Pretty in Ink: Calligraphette & Co.

Rosslyn resident Nika Smernoff offers calligraphy services and workshops.

Hand-lettered invitations by Nika Smernoff. Photo by D’Arcy Benincosa.

Nika Smernoff. Photo by D’Arcy Benincosa.

Nika Smernoff fell in love with calligraphy as a grad student at Georgetown University. It was a sharp departure from her field of study. “I was getting my master’s in security studies, focusing on how the Ebola outbreak affected national security in Liberia,” says the artist. “I loved the subject, but if I had jumped straight into security, I would have always wondered what I could have done with calligraphy.”

She ultimately chose the latter. “I’ve always been obsessed with paper and pens,” she says. “I loved my grandfather’s pen collection, and I find handmade paper indescribably lovely.”

These days, the 26-year-old Rosslyn resident has made a career out of creating hand-lettered invitations and wedding stationery—putting pen and ink to everything from natural magnolia leaves (that serve as escort cards) to wedding signage. Another specialty: Word “mosaics” in which hand-lettered words combine to form the shape of a silhouetted image.

Want to learn the craft? Smernoff conducts workshops on calligraphy, papermaking, paper marbling and other techniques at local boutiques, including Park Story in the Mosaic District and Botanologica in Falls Church.  Workshops run $60 for two hours, and by the end, participants leave with a completed piece of artwork and take-home supplies to practice with.

Wedding invitations start at about $12 per suite, including custom design and photo-quality printing.


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