I want you to meet my friend Mindy Christiansen, of @thewritingcardigan. Mindy and I have connected on Instagram over our shared interests of calligraphy, knitting, family, and scripture. One thing Mindy has encouraged me in is slow living. I think you will see some of this in her interview, and you will certainly find it on her Instagram account.
When I interviewed Mindy, she was very open about her love of creativity, her need to slow down, and her faith. Here is what she shared:
I love being creative because we have an amazing, merciful Creator who instills Himself in us in so many ways! Appreciating and creating beauty is a wonderful way to spend our time, especially as busy women, wives, and mothers… Slowing down, enjoying resting, and finding time to just “be” is crucial to staying healthy… And it’s do-able, even if it’s in small, teeny doses. It’s something I’ve incorporated into my life for almost 5 years now, and it has really made me a happier person. I highly recommend it.
I often find myself thinking of Mindy in moments when I recognize I need to slow down and rest my soul. So without further ado, let’s get into the interview!
Mindy, tell me about your family.
Sure! I have been married for almost 15 years and have three children: Olivia (9), Natalie (8), and Eli (5). We live in beautiful Denver, Colorado! My husband is a mechanical engineer and my best friend.
I remember those to be magical years with my children. So is calligraphy your “day job”, or do you have another career?
Calligraphy is not my day job, though that would be sweet; I’ve been home full-time since having kids, and have a B.A. in English and Communications. I previously worked for a production company and loved it, but writing and editing are where my heart is. Physically writing too, as it turns out! 😄
Being at home with your children is such a privilege! I treasure the years I had with mine. What types of calligraphy/lettering do you do?
Copperplate and modern calligraphy
So it sounds like mostly pointed pen. How long have you been doing calligraphy?
Since August of 2015
How did you get started? What brought you to calligraphy?
A dear friend of mine was dabbling in it, and I asked her to write out a word for me to put on my fridge: “intentional.” She did, and I loved how special it was, how the shiny ink looked like a rub-on letter–remember those? I began watching and following several calligraphy accounts for awhile in 2015, and I finally decided to take the plunge and learn myself. I have a great respect for artistic tools of any kind, so I of course loved that you needed pens and inks and special paper and nibs… Tangible goodness. I put in my first order for a few simple supplies from John Neal. Opening that box was pure magic for me.
I do remember! And I’m so with you on all the supplies you need! EVERY box of fresh calligraphy supplies is pure magic. So how did you learn?
I am still very much learning, all the time. I am self-taught, but have learned mostly from Nina Tran, and others online who have graciously offered lessons, tutorials, or advice. My littlest was still napping in the afternoons when I began learning, so I would use this time every day for a year to break out my pens and study! Just recently, I took a Spencerian class with Renee Jorgensen. It was wonderful, and I’d love to take more classes.
You know, I also learn so much from every calligrapher whose classes I attend. And the question everyone always wants to know: have you always had beautiful handwriting?
How would you classify your calligraphy (Hobby, Obsession, Side job, Full-time business)?
“Obsession” is a common theme in these interviews so far. What is your favorite type of calligraphy work to do?
I still have much experimenting to do, but tags are my first love. I love labeling things. 🤣 Place cards, gift tags, shower favors, knitted gifts…I also love quotes, Bible verses, sending little encouragements in the mail to friends. My friends have helped me expand my creativity by requesting different projects with calligraphy over the years!
I always love seeing your tags in bulk. What calligraphy or lettering organizations are you a member of?
None at this time, except the IG calligraphy community!
So tell me, besides the basics, what is one supply/tool you can’t live without?
I love the basics. Hmm… I’d have to say twine. It’s so easy to whip up a cute, simple sign if you have a little twine! I use a really thin jute that I love.
Yes! I always keep some jute twine on hand. Does calligraphy have any special meaning or purpose to you? Describe this.
I love the history of it, as well as it’s significance with hand/eye coordination. It’s therapeutic. I’ve always loved letter- and journal-writing, and I used to re-write my notes in high school and college. Looking back, I think the underlying interest has always been there. I wish I had found it sooner!
I definitely identify with this, Mindy. With so many scripts out there, what is your favorite script/style to write?
Dr. Ph. Martin’s, any color!
Favorite Practice Paper
French-ruled Clairefontaine notebooks (from the Goulet Pen Company)
That must be the paper I see in your feed a lot. What are you learning now?
Spencerian! It is such a beautiful, complicated script.
What is your favorite quote or scripture?
“Home is the nicest word there is.” -Laura Ingalls Wilder…Also, I love the book of John. Precious to my heart.
Have you ever had any calligraphy disasters you would be willing to share?
Many. I could play a whole reel of my spilling ink, ha! The worst spill involved Walnut ink on the ceiling, and all over my Bible pages. It took scrubbing and three coats of paint to clean that up! My Bible still has the stains. 😳
Oh my word. The ceiling?! Now that’s talent! So tell us about your workspace.
I use our dining table because I love the light in that room. I have a little space in the basement, but I always prefer to work in natural light! (This is probably why I don’t practice at night often…)
How do you set the atmosphere for doing calligraphy?
Always coffee or tea, right? 🙂 No rings or jewelry on my right hand. My kids are usually at school, or in quiet time… Or I practice with pencil with them while they do homework. I actually prefer to turn on a show on my phone while I work… Sometimes music, or podcasts. Comfy and relaxed is key to a good practice!
Oh, that brings back the memories of when I used to draw new website layouts with crayons while my children made artwork. What are Your Top 5 Fave Comforts?
1. Coffee in the morning
2. Tea in the afternoon and evening
3. Journaling to lay down thoughts, worries, dreams, plans, doodles (which helps me think!)
4. Frozen Reese’s cups, yum
5. Resting daily in a Heavenly Father whose promises are proven and steadfast
Mindy, we are kindred spirits!! What are your other hobbies?
I love to knit, laugh with my husband, and spend time with my three kids.
What are some random facts you think we would like to know?
I was adopted from El Salvador and love adoption stories. I love vintage anything and black and white movies. I’m a die-hard homebody who loves my extroverted friends and family. 😊
And last but not least, do you have a personal story or advice you would like to share?
I hear all the time, “I could never do that!” Yes. You can. Just do it. Find what you love, study it, find an avenue to learn, and build in time for it every day. It’ll develop and grow into an awesome skill if you want it to. 🙂
Well said, Mindy. It has been such a pleasure to hear from you and learn more about your calligraphy passion. Thank you for allowing us a peek inside your artistic life.
I have no doubt you will want to follow Mindy when you see her Instagram account, and you can do a little shopping at her Etsy shop. Remember to leave a comment on her IG page and let her know you saw her interview on my website. I hope that Mindy’s beautiful calligraphy and knitting projects will inspire you to explore your own version of slow living.