We had the good fortune of connecting with Marie Hornback and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Marie, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
Opening my own calligraphy business was an easy decision. I had already helped my husband open his dental lab business, and I had also opened another business teaching Business and Corporate Protocol and Etiquette after I finished my training at The Protocol School of Washington in 2005. I have always loved handwriting and had dabbled around in broad edge pen lettering. It was after being asked to teach cursive handwriting at an elementary school that my focus on other calligraphic forms of lettering really took off. I sought out classes and read books and began to increase my knowledge of lettering and expand my skills with pen and ink. I love the lettering arts, so opening a business to offer calligraphic services felt natural and not even like work because I love what I do.
People would see my work and ask if I could do a piece for them. I soon learned that my skills were marketable not only in creating commission pieces, but as a teacher of different forms of broad-edge pen and pointed pen alphabets.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My artwork is centered on calligraphy although there are times when painting with watercolors, metallic inks, or gouache is necessary to enhance a piece or to produce an illuminated letter. There are times when I apply 23K gold to a document. This process is called gilding. I am considered a cross-trained calligrapher meaning that I have skills in broad-edge hands, pointed pen scripts, and monoline (cursive handwriting). I have also studied painting techniques, flourishing and borders, which help me create custom pieces for clients. Developing these skills has also opened opportunities to teach. Two and a half years ago I didn’t have a clue about Zoom. Now, Zoom enables me to teach students all around the world.
Lessons I have learned along the way are, never stop learning and realizing that developing skills with pen and ink take time and persistence. When people watch a calligrapher produce beautiful lettering, they have no idea about the many hours of learning and practice that now allows them to write so effortlessly. Speaking for myself, they also do not know how many times I have had to start over because I have made a mistake or accidentally smeared wet ink. Seeking out good quality teachers and mentors is a must and realizing that a price has to be paid to learn and grow. That price is not money alone, but also time. That is another important lesson I learned along the way.
I am extremely proud of the American Cursive Instructor Certification Program which Master Penman Michael Sull and I launched in 2015. In 2018, Mike turned the ACICP over to my sole direction. We began in 2015 with live instruction, but the pandemic brought that to a halt. It was in 2020 when I had to cancel the live workshop that I held my first Zoom ACICP.
I am also proud of my 9 years teaching cursive handwriting at Ridgeview Classical Schools in Fort Collins, CO. I teach grades 3-6. The rewards have been more than I could have imagined with the quality of handwriting we see from most of the students. It is exciting to see the enthusiasm of the 3rd graders each year as they enter the world of cursive writing along with those in 4-6 grade as they hone their skills and produce excellent work.
Crown Calligraphy is me. I take the phone calls and collect the information necessary to provide a quality experience for my clients. I take personal interest in my clients’ projects and listen for the emotion that accompanies their reason for wanting my services. Some have discovered an old photo of relatives and want a descriptive name plate. Others may be getting married and want a love letter written or envelopes addressed. Writing a poem or a Scripture verse to be presented as a gift is so rewarding when I can suggest different styles of writing, artwork, and color schemes to magnify the piece as a whole rather than just focus on the lettering. While I offer guidance to create the best possible outcome, I always respect the client’s wishes and their reasons for wanting something done in a particular way. They usually have sentiment attached to the project that must not be overlooked.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Estes Park is a great place to take visitors especially if they have a day or two to stick around. Visiting the shops in Old Town is fun, so we would set out for some of my faves: The Cupboard, The Perennial Gardner, and Sense of Place. I also like the Little Bird Bake Shop and the Silver Grille has tasty cinnamon rolls. Another option for great cinnamon rolls would be a lovely drive out to LaPorte to visit Vern’s. The rotisserie chicken and cole slaw at Austin’s can’t be beat, so heading there for dinner would be a great choice. I’d take my friend to Horsetooth Reservoir to see beautiful views not only of the reservoir but the city. Driving up Poudre Canyon is also a relaxing time. There’s nothing more fun than packing eggs, bacon, etc., and driving up to one of the picnic areas and cooking breakfast alongside the river. We also like driving to the general store/restaurant in Rustic.
If my friend loves to fish, then heading up to Red Feather Lakes would be on the agenda. If they like an easy hike, then we could head over to the River Bluffs Open Space in Windsor. I would also check to see if the Clydesdales were on campus at the Budweiser Brewery. Even if the stately horses were not on site, the brewery tour is interesting.
Back at my place, we’d enjoy some great homemade meals, a fun time meeting my family, enjoying a glass of wine and devouring my famous desserts.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
My calligraphy journey has been greatly influenced and shaped by many outstanding and skilled mentors. The world recently lost internationally renowned scribe and calligrapher, Sheila Waters, who I was privileged to study under in three of her Master Classes. She had the most influence on my broad edge lettering hands. Master Penman, Michael Sull, influenced my cursive handwriting and requested my help and partnership in launching the American Cursive Instructor Certification Program (ACICP) – a 2 day workshop designed to teach people how to teach cursive handwriting. Much credit is also given to Master Penman, Harvest Crittenden, who introduced me to pointed pen scripts: Spencerian and Copperplate. Harvest has been a constant encourager, teacher, mentor and dear friend. Overall, learning under her tutelage has expanded my knowledge and calligraphy skills immensely. Last, but not least, the devotion and support of my family cannot be overlooked. My husband, Steve, has encouraged me and put up with my absence while I’m off for a week here and there to take classes. Colin and Wendy Hornback, my son and his wife, have rescued me technically many times and built my website. My son, Ray, and his wife, Paige, encouraged me to open an IG account and enter the social media “jungle.” Thanks and recognition also go to my daughter, Andrea, and her family, and my son, Keith, and his family for believing in me, encouraging me, and pressing me forward.
Other: www.hmsprotocol.com I am also a teacher of Business, Corporate, International Protocol & Etiquette, Social Skills and Dining Skills
Personal photo only – credits go to Ray Hornback