Fraktur class at the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society.

Pennsylvania German fraktur has an instantly recognizable style.

The fractured calligraphy, surrounded by birds, swirls and flowers, evolved to become a distinctly American folk art. Learn how to make fraktur of your own this spring with two classes offered by the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society, 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 an advanced fraktur 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 recognizable 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 January 25. The class cost is $75 for Society members, $85 for non-members.

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 March 8. The class cost is $75 for members, $85 for non-members. You do not need to have taken the first class to join.

There are also two advanced fraktur workshops available to those who have previously taken fraktur classes at the Society on Feb. 2 and March 16 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 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.


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