinpoint what made them look like mine versus. anything else you could find on Pinterest. Finally, after much soul-searching, I started looking at my work & feeling like it was truly mine.

Ever since then, there’s been a serious shift in the kind of work I’ve been getting hired for. Some of it comes from learning about business-y things (hello, SEO!), but I truly believe that a huge part of it is because I’ve put the work into creating art that stands out, and I’ve finally started to focus on what I do best.


For people who are starting out, the idea of having a truly unique style might feel impossible, because the number of letterers out there these days seems to be exponential. But there is always room to innovate, to stand out, to make work that others can clock from a mile away as yours and no one else’s. It doesn’t happen overnight, it takes practice, experimentation, and patience. But you can totally get there, and it is absolutely worth the effort. Style is part inherent, and part intentional. It’s already in you, you just have to care enough to manifest it.

I believe in learning the rules before you can break them. I believe in honing your skills. I believe in striving for a high level of artistry. But I also believe that all of that is meaningless if you’re not also expressing yourself inside your work.

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TL/DR - Here are the primary steps to finding your own unique calligraphy style:

  1. (Mindful) Practice.

    What I mean by “Mindful” Practice is making sure that instead of just ploughing through calligraphy practice sheets, you focus on practicing with intention. You can do this in a few ways; I usually suggest turning your calligraphy practice time into a gorgeous little self-care moment - light your favourite candle, put on your favourite album, pour yourself a glass of wine or a cup of tea, and go.

  2. Analyze.

    If you know me at all, you know I’m not exactly the most analytical person. I approach almost everything coming from an emotional place instead of a logical one. But one thing I try to look at with a critical eye, at least a little, is my artwork. This goes back to the whole mindfulness concept - yes, repetitive & consistent practice is a great way to hone a skill - but taking the time to pause and look at the strengths & weaknesses in your work will help exponentially.

  3. Experiment.

    The only way to discover your untapped talents & passions is to step outside of your comfort zone and experiment! Nobody can become an expert without first just experimenting and seeing where it takes them. Experimentation is a way of reaching a new level of artistry and unlocking our potential with new techniques . By adding new mediums, colours, and textures to your repertoire, you increase your chances of finding what truly resonates within you and inspires you to create your best work yet.

So. All of that to say, if developing your style is important to you and you want to go on a big emotional creative style discovery journey with me, where we basically listen to Lana del Rey & cry into glasses of red wine but then come out the other end as fabulous, successful calligraphers...I made a class for you!

It’s called The Calligraphy Style Masterclass, and it’s basically my baby (aside from my actual baby/dog, Teddy). Since you actually made it to the end of this blog post, I feel you deserve a treat! If you’re interested in working on your Style but aren’t ready to commit to the full course just yet - take it for a test drive by downloading my Free Calligraphy Prompt E-Book! This Free E-Book features 20+ pages of calligraphy practice prompts that will help you draw inspiration from within, and help you pour more of yourself into your work. The exercises in the e-book will also help you to feel motivated & inspired to practice mindfully and hone your style!

3 Calligraphy Practice Exercises Every Calligrapher Should Try

Okay, wow, hi - where exactly has the time gone? I didn’t post a single blog in March, and I literally have no idea how it came to be April 9th. Is it just me, or is 2019 flying by?

Anyway! For the past little while, I’ve been working hard on a project that is near and dear to my heart - a Calligraphy Prompt e-book! I often see that new calligraphers & lettering artists struggling to come up with words or phrases to write when they are learning and practicing calligraphy. I think this kind of “writer’s block” stems from social media and the constant flow of new content being thrust in front of our eyeballs every minute of every hour of every day. There is no shortage of new artwork seemingly being churned out by everyone around us. That can be inspiring, but it can also be overwhelming, especially when you’re having an off-day or are stuck in a creative rut.

Thankfully, there are lots of great prompts available on Instagram - like Goodtype’s weekly #GoodtypeTuesday challenge and Lauren Hom’s #Homwork prompts. I’ve participated in both many times, and these kinds of challenges can really help to get the creative juices flowing. The only thing is that they are somewhat time sensitive (though Lauren Hom’s prompts are all available in an archive, so you can go back and complete any of the challenges at any time!) and I personally struggle to get them done before the deadlines.

So, I wanted to make something that you can download, keep forever and refer back to any time you’re feeling stuck. I also wanted to make one that was full of the kinds of prompts that I believe will help people tap into their personal artistic style - something I am super passionate about helping other artists do.

So, what are the 3 Calligraphy Practice Exercises that every every calligrapher should try? These babies right here:

1) The Alphabet Exercise - You probably know this one because I’ve talked about it a million times. Basically, you pick a theme - for example, Cities - and letter one word for each letter of the alphabet, keeping with that theme (Athens, Barcelona, Chicago, etc!)

2) The High Fidelity Exercise (Yes I named this exercise after a John Cusack movie) - Okay I totally made this one up, and it’s all about making lists of your all time, top 5 favourite things in different categories and then using those lists to inspire other calligraphy & lettering practice pieces.

3) The Talk to Yourself Exercise - This one is all about having a kind & positive dialogue with yourself, and lettering advice/reminders/messages that you need to hear.

In the workbook, I go over these three exercises in detail, aaaaand provide you with over 50 prompts & ideas for your next calligraphy practice session or content creation day. The workbook is 20 pages long, it’s super pretty, PLUS it’s suitable for both beginner calligraphers and weathered old calligraphy bats like me!

You can download it (for free!) right here!


PS. I recently I did an interview with Becca of The Happy Ever Crafter all about one of my favourite topics - how to find your own unique calligraphy style. In this interview, I go into detail about different calligraphy practice exercises, how to turn your practice into a self care exercise and how to start working towards honing your own unique lettering style. If you’re interested in watching the interview, you can check it out here. Or, if you want the Cliffs Notes version - check out the corresponding blog post here.

A Few Of My Favourite Things | Calligraphy & Art Supplies

Disclaimer: I am not a pen hoarder, and I like to keep my art supply collection as minimalist and functional as possible. I’ve been creating a long time, and I know what I like. So while there are about a million different options out there and I encourage you to find what works for you - the below items are what work the best for me, personally.

Calligraphy Supplies:

Zebra Comic G Nib

This nib became my favourite out of pure convenience. My boyfriend is also an artist - and he is a pen-hoarder lite. In the sense that every now and then he’ll order a bunch of pens/pen adjacent items online but then never use them, so I get to steal them and decide if I do or don’t like them. Well, he ordered a pack of these nibs, never used them, and one day I was working on an envelope order with a Nikko G (which is the first nib I ever used, took a long break from it and have now come back to for its simplicity and fine lines!) that was so was so worn down, I had to stop using it with just a few envelopes left to go, and I didn’t have a backup. So I grabbed one of these nibs and it was perfect and lovely, and basically the same as a Nikko G! Using the Zebra nib has been a game changer for me, because I can order them in a pack of basically a million at a time and don’t have to leave my house.

Honourable Mention: The Blue Pumpkin because it’s gorge, and was my favourite for a long time.

Dr PH Martin’s Bleedproof White Ink

As someone who loves a white ink on a dark envelope, this product is everything. It delivers gorgeous crisp white letters in a perfectly opaque white, with no fuzzy edges. There is a bit of a learning curve with it, though. You can’t use it just out of the jar. You need Liquid Gum Arabic to make this baby sing, otherwise it’s like dipping your pen in nearly-dry cement.

Mini Tutorial: In a separate container, mix Bleedproof White with a little bit of Gum Arabic at a time until the ink reaches your desired consistency. If you were mixing with water instead, stop that right now and do it this way, I swear it’ll change your life.

Honourable Mention: Winsor & Newton White Ink.

Sharpie Oil-Based Paint Markers

Okay so this one is kind of ironic because I actually kind of hate them. But, I am a slave to them because they work better than any other marker I’ve tried on pretty much every surface, are permanent (unless you use a paint scraper & acetone to remove and have strong biceps). Yes, you have to shake the living hell out of them regularly to get their ink flow going and the white ones usually require two coats in order to be truly opaque. But, they are my go-to for mirrors, wood, acrylic and all of my corporate calligraphy gigs where I’ve worked on everything from glass perfume bottles to ceramic tiles to rubber yoga mats. They are also the best thing to use for mirror seating charts - if you’re wondering how, head here, where my boo Sylvia explains perfectly how to create one.

Honourable Mention: Posca Markers. Oh, how I wish you were permanent.

Rhodia Paper Pad

Just the smoothest.This paper is my go-to for calligraphy practice, warmup exercises and client mockups. I’ll never understand how such a delicate paper can withstand nib & ink calligraphy without any ink bleeding, it boggles my mind, but I am here for it.

Honourable Mention: Not even. Just get a Rhodia pad.

Drawing & Art Supplies:

Sakura Micron Pens

These have been my favourites basically since birth. They come in a wide range of sizes so you can get ridiculously, crazy fine details (use the .005 for the teeny tiny ones), all the way through to very thick line work. I know there are a billion pens out there, but these are truly the only ones you will ever really need. Pro Tip (and this actually kind of goes against my anti-pen-hoarding philosophy): Keep your old Micron pens, even when they start to run out of ink. I like to write on my older pens with sharpie to know which ones are older & losing their ink flow, so I can use them to achieve less opaque or lighter effects! (Dispose of them when they really have no ink left, obviously!)

Honourable Mention: Sakura Pigma Sense Pens. Hello Sakura, I love you.

Fabriano Watercolor Paper

Just so good. I use this for watercolor painting as well as calligraphy, and I actually prefer cold press to hot press. However, most people would probably prefer hot press for using a nib and ink, because it has a smooth texture. When choosing between hot press of cold press watercolor paper, I think it’s a matter of personal preference. When deciding on which type of paper you’ll use for calligraphy, it’s a matter of preference as well as how long you want to keep your nib in good shape (the textured paper will wear it down faster).

Honourable Mention: Arches. Because it’s literally perfection but way too expensive for me to not feel too nervous to paint on.

Winsor & Newton Watercolors

My go-to watercolors. Highly pigmented, smooth and reliable- and not ridiculously expensive either, especially for the quality level. You can buy them in a variety of different forms - I usually do tubes so I can mix custom colors easily, but I’ve recently realized that I have a bad habit of letting the tubes dry out, so I might be switching to the tray of colors next time I replenish my supplies!

Honourable Mention: Holbein. I lust after them, but only own 3 because $$$.

So those are my top picks! If you want to check out my other favourites, I have my very own little shop on Amazon where you can see all my preferred art & calligraphy supplies.

*Please Note: This post contains affiliate links for Amazon’s Influencer program, which means if you make a purchase using my referral links, I get a small commission. I never promote anything I haven’t tried and loved myself - Plus buying something you would be buying anyway with an affiliate link is a really nice way of supporting creatives who give away so much of their knowledge and time for free!*