Frequently Asked Questions

There are some things in life that once our hearts latch onto them, we cherish them forever. Some experiences are a once in a lifetime events. Some items are worth far more than their weight in gold. Calligraphy writings, clamshell boxes, and custom bookbinding are wonderful ways to commemorate precious moments and preserve treasured belongings.

If this is your first time working with David Ashley Studio, you may have some questions about the process for ordering and obtaining your handmade item. This list of frequently asked questions and answers is intended to help bring clarity to these matters and provide a general idea of what to expect.


Q: How much will my calligraphy piece cost?

A: Calligraphy pricing is determined by the number of words, with costs ranging from $1.00-$1.25 per word. The minimum cost for an item is $75. The quantity of gilded initials and the extent of work required for the border can also affect calligraphy cost.

Q: Will my calligraphy fit in a standard frame?

A: Generally speaking, calligraphy is larger than type and, unlike type, there are some constraints in regards to size. In most cases, David can create the piece so that it will fit in a standard size frame. For anything smaller, brevity is the key determinant. Unless the quote is very short, it will not fit into anything smaller than a standard frame.

Q: I just want a “parchment” paper, is that an option?

A: Parchment papers are not recommended for calligraphy writing. These papers are made with an acidic process and are prone to decaying over time. There are many options that are far superior. Come to David’s studio to see the wide world of handmade and imported papers that have much more character and a glorious, unique look!

Q: I like the look of the gilded initials, but can I have Silver?

A: Yes, silver can be used for gilded calligraphy letters. However, David uses Palladium Leaf for silver because it does not tarnish.

Q: I need my piece real quick. Is that possible?

A: Yes. Normally, the amount of time required to complete a project is between two weeks to one month. However, David can complete projects in less time if his schedule allows it. For rush orders, please call to confirm scheduling. Please note that a 25% rush fee will be applied.

Q: I live out of state. How can I pick papers and colors?

A: David will provide digital images of papers and samples to showcase different calligraphy styles and colors.

Clamshell Boxes

Q: Do I need to send in the book to have a clamshell box made?

A: David does not need to physically have the book to create a clamshell box. Careful, accurate measurements are sufficient. Please provide the width, height, and depth of the book. Note that when measuring depth, especially for older books, the measurement should be taken from the center of the book.

Q: How do we choose colors/materials for the box?

A: All clamshell book boxes made by David are unique creations and completely custom, so all colors are hand selected. If you send in pictures of some boxes you like or the book itself, David will easily be able to help you find colors. He can send pictures of the different colors to you through email or mail actual swatches if time allows. To get an idea of different color possibilities, you can look at the examples on this website.

Q: How long does it take to have a box made?

A: A clamshell or portfolio box generally takes two weeks to one month to make, so long as all materials are on hand. If special materials needed to be ordered, more time will be required. David will accept rush orders in most cases. However, an additional charge of 25% will be added to the total.

Q: I have a very old book and I would like the box to look like the book. Is that possible?

A: Yes. David can make an imitation rounded spine, with raised bands, gold and blind tooling, and with titling that is as close to the original as possible. David prefers to make these spines somewhat simpler in style so that the box does not detract from the beauty of the original book.

Q: I have a very old book and I would like the box to look like the book. Is that possible?

A: Yes. David can make an imitation rounded spine, with raised bands, gold and blind tooling, and with titling that is as close to the original as possible. David prefers to make these spines somewhat simpler in style so that the box does not detract from the beauty of the original book.

Q: My book is very small, but I would like a larger box. Is that possible?

A: Yes. It is possible to make a box that is larger yet still functional. David can create a tray where the smaller book rests along with a pull-up tab or sheet that is inside a larger tray. To see examples, please visit the Clamshell Boxes page on this website.

Q: I want a secret compartment under the book to use for an engagement ring. Can that be done?

A: Yes. David has made many clamshell containers with secret compartments. He can also foil stamp the recipient’s initials on the cover too! This is similar to the smaller tray box mentioned above.

Q: I just have a valuable document, one or two sheets. Can something thin be made to contain them?

A: Yes, there are a couple of options for this type of project. David can make a document holder that enfolds the item on top, bottom, and outer side. The other option is that David can make an archival board with corners, similar to a diploma holder. The board will securely hold the document in position and an archival polyester sheet will be placed over it to cover and protect it.

Q: Is there a way to have part of the box look like the book’s dust jacket?

A: Yes. If you can send David a good digital photo of your book or dust jacket, he can print it out on a high quality, sturdy paper and inlay it onto the front of the box. This inlay acts like a mat on a picture. Also, since the photo is inlaid, it will not wear down as it is taken on and off the shelf.

Q: We have a large family Bible that needs repair. Does David offer book repair?

A: Unfortunately, David does not do repairs for books. However, he can refer you to a reputable  book conservator. As an alternative, you may want to consider a custom book box. Many older Bibles have acidic text papers that make repairs difficult and costly. A clamshell box will keep all of the pieces of your Bible together in one place and you will still be able to access the family information inside. The Bible can always be repaired later on if desired.


Q: I am interested in bookbinding for a portfolio. I have an artist’s portfolio that I would like to have made into a book but I want it to open well. Does David offer these types of binding services?

A: Yes. David has created items like this many times. However, to ensure that the book opens well, it needs to be in signatures, or stacked pamphlets, with a fold in the middle so that it can be hand sewn. Loose sheets can be bound, but they do not open as well. David can refer you to professionals who can print your book this way. However, if necessary, he can also refer you to a binder that can create a securely glued book for you, which can be completed with a fine custom cover.

Q: I have a small edition of books that I had printed commercially (such as by Blurb) and I now want custom covers for them. Does David offer book rebinding?

A: Yes. David offers professional book rebinding and can create beautiful new covers to replace the old ones on your books. He will carefully remove the original covers, create new ones, and bind them on. This is an economical way to get a very elegant looking book.

Q: We are doing a family history book and need about fifty copies, but have no idea where to start. Is this something David can help us with?

A: Yes. All of David’s work is custom so he often works with customers who have unique needs and is almost always able to help them get exactly what they are looking for. David can refer you to printers who can help you with your project. He also several samples of similar projects he can show you at his studio.

Q: How do we choose colors/materials for the book?

A: Colors are often selected through the process of an email exchange. If you send David some photos of what you are looking for, he can send back pictures of colors for you to select. If time permits, David can also send small swatches of materials through the mail.

Get More Information

If you have additional questions or would like more information about the services offered by David Ashley Studio, please do not hesitate to reach out. David would be more than happy to discuss your ideas for a clamshell box or any book binding or calligraphy services you may need. You can contact David directly by phone or by completing the contact form on this website.