Great article on framing from Jack Thompson

I’ve been away from the computer for a few days, recuperating from shoulder surgery. Although I can’t do art yet, today I was delighted to discover that I can actually surf the Internet again — at least for short periods of time. I came across a great article about framing paper art, by Jack Thompson here.


The Friday Illustration theme this week is “Broken.” I think this John Stuart Mill quotation is on topic. Before anyone asks, this week it’s not doubling as a bookmark πŸ™‚ … But it could, couldn’t it? Hmmm. The original is about 2″ x 8″, white ink and colored pencils on black charcoal paper. (Click twice to see the scan at full size.)


I’ve been tagged by Toni to list 5 little-known facts about myself. I started an artistic response, but I’ve just got too many other projects in the works to finish it. Here are my 5 plain-text facts:

  1. About 3 years ago my son and I took up playing the accordion. Logan began taking lessons, and because we’d bought a couple of accordions through eBay, I began playing with him. It’s a ridiculously fun activity. Our main influences are a Cajun fiddle player who also plays the concertina and taught at the Suzuki Institute in New Orleans 3 years ago — and Weird Al Yankovic.
  2. My favorite dog we’ve ever had is a 9-year-old Leonberger named Ponce. (When he was 10 weeks, old, we thought it would be cool to be call him “Ponce the Leonberger.” Haha.) He has bone cancer, and has just beat the vet’s estimate of 2 weeks left to live. I’ll be sad when he’s gone. I’m sad already.
  3. When I was a teenager I had a chance to tour Europe with an operatic group as their harpsichordist. Instead I went to college to study accounting. Go figure.
  4. I was in my mid-twenties before I had a clue that there is another kind of lox besides the liquid oxygen that’s used as a propellant in rocket fuel. I grew up in Merritt Island, Florida; NASA takes up the northern part of the island.
  5. We have a 14-rank pipe organ in our living room. Some people have boats or antique cars. We have unusual musical instruments.

That’s it. If I’d been blogging a little longer, I might know some fellow bloggers I could tag. Maybe in a few months.

Pipe-cleaning chameleon

Here in north Florida, chameleons must have a fatal attraction to my studio. I’m constantly finding that they’ve slipped in, and although I try to help them back out the door, every once in awhile I find that one has come in died of dehydration, I guess. I hate when that happens, so I’m constantly on the lookout for chameleons.

This little creature on my work sink kept catching my eye. A second glance would show it to be the overused and rusted-out pipe cleaner that I use to clean my glass eye droppers. After the 20th double-take, I took a photo of it and then threw it out.


“We had the sky up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and stare up at them and wonder about whether they was made or only just happened.”
— from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

Click on the thumbnail for a closer look. I’m afraid this is one that looks better in person than on screen. For one thing, the white letters in the sky are readable in real life.

Maybe I’m thinking too big here.

Toni‘s encouragement towards the making of a manuscript book makes me realize that maybe I’m not acknowledging what I’ve already done.

Here’s a book I made summer before last. It classifies as a manuscript book because it is hand lettered and bound, and yet I didn’t think of it in my previous blog post for several reasons:

1. It’s only 10 pages long.
2. I varied the lettering style throughout, so I never had achieve consistent lettering over the many days of work on the book.
3. I never had to deal with the flow of text from page to page, because each of the quotes existed on separate pages.
4. Although I set up a classical page layout, I then negated it somewhat by setting up a bottom line of inter-painted lettering which fell outside the page layout.

These considerations don’t necessarily detract from its classification as a manuscript book. But they do clarify for me what I want to do in my next manuscript book!

The making of a manuscript book

I’m thinking about manuscript books. Why?
When I first became interested in calligraphy – this was in the early β€˜80s – there were very few books on the subject. Looking through my bookcase, I see some favorites that remain the cornerstone of my education in calligraphy. They all include some instruction on the design and execution of a manuscript book.

The calligraphy classic The Calligrapher’s Handbook (updated in 1985) includes book design in two of its eight sections.

Marie Angel, who was a miniature painter as much as calligrapher, includes book design in two of the ten sections of her book entitled The Art of Calligraphy (1977).

And Ann Camp devotes 20 of the 82 pages of her book Pen Lettering (originally published in 1958) to the design and preparation of a manuscript book. She explains that the student should make a small manuscript book because: β€œThe writing of a continuous text will provide a better exercise than the planning of a single panel or broadside.”

Lloyd Reynolds, finds space in his 60-page book Italic Calligraphy & Handwriting (1969) to discuss and illustrate the golden section as it relates to book design.

And Friedrich Neuegebauer discusses book design in his inspirational book The Mystic Art of Written Forms (1979). As he puts it, β€œThe crowning achievement of all calligraphic work is THE HAND-WRITTEN BOOK.” (Those are his capitals.)

The persistence of the subject of manuscript books in these classics should be enough encouragement for me to embark on the design and preparation of my own manuscript book.

A couple of years ago I spent an afternoon in the Richard Harrison Collection of Calligraphy and Lettering at the San Francisco Publix Library. Wow! I sat at a long table and the librarian brought me book after book, each hand lettered and hand bound, which I could pick up and leaf through to my heart’s content. After about 4 hours of this, I staggered out of the library with pages of pencilled notes in my journal — a vain attempt to remember even a small fraction of what I’d seen. I had never even gotten to their collection of broadsides.

And yet I have never completed a traditional manuscript book of any length worth mentioning. Why is this? Perhaps the fear that this big commitment of time and energy will be rewarded with failure. Or perhaps the fear that a plain little hand lettered book will turn out not to have been worth the time.

And then I look at a site like The Medieval Bestiary, which links me to The Aberdeen Bestiary, and I’m hooked.

%d bloggers like this: