On the Wire: Designer to Watch, Eliza Gwendalyn

This week, guest blogger, Sarah Schwartz, editor of Stationery Trends and The Paper Chronicles, chats with three of Stationery Trends’ Top Ten 2015 Designers to Watch about their careers, inspiration and thoughts about paper.  Today, Sarah introduces us to Eliza Gwendalyn Shkolnik.

Starting in 2010, in every Winter Issue of Stationery Trends, I have showcased a cavalcade of 10 Designers to Watch. There are no strict criteria to my selection process, rather I just know a perfect fit when I see it — and I sense that each person in every year’s special 10 is on a most interesting and American-made upward trajectory. It’s a real treat to share three of their personalities and stories with Felt & Wire readers.   – S.S.

Rounding out our trio, Eliza Gwendalyn Shkolnik of Eliza Gwendalyn is an Oyster Bay, New York, calligrapher who differentiates herself from the many artisans devoted to the métier with her fanciful and out-of-the box presentations and creations. It’s no surprise she recently appeared on TV screens as the calligrapher for a Bravo Celebrity Demetria Lucas’ wedding in the show Blood Sweat and Heels!

ELIZA GWENDALYN SHKOLNIK | Eliza Gwendalyn

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What is your favorite social media outlet & handle?

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Instagram, @elizagwendalynink

Facebook, Eliza Gwendalyn

How did you get into stationery & paper design?
I’ve always had a passion and fascination with all things paper. Since I was a kid greeting cards & wrapping paper were a big deal in my family. My parents even had my pets send us cards & beautiful wrapped gifts (by my mother) for every holiday, even Valentine’s Day. I’d save every single one until my mom would call me a hoarder and make me clean out my piles.

The passion of designing my own stationery started when I was picking out my Bat Mitzvah invites at Lion in the Sun’s Huntington, New York shop. When my mom and I saw Maria Thomas’ Pen Dragon line, we just died and went to calligraphy heaven. Obviously we had to have her make my invitations as well as my sister’s two years later, but the fascination and awe didn’t stop there. My mom and I dabbled in calligraphy from that point forward and well, I still dabble in the ink and pen!

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What role do you see paper playing in your work?

Although I use a variety of different medias as my canvas — from mirrors and chalkboards to furniture and ribbons — paper ALWAYS plays a crucial role in my work. Even when I have a mirror or chalkboard job I draft it all out on paper. I am starting to recommend Mohawk Options to those brides who like the soft cotton feel as well as the Strathmore Pure Cotton Wove 110 since it is thicker, yet very delicate.

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What types of papers are you drawn to most these days & why?

On a day-to-day basis, Rhodia Pads are a calligrapher’s dream, especially when you have to digitalize your images after writing them, but when it comes to custom projects I lean towards Mohawk Options.

Options was only recently introduced to me in May by Luke of Thornwilllow Press and I couldn’t thank him & my lovely Mohawk pals enough for doing so.

I just wrote a client’s 243-word poem on Options Vellum two days ago and it came out beautifully. I think the next trial will be on Strathmore Pure Wove 110 & Pastelle because I love a deckle edge for my watercolor projects and printing.

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What recent release of yours best represents your personal style?

My personal style is all in the hand. I refer to my hand as “modern copperplate with a twist,” but for those who really know me, I call her “Alice” and the alphabet I named “Petunia.”

It’s a mixture of a modern calligraphy style combined with old-school Copperplate lettering, known for its beautiful flourishes and slants. My flourishes are more dreamy than the old-fashioned kind. I like to compare my hand to Alice in Wonderland falling down the rabbit hole mixed with a little Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat. Petunia is the nickname my mother calls me, and it just stuck when I first created my entire alphabet.

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What are your hobbies outside of work?

Outside of work?! I don’t understand this question. Isn’t work life? Well, I owned a company prior to Eliza Gwendalyn and back then calligraphy was just a hobby, but now I am fortunate enough to have made my hobby into a career. It is still a hobby for me but I am just lucky enough to get paid for it, which is why I work 24/7. I don’t really take off. Even when I go away I will put in at least 2-3 hours a day of work. I am a bit obsessed, but for the few hours I do “turn off,” you can find me drinking lots of yummy Napa Valley wines, running outdoors, tending to my flowers outside, making floral bouquets, napping with my poodle and BBQs with my family!

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What blogs, books & publications do you find yourself getting lost in?

I get lost on stylemepretty.com — I’ve been obsessed with it since I was a teenager, so when they accepted me as a Little Black Book Member I nearly passed out! Of course I’m even more obsessed since getting to know all the lovely ladies who make that beautiful blog what it is today! It is a part of my morning ritual: Wake up, check texts & emails, check Instagram and Facebook, check my Daily Skimm then check SMP!

I always take time out when Stationery Trends comes to read it cover to cover. My fellow stationery pals and I have this thing where we all sit down and cozy up with some tea or coffee and dive in to see all the beautiful new pieces Sarah has picked out for that season. Then we text if we see one another in it! It is always nice to see what is on trend and what fellow peers are doing. It is also so nice how close our community is, and I think Stationery Trends has a lot to do with that.

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