Christmas envelopes & gold ink

Well, it's that time of year: The Season of Gold Ink.

I just finished a Christmas-card-addressing job. Some of the envelopes were red, and some were a creamy white. The two you see here are -- obviously -- the remains of a couple of errors. I shouldn't say "obviously". You, my readers, may be calligraphers, in which case you most likely looked more carefully at the letter forms than the actual words, a tendency which non-calligrapher friends and spouses find humorous.

Anyway. As I was saying.

I thought I would have to use two different media: a light gold for contrast on the red, and a darker gold for contrast on the white. I started with the red envelopes and Schmincke gold pearl calligrapher's gouache, which is about the lightest gold I know of, excepting only the late lamented Schmincke platinum gouache. Although it worked well on the red, the pearl gold is too light to make enough contrast on the creamy white. I checked.

After awhile I switched to the creamy white envelopes. After some experimentation, and a look at a handy metallic colors guide I painted awhile back (maybe I'll blog that later), I determined that after I shook up my bottle of "Dr. Ph. Martin's Iridescent Calligraphy Colors 11R Cooper Plate Gold" ink (henceforth known in this post as "long-name ink") -- and it took a very long time before I could see movement on the bottom of the bottle when I turned it upside down -- umm, I lost my train of thought. I think I was headed toward something about the little ball in the bottle of fingernail polish that could have helped this process ... Have I mentioned that I've had a sinus-and-respiratory infection for 13 days? This is my 2nd day of antibiotics and I'm feeling quite light-headed (haha). Or it could be the Claritin.


I used the long-name ink for the creamy white envelopes, since it was dark enough to contrast with the paper. And the ink was so much easier to use than the gouache! With the gouache I was constantly re-mixing with the brush, occasionally cleaning the nib, and sometimes going over letters twice. With the ink, I just reloaded the pen nib with a a drop from the dropper onto the top of the nib and kept going.

So when I switched back to the red envelopes I tried the long-name ink on one, and was surprised to see that the contrast was just about equal to the contrast I had been achieving with the gold pearl gouache (which took 25% longer because of the mixing and double-stroking, etc.). I never looked back. The rest of the envelopes were done using long-name ink.

As usual, click on the photo for a closer look.

The creamy white envelope shown (poorly photographed, sorry) has an address in long-name ink, with a contrasting vertically oriented note in the gold pearl gouache. The difference in contrast with the paper doesn't show up so well here as it does in real life.

The red envelope's first line of the address was done in gold pearl gouache, and the rest in long-name ink. There's almost no difference in contrast here or in real life.

P.S. Anybody get the zip code references? (Looking back, the entire post seems to be a very broad hint.)

Broad-edge script

I've been away on an of-my-gosh-school's-about-to-start-and- we've-got-one-more-opportunity-for-a family trip. Now I'm working on addressing wedding invitations. Here's a bit from the invitation itself:

Although I first thought I'd use a pointed-pen script for the addresses, after struggling through a few envelopes I quickly bowed to the necessities of the materials. The paper proved to be way too toothy and not at all sized enough to allow the use of a pointed pen.

I could include a rant here about wedding stationers and their high-priced unwritable stock -- even Crane has been known to make their envelopes inside-out at times, so that the sizing is on the useless inside of the envelope. Oh, the torture of having the beautiful side of the paper so close and yet so far away. It's like a tying up a horse within 5 inches' reach of water. All right, all right, I've just deleted the rest of this rant. Calligraphers know exactly whereof I speak, and the rest of you can only imagine our pain.

Anyway. On with my saga.

After I concluded that pointed pen was impossible for these envelopes, I started experimenting with a #5 Mitchell Roundhand nib -- a narrow broad-edge nib -- and tailored a script that I think complements the script above. Here it is (as always, click on the thumbnail for a closer view):

I began with a standard italic, and then made changes so that it more closely resembles a pointed-pen script such as Copperplate. I used the same lining guide I had set up for the original pointed-pen script, and this had the effect of a) making very small lower-case letters, b) enlarging the capitals in proportion to the lower-case letters, and c) slanting the lettering from the usual italic 5-15 degrees to about 40 degrees.

Then I modified the capitals to follow Copperplate forms a little more closely. See the B, the T's and the F's. This modification worked because the capitals are so tall: 11 pen-widths.

The x-height is 3 pen-widths tall, which necessitated a widening of the script.

And, voila! I like this script. I think I'll add it to my standard style offerings.


Yesterday afternoon and today, Ashley and I have been working with embossing. I'm participating in an exchange on the Yahoo Calligraphy Exchange, and today's the deadline for mailing mine in.
To the left is the 5" x 7" artwork. Beneath is a portion of the envelope, which should contain a hint as to what's inside, some embossing and some calligraphy. (The envelope is cropped to protect the innocent 🙂 )

Hearty Envelope Exchange

Here's the decorative bit of my submission for the Hearty Envelope Exchange at the Calligraphy Exchange list on Yahoo. Done with liquid frisket and watercolor on an extra envelope left over from a wedding job. The linework is taken from standard figurative motifs in medieval illuminations.