Letterlyn by Evelyn Cunningham

Letterlyn Blog

Calligraphy Questions | Why won't my chalkboard erase?

I have had many people ask about this one. And, I once had someone complain because they intended to use the chalkboard for a styled shoot and then just return it. But, my work "damaged" it so it was unreturnable. (Um, I have questions.) The fact of the matter is, chalk markers will damage your chalkboard.


The calligrapher's love-hate relationship with a chalk marker

Oh chalk markers, I have a love-hate relationship with you. Chalk markers are supposed to be temporary They create very vibrant white on chalkboards, glass, plastics and more. They work GREAT for writing. They are more durable than traditional chalk. They are wonderful.


They aren't really temporary on chalkboards. I am sure you've seen it at your local coffee shop: the underlying sheen of last weeks special scone or latte. Part of the problem is that many of these surfaces are porous, so the pigment will seep into it a little (or a lot) making it impossible to wipe away. 

It's made worse by time. I just had to remove the chalk marker from a chalkboard that was written 2 years ago. And, by remove, I mean that I cleaned it and painted over it with chalkboard paint. It is a pain, but it kind of comes with the territory. Newer stuff can be easily taken of with magic eraser, nail polish remover and many other home-remedies for the ghosts of signage past. But, there is a problem with all of those solutions:

Those solutions take off the surface too.

One time, I had particular trouble with a design and had to redo it a few times. I took the finish right off. Of course, I just re-finished it myself and it wasn't a problem. As you can tell, I often end up re-painting in frustration.

What is a less destructive option?

There aren't other great options. If you want to use regular chalk, you have to be prepared for it to smudge, smear and erase. If you seal it with a workable fixative, you have to be prepared to scrub and use the other methods that take off the surface.

There simply isn't a perfect solution.

I do know some people who use black paper, give it a chalkboard treatment by rubbing the chalk on it, and frame it. Bonus points: you can recycle it. But, it won't always pass a discerning eye.

The bottom line: if you are getting a chalkboard sign done, or are doing it yourself, prepare to resurface it eventually.


Hey there:

ask more questions,

Is an animal-free wedding invitation possible?

I admit, I am not a vegan. The day I tried to give up cheese, I forgot and ate cheese 3 times. However, being a vegetarian for over a decade means you get a lot of questions about the difference between vegan and vegetarian. So, I've had to arm myself with that knowledge, and am very sympathetic to the plight of those living a life with only animal-free products. And, so, to all of you, here is some info on animal-free wedding paper:


A lot of calligraphy and wedding materials are not vegan/animal free. But, you do have options


Let's start with inks. Most inks use gelatin. In case you don't know, gelatin is collagen derived from animal bones and skin. It thickens things like marshmallows, jello, gravies, inks, and more.

Some pigments are not vegan either. So, you have to be careful. And a lot of companies do not say if they use animal products or not. Many of us know the plight of the carmine beetle popping up in everything from yogurt and ketchup to paint and lipstick. But, there is a lot more. I won't go into it, because it is very unpleasant. Just know that your watercolors, acrylics, and other art supplies aren't always animal-free.


Did you know that a lot of papers are not vegan? Yep! "Sized" papers mean papers that have been treated so that they won't completely break apart when wet, nor will the ink just run and feather out once it touches the page. Doing calligraphy on unsized paper is pretty much impossible. And, most sizing agents contain gelatin. There are synthetic options, but you have to make sure you are looking in the right places.


Vellum papers are often popular for embellishments. And, while the traditional paper is made from young animal skin, most modern vellums are not. I asked a company that I order from, and their answer was yes, but it seemed that they weren't completely certain. As many vegetarians and vegans can attest, people often don't quite understand what animal free, vegan or even vegetarian means. (Shout out to my memaw who will never understand why I won't eat green beans cooked with ham hock!! Love her, but I don't know if she'll ever get it.)

Handmade Paper

Most hand-made papers are not animal-free. They often use animal products in sizing after the paper sheet is formed, as I broght up earlier. I have yet to find a handmade paper that is vegan. So, if you are a paper maker who uses animal-free processes on paper that is suitable for calligraphy and/or letterpress printing, reach out to me so that I can edit this post!



Fun fact, Elmer's products are animal-free. Go Elmer's! PVA glues, like Elmer's are good to go because PVA means polyvinyl acetate. In other words, it is synthetic. But, other brands aren't always completely animal free.

Wax Seals

A lot of sealing waxes are not animal free, containing beeswax. But, I think there is an animal-free way to make sealing wax. This post has really got me thinking, so I am going to experiment with it in the coming weeks. I promise to keep you posted as I look into it.

Envelope Sealing

According to manufacturers, most envelope-glues are animal-free. US-made sealant is supposedly made out of corn (who knew!?).



A lot of printing methods are not animal-free. Some places do use soy-based inks for regular printing. If this is something you require, be sure to say so up front. And, be prepared to pay more.

For letterpress inks, the main concern isn't the ink substrate, but the pigment. For many companies, they want to guard this proprietary information. But, there are some that will give you a thumbs up or a thumbs down. Screenprinting also has animal-free ink options. And, foil stamping is animal-free.

Be aware that cleanup for screenprinting and letterpress often include animal products.

More animal-free art supplies

Are you an artist, too? I found this great list of animal free art supplies.

Thanks for reading



Evelyn CunninghamComment
You can't miss these calligraphy details on Southern Weddings

Vince and Rachel had a beautiful, classic aesthetic for their wedding. But, there were plenty of sweet, personal details throughout.

Their beautiful wedding was published on Southern Weddings! Here are the calligraphy details:

If you want to see more, head over to the Southern Weddings Blog.

What's your favorite detail?

I am a huge fan of the greenery throughout. But, my favorite calligraphy detail is the drink sign for sure.


Love and thanks to Vince, Rachel and the vendors

Calligraphy by Letterlyn, Photography by Shannon Moffit, Design and Coordination by Luxe and Luna.

How to Address Envelopes to Kids

There are SO MANY weird rules for addressing wedding invitations. Let's take a close look at addressing wedding invitations to children and to families with children. First, we'll go into the old-school way of doing things. Then, we'll get a little more practical for a modern-day affair.

Mr, Miss, Ms

Children have their own honorifics! Honorifics are what you might know as titles: Mr., Mrs., Dr., etc. Young women, generally under 16, are Miss. But, it is acceptable to use Ms. instead. Young men used to be called Master, but most people just use Mr. now (thank god, Master brings up to many thoughts of antebellum south for this Virginian).

Addressing Examples

Mr. Jacob and Mrs. Patricia Hopper
Miss Kayla Hopper and Mr. Franklin Hopper


Mr. Jacob and Mrs. Patricia Hopper
Miss Kayla and Mr. Franklin

or, sometimes people completely omit the honorific:

Mr. Jacob and Mrs. Patricia Hopper
Kayla and Franklin

Sometimes, people will just write "and children" or "the Hopper Family" but, in general, the more specific, the better. These more generic options would be great if you also had an inner envelope where you can be specific.

When do children get their own invitation to a wedding?

This question depends on who you ask. I personally say around 16. But, many people argue for 18. And yes, if the are living at home, they still get a separate invite. Think about it this way, would it be feasible and appropriate for this person to come to the wedding without their guardian? If the answer is yes, then they should get a separate invitation!

Thanks for reading! Do you have more questions about etiquette, calligraphy, paper of art? I would love to hear from you!

Submit a question here:

Name *
Photo by Of Fate and Chaos

Photo by Of Fate and Chaos

6 Tips for Addressing Wedding Envelopes


"Surprise, you think I am inconsiderate now!" It's not worth keeping the surprise of the invitation if you are just going to offend someone with the way you address it to them. A divorced woman might prefer her maiden name or her ex-husband's name. And what if she is separated but not divorced yet? You might not know a person’s preference until you ask.

Another thing to avoid: assuming people's gender pronouns. Just ask. And, keep note so that you remember forever and stop calling your friend or relative by the wrong pronoun. Yikes!


I would prefer Mr. Dakota and Mrs. Evelyn Cunningham. to Mr. and Mrs. Dakota Cunningham. I am not going to get up in arms about this, but it might be something to ask as. Also, that way of addressing is perfect for ALL types of married couples with the same last name:

Mr. John and Mr. Robert Fullerton

Mrs. Rosa and Mrs. Clarice Garcia

Some etiquette guides tell you to use Ms. and Ms. for female same-sex marriages. Some want names on separate lines. To me, this seems to delegitimize their matrimony. But, I would love to hear some other opinions. Maybe just use Ms. for every woman since she is not defined by her marital status? What do you think?

Bottom line: ask before you send. There is no harm in asking someone how they would prefer the address.


Are you inviting a doctor, military service member, reverend, judge, or mayor to your wedding? There are a lot of different titles for different officials and jobs, we call them honorifics. Omitting someone's  honorific can be perceived as rude. The list is long, especially when you start to get into military honorifics and clergy members. So, I won't go into them here. But, keep in mind that these people worked hard to earn these titles. They might want them on that envelope.


You can go casual, if you are having a more casual, intimate wedding. First names only, for example, might add an air of casual cool. Just make sure that it matches the feel of your wedding so your guests know what to expect.


I do not care what everyone else says, you do not need an inner and outer envelope. Sure, they are helpful. But, they’re not necessary. If you consider your event “black tie,” you should probably have them. Otherwise, it is personal preference.

How it Helps:

Inner envelopes help clarify exactly who is invited.

Outer Envelope:
Mr. Jason Fordham
Inner Envelope:
Mr. Fordham and Guest

Outer Envelope:
Mr. Jason Fordham and Mrs. Leigh Fordham
Inner Envelope:
Mr. and Mrs. Fordham
Lisa, Trent and Beck

The Alternative

Just include that information on the regular envelope:

Outer Envelope
Mr. Jason Fordham and Mrs. Leigh Fordham
Lisa, Trent and Beck

It gives a little opportunity for some personality, too.

Outer Envelope:
Mr. Christopher and Mrs. Julianne York
Inner Envelope:
Uncle Chris and Aunt Julie


So, the envelope might look beautiful. It might fit the wonderful aesthetic of your event. But, if the postal worker can’t read it, it is just getting returned. If they can’t read the return address, it is just getting thrown away. If there isn’t enough postage, it’s not getting to the destination.

My most important tip is to make sure your envelope is going to get there:

The writing for the address must be legible enough.

Make sure there is high enough contrast between the ink color and the color of the invitation.

Put enough postage on it, each additional ounce is +21 cents here in the USA.

And, make sure you have the right address. Again, it’s not worth keeping the surprise.

More questions?

Reach out to me in the comments, or on the contact page if you have more questions. I would be so happy to help!

Thanks for reading!
Evelyn Cunningham, Owner and artist of Letterlyn