I'm just gonna leave this right here..... for myself.... or for you, if you just so happen to need it.
Last week I told you about my favorite gold ink. Tonight for The Constant Calligrapher, I'd like to tell you about my favorite silver ink. I suppose I can't really say it's my favorite because it's the only one I've ever tried.... but I guess the ink then speaks for itself since I have never had to look for other options like I did with gold. Winsor & Newton calligraphy inks are what I normally practice with and the silver is to die for. It's so shimmery, and although I would not recommend it on top of white (see below), it really stands out on deep colored paper like red (see above). The shimmery bits sit on top of the paper to provide an embossed look, similar to what I like in the gold, but probably not as pronounced. It's not as thick as the gold, but you do have to stir it quite a bit to keep the shimmer mixed well.
During my first year in college, I took a job as a technician in a microbiology lab for The University of Georgia. Academia brings in researchers and graduate students from all over the world. As a young adult, I loved getting to know people with backgrounds and cultures different from my own. You get to learn so many things about the different cultural traditions, religion, holidays, music, and best of all, FOOD! I worked in the facility all through college and still to this day, in my current job, have had the privilege of working with people from a multitude of different nationalities…. So more yummy food!
Meeting and learning about people from all over the world increases your desire to travel. Unfortunately, I have not had too much opportunity to do that (with the exception of going to Tahiti and Seoul), so I live vicariously through my friends as they post images of their travel on Facebook. To the left is an image that a friend took in China. She thought it was so funny and I do as well. The sign is in Chinese characters and in English. Of course most of us reading this blog can’t read the Chinese, but good thing some kind soul translated it for us. It’s basically telling us to pity the grass. HAHA! What???
I knew this couldn’t be accurate, so I asked a Taiwanese coworker what it actually said. He laughed at the poor translation…. apparently a direct, literal translation and not one of context. He said that the Chinese could mean two different things, depending on the application of the sign. It could mean to stop and admire the beautiful flowers, while taking the time to reflect and respectfully remember all those who have left this world. So thoughtful and sweet. Or it could just mean “keep off the grass, jerk”. Since the sign is in a garden, I guess we’ll never know the intent here…. Is the garden meant to remember others or are the caretakers asking us to not step on the plants. Who knows… So let’s have fun and take it at face value: Everyone pity the grass. Poor grass. It’s humorous and I have an appreciation for things that are slightly bizarre, so here you go!!! Today’s installment of The Constant Calligrapher:
I hope you enjoyed today! Writing this blog post has sparked me to think about all of the countries represented by the people I have met throughout my life. I will try to list them here in no particular order, although I am sure to have missed some:
South Korea, Japan, China, Taiwan, India, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, Armenia, Lebanon, Croatia, Canada, Mexico, Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Cuba, Malaysia, Thailand, Germany, England, Argentina, Ecuador, France, Bulgaria, Myanmar, Netherlands, Pakistan, Australia, Tahiti, To be continued....
Well, I suppose it was bound to happen. I should have known there would be at least one day where I would slip up and not create something. Couldn't I have at least made it to day 15 first, so that I would at least be half way through before this happened? You know what, thirteen is a weird number, okay??? I'm going to embrace my failures. It's okay to fail. Acknowledging failure and then picking your head up and moving on ultimately leads to success on one level or another. Anyway, the truth is I was creative today. I just didn't put it on paper.
I was creative because I began making a plan to trim and shape up a Red Maple in our yard.... and gardening, my friend, is an art. My husband and I have been doing a lot of work to get our yard in order. Over the weekend we worked on one area in particular. Sorry for the crappy iPhone pics, but let me show you some before-and-afters for today's Constant Calligrapher.
The image above shows an area of our front yard that is easily viewed from the street. You can see that it is full of weeds and the trees are pretty unruly. The tree you see in the very front is actually two trees growing side by side, competing with each other. One is a maple and the other is a sweet gum. My husband and I both love maples, and if you live in an area with sweet gums, you know how obnoxious they are. It was a no-brainer which tree we were going to attempt to salvage. The problem is that the maple was badly damaged during the grading of our home and has a shape that is less than desirable. We considered removing both and then planting a new, healthy tree, but we decided that we wanted to let it stay and just try and shape it up. Here's a different angle of the area and the two trees.... you really can't even tell that it's two trees.
The first thing was to remove all the scrubby stuff from around the bottom of the trees so we could get to it with the chainsaw. Sweet gums are notorious for sending up small shoots everywhere and we also had some viney briers hanging around as well. I took the loppers to it and cleaned it up. See.... I told you it was two trees.
After the tree was removed, my husband cleaned up the area, cut down the weeds with the weed eater, and we both worked to lay down a thick layer of pine straw. MUCH BETTER!!! Despite it's pitiful, misshapen form, the maple looks cute and the ground now looks nice and clean. My creative side was needed to determine how to prune the tree so that it will take on a better form now that it is unrestricted by a larger tree. It requires having the fore site to imagine what the tree will look like after making certain cuts, so I consider it to be a creative process. We won't actually do the cutting until fall, but the plan is already in place.... and some things need to happen now, like tying off a couple of branches to coerce them into growing in a different direction. Red Maples are fast growers, growing 3-5 feet a year!!! So, after a few growing seasons, it should fill out and take on a BEAUTIFUL shape. I can't wait to see what it looks like in a few years!!! I'll post an after-after picture at that time, so stay tuned!
Next, I got my husband to cut the sweet gum. Husbands really come in handy!!
I definitely need to retake the pictures of this script! The batteries in my EOS were dead and so I used my iPhone, and evidently the worse lighting I could find. For now it will have to do. All my scripts new new images and this will happen in time. But for now , for today's segment of The Constant Calligrapher, I present my newest script: Morgan! Welcome to the clan, Morgan. You are filling a much needed void. I am so excited about you!!!
Thanks for reading!!!
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One ability that I have always been envious of in other calligraphers is the seemingly effortless ability to add flourishes to their work. Making flourishes is not something that comes easily to this amateur hand. When I watch videos of talented calligraphers, the flourishes always seem to be added with quick, swooping motions, resulting in beautiful, dancing ribbons. When I try it I get a hot mess of jagged, awkward, broken lines, complete with nib snag ink blots. Many brides interested in calligraphy request these flourishes on their addresses. So this is an area I certainly need to improve.
I've done simplistic additions before. They turn out very nice and add a nice touch to the overall look of the address, as seen to the left in my Fiona script. But I would really like to offer my customers more. If I were to design a few standard styles for people to choose from, I could then practice those until I could do them without effort. I could charge a flat rate for the addition of those select designs, and if someone just happened to want something different, I could do a separate rate for a custom design. So for today's installment of The Constant Calligrapher, I'd like to show you a practice run of my first design option.
I began the design in pencil, because the direction and “flow” of the flourish can be difficult to establish. It's like a dance. Some people dance well; others not so much. The flourish needs to find that right dance. I had to erase and start over many times because it simply looked ugly. Finally, I came up with something I thought was pretty. I hope you'll agree. It's intended to dance and sweep off the envelope. I started with a space of 5" x 7", simply because it is such a common envelope size. The design can then be adapted to other sizes.
Below is an image of my first go at it. It was difficult and it didn't take on the exact appearance I wanted, but I was probably using an inappropriate nib, one with too fine of tines that snagged too easily. This is an important lesson learned. It may make sense to do the flourishes with a different nib than was selected for the calligraphy. Anyway, I'll keep practicing. Always room for improvement. The design will probably change several times before I am truly satisfied with it. And then I'll need to design additional options as well.
I possess only the faintest of memories and know you only in stories.... But I promise you, they are my favorite.
Yesterday during Day 8, I told you I wanted to begin development on a new script. I already had the concept in mind, but had only began doodling with pencil. Tonight I started designing letters with pen and ink and I cannot tell you how excited I am! As soon as the letters came to life, I knew it would be my new favorite!! So far it has turned out to be exactly how I envisioned it.... and that doesn't happen very often. Normally I struggle and have to put in tons of practice to get my scripts looking exactly how I want, but this one has been different. Either I got lucky or I'm just getting better at it.... or maybe this script is a more accurate reflection of my own, personal style. Who knows... all I can say is that I am feeling quite satisfied right now.
In addition to showcasing the development of my new script, I'd also like to do a simple review of my favorite ink during this installment of The Constant Calligrapher. I began today's practice with a beautiful red. I love writing in red because the letters really pop! Then I tried a purple acrylic ink that I picked up earlier this week at Sam Flax in Atlanta. It didn't do too well, simply because of the physical properties of the ink. Some acrylic inks work well with calligraphy and some do not. I purchased it for a different reason anyway, so oh well. I quickly moved to my most favorite ink: Gold!! For gold calligraphy ink, I like Dr. Ph. Martin's Iridescent Copperplate Gold.
I've tried other golds, but this one takes on a true, shimmery gold color and not an orangey, fake looking gold. It is absolutely gorgeous! Another thing I like is the texture that it creates. Because the gold doesn't absorb into the paper, the writing will take on an embossed look. It provides a little extra impact to an already beautiful color. The only annoying thing about it is that you have to stir it up constantly. And I mean constantly. The shimmery bits simply settle very quickly, and if it's been sitting for some time you have to mash up this gunky layer that forms on the bottom. Shaking simply won't do. It's annoying, but totally worth it when you see the results.... As displayed above with my name. :)
My calligraphy is my own style and therefore unrestricted by the formal, traditional rules of cursive writing; however, much of the time, I do believe that I have a tendency to take a more classic approach when developing a new script. I feel like I am missing a script that addresses the current trends in modern calligraphy. I need something that looks contemporary, while whimsical, and playful. My Whitney script certainly meets those needs, but I struggle with that one and so am not offering it on envelopes at the moment…. despite the fact that it is one of my favorite styles. The new script will contain the trendy elements similar to Whitney, yet offer its own distinct style. I am still unsure of what the final design will look like, but for today's installment of The Constant Calligrapher, I'd like to present a doodle that I did on my lunch break today:
I did some others that I will not show for now. This is because I would like to present the script later when the development is complete. I am going to try to do this relatively quickly, so hopefully, I can unveil the new script within a week or so. It will definitely need a name and I love hearing suggestions from others. The name will need to start with a letter other than the following: F, C, P, J, E, G, D, B, K, or W. Put your ideas in the comments!
Thanks for reading!!
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It's day 7, guys! I actually made it this far.... Seven days is a week right? Wow, I've surprised myself. It's been fun, so perhaps 30 days won't be so difficult after all. This evening, I finished the wall placards that I told you about on Day 1. Now all I need to do is pack 'em up and ship 'em off. I hope my customer loves them! Take a look at the middle name of the older child, shown below in calligraphy with acrylic paint.
This project is now completed and the placards are on their way to their forever home. I can now begin my next endeavor. I use the word endeavor because this upcoming project will present some challenges. I am selecting a new medium, one for which I have minimal experience. It's basically uncharted territory, but I am not one bit intimidated. I am super excited and eager to try something new. Here's a small section of something I did while just playing around and stretching my wings. I can't wait to see the actual form that the final work will take on. Stay tuned and thanks for reading The Constant Calligrapher.