Monday, December 29, 2014

Last post of the year

" For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await a new voice." T.S. Eliot. It's been a wonderful year of learning and growing. Lots of changes in store for 2015. A torn rotator cuff is causing me to rest and recover but I have filled that time already with increased study! I have reduced my teaching schedule for 2015 to work on updating workshop notes, studying, expanding skills and reaching long neglected goals. We still have a long list of pen orders to fill over the coming weeks. They are a joy to make and thankfully easy on the shoulder. I will keep the blog updated and you can find me on facebook at Heather Victoria Held and The Victorian Pen and instagram at heathervictoria1. Looking forward to learning and sharing in 2015.
Thank you for all of the support in 2014!!! It's been an amazing year. XO! Heather

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Thank you!!!!

Feeling relieved that for the time being I am caught up on work. The desk and studio need to be set back in order before I begin the next project. I wanted to reflect on the blessings of 2014.
I am so grateful for the support of family and friends as I had what is officially my busiest year to date! Lots of lessons learned and openings of new horizons to explore. I am grateful for every opportunity that came my way and even the frustrating moments. Looking foward to sharing new projects and ideas in 2015. I remain in the mode of perpetual learning, exploration and gratitude. Thank you dear friends. You are such a blessing to me. I hope you all enjoy the blessings and peace of the season.

Monday, December 1, 2014

May You Flourish

Too busy not to Flourish!!!! Enjoy all the sights and sounds of the season!!! Hope you all have time to flourish!

Monday, November 24, 2014

B is for busy!!!!!!

November has been a whirlwind. I wanted to update the blog with a miscellany of work I have been up to. I have interesting commissions to work on. I have had to sign non disclosure and confidentiality agreements with some companies so I can't let you in on something exciting in the works! But I did get a chance to work on a holiday card with a design firm. That was a lot of fun. I am posting just a clip of the corner of the design until the final is released.
Enchanted Letters have been keeping me busy as well!!! Just completed this B design. The images below are from sketch form to the final product.
This past weekend I completed my 2014 teaching engagements!!!! This wraps up a very busy year for me. I celebrated with a day of Medieval Miniature painting at the Ancaster Old Town Hall with Debbie Thompson Wilson. Debbie is a master at finding unique images for us to study and bring to life. This miniature is based on a 13th Century Austrian Manuscript. Meet "The Merry Makers". This is a work in progress but I wanted to share a peek.
Finally...a shot of a painted pen I just completed. The collaborative work with Chris' pens are so much fun. We are catching up on orders this weekend.
Although B is for is also for Breathe! While the festive season comes upon us, I will be taking some time to breathe! The pen will always be in hand as I practice and continue to learn!

Friday, October 31, 2014

Final Road Trip of the Season

Taking one more trip to beautiful British Columbia to teach my last travel workshop of the season.
Still have a local class to complete when I return but I will be able to rest from my travels and complete projects that have been put on hold. I enjoy completing flourish pieces for my workshops and had a chance to prepare a few for the Alphabeas Guild!!!!
English Roundhand and flourishes go so well together. Some of the flourishing has been influenced by European styles. The lines are a bit softer to work with. The designs are still freely flourished in true offhand style.
All work was executed with a straight holder and Bleedproof white. October has been a beautiful month! Looking foward to November.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

D is for Debbie

Every autumn my family and I make time to visit The Studio Tour of my illumination teacher Debbie Thompson Wilson. Her work sells out quickly. It is such a treat to see what she has created from year to year. My family and I have added to our collection of Thompson originals over the years and they are treasured heirlooms in our homes. This year, I was away teaching and could not get to the studio tour but was delighted to learn that Debbie's illuminations have been published in an ebook, New Psalms for Old Sorrows, which is now available for purchase. You can find it here. I have it safely downloaded to my iPad and can enjoy the writing and illuminations at my leisure. In a few weeks, I will have my study day with Debbie and continue to learn illumination techniques. I am constantly grateful for the skills she has helped me develop over the years and her generosity in sharing her techniques. She is a delight!! I think you will enjoy her illuminations as well. I am in the midst of experimenting with different gilding mediums on vellum and paper.
I will keep you updated with what happens! Currently, my favourite gilding medium is Miniatum Ink. I can write with it and achieve a beautiful mirror shine! The Enchanted Letter D pictured above is gilded with Palladium and Miniatum ink.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Autumn Reflections

I love these autumn days. Every day I go through one of my Commonplace books to find an inspirational autumn quote to work on. I currently have 1 book filled from cover to cover and 4 that still have room for notes. I find this season so inspiring with the colours and the ever changing weather.
This has been an incredibly busy year for me. I am finishing up my teaching commitments with back to back Artful Flourish workshops in Nasville, followed by a trip to Kelowna to teach the Enchanted Letter. In between teaching venues, I will be finishing up Roundhand classes locally and trying to catch up on personal goals in my studio. Even though these days are hectic, I am so thankful for the sights and sounds around me. Nothing like the view of the sun shining through the vibrant Canadian maples. Each walk to the post office has me stopping to bring leaves home for my table! This evening, I was so thankful to be able to letter the name tags for The Artful Flourish participants in Nashville. Many are dear friends and it is a pleasure to see them again and to spend a few days with them.
Looking foward to seeing what autumn looks like in Nashville next week.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Fascinating Season

Autumn is a very reflective time for me. Not so easy to sit outside and work in the chilly air but nature still entices. The colours around me are influencing my work. I am still playing with my "wonder of the world" quote. My indoor studio always has the window open no matter what the weather outside is doing. I need to hear the trees in the wind, or the rainfall or the birds chirping. It helps me to breathe. The open window invites the opportunity of surprise. This little piece although gilded is still practice.
I am practicing pen drawn borders for The Victorian Pen class. I am practicing with a split nib and trying new materials and new colour combinations. The finished piece becomes an exercise in mindful self critique. It the best way for me to grow as an artist,hone skills and weed out things in my work that need to change. The Autumn Season is helping this process. This little border practice piece is done on Strathmore 400 Series drawing paper with Walnut ink, McCaffery Brown, Watercolour, Watercolour pencil, Gouache, Pastel, Swarovski crystal and Sakura Gelly Roll Pen. All gilding is done with 23K gold leaf and miniatum ink.
The border sketch originated in my journal and is still evolving from the original sketch.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Wonder of the World

As I continue to design and explore ideas for The Victorian Pen workshop, sometimes I get overwhelmed with inspiration. Morning time for me involves sitting outside on my swing and reading for about 30 minutes before I start my day. I picked up an old Fairy Tale book to read and was inspired by the inscription on the first page. "The wonder of the world,the beauty and the power, the shapes of things, their colours, lights and shades, these I saw; look ye also, while life lasts"
This Victorian style piece was lettered outside on a very windy morning. The letterforms themselves took on a windswept look.
I am not done exploring the possibilites of this beautiful text yet. This piece was done with McCaffery Black on Strathmore drawing paper. Gilding was done with 23 K gold leaf and miniatum ink. Staedtler Aquaurelle Watercolour pencils tinted the design and shading was added with Diane Townsend pastels.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Evolution of A Workshop

After numerous requests to expand my Artful Flourish Workshop I am thrilled to offer The Victorian Pen.
The Victorian Pen picks up where The Artful Flourish leaves off. We put away the techniques of offhand flourishing and dive into the realm of the drawn and rendered flourish.
The class offers drawing techniques for the terrified starting with simple florals, shading techniques and gradually expanding to more complex designs! These pen drawings keep the organic qualities inherent in Offhand Flourishing but allow for pencil design and then pen rendering the final product. We launch into European influences from England, France and Italy. The colours, styles, layers and textures of the Victorian Era are explored. Love them or hate them, the Victorians left their mark in history and they had distinct art styles that are wonderful to explore. We trim off their excesses and leave room for the work to breathe. Simple supplies can be used from the humble pencil and walnut ink or be expanded to coloured pencil, watercolour, pastel and gold leaf. Designs start out as simple embellishments and work up to more ornate and complex designs. Full launch in 2015. You can contact me at for more details. Our new website is in progress! Lots coming in 2015!

Monday, August 18, 2014

Dragon Days

A highlight of my summers over the past several years has been attending illumination workshops with Master Illuminator Debbie Thompson Wilson. Debbie has a passion for sharing her love of illumination with her students. Her classes are sold out months in advance. I always sign up for the next class without blinking! It doesn't matter what she is teaching, it just matters that time is put aside to study with her. This year, we spent the past two days working on dragons! So much fun. I always learn something new and cherish the dedicated and peaceful time working on honing skills. Meet "Ack" and "Chomp". So much fun to paint. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful teacher to study with. Illumination has been part of my study time for the past several years. I think it is so important to credit our teachers for helping us achieve skills that bring so much joy to our lives. Thank you dear Debbie! Her work will be part of the 2014 Guelph Studio Tour.

Monday, August 11, 2014


I need to start clearing my mind of tasks that are associated with the 2014 conference. I am feeling blessed, grateful and a bit tired, but overjoyed at having such a wonderful opportunity to work for IAMPETH. I love this organization more than ever. We are surrounded with wonderful people who willingly step up to the task to work for such a wonderful cause. This year IAMPETH has taken great strides to accommodate the growth that we have experienced. I believe that we will continue to grow and work hard to meet the challenges that come with growth.
I thanked a lot of people in my opening and closing remarks at the conference but I wish I had said more!! I had a strong support team with my Executive Board. Bill Kemp called and emailed regularly to encourage and assist. Rick and Jenny Muffler were positive role models and advisors. So much support!!! I am constantly grateful that they are only a phone call away. Jane Farr and Pamela Salatich were my two INDY residents who rose to every challenge that was presented throughout the year. They were trusted advisors. They also site inspected several INDY hotels for me as I tried to narrow down my search. They were both deserving recipients of the Spirit of Nan Deluca Award! Anne Cheney spent months working on our banquet tickets. I thought she did a spectacular job. I am not gifted with folding abilities but Anniee was up to the task.
I loved the little banquet scroll she placed in each ticket. Thank you Annieeeee!!!!!
Past President Janie Cravens assembled a team of experts to help with Registration. I didn't have to worry about a thing! It was in her capable hands!!! A special treat this year was seeing beautiful Maggie Cravens again! She has been attending IAMPETH conventions since she was 5 years old! There was a lot happening behind the scenes as I navigated this Presidency. I wasn't prepared for all of it but thankfully I was surrounded by very experienced people. Kathy Saunders helped me as I learned about our bylaws. She is a wealth of information and has so many stories to tell! We had late night conversations and lots of laughs!! We had a tearful goodbye at the hotel as we realized that we won't see our precious friends us until next year!! Kathy Markham our wonderful treasurer was warm and helfpul. Always cheerful no matter how much work she was juggling. I have to put up this beautiful picture that I found in our convention photos online.
Neil McCaffery is a hero in our organization. Not only our assistant treasurer, but also the custodian of our archives. If you don't know what is involved in setting up our archive room, you might want to watch Neil next year! He has our archives stored in a salt mine in Kansas. He single handedly retrieves, loads his vehicle and transports them personally back and forth to each convention. He loads and unloads each precious part of that collection, and then supervises the archive room. While doing that, he still finds time to sit in on a class or two at the convention, set us and tears down our owned audio visual equipment and takes care of trouble shooting anything that comes his way, in any department!!!!!!! Somewhere, I am pretty sure he has a superman cape! Neil is adored. There were a lot of administrative tasks to accomplish this year that could easily be delegated from Canada but many tasks needed to be dispatched from the USA. I can never say thank you enough to Debi Zeinert. She is my dear friend. She helped me from the minute the nominating committee approached me about the Presidency. She knew how scared I was to take on this job and assured me that no one ever runs a convention alone. I never felt alone! She was never to busy for me and always willing and able to help me with tasks that were better navigated from the US side of the border! On top of everything she did behind the scenes, she still worked together with Linda Carol Gray on the silent auction. Record sales too!!! Nearly $7000 raised at our silent auction. I am so thankful for the original artwork items that came from so many of you. Brian Walker from England sent an amazing Bloser portrait that was guarded by Skylar Chubak throughout that auction! The penmakers gave of themselves and so many of you contributed to the success of that auction! Thank you!!! Some things seemed to be accomplished by a team of elves who took care of needs even before I anticpated them. Agendas were faithfully checked by Joe Carbone, Bob Hosack, Nick Vrettos and Bryan Platt. Water was being delivered to thirsty round robin particpants and instructors, demonstrations were taking place in John Neal's Bookstore, and spouse day trips were being taken care of by Randy Banks! Indy centerpieces were being crafted and carefully transported to the banquet by the Calligraphy guild of Indiana. Little notes were being placed under my door and gifts were being delivered. Every morning, Nick Vrettos showed up with a handwritten note of encouragement from Jessic Yee. It felt as if she was right there beside me and it got me an extra hug from Nick at the same time. So many gifts were given and so many notes were sent. I am so very grateful!! My faculty was a gift from heaven. Bob Hurford stepped up and took on 3 classes. My dear friend was tired and well deserving of his Iron Man title! Thank you to all of my faculty: Michael Sull, Bob Hurford, Bill Kemp (even though he was sidelined by emergency surgery),Mike Kecseg, Jake Weidmann,John DeCollibus,Sheila Waters, Harvest Crittenden,Rosemary Buczek, Bryan Platt, Ned Gault, Valerie Weilmuenster,Kathy Milici,Tamara Stoneburner, Marian Gault and Barbara Close! You are wonderful!!! There are more thank you's that will go out in the mail!!!! This conference was managed by a team of experts. I had the privilege of being the President and going home with the amazing certificate created by Rosemary Buczek. But every one of you who helped in the slightest way with my convention, deserve proper recognition. You mean the world to me!!!! Precious memories are mine to cherish!
It was a treat to have our logo designer Don Marsh come for the round robin. I had been trying to warn him that there were a lot of people waiting to talk to him!! I think he gets the picture now. I will leave you with this photo of Skyler and Don
and our beautiful Logo. So thankful to Don for setting the look of my convention with that spectacular logo design.

Friday, August 1, 2014

Angel of the Acanthus

I should be packing, but its been so long since I just played with the pen.
I had worked on a vellum and watercolour version of this Baroque inspired cherub, but settled on ink on paper. Far more in my comfort zone. The piece is gilded with 23K Gold leaf and tinted with watercolour pencil and pastel. McCaffery Black was used throughout the piece. The miniature Victorian Flourish measures 4 1/2 inches by 2 1/2 inches and will be ready for the IAMPETH silent auction!!! Can't wait to head to Indianapolis for the convention and then home to tackle all of the tasks that I have put on hold.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Rejoice in the Blossoming of Every Flower.

Sometimes it just takes one moment to completely change your perspective. Tasks of late have been overwhelming but out of the blue I got a phone call from a member of the Calligraphic Art Guild of Toronto. A month ago, I taught my Italian Hand class there and she called to tell me that she had been practicing daily since that class! She had accepted my 6 week boot camp challenge and not a day has gone by when she didn't pick up the pointed pen. I couldn't be happier!!! This piece was created just after that phone call. It reinforced the importance of spending time in practice. This weekend, I put aside some tasks, met with a student for a private lesson, went out for a coffee and did a piece of work just for me. The "Rejoice" piece is done on Canson drawing paper with Robert Hurford's homemade walnut ink which is a gorgeous rich brown!
I used my oil based Polychromos coloured pencils, Diane Townsend pastels and a new gold from the Czech Republic that is more brilliant than any I have used. Not sure if Jerry Tresser has any left, but this gold is pure magic. The colours used departed from my favourite pink. I felt like I needed the warmth of the reds and oranges.
A piece just for me! This piece is reflective of the practice time I am taking to hone different skills and expand my horizons. I am constantly amazed at how much this artform has to teach!

Monday, July 7, 2014


Without question, I am asked to create artwork around the word Breathe more than any other word. I have lost count over the years. My most unusual request was to create a tattoo design! My most precious design was created for Trish Taylor, my beautiful friend who has just undergone a double lung transplant.
You can read about Trish's story at Operation Deep Breathe. Many people have contributed to help fund her transplant and I have included a link here to Operation Deep Breathe. Today's design made me think of dear Trish and all that she has gone through leading up to her transplant and now as she recovers from the surgery. Sending her a huge hug as I am mindful of the blessing of being able to breathe no matter how cluttered the days become.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Freeing the Flourish

Today, the calendar is showing me that we are one month away from the IAMPETH convention. It has been a busy year!!! I have tried to guard my time and keep up with letter writing and the sending of cards throughout the year. With this busy pace, something has clarified in my methods of writing and flourishing! I have always taught that 'hesitating is the enemy" and not to "overthink the flourish". Some days, the pen in is ny hand for minutes rather than hours and I have noticed a change in my work as I no longer have the luxury of time. The flourishes are struck more rapidly and I have found more freedom in my writing. The rapid flourishes are less controlled. They edge away from the traditional look of offhand flourishing. I notice micro evolution in my work from time to time and I will play with these flourishes and see where they lead.
Although my life and schedules these days have been on the cluttered side, losing the luxury of time has honed some focus for me. Still trying hard to guard that meditative quality of pen work whenever I pick up the pen. I can see the finish line of the convention tasks and I am grateful for the lessons learned this year.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Sacred Mornings

I wanted you to peek at my morning ritual. I try to guard my solitude in the morning before officially beginning my day. The time with pen in hand outside is very healing and sacred to me.
My backyard is my haven. I am surrounded by the sounds of birds and squirrels. Still love the sound of the Carolina Wrens and the chickadees! They brighten every day. I work under a gazebo at the back of my yard. Today I am working on placecards for the IAMPETH closing banquet.
Each name is a welcome joy to letter.
To my right, I have a little table where Juliett the Jay visits and steals the peanuts I leave out for the chipmunk!
I counted 14 squirrels at the bird feeder and 9 starlings at the suet feeder. Peaceful sounds as I work on a joyful task.