$300 – $425

Alphabeats: a rhythmic versal workshop (With Gemma Black)

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Berkeley City Club

2315 Durant Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94704

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G E M M A is an artist and calligraphic-designer. In 1991 Gemma received a Winston Churchill Fellowship to study in Europe that allowed her to research, observe and learn the practice of calligraphy. She is an Honoured Fellow and Fellow of the prestigious Calligraphy & Lettering Arts Society, UK. For over 25 years Gemma has taught extensively for calligraphy, bookbinding, art & craft organizations around Australia including the Australian National University.

She has in the past joined the faculty at international lettering-art conferences in Italy, Germany, the USA, Canada, and the UK. Her work is housed in private and public collections including the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK, the European Parliament, and Parliament House Canberra.

Gemma enjoys a variety of art techniques that involve mostly calligraphy, simple book structures, decorative paper techniques, abstract watercolor painting and grounds for calligraphy. Gemma lives in Tasmania, Australia

For more on Gemma be sure to follow her BLOG.


In this class, we will start with a short geometric majuscule and minuscule study concentrating on the skeletons. These are the underlying bones of the Versal. Adding a little spiritual freedom to these skeletons and giving them some credence of their own, we will create some amazing layouts of strong visual spacing & placement. Before you know it we'll reunite them with their bodies and draw, pen and paint them using watercolor, tiny nibs, and brushes. Decorative watercolor grounds will be created to support our new and exciting letters.

This course is a stand-alone or a great precursor to Gemma’s Ink Academy Versal Course.

vers•al |ˈvərsəl|Definition

Versals, drop capitals, or raised capitals are large and oft ornately decorated letters (particularly in the case of versals) that mark the opening of a running body of text or a verse:

of or relating to a style of ornate capital letter used to start a verse, paragraph, etc., in a manuscript, typically built up by inking between pen strokes and with long, rather flat serifs.

- Classical versals from Roman times to the Renaissance
- Contemporary versals from the Renaissance to the present.


  • you will learn how to construct the basic versal form

  • you will gain confidence in making versal forms

  • you will gain an understanding of the historical form


  • pens: Brause broad edge nibs sizes 3/4mm & 1mm & holders

  • ink: ink stick with grinding stone or a bottle of black non-waterproof ink or a bottle of Sumi ink

  • paper: a pad of layout paper plus good paper when instructed

  • various bits and bobs as instructed ie. ruler, eraser, pencil etc.

  • (Class cost does not include supplies. Please be sure to purchase and bring with you to the event).

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Berkeley City Club

2315 Durant Avenue

Berkeley, CA 94704

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