How lucky was I to get a place in the Calligraphy Society of Tasmania’s workshop Midas’s Hand – A touch of Gold Touch with Gyounghee (Hee) Lee from Melbourne as our tutor.
It was with some trepidation that I set off for Hobart for a weekend working with GOLD. I have always found any form of bling temperamental when wanting to incorporate it into my calligraphy but I was determined to learn more about it in the hope that it would lead to more consistent results in the future.
I could have added Attention to Detail as a subtitle for this report, as this was the catch-cry throughout the weekend. Attention to detail starting with the right temperature and humidity in your workroom, the best ingredients for making your own gesso, the careful application of the gesso, the careful scraping and burnishing of the gesso and that was before we even got any gold near our work. We learnt about the many different varieties and qualities of gold leaf and how best to work with this expensive but beautiful material. Who knew that it is possible to get up to 20 layers of gold onto the gesso if all goes well.
Over the two days we made a number of exemplar sheets, annotating as we went along, noting what worked and what didn’t and how to apply gesso with a variety of different tools (silicon brush, nib, ruling pen). We learnt how to correct mistakes and still be able to get great results once the gold was laid and burnished.
Hee was a superb tutor who spent individual time with everyone to help us all produce some amazing results. She generously shared her knowledge of the history, chemistry and practical application of gold to her own work with us as she took us along the journey towards more successful illumination of our own calligraphic pieces.
Thank you to the Calligraphy Society of Tasmania. It was a pleasure to meet a group of like-minded calligraphers and spend time with them in their home town learning new skills and techniques.
A huge thank you also to Hee whose knowledge and ability to share it was amazing.
Now for the hard part – trying to make it all work in my little room!!!
April 2018 workshop with Jenni Cole
Eleven participants left their pens, ink and good papers at home and came along with cartridge paper (for practice) and acrylic paints.
The aim of the workshop was to complete two small projects, the raw materials for which were supplied by Jenni. The first was script on coloured card which the participants were invited to take this home and turn into an A 3 size document folder. The second project was script on a handsome piece of spotted gum, to be used as an outdoor sign.
Jenni’s demo made it look easy. But it proved to be difficult.
Many of us blamed our failures on our brush or our cheap paint. And Jenni agreed that a really good brush (sable / ox is the best you can get) and really good paint (Jo Sonja’s is nice and creamy) will assist to make uniform and consistent shapes. The correct technique was to use pressure to make the thick strokes and then ease off the pressure and twist the brush slightly to make the tapered thin strokes. For some participants, working with the paper on an angle helped to get a consistent diagonal slope. Wetting the brush before dipping it into the paint, using a light grip, holding the writing hand high and not resting on the paper were other useful tips.
Next we practiced upper case and then lower case in a script Jenni called “Free Style Script” which looks a little like a brush version of copperplate – but more relaxed in look and feel. The capitals are complex and flowery, whilst the lower case proved generally simpler and easy to master. We could cheat a bit by painting over draft penciled letters. The script has no defined stroke order, and advanced scribes may use a flowing ‘running writing’ technique whilst beginners usually favour building up each letter with several strokes.
Everyone went home with the materials for their document folder and a wooden sign appropriate for a workshop, garden shed, vegie patch or car space. All it needed was a slurp of varnish to make it waterproof.
Thank you Jenni for the workshop, the materials and for the lovely little ceramic brush rest she gave to each participant. We barely even noticed that in reality it was a chop stick rest. A lovely gift! And I need hardly mention that the afternoon surpassed our usual standard.
One of our members was lucky enough to attend a workshop by John Mathieson run by the Victorian Calligraphy Society. The workshop was entitled Travel Sketching. It is a workshop that proved to be very complimentary to calligraphy.
In April I had the opportunity to participate in a 3-day workshop in Melbourne (organised by the Calligraphy Society of Victoria) learning about Travel Sketching for use when keeping a travel diary. The workshop was presented by John Mathieson, a South Australian artist who teaches drawing and watercolour classes across Australia and New Zealand.
The aim of the workshop was to learn the essential skills for sketching in pen and watercolour so we could quickly and easily record holiday experiences while travelling. What a delight!!! We learnt about perspective, horizon lines, shadows and reflection as well as sketching people, chooks and sheeps. We sketched and painted a variety of photos presented to us and I was totally astounded to discover I had skills I never knew existed within me.
John was a fabulous teacher who encouraged and supported our efforts and certainly made us laugh all through my adventure into the world of travel diary sketching.
The Canberra Calligraphy Society has just completed another successful exhibition. Well done to all exhibitors and an especial thanks to Sue Quayle and committee who worked hard to make it possible.
I am currently in Tallinn (Estonia) and yesterday visited an exhibition of works by students of the Tallinn School of Calligraphy, on display in one of the towers of the old city wall There were some very impressive works, and I thought perhaps some members of the Canberra Calligraphy Society might be interested to see a few samples. Unfortunately, because of the lighting etc, it was hard to get very good photos, but I managed to take a few which give an idea.
The Tallinn School of Calligraphy operates from October to May (at these northern latitudes everyone understandably wants to make the most of their summer days by spending them outdoors) – further information on their website at https://labora.ee/calligraphy.school)
With Pam Kemp
When I heard that Denise Lach had released a new book Journeys in Calligraphy, Inspiring Scripts from around the World, I was super excited. When I heard that Pam was running a workshop based on Denise’s new book I knew I just had to go along.
At the start of the class Pam handed out the workshop notes and included in this was the exemplar for the Devanagari (pronounced dev-nagri) script. Pam gave an introduction to the class and we began by copying some of the Devanagari characters with a large nib. We were instantly aware of how difficult it was to recreate the characters comfortably, given the slant of the nibs we were using, so we did our best to get as close as we could to the real thing on the exemplar.
After this warm up exercise Pam asked us to choose our favourite character and invited us to then play with it. By this she meant that we could manipulate the character and exaggerate parts of it. Perhaps have one of the lines far bigger than shown on the exemplar, or maybe make it much smaller. We had a lot of fun with this and we were able to let our hair down and get creative with expressive strokes using our nibs.
The next part of the exercise saw us swapping our nibs over for ruling pens, pipettes a syringe or whatever took our fancy. We had to write the same character to see what effects we could achieve. It was very liberating to work so freely and expressively, and I went through gallons of ink in the process.
Pam asked us to choose our favourite design and draw a rectangle on a piece of paper approximately 110mm wide x 70mm high. Using our favourite writing tool from the previous exercise, we had to write one of the characters, extending part of it outside the rectangle and use varying line weights to create interest. She explained that we should be aware of the space in the rectangle—Western tradition aims to try and fill a space whereas the Eastern tradition is to empty the space. We rotated the page clockwise three times, each time writing the character in a different size whilst being mindful of the space created in the rectangle. If we had time we could colour in the spaces created by the lettering and some beautiful pieces emerged as the afternoon progressed.
We continued to play with the characters and some interesting designs were created. I especially liked the idea of writing the character once and rotating the page 90 degrees clockwise to write it again, trying to overlap a couple of the lines. Then with a foam roller, roll over the characters using the dirty water from the ink. This created a wonderful effect and Angela’s finished piece was very striking.
At the end of the afternoon we pinned our work up on the wall and admired everyone’s hard work. It was great to see all the different styles created in the three hours that the workshop ran.
I was so inspired by this class I actually practiced more of it the following weekend and a big thank you to Pam for running this fabulous workshop.
The letterform Christine developed arose from doodling, as many of these things do! She decided it might be fun to write letters informally without needing to lift the pen. We used felt pens at the workshop but you can also try this Snazzy Single Strand Script with various nibs that have a rounded rather than chisel end which give a monoline.
OK, so it may not be calligraphy as such but we all love working in ink. I found these title sequences to Marco Polo the most beautiful I have ever seen. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
With Angela Hillier
At Anything But Nibs students were encouraged to make marks on a variety of papers that were supplied.
We used the following objects to make marks:
Two texts were provided and many interesting effects were obtained.
It was an interesting and inspiring workshop and everyone thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon.
It started with an envelope between two talented people communicating across the world, who participated in an envelope exchange group. Jenni contacted Betty and was given permission to use her script for our workshop. So a big shout out and thanks to Betty.
The feature of this script is that each letter exists within a box, with the box being part of the design. The letters can be straight in the box, or at an angle.
Templates: small cardboard squares, small plastic squares (made from overhead film)
Exercise 1--using light card
Draw 2 lines 1.5cm apart then make 1.5cm boxes with a 0.5mm gap between them.
Then try the same size boxes again, using different angles, so it looks like each box is leaning on one another.
Now draw the letters in the boxes, making sure some parts of the letters touch the outside of the box, as in the illustration in the previous column.
Next step is to take a dark, fine point black permanent marker and using the square template, trace around the template by hand. Do not use a ruler to do this.
When adding colour, we first coloured in both the letters and the backgrounds, before outlining using a black outliner/marker. Use a light coloured pencil to colour in, then outline in black. The reason for this is if you go over the black line, the viewer will see the pencil on top of the black line, and really who stays within the lines.
Colour the word using coloured pencils to outline the letter using the Tex Mex script. Inside the letter do some doodles, people may know this as Zentangle©. Mix it up with colour, design and movement of the boxes.
TIP—tip the ruler over so that the bevelled edge is face down on top of the paper/envelope. This avoids smudging the black ink onto the paper when the ruler is moved.
Exercise 2--using beautiful chrome leather
We wrote on a piece of leather, that Jenni provided, with white paint, sharpies or gouache. If using gouache you will need Gum Arabic to bind it. Gum Sandarac powder will prepare the surface before you write on it. Do your design with a square within a square, and then add your Tex Mex letter. Don’t forget to add a fixtative at the end to ensure it remains on the leather.
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