New artist book

I’ve been steadily working on a new edition of 12 little books. Fun stuff! And I can’t believe I mailed off 7 of them today without taking photos. Hmph. When I know they’ve arrived safely, I’ll post some in-process photos and as well as photos of the books I have here. In the meanwhile, a couple of details …

Isn’t this simply luscious? One of the frustrations/pleasures of working  on an edition is seeing scraps like this come — and go. This sheets appeared when I pasted up scraps of painted Arches Text Wove onto another scrap of ATW to make closure loops for the wrappers. It was so beautiful on its own, I hated to cut it down into 1/4″-inch strips. 

One day I’m going to finish the paper mosaics I’ve begun with all the irresistibly beautiful little bits of paper that I can never bear to throw out.

Even though I’m not going to show the book today, I will show one in-process photo.  The structure is a flat-piano-hinge binding from Keith Smith’s, Non-Adhesive Binding.  Threading a flat strip of Canson Mi-Tientes through the folded tabs was driving me bonkers, until I located this loop turner in my sewing supplies. I finally worked out a method of guiding the strip through the loops with the aid of the loop turner and a micro-spatula. The structure requires that this be done three times for each book, so I’ve gotten pretty good at it by now.

In case you’re wondering about the scale … the book is 3 inches tall and 1-5/8″ wide. (See how I mostly got rid of the lime green cutting mat that clashed with this little book? But you can still see the 1-inch grid in places.)

Guanajuato / Cervantino from a logophile’s perspective

We’ve just returned from a wonderful week and a half in Guanajuato, Mexico. A World Heritage Site, Guanajuato annually hosts the Cervantino festival, which celebrates art and culture. This year was the 45th festival. Maybe I’ll post more about the festival later, but today I’m focusing on the lettering I saw in  Guanajuato. (As always, click on an image for a larger version.)

I enjoyed the graphics that were created for the festival this year.  Here are two examples, but there were many variations. The theme of the festival this year: Revolution. The country theme: France.

We visited the childhood home of Diego Rivera; despite the fact that he left there at age 6, it’s been converted into a museum. An interesting pointed pen variation headed up the sign on the wall.

More interesting, was Rivera’s version of the bird flourish. I’m kind of kidding. Not about it being interesting, but it did remind me of the tons of flourished birds that have come of the hands of master penmen (and penwomen) over the past 150 years.

Guanajuato is a walking city, and boy did we walk. My FitBit registered at least 10,000 steps each day we were there, with a top reading of 17,555 steps.

We didn’t walk up to the Pipila — we took the 47°-grade funicular — but I took this photo of the lettering at the foot of the Pipila. It’s not the Trajan column, but here I was, totally ignoring the huge statue towering above the lettering to concentrate on the lettering below. Typical calligrapher.

This carved sign in one of the plazas commemorates the first Cervantino festival in 1972. Some of the letters remind me of David Jones lettering, especially the S. Here are two details that illustrate what I mean:





Another day, we went to Presa de Olla, a nice neighborhood above the city topped by a park. This tiled sign reminded me a bit of Gemma Black’s open versals and her Art Deco-rative  designs. (I do recognize that this sign is totally inferior to Gemma’s work, of course).

Speaking of inferior, this cheerful sign was painted on a restaurant wall in San Miguel de Allende, which is an hour’s bus ride from Guanajuato. I recorded this sign as a cautionary tale for beginning students who tend towards that 0° pen angle. Contrary to what you might think, those wheat stalks are not coming out of the big soup pot, but are painted on the wall behind it.

We attended a lot of music concerts, some dramatic performances, walked the streets with an estudiantina and about 150 Mexican tourists, and much, much more. It was a good trip.


Versals after Gemma Black

A farewell card for a calligrapher friend

This farewell card gave me a chance for further practice on the versals I studied with Gemma Black at LetterWorks this summer in Ogden, Utah, and again last month in Missoula, Montana.

Lettering is done in gouache, as are the counters of the 1st and 3rd lines . The counters of the 2nd and 4th lines are done with a Palomino Blackwing pencil.

Shopping for the artist: pigments, brushes, and eye candy


Pigment Tokyo
Pigment Tokyo

I would love to visit Pigment Tokyo! An artist dream of color. The scale is dizzying, and the design intimidatingly slick. They claim to carry over 4,200 pigment colors, more than 200 antique ink sticks, and 50 animal glues.

Pigment - Brushes
Pigment – Brushes

And the brushes …!

Kremer Pigments, NYC
Kremer Pigments, NYC

When I visit New York City, I try to get by to Kremer Pigments. It’s more like an apothecary of color, and I love it.

via Colossal

Daily lettering – sprung italics and interlinear small caps

Changing it up from versals and other drawn letters … sprung italics after Denis Brown’s example, with interlinear brick-red capitals to provide contrast. The text probably means very little to anyone but me. For example: Why “Ugh” as the penultimate word in the italic lettering? It was an opinion about the preceding letter z. And why “ghosts” as the last word? I wanted another go at that “gh” combination in “Ugh”; the first time it was too close.

Books, Boxes and Wraps

Second Edition

I simply cannot believe that this book is already out of print again!

Books, Boxes & Wraps: Bindings & Building Step-By-Step, by Marilyn Webberley, has been a go-to book for me since I bought the first edition of the book in about 1997.

This second edition, updated in 2014, is advertised as an expansion and a refinement of the first. I see that it is no longer available except as a used book. I’ve ordered a copy to see what new things were added.

Versals after workshops with Gemma Black

I was one of the lucky ones at LetterWorks this summer in Ogden, Utah: I got into the 5-day class taught by Gemma Black, “The Versal and the Book“. Even luckier, Gemma came to Montana earlier this month to teach a 2-day workshop on versals to Big Sky Scribes, the state-wide guild, and I got into that workshop too.

I might be finally getting the idea of versals. My goal has been to letter a page a day. Most days I’ve been making that goal. As shown below.

Dave-Jones-like versals with a 1mm Brause nib and sumi on 100# Strathmore Drawing 400 folio. This was Wednesday.
3/4-mm Brause nib and sumi stick ink on 100# Strathmore Drawing 400 folio. This was Thursday.

On Wednesday, I was shooting for a rhythm. Which is harder than you might think, since it is drawing and filling in. But I still think a rhythm is important, even when drawing.

On Friday (see below), I tried to make thinner-than-normal weight, but I kept defaulting to a standard weight. The Mohawk Superfine paper was a bear to write on, especially with gouache, and especially because of the drawing-and-filling-in thing which caused the paper to shred.

Open traditional versals. 3/4-mm Brause nib with stick ink on 100# Strathmore Drawing 400 folio. This was also Thursday.
Traditional versals. 3/4-mm Brause with Schmincke Calligraphy Gouache on Mohawk Superfine, for some unexplainable (and indefensible) reason. This was Friday.

How technology is ruining our young people, c.

Last month, I was amused to read this Slate article  by Rachel Adler, entitled, “The 19th Century Moral Panic Over … Paper Technology”. The subtitle is this: “Before Snapchat and Instagram ruined young people, there was cheap paper.”

The article states that a 500-folio page could sell for 30 florins in 1422, but that by the 1470s that price could be 10 florins. I wondered what this meant in terms of purchasing power.  A little unsubstantiated googling seems to indicate that a gold florin (equivalent to a ducat in Venice) was worth 117 soldi. Only big purchases employed florins, and you can see why: manual laborers were paid only 8 soldi per yer, and mason were paid 15 soldi per year. that architect of the Florence cathedral made 100 florins per year, and that city houses ranged in price from 200 to 3500 florins.

But in the 19th century, the price went down some more, thanks to major developments in print and paper technologies. Rachel Adler writes:

Books remained, however, far outside the range of the common man or woman, until the price plummeted once again in the 19th century. No longer was literacy necessarily a signifier of wealth, class, and status. This abrupt change created a moral panic as members of the traditional reading classes argued over who had the right to information—and what kind of information ought to be available at all.

It’s an interesting read.

Opening night at The Artists’ Shop in Missoula

I had a wonderful time Friday night at the opening of my solo show in Missoula. I took these photos just before the opening began. It’s a good thing I did because, although I thought I’d get some more photos later, I forgot all about it once people began arriving. It doesn’t matter much; my photography skills can only be described as underwhelming.

It was gratifying to see it all come together so well. Thanks so much to Ann Franke and my husband Ed for helping to hang the show. Actually, I think the better characterization is that I helped them hang the show!

Entrance to The Artists’ Shop, 127 N. Higgins, Missoula, Montana.
So nice to see my name up on the wall! Two Mady poems, an artist book entitled “Letters Inspire I”, plus guest book, etc.


A few of the Mady poems. There are 15 Mady poems in the show.
An artist book plus a piece entitled “So Long, Darcy: Fact-Checking Jane Austen”.
Three circular pieces.