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Stamford Pride

Stamford Artist: Orange Pippin

Stamford artist and calligrapher Helen Cox of Orange Pippin is celebrating her first anniversary of turning a hobby into an artisan business. Proving the pen is mightier than the sword, she has created beautiful bespoke wedding stationery and hand-painted illustrations…

Words: Rob Davis. Images: Rob Davis, Alexandra Wallace.
Helen has created Orange Pippin in Stamford.

With the advent of keyboards, electronic communication and digital typography, you’d be forgiven for thinking the age of graceful handwriting has ended.

Not a bit. At least, not in the work of Helen Cox, Stamford illustrator and calligrapher who this month celebrates her first year in business creating beautiful – and entirely hand-produced calligraphy and watercolour illustrations.

Even the priciest bespoke wedding stationery can often utilise digital images or swirly fonts masquerading as handwriting, but the wedding invites, thank you notelets, table plans and menus produced by Helen are entirely hand-drawn.

“I’ve lived in Stamford my whole life and I absolutely love the town,” says Helen. “My partner and I have a place in Sheffield, and we moved there so that he could pursue his career as a screen printer.”

“But neither of us wanted to lose our connection to Stamford, and I didn’t want to lose the existing clients I’d built up who were already noticing my work.”

Helen was raised in Stamford and educated at Stamford Endowed Schools, before she and her partner, fellow Stamfordian Oliver left for Loughborough where Helen pursued a degree in fine art.

Helen created her business, Orange Pippin, having found calligraphy initially as a hobby, and has since broadened her strokes to pursue watercolour painting, too.

Working at a local marketing agency gave Helen the experience of how to negotiate with printers and get her work professionally reproduced. And so, by the time she began her business Helen was already really savvy.

Furthermore, Helen and Oliver are part of a small clique of Stamford youngsters who are helping each other out in the creative industries. Oliver is a talented illustrator, whilst his sister, Alexandra, is a photographer and her partner is a graphic designer.

Collectively they can call upon each other’s talents and have all begun to obtain commissions from the Stamford area.

Helen now spends half of her time creating bespoke stationery, typically for weddings, whilst a further chunk of her time sees her working on bespoke illustrations or calligraphy for clients – flowers or botanicals, buildings or clients’ houses, and pets, for example.

The remainder of her time has been spent creating her own range of cards and wrapping papers sold in outlets such as the town’s Emma Cutmore boutique, Stamford Garden Centre and in Lucy Flint jewellery.

“I love the outdoors and take great inspiration for going out and about walking,” says Helen.  “The seasons feature heavily in my work, and I particularly love peonies, foxgloves and  azaleas. I spend a lot of time studying them and making an initial sketch before beginning work freehand.”

Helen uses a range of watercolours and spends considerable time blending her own gouache colours to create just the hues she’s seeking, as well as making her own calligraphy inks in black, blue, red and even golds and silvers with metallic flecks.

“I adore nature and producing illustrations of hares, chickens and easter bunnies. All of my commercially printed work is printed by a company whose operations are carbon neutral. I use recycled paper and vegetable based inks to ensure the environmental impact is low as possible.”

Helen’s commission are beautiful, traditional and vibrant, full of life and colour. In an age of fonts and digital artworking, though, it’s reassuring to know that traditional skills  endure, and that the pen remains mightier than the sword… and the PC!

For More Information: Call 07805 361149 or see Helen’s website to discuss a comission at www.orange-pippin.co.uk.