Sunday, July 21, 2013

Calligraphy Practice: An Accordion Journal

Full accordion

My calligraphy buddy, Suzie, and I have started an annual trek to Sun Peaks, British Columbia, for a personal retreat focused on all things calligraphic.  Well, wine and good food are involved too, but that's another blog topic. 
Usually I have a difficult time deciding what to do when faced with a multitude of calligraphy and art supplies.  So, this year I went prepared with some accordion folded cuts of Arches Text Wove and a plan...

Folios 1 and 2

Ever since first seeing lettering artist Joke Boudens accordion folded calligraphy books in the calligraphy journal Letter Arts Review, I have itched to create one of my own.  A vacation to the beautiful ski resort, Sun Peaks, in Canada seemed like the perfect opportunity to give it a try.

Folios 2 and 3

Knowing where and how to start is always difficult.  I purchased a bendable ruler a couple of years ago but had never used it, so that was my first goal—use my unused tools!  I began drawing curved lines, then made up text as I went along.  Without quotes on hand, I decided to chronicle our trip day by day—words
and phrases that will jog memories in the future. 

Folios 3 and 4


  The Details...


XS PITT pen, sumi ink, watercolor pencil

I took photos while out walking and incorporated some of the local elements into my accordion.
The paver stones and the pattern they formed worked well with the curved text I'd already established.

Because I do not draw in detail, the simple graphic nature of the local logo was easy to incorporate and set the "illustration tone" for the rest of the folios.

And yes, there was a GIANT bug on the deck...with antennae a foot long, I'm sure!

The small lower case Roman letters on the right were made with a Hunt 22 pointed pen nib and sumi ink.

The mandala is a logo painted on the side of the Sun Peaks Lodge in the village.  
PITT fine line pen (XS), watercolor pencil, gold mica powder made into ink with gum arabic and water.

Small text—Hunt 22 pointed pen nib, pressure and release

There was no plan other than to balance the lettering with illustrations, and to balance the weight and size of the blocks of text.

The next accordion I make will be done on Arches Hot Press watercolor paper or Stonehenge.  Though the Arches Text Wove is fabulous for pen and ink and watercolor, lettering in a small size is difficult on this surface.

The text here is Uncial script, written 1/8" high.  I used a Brause EF66 pointed nib that is clipped and formed into a very small broad edge—a bit rough on the Text Wove paper. 
There is still a day to be recorded to make this project complete, but I came home with a nearly finished accordion that was fun to create and fulfilled a goal.

Sun Peaks wildflowers

The view down...this is why I don't ski!

Suzie and Christy—Sun Peaks last year, at the Kevin Costner concert

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Calligraphy Name Play

My Mom and Dad sponsor a child through an organization, and though writing letters is strongly encouraged, they are not permitted to send gifts.  So Mom asked if I would write their sponsor child's name in calligraphy.  I love that she asked me to do this, because who doesn't like to see their name decorated and in pretty colors?

Our names are a gift in themselves—our identity.  I've often found the meaning of a person's name to suggest qualities of the individual.


"Astrid", in Danish, means "divine strength".  "Nicolle" means "overcomer" and "victory of the people".

Strength and Victory—what an awesome combination!   


The Decorative Details...

When I have some extra time to decorate an envelope, this is my favorite style!  By drawing forms, I can leave the letters open for lots of vibrant color and decoration.  Here, I used Faber-Castell PITT pens with some color layering using Prismacolor pencils.  Can't forget the light gray shadowing (also PITT), a touch of sparkle on the edges using Sakura Gelly Roll Clear Star pens, and white dots made with a Sharpie poster paint pen.  Love these products! 

When I want to add a decorative touch but am pressed for time, I fall back on brush lettering—it can bounce, it can play, and can be formal or informal.  Again, Faber-Castell PITT pens are GREAT—they are available in a huge array of colors, waterproof when dry, AND can be used as a watercolor—who'd have thought?  The flowers were also made with the brush tip, simply laying the brush on its side and pressing onto the paper.

And last but not least, trusty formal Italic should always have a place in a calligrapher's repertoire.  These aren't my best, but "pretty in pink" will suit a little girl.  This is done with a ZIG marker and Prismacolor pencils.  Layering Prismacolor pencil over marker color is an easy way to add depth while still being able to control the amount of color.   

It's all about play, right? :)


Saturday, July 6, 2013

Calligraphy Outside the Box

Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of working with one of Bellingham's most creative wedding invitation designers.  Kerri Efendi (Kerri Efendi Designs), is one inspirational gal who likes to push the limits in design.  As a result, she has challenged me a few times to think "outside the box" of my usual formal calligraphy and try something new.  I love the challenge!


A New Challenge

Last winter Kerri asked me to literally think—or rather, letter—"outside the box."  She was putting together a wedding invite for a Seattle Met Bride & Groom Magazine photo shoot and the "envelope" was a flat metal box.  The color theme was "Red, Red, Wine" so she spray painted the box with a burgundy red paint, and gold became the accent color to match the inside of the box.

The finished box

For the calligraphy, "Something free-flowing and fun", she said.  I had some reservations about writing with a metal nib on a spray painted metal box, but to my delight, it worked beautifully! 
The final piece, along with Kerri's invite, appeared in the Winter/Spring 2013 issue of Seattle Met Bride & Groom.    

trials of the name with variations in the capital letters

As any calligrapher can attest, a 'free-flowing' style can take more practice and warm up than traditional formal styles if the end result is to appear effortless.  There is still structure underneath those dancing forms!

working out the size and address lines to contrast the name

As always, I can see what I may have done differently—changing a letter form here and there—but in the end it worked as I had
envisioned it.  


The Details...

For those who like the details, my practice work was done with Moon Palace Sumi ink and a Brause Rose pointed pen nib on Canson Pro Marker Layout paper.  Once I'd completed a sample on paper, I scanned the name separate from the address lines and set it up as a finished layout using InDesign.  Once approval of the work was received, I used Saral white transfer paper to lightly trace/transfer the design onto the box with a stylus.  Then I was ready to do the final lettering with the Brause Rose nib and Dr. Ph Martin's Copperplate Gold Calligraphy Ink (my favorite!).


 What I learned in the process:

  • as lightly as I pressed, the white transfer material did not want to completely rub off of the painted metal surface;  
  • paint on metal takes at least several days (ideally a week) to dry and cure.