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Welcome


I am a calligrapher and craftsman currently living in Washington, DC. I work primarily in the Arabic script, but also occasionally do work in Hebrew, Latin, and Devanagari scripts as well. I recently completed graduate work at Indiana University’s Central Eurasian Studies Department.  My focus was on Uzbek and Dari/Farsi languages, with a focus on the poetry of revolution. Before Indiana, I lived briefly in Chicago, and before that Sana’a, Yemen. I currently study calligraphy under Mohamed Zakariya Hoca.

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Welcome


I am a calligrapher and craftsman currently living in Washington, DC. I work primarily in the Arabic script, but also occasionally do work in Hebrew, Latin, and Devanagari scripts as well. I recently completed graduate work at Indiana University’s Central Eurasian Studies Department.  My focus was on Uzbek and Dari/Farsi languages, with a focus on the poetry of revolution. Before Indiana, I lived briefly in Chicago, and before that Sana’a, Yemen. I currently study calligraphy under Mohamed Zakariya Hoca.

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Woodwork


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Woodwork


I think that furniture that is hand-built or custom commissioned can integrate what I refer to as a third function- that of place and memory. When you think about it, most furniture usually has up to two functions: it’s purely utilitarian (think the giant cable spool used as a table in a college apartment) or it is both utilitarian and beautiful. For the vast majority of furniture, it stops there. But if we make our own furniture we can add a third function, and that third function deepens our connection and embeds a degree of meaning within the piece that is otherwise impossible.

For example, in 2010 I bought pretty much an entire walnut tree in Bloomington, Indiana. It was a tree that grew from a seed in Bloomington, fell down in a storm in Bloomington, was milled into lumber in Bloomington, and ultimately was turned into three pieces of furniture in Bloomington. I built Rachael’s coffee table, my bar, and our dining room table from that single walnut tree. Three matching pieces with similar design elements made from a single tree. Thus, after we moved away from Bloomington, those pieces will forever link us to the time we spent there, and be intrinsically linked to each other as sibling pieces. To separate them is to separate a family, and they are thus pieces that I hope will stay within my family for many years after I have gone.

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Calligraphy


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Calligraphy


When I create a piece of calligraphy, I try to be responsible for every aspect of the equation.


This often starts with hand-making the paper. I like mulberry, but I occasionally also use cotton, hemp, and flax fibers. Sometimes I add inclusions like the bark from a special tree, shards of newspaper from a specific city, or grass from a region of the world.


To get handmade paper ready for calligraphy, there is a lengthy process of preparation. It begins with dyeing the paper.


The papers are then starched with boiled wheat starch, alum, and fish glue and finally treated with an egg-based coating called ahar. 

Finally the papers are burnished with agate until they are at a state where they can accept the ink. The process takes many hours per sheet and is the traditional way of preparing paper for Islamic calligraphy that goes back more than a millennium.


I then compose the calligraphy.  While I use many styles of contemporary calligraphy in my graphic design work, I only use traditional calligraphy in my original pieces.


I then border the piece with decorative marbled paper, made from my own handmade paints that I float on a thickened water.

Sometimes I'll use some wooden inlay strips to add to the decorative borders. 

In this way, it is possible to define every aspect of the piece's final form. This is a tradition that I learn from my teacher, Mohamed Zakariya.