Folk Art Classes Introduce Fraktur

Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society To Host Two Workshops

January 11, 2019

Pennsylvania German fraktur has an instantly recognizable style. The fractured calligraphy surrounded by birds, swirls, and flowers evolved to become a distinct form of American folk art. Learn how to make fraktur at two classes offered by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society in Lancaster, Pa., both taught by local artist Emily Smucker-Beidler. The first class introduces the imagery of fraktur, and the second focuses on the calligraphy of fraktur. For advanced students, there will be a one-on-one workshop the same days.
The first class, “Fraktur Introduction,” will be held on Saturday, Feb. 2, from 9 a.m. to noon. Participants will learn how to create the imagery of fraktur, rendering traditional motifs in ink before painting them in watercolor. By the end of the class, each participant will have their own small work of fraktur to take home. Smucker-Beidler will also give a presentation on the history of fraktur, looking at the three distinct styles from southeastern Pennsylvania. A starter kit containing the basic supplies needed to explore the world of fraktur is included with the class. The deadline for registration is Friday, Jan. 25; the class costs $75 for society members, $85 for nonmembers.
The second class, “The Illuminated Letter,” picks up where the first class leaves off, focusing on learning lettering and calligraphy within the context and history of fraktur. It will take place on Saturday, March 16, from 9 a.m. to noon. During the class, participants will learn how to use a nib pen and india ink and learn both traditional techniques and modern adaptations. Registration cost includes all materials required, including paper, handouts, tracing paper, pencils, and Bristol board. The deadline for registration is Friday, March 8; the class costs $75 for members, $85 for nonmembers. It is not necessary to have taken the first class to join.
The two advanced fraktur workshops are available to those who have previously taken fraktur classes at the society and are also held on Feb. 2 and March 16, but from 8 a.m. to noon. Participants will receive one-on-one assistance from 8 to 9 a.m. and have studio time until noon. Registration is $40 per session and is also due Jan. 25 or March 8.
Participants can register for classes by calling the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society at 717-393-9745 or online at
These classes are part of over 40 Lancaster Roots 2019 events. Lancaster Roots combines the events of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society and the 1719 Herr House and Museum. Through public presentations, food, music, field trips, and classes, these events reveal Lancaster and its people: their stories, culture, and history.
The Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society is located 2215 Millstream Road, Lancaster, Pa.


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