SOURCE: Ken Brown Studio

March 23, 2010 06:00 ET

What Do You Get When You Cross a Dental Drill With Calligraphy? An Unlikely Career

MCKINNEY, TX--(Marketwire - March 23, 2010) -  Ken Brown found a clever use for the dreaded dental drill. He writes with one. 

"I've done traditional calligraphy since college, but it's more exciting with a lettering pen that spins at 300,000 revolutions per minute," says Brown. Author of numerous books teaching calligraphy and host of the "Calligraphy with Ken Brown" public television series (1984 - 1996), Brown is no stranger to penmanship. But his epiphany came in 1992 when a dentist urged him to try calligraphy with a dental drill. Within 11 months he translated his skill from pen to drill, and his canvass from paper to hard surfaces. 

Brown now teaches others how to engrave calligraphy onto crystal, metal, glass and wood objects of all shapes and sizes at engraving seminars in McKinney, Texas, near Dallas. "Learning engraving opened a whole new world of confidence, friends and opportunities," said Ken's student Mary Warlick, from Taylors, S.C., who now engraves in stores in four Southeastern states. Brown's apprentices live across the U.S. and Canada. All emulate his style, some as a part-time business and others who work full time engraving for the public. (

Why engrave calligraphy as a career?

  • No artistic ability needed -- anyone can learn the strokes
  • Great earning potential: $50 to $100 per hour to personalize gifts; $300 to $800 per in-store engraving event
  • Home-based business with little overhead
  • Seminars teach marketing techniques

"My handwriting is nothing to write home about," laughed Brown, "but beautiful writing always fascinated me." The hand-lettered poster he was assigned in architectural design at Oklahoma State University sparked his love of lettering. "It was my defining moment," Brown remembers, "but it's also why I flunked out." He was so captivated by lettering that his studies suffered. Totally self-taught, Brown developed a 14-stroke method to form a calligraphic alphabet. From that came his books, television series and thousands who learned his method.

After mastering the drill, Brown landed a job engraving calligraphy into perfume bottles, and has since done engraving events throughout the U.S. and Canada at stores such as Bloomingdales, Macy's, Market Street, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. His single-day records for engraved wine and fragrance bottles are 260 and 626, respectively.

Few people singly pioneer a skill. Ken Brown did. 

Editorial Note: Brown is available for interviews. The press room offers multimedia.

Contact Information