Home Upcoming Events Alphabets Inspired by Nature

Alphabets Inspired by Nature

This is a class for anyone interested in bringing a fresh and creative approach to making beautiful letters using natural, found objects as inspiration.

The goal for this workshop is to help students understand how letters are not just the symbols with which we use to communicate. Rather, they are shapes made up of lines, circles, triangles and squares, shapes that can be manipulated in creative ways to mimic things we find around us. Historically, calligraphers have often been inspired by the forms they find in their natural surroundings. This workshop combined with the beauty of Ghost Ranch will help inspire a whole new group of aspiring calligraphers to make beautiful letters.

The workshop will begin with a slideshow of alphabets and calligraphic art pieces, discussing how natural objects may have influenced each piece.

We will then go for a jaunt around the grounds of Ghost Ranch, looking for natural objects which will be used as models to create our unique alphabets.

Through a series of exercises, students will learn how to analyze calligraphic hands and fonts, and will learn some principles of what makes an alphabet work together as a cohesive unit. Students will have the opportunity to study books and samples to help aid in their understanding.

Once analysis is complete, we will begin making sketches of letterforms based on the found objects and using the principles learned earlier. Each student will be supplied with several unusual tools—such as pens made from aluminum cans and broom bristles, seashells, and twigs. These tools will help students break from their normal handwriting and venture into the world of experimental calligraphic marks.

For their final alphabets, students will have the option of either illustrating with paints, colored pencils or other color media, or making graphic black-and-white forms. We will work on fine papers which will then be assembled into simple, accordion-fold books with origami-type covers.

Cap: 8
Rates – week of June 6-12 (6 nights)
Includes 6 nights single occupancy lodging, meal package (arrival dinner through departure breakfast), course tuition + basic Materials Fee

Private Bath – $1,565
Dorm/Communal Bath – $1,325 (limited # available)

+ Additional person(s) in the same room
Taking a workshop – $815 (includes meal package + tuition + basic Materials Fee)
Non Participant – $230 (includes meal package + conservation fee)

Commuter (lunches & dinners included + tuition + basic Materials Fee) $775
Rio Arriba County resident – $675

Camping Rates
Tent without electricity with Meals – $995
Tent without electricity without Meals – $790
Tent/Small RV with Electricity or Full Hook-Up with Meals – $1,055
Tent/Small RV with Electricity or Full Hook-Up without Meals – $850

Additional person(s) Sharing a Campground Space
Taking a workshop + meals – $815
Taking a workshop without meals – $615
Non Participant with meals – $225
Non Participant without meals – $25

Please note that our workshop price structure packages your tuition, course materials, lodging and meals together in a single rate.

During this Covid-19 period, participants are asked to bring their own supplies (hand sanitizer, water bottle) to limit touchpoint and sharing.



Please use the options below to find helpful information regarding Ghost Ranch Workshops and Retreats

No notes for this event

Virtual Events: Payments made for Virtual Events are non-refundable. If you are unable to attend the event, recordings will be made available to you after the event. For events with multiple sessions, every attempt will be made to make the session(s) available to you before the next scheduled session.

In-Person Events: During this Covid-19 pandemic period, written notification must be received no later than 45 days prior to the start date of your workshop in order to receive a refund, minus a $100 processing charge. No refunds will be processed after that time. We reserve the right to announce a change in leadership or cancel any program 45 days prior to the first day of the workshop. In that event, you may transfer to another workshop without charge or we will refund the full workshop payment. Many participants have found it helpful to purchase travel insurance. This cancellation policy does not apply to January term. If the cancellation is Covid-related and is received less than 45 days prior to your start date, your funds will be left on deposit for another ghost ranch workshop or future stay or you can make it a full donation to support us through this unique business period.

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What day/time does the workshop start and end?

In-person workshops begin with check-in at 3:00 p.m. and a ranch orientation in the evening on the first date listed for the course and end at 10:00 a.m. with checkout on the last date listed.

Virtual workshops will have a varied schedule that is identified within each workshop description.

During Covid safety period - single occupancy lodging is the standard
  • During Covid-19 periods, all lodging types will be single occupancy at no additional charge. Of course, you can share a room with a spouse, partner, family or another person that shares your full-time residence. The extra folks that share a room will pay for workshop registration fees and meals.
What is the difference between a room with private bath, a room with semi-private or shared bath, and a room with communal/dorm bath?

Private refers to the type of bathroom, not single occupancy

  • During Covid-19, all rooms will have a private bath. Semi-private and Communal/dorm types will be assigned a bathroom for each person.
    • Private: There is a bathroom in that one room that is not shared between or with any other rooms.
    • Semi-private/shared: There is a bathroom between two rooms that is shared by the occupants of the two adjoining rooms.
    • Communal/dorm: There is a communal bathroom/showers in the lodging building (or in a proximate building, for some upper mesa dorm rooms), and participants will need to exit their room to reach these facilities.
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  • Julie Wildman
    Julie Wildman

    Julie Wildman is a highly regarded professional in the fields of graphic design, commercial lettering, calligraphy and workshops. Her studio is in northwest Indiana, only 30 minutes from downtown Chicago.

    Her calligraphic interest began in the late ‘80s after a friend gave her Timothy Botts’ book “Doorposts,” and she saw the written word illustrated in such a way as never before. About ten years later, she had the privilege of taking a year-long class with an internationally known calligrapher and was hooked. She joined the Chicago Calligraphy Collective soon after and embarked on a lifelong journey of studying letters.

    Since then, her work has been exhibited in juried shows throughout the Midwest and the U.S., including the Newberry Library in Chicago.

    She loves line, shape, color, texture, paper, ink, and paint and often can’t believe she gets to play with them for a living! She enthusiastically shares her love of “beautiful writing” with young and old by teaching calligraphy for staff development classes, on-site promotional events, community programs and personal growth workshops throughout the Chicagoland area, U.S., and Canada. And now with Zoom classes, she has taught students from more than 15 countries around the world.

    For a complete curriculum vitae and to see more of her work, please visit her website at wildmandesigns.com


Jun 06 - 12 2021

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