I’ve been preparing for our next pointed-pen class, when we will be experimenting with using the pressure and release of the pen to make decorative oval borders around some lettering. Here a few examples of what that could look like.
I’m having the best time teaching a great group of students this winter. Although I’ve taught calligraphy classes for [checks résumé] 30 years (!), this is the first time I’ve taught pointed pen scripts in a classroom setting. To teach others is always to educate myself. Determining how to explain a concept often spotlights previously ignored fuzzy areas in my own thinking.
We’ve begun with a business hand and no pressure, gotten an intro to pointed pen nib and offset holder and ink, and then moved on to a working copperplate hand that is not too fussy (think Buddy Blackwell).
Here is a bit of silliness that broke out during a practice session focusing on whole-arm movement exercises. Contrary to what this image may suggest, I do not plan to cover “modern calligraphy” in any depth. I was just having fun. Click on the image for a closer look.
- Strathmore Drawing 300 pad at least 9″ x 12″
- Oblique pen holder
- Leonardt Principal EF pointed nib (I can supply 1 nib for $2.50, same price at John Neal)
- a black fine point marker such as Sakura Pigma Micron 01 or ZIG Millennium 01, approximately 1/4mm width
- pencil, sharpener, eraser
- metal-edge ruler at least 12″
Except for the Leonardt Principal nib, everything here is available at the MSU Bookstore. I’ll offer a basic kit, which includes the first 3 items, for $12 to those students who let me know that they want a kit by January 1.
Time passes, I travel, I do other things, and suddenly I realize it’s been awhile since I practiced any lettering. Sure, I’ve done an edition of 1-5/8″ x 3″ books with tiny capitals lettering in it, and finished a baby quilt, and done some lettering on mirrors. None of that “counts” towards lettering practice — as is proved by the uncertainty and inconsistency of today’s practice lettering. I’m preparing for a long piece, and this must improve!
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 of day and week you could attend. If you’re interested in taking the class, scroll down the examples 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.
Depending on how many students we have, the cost will be $100 to $120 per person for the course.
- 4 Mitchell dip pens (in 4 sizes) + 1 ink reservoir
- 1 basic pen holder
- 1 pad of Strathmore Drawing 300 paper
- dip pens — a sampler of pens is $12.95 or $15.95, although a student could buy a few nibs from me @ $1.25 each;
- sumi ink — available at the MSU bookstore or pay $6 for small jar of Moon Palace at John Neal;
- Strathmore Drawing 300 paper — a pad of 11×14 paper will cost about $11 (or less with a Michaels coupon or when it’s on sale).
About a week and a half before Thanksgiving, I received, unexpectedly, a quilt from my sister. It is absolutely beautiful, a mixture of windmills and pinwheels, with deconstructed appliquéd pinwheels in the border, French knots and big-stitch quilting.
It galvanized me to finish this long-overdue baby quilt for a great-nephew. Because Wesley is now 22 months old, I had taken to calling it a toddler quilt. A week and a half before Thanksgiving, I had all the quilt blocks made but no plan. No matter. I just started stitching – 1/2″ strips to fill out a too-small square, sashing and more sashing to marry up the dimensions of my inadvertant mix of 5″ and 4.5″ squares, a couple of borders, another border to make it a little large … and so on. And, voila! a quilt top.
Then what to do? I had all these bits of blocks that went unused on the front; I stitched those together into a couple of strips which helped fill out the width of the quilt back.
Then what next? I made a test sandwich of top-batting-bottom, looked at a tutorial or two, put on a quilting presser foot and learned how to machine-quilt for about 15 minutes. With the tiny bit of knowledge, I machine-quilted the pin-basted quilt. It went pretty well, with minimal ripping and re-stitching.
After trimming, I machine-sewed one side of the bias binding to the quilt, gathered a few airplane-approved sewing tools (needle, thread, small thread snips), and put it in my carry-on backpack for the trip to Florida.
On the planes, at my sister-in-law’s house, in the car … I hand-stitched the other side of the bias binding. After we pulled up into the driveway of my brother-in-law’s house for Thanksgiving dinner, I took the final two (!) stitches to finish the quilt.
These photos were rather hurriedly taken on the floor of a bedroom. Not ideal, but at least I have a record.
It was a different way of working for me. Not the work-right-up-to-the-deadline method; that, unfortunately, is common. I mean the idea of taking what I have and organically building up and out, rather than planning it out all in advance, making a model, do a trial run, and then, at long last, making the final thing. I like it.
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.)