I’ve been studying gothicized italic, a hand I’ve never mastered. I began by analyzing a handout of a Lincoln quotation that Sheila Waters provided in a long-ago workshop. I determined the x-height and pen-width, lined up a sheet of paper, penciled in the bare bones of the letters, and had at it. As I worked I made notes about surprising discoveries: “the s is wider than I had thought”, “the final stroke of the e continues diagonally and does not go horizontal”, and so on. Then I repeated the exercise without penciling in the skeletal letters. (I won’t sully Sheila’s reputation — or mine — by reproducing my practice sheets here!) Next, I put up another handout from Sheila, a reproduction of a piece of Edward Johnston’s gothicized italic writing. You can see a portion of that handout in the image above. Once again, I analyzed it, ruled up a sheet, and copied the lettering as closely as possible, making notes as before.
Finally, I wrote out this sheet, choosing another text. My goal was to stick to Johnston’s lettering closely yet adhere to some best calligraphy practices and to make it more my own. I didn’t care for the long thin finials on his t and h, and his standard r is so wild and woolly that the next letter must be shorter to compensate. Next time around I will work on letter width and spacing to better match Johnston’s: mine were both two wide. Also, I regretted the use of the alternate r on the 2nd line. It seems to work best next to another oval letter such as a p.
I’m pleased to have one of my works in the The 37th Bradley International Print and Drawing Exhibition in Peoria, IL. The openings – across six venues – are this afternoon and evening. I wish I could be there.
I’ve glimpsed my piece being installed in the Contemporary Art Center of Peoria … via Facebook.
One of the interesting aspects of a freelance calligraphy studio is the wide variety of work. Lettering for Tom Morgan Rodsmiths is a great example. I appreciate getting to contribute my expertise to these hand-crafted fly rods.
I use sumi ink on the bamboo rods and gold ink on graphite and composite rods. Laying down the gold ink is sometimes a challenge. Also a challenge: writing on the curved surface of the rods with a pointed metal nib.
In November I received an interesting book from Elizabeth Simmonds. It was four inches square, and I had never seen the structure before. I wrote to Liz and asked her about it. She told me that she had learned it from Anne Cowie, who made these as smaller books. I made a few models of the book.
Three models of a modular accordion book structure based on a book I received from Elizabeth Simmonds in November 2018. Elizabeth learned the structure from Anne Cowie.
One of the attractive features of this structure is that it is modular; that is, you can add as many pages as you like and each element is only two pages, so that if you make a mistake on a book page, you can simply cut another piece of paper and re-do that two-page spread.
Here are some I things learned in making those models.
The book consists of three categories of parts: the folios, the page wrappers, and the removable spine. The folios are standard folios: a piece of paper folded in half vertically. The page wrappers are the same width as the folios but double the height. Like the folio, they are folded in half vertically. But they are also folded horizontally twice: once 1/4 of the height from the top, and once 1/4 of the height from the bottom, so that the central vertical division of the page is equal to the height of the folios and the top and bottom division fold around the folio to meet in the back.
Folio and two wrappers, not yet assembled.
One folio and 2 page wrappers, mostly put together.
The folios and page wrappers are then assembled in a daisy chain, ad infinitum (theoretically).
Folios and page wrappers daisy-chained together.
A five-inch-square may be the largest optimal size but this depends on the materials used. The optimal length of the book, 8 to 20 pages. (That’s 4 to 10 folios and 4 and 10 page wrappers.) Any less and the structure isn’t apparent; any more and the book becomes chunky.
In Elizabeth’s four-inch-square book, the folios were made of card stock, the page wrappers of Arches Text Wove, and the spine of a card-weight paper. In choosing your materials, the folios should be heavier and stiffer than the page wrappers..
A small sliver of the folios will be revealed in the gutter area (at the center fold of each page opening), which can be a nice feature. If you don’t like that reveal, you can trim width the folio pages later.
An assembled folio and 2 page wrappers. The gutter shows the folio.
After (you think) you’re done, you can add a removable spine to make it more of a codex structure. You can see one in the top photo. I’m thinking I’ll add a board insert in the front and back to the first and last pages more “cover”-like. Since it’s all non-adhesive, if you add more pages, you can simply move the board insert to the new last page.
I’m planning to teach two 6-week classes beginning mid-January in Bozeman. To make it as inclusive and accessible as possible, I’ve set up a poll to discover what you are interested in learning and what time day on Mondays you could attend. If you’re interested in taking the class, please fill out the form at the bottom of this post to let me know what interests you and when you could attend.
In response to some questions about the class, here is a little more information.
The Monday afternoon class will take place in west Bozeman and I will take a maximum of 10 students. The cost will be $80 per person for the 6-week course.
The Monday evening class will probably take place at the Emerson, and I will take a maximum of 6 students. The cost will be $140 per person for the 6-week course.
Students are welcome to bring what they have that would work. I am happy to provide a beginner’s kit for students on the first day of class for the cost of the materials. This has typically run about $20. (I assume people will have basic office supplies on hand, such as pencil, eraser, ruler, etc.)
Class structure and assignments:
To give you idea of how I run a class, check out this link to the overview and one week of a class I taught in 2016. At the bottom of the class you can see syllabus and assignment for week 1; I add to this, week by week.
Winter 2019 class interest survey
I am interested in the following calligraphy classes:*
Check all that apply.
In the first 3 classes listed we will be exploring the structure of the alphabet and learning how to arrange them. On the last day of class we will bind our work into a manuscript book as a record of our study.
Capitals - Formal to Modern, drawn and pen-made
Uncial Variations + Celtic Knotwork
Combining Brush and Pen Lettering
Other calligraphy class or classes that interest you.
Describe them here.
I am interested in the following bookbinding classes:*
Check all that apply.
Accordion Fold Books - 6 variations
Journals for Writing or Sketching - long-stitch, coptic, and more
Fun Books - a variety of interesting folded, stitched and glued structures
More Than Blank Books - designing content for a simple manuscript book
Other bookbinding class or classes that interest you.
Describe them here.
What other topics interest you?
Tell me anything else about what you want to learn.
Long time no post! We’ve been traveling, and I’ve been Instagramming, and … well, honestly, inspiration has been sparse on the ground. Anyway, remember this artist book I was working on? I mostly finished it shortly thereafter, but never posted any photos. I had a few binding chores left on the last couple in the edition, and I worked on that recently … which reminded me that I had never properly photographed it. Here are some images from the book.
A variable edition of 12 manuscript books; 4 are still available. The books are small at 1-5/8 in x 3 in x 1/2 in, and lettered in gouache with a metal pen.
The structure is a modified version of a flat-piano-hinge non-adhesive book described by Keith Smith in Non-Adhesive Bindings.
The clean, strong imagery of this text appeals to me. Indeed, the visuals were so strong that I endeavored to make the letters themselves illustrate the poem, which describes so beautifully the preciousness of words as well as our tenuous hold on them.
Once, I knew a fine song,
—It is true, believe me,—
It was all of birds,
And I held them in a basket;
When I opened the wicket,
Heavens! They all flew away.
I cried, “Come back, little thoughts!”
But they only laughed.
They flew on
Until they were as sand
Thrown between me and the sky.
XLV artist book in its wrapper
XLV artist book, opening 3
XLV artist book, opening 4
XLV artist book, opening 5