The “Official Story”
Melissa Dinwiddie is an award-winning artist and calligrapher, based in the San Francisco Bay Area. She combines a background as a calligrapher with a deep love for her Jewish heritage to create works of beauty, depth, and technical excellence. Her original artworks and fine art prints have been exhibited internationally, and are in private collections around the world. She is also nationally known as a teacher, and has been invited to teach calligraphy and book arts across the US. Active in the Jewish Reconstructionist Movement, Melissa sees her work as a ketubah- and Judaic artist as the ultimate expression of her relationship with the Divine.
Talented on many fronts (she refers to herself as a “Passion Pluralite”), prior to becoming a visual artist, Melissa pursued careers in both dance and academia. Nowadays, in addition to being a ketubah artist, Melissa has an active business as a creativity coach, teacher and consultant, empowering people to pursue their own creative passions. Find out more at her blog, Living A Creative Life.
When not making art, Melissa can also be found engaged in her “after hours” career as a jazz singer.
In my own words:
Since 1995 I have created heirloom quality ketubot, marriage covenants, and other artworks for clients on a commission basis, capturing on paper the wedding couple’s personal tastes, and the essence of their relationship.
Due to the demand for more affordable versions of my ketubot, in 2001 I started a line of ketubah prints, designed and produced with the same attention to detail as my original pieces, from the imagery and execution of the overall design to the precision of the hand written letterforms. I personally handle every step of the creation of each ketubah myself – from creating the original artwork and calligraphy by hand, to printing the final museum-quality prints in my studio.
In 2005, I added a full line of invitations, program covers, place cards and other stationery to coordinate with my ketubot. Now couples can create an entire theme for their wedding around the design of their ketubah.
Why buy your ketubah direct from the artist?
Ketubahworks is a one-person operation. I run all aspects of the business, in addition to creating the artwork. When you buy a ketubah here, you deal directly with me, with no “middleman” involved. I personally answer all phone calls and emails, so if you have special requests or questions you’ll get prompt attention and informed answers.
I treat each and every order with care. I’m honored that you want to include my artwork in your celebration and hang it in your home, and I do my best to make the experience of buying a ketubah easy and stress-free. Buying a ketubah often raises a lot of questions, and you are welcome to call or email anytime, as often as you like, and I’ll be happy to answer them as best I can.
Calligraphy, Type, and Calligraphic Type
Calligraphy is an art form in its own right. A ketubah that has been lettered by hand in calligraphy displays the human touch in a way no computer font can imitate. Every letter is actually drawn, stroke by stroke, so you can clearly see the warmth, the attention to detail, and the care that went into creating it. I spent years training in the art of calligraphy, and I bring the same obsessive attention to detail to all of my work.
Many ketubot today are available only with commercial fonts – the same fonts you probably have on your own computer – which sometimes seem added to the artwork as an afterthought. What should be a beautiful piece of art too frequently looks like a fancified Microsoft Word document! One of the things that really sets my work apart is that I had fonts digitized directly from my own calligraphy, and it’s these fonts that I use on my ketubah prints. I spent the time and money to do this, because I want my work to be the best it can be. My customers might not notice the difference, but I would! Having exclusive calligraphic fonts from my own calligraphy allows me to offer prints with beautiful texts that have much of the warmth of my actual hand-lettering, but without the cost.
Personalized orders always receive a proof
If you order your ketubah personalized (ie, “filled-in”), or with a custom text, I will send you a digital proof before I touch the ketubah. This gives you a chance to review your order, proofread the text, consult with your rabbi or officiant, and make sure everything is correct. Need changes or corrections? Not to worry — every order includes up to two revisions at no charge. Additional proofs beyond this are available for an additional charge. Only after I have received your formal approval will I start work on the actual ketubah.
Are you a retailer?
I am honored to have my ketubah designs featured in select Judaica stores and museum shops across the country. If you are a retailer and are interested in carrying my ketubot, please contact me for more information.