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Topics - FrenchBlue Joy

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Nora!  Estefa!  Did you know about this?  (Is there a way to tag people in posts?  I'll send PMs too...)

Michael Sull will be teaching a 5 day workshop in Tuscany with Barbara Calzolari from April 30 to May 4!  I want to go SO MUCH... 

I've been trying to keep close tabs on Barbara's schedule, but it's been difficult-- I saw photos posted to FB and realized that she was teaching in Bordeaux recently!  That info wasn't on her website.  I also tried to email modoinfo (as directed by her page) to find out about a recent two-day workshop in Bologna, but they didn't respond until it was too late. 

However, Michael Sull's lovely wife Deb emailed me about Mike and Barbara and this Italian workshop!  I'm dying to go.  I'm dizzy at the thought!  But there's a lot of work and a couple of deadlines already squeezed into that week... 

Coffee & Nib-bles / So... what do you all do?
« on: February 06, 2014, 11:57:25 AM »
Some of us have gotten to know a bit about each other's lives-- I believe there number among us a couple of full-time calligraphers, but otherwise we're also part-time graphic artists, wedding planners, teachers, stay-at-home parents, travel agents, retirees...

I started thinking today that I'm always talking about dance and martial arts and calligraphy-- I pull parallels from my "other" job, certainly!  I'm an Ashtanga yoga teacher with a background in classical dance.  If you're ever in the South of France and you fancy a some sweaty, dynamic yoga practice to balance out all these hours that we spend at our desks, I'll be very pleased to meet you!  One day my husband and I will probably be running retreats from our big place in the countryside.

How do you guys find balance?  I sometimes don't know what I would do without the back-bending to set things right again, but I'm addicted to my practice.   ;)

Word of the Day / LACUNAS -- for word of the day!
« on: January 30, 2014, 03:46:36 AM »
Hey all!  Good morning to those of you on this side of the Atlantic.   :)

I was making my morning rounds of Facebook and came across this wonderful list of words from different languages which describe things so perfectly and succinctly, but where in English, we have lexical gaps--or lacunas.  No such equivalent word exists.  For example, a child who has lost his parents is called an orphan-- but we have no word for a parent who has lost a child.  But wait, that's a depressing one!  This list is full of wonderful words-- you'll never realize English needed some of these words until you read them!   ;D ;D

Any native speakers of these languages that could comment on some of them?  I think we should adopt some of these into English.  Why not?  Especially, please--- the first two German words are FABULOUS.  Estefa, are they really commonly used? 

What do you guys say?  How about we use some of these for our word-of-the-day doodles?? 

Sometimes we must turn to other languages to find le mot juste. Here are a whole bunch of foreign words with no direct English equivalent.

1. Kummerspeck (German)
Excess weight gained from emotional overeating. Literally, grief bacon.

2. Shemomedjamo (Georgian)
You know when you’re really full, but your meal is just so delicious, you can’t stop eating it? The Georgians feel your pain. This word means, “I accidentally ate the whole thing."

3. Tartle (Scots)
The nearly onomatopoeic word for that panicky hesitation just before you have to introduce someone whose name you can't quite remember.

4. Mamihlapinatapai (Yaghan language of Tierra del Fuego)
This word captures that special look shared between two people, when both are wishing that the other would do something that they both want, but neither want to do.

5. Backpfeifengesicht (German)
A face badly in need of a fist.

6. Iktsuarpok (Inuit)
You know that feeling of anticipation when you’re waiting for someone to show up at your house and you keep going outside to see if they’re there yet? This is the word for it.

7. Pelinti (Buli, Ghana)
Your friend bites into a piece of piping hot pizza, then opens his mouth and sort of tilts his head around while making an “aaaarrrahh” noise. The Ghanaians have a word for that. More specifically, it means “to move hot food around in your mouth.”

8. Greng-jai (Thai)
That feeling you get when you don't want someone to do something for you because it would be a pain for them.

9. Mencolek (Indonesian)
You know that old trick where you tap someone lightly on the opposite shoulder from behind to fool them? The Indonesians have a word for it.

10. Faamiti (Samoan)
To make a squeaking sound by sucking air past the lips in order to gain the attention of a dog or child.

11. Gigil (Filipino)
The urge to pinch or squeeze something that is irresistibly cute.

12. Yuputka (Ulwa)
A word made for walking in the woods at night, it’s the phantom sensation of something crawling on your skin.

13. Zhaghzhagh (Persian)
The chattering of teeth from the cold or from rage.

14. Vybafnout (Czech)
A word tailor-made for annoying older brothers—it means to jump out and say boo.

15. Fremdschämen (German); Myötähäpeä (Finnish)
The kindler, gentler cousins of Schadenfreude, both these words mean something akin to "vicarious embarrassment.”

16. Lagom (Swedish)
Maybe Goldilocks was Swedish? This slippery little word is hard to define, but means something like, “Not too much, and not too little, but juuuuust right.”

17. Pålegg (Norwegian)
Sandwich Artists unite! The Norwegians have a non-specific descriptor for anything – ham, cheese, jam, Nutella, mustard, herring, pickles, Doritos, you name it – you might consider putting into a sandwich.

18. Layogenic (Tagalog)
Remember in Clueless when Cher describes someone as “a full-on Monet…from far away, it’s OK, but up close it’s a big old mess”? That’s exactly what this word means.

19. Bakku-shan (Japanese)
Or there's this Japanese slang term, which describes the experience of seeing a woman who appears pretty from behind but not from the front.

20. Seigneur-terraces (French)
Coffee shop dwellers who sit at tables a long time but spend little money.

21. Ya’arburnee (Arabic)
This word is the hopeful declaration that you will die before someone you love deeply, because you cannot stand to live without them. Literally, may you bury me.

22. Pana Po’o (Hawaiian)
“Hmm, now where did I leave those keys?” he said, pana po’oing. It means to scratch your head in order to help you remember something you’ve forgotten.

23. Slampadato (Italian)
Addicted to the UV glow of tanning salons? This word describes you.

24. Zeg (Georgian)
It means “the day after tomorrow.” OK, we do have "overmorrow" in English, but when was the last time someone used that?

25. Cafune (Brazilian Portuguese)
Leave it to the Brazilians to come up with a word for “tenderly running your fingers through your lover’s hair.”

26. Koi No Yokan (Japanese)
The sense upon first meeting a person that the two of you are going to fall in love.

27. Kaelling (Danish)
You know that woman who stands on her doorstep (or in line at the supermarket, or at the park, or in a restaurant) cursing at her children? The Danes know her, too.

28. Boketto (Japanese)
It’s nice to know that the Japanese think enough of the act of gazing vacantly into the distance without thinking to give it a name.

29. L’esprit de l’escalier (French)
Literally, stairwell wit—a too-late retort thought of only after departure.

30. Cotisuelto (Caribbean Spanish)
A word that would aptly describe the prevailing fashion trend among American men under 40, it means one who wears the shirt tail outside of his trousers.

31. Packesel (German)
The packesel is the person who’s stuck carrying everyone else’s bags on a trip. Literally, a burro.

32. Hygge (Danish)
Denmark’s mantra, hygge is the pleasant, genial, and intimate feeling associated with sitting around a fire in the winter with close friends.

33. Cavoli Riscaldati (Italian)
The result of attempting to revive an unworkable relationship. Translates to "reheated cabbage."

34. Bilita Mpash (Bantu)
An amazing dream. Not just a "good" dream; the opposite of a nightmare.

35. Litost (Czech)
Milan Kundera described the emotion as “a state of torment created by the sudden sight of one’s own misery.”

36. Luftmensch (Yiddish)
There are several Yiddish words to describe social misfits. This one is for an impractical dreamer with no business sense.

37 & 38. Schlemiel and schlimazel (Yiddish)
Someone prone to bad luck. Yiddish distinguishes between the schlemiel and schlimazel, whose fates would probably be grouped under those of the klutz in other languages. The schlemiel is the traditional maladroit, who spills his coffee; the schlimazel is the one on whom it's spilled.

Flourish Forum News / BON ANNIVERSAIRE !!!
« on: January 29, 2014, 01:33:22 PM »
What's this I see?  Today is the lovely Erica's McPhee's birthday!! 

A very very happy birthday to the best of friends, teachers, and generally amazing women!  I hope you have a WONDERFUL day-- you deserve it!  xoxoxoxo

Open Flourish | General Discussion / Nobody can touch this guy!
« on: January 22, 2014, 10:26:09 AM »
Hey all, 

It occurred to me that the lefties among us should really have a look at IAMPETH Master Penman John DeCollibus's work. 

IMO, John DeCollibus is the greatest pointed pen calligrapher alive!  Bold claim, right?  I absolutely adore this video.  His humble work area, his family's cheesy comedy routines, all the dorky stuff... 

And then he does his thing...  Skip forward about 6 minutes and 30 seconds if you don't have all day, but I recommend the intro too!  ;)

His flourishing is divine.  I love his "copper-cerian" script.  I could go on and on. 

Tools & Supplies / Tachikawa G nib
« on: January 22, 2014, 09:46:28 AM »
So, for the fans of the Nikko G and Zebra G nibs-- have any of you tried the Tachikawa nib yet?  I just had to put in an order at Paper and Ink Arts for walnut ink and Leonardt Principal EFs, and I noticed this new nib in the G series.  Their blurb says it's the most flexible of the three G nibs. 

I should have it soon.  I'm kind of excited to try it!  Those G nibs are soooo smooth (I've never had the chance to try any of the vintage nibs like the Musselman (sp?) that are supposed to be very smooth while still being very sharp and flexible-- I've been struggling with the Principal EF and it's mighty scratchy, I have to say).  How cool would it be if some modern nib maker has figured out how to make a really flexible, really fine-line nib that's actually smooth? 

So, anybody?  I'll report back with my findings!   ;D

So, I had a broad pen calligraphy set as a kid, and practiced Italic.

Then I found "Copperplate" when I was about 23, ordered a bunch of nibs from Paper and Ink Arts, and dove into the Mastering Copperplate Calligraphy book, by Eleanor Winters. 

I left off calligraphy for a few years, moved to France, and then got inspired to pick it up again for good after a friend asked me to do her wedding invitations in 2013!  I had been wanting to get back into calligraphy, so I immediately said Yes, and started looking around for a class.  At heart, I'm really a student and I LOVE to be told how to do it RIGHT.   ;D  I look Harvest Crittenden's online class when I couldn't find anything in the South of France.  This was my first calligraphy class, and the first time I'd picked up a pen in years.  I totally recommend Harvest's class-- she really uses the medium very well, and she critiques each student's work individually. 

I tried to look back and see what I could find from that timeframe, in terms of homework.  Here's what I came up with.  It had been a long time since I'd picked up a pen, and I think taking a structured class was good for me.  This is from the first or second week of the class, I think--  I was writing out colors for each letter of the alphabet, trying to incorporate the instruction from Harvest.  We hadn't started capital letters, yet. 

This is probably the only thing I have where I was really making an attempt to write "classic" copperplate, as I said before, my writing is really influenced by Spencerian nowadays.  I really appreciate the study of this hand, though, for the training in maintaining slant and being able to pick out the faults. 

... of which there are MANY here!   :-\ 

Spencerian Script / Lovely Spencerian capital exemplar
« on: January 20, 2014, 01:52:47 PM »
From "Early American Handwriting:  Spencerian Script and Ornamental Penmanship, Volume II", the compendium of script exemplars by the Master Penman of the 19th century, by Michael Sull. 

Feast your eyes on these beautiful capital letterforms!  Plenty more of this kind of gorgeous stuff in the IAMPETH archives as well. 

For wedding envelope addressing work, these days I never stick to straight copperplate (the script style which pre-dates Spencerian), but rather I tend to write a kind of heavily shaded script that is influenced by both Spencerian and Copperplate. 

Brides tend to want more shading on the lowercase letters than was used in Spencerian.  The hairlines can also be so fine that it's not great for digital reproduction... 

*note:  I keep trying to attach the jpeg of the scan, and when I click on "post", I'm just getting a white screen...? 

Suggestions & Ideas / A category for foundational forms?
« on: January 16, 2014, 09:53:51 AM »
It occurs to me that this might be a good idea...  Personally, I have to put together a wedding dinner menu in very classic copperplate/roundhand, and it could be good to have a helpful critique corner for these kinds of foundational styles...  ESPECIALLY because they have tried and true "rules", and critiquing them is pretty cut and dry... 

For those following exclusively modern or contemporary examples, it could be an introduction to the classic rules of thumb...

[Moderator note: This is a continuation of a conversation started under the Martha Stewart modern exemplar topic. It has been moved here for further discussion.]

(Joy's Note:  Hi guys, before you read my comments here I would just like you to understand the context in which I made these comments. We had been talking about a DIY article in Martha Stewart Weddings which said that calligraphy is easy to do and made up of very simple strokes, not difficult, etc etc. So that's what I'm talking about when I go on to say, here, that I think Martha Stewart is tapping into a major trend at the moment.  Thanks)

I wonder though, if MS isn't picking up on a something that truly is rattling around in the zeitgeist right now...  It's kind of hard to define, but there definitely surge of do-it-yourself, kind of (for lack of a better word) amateurish aesthetic that really is popular at the moment. 

A lot of calligraphy enthusiasts are not bothering to study the letterforms, not bothering to master the difficult strokes that it (usually) takes years to learn.  For example, to be able to correctly execute the universal line of beauty, which Paul Antonio discusses in this video:

It's actually really hard to master these strokes!  It takes time and practice and dedication. 

I'm sometimes confused as to how I feel about "modern calligraphy".  I love whimsy and I love originality, but I really believe the best contemporary calligraphy comes from those who have spent some time with the classics. 

Right now there's a lot of encouragement out there to skip all that, and a lot of people are running with that advice.  Perhaps Martha Stewart is just following suit. 

Letter Pixels / Learning Illustrator
« on: December 02, 2013, 01:35:54 AM »
Hi Emily!  Would you be willing to respond to a few questions I have about vectorizing calligraphy for Letterpress?  There are so many things I'm not sure about, because my letterpress printer takes my photoshop files and deals with the vectorization herself.  I want to learn, and I'm trying to piece together an idea of what I can gain (besides € savings), if I learn Illustrator. 

If there are any other Illustrator users on this board, please feel free to jump in, too!  I would SUPER appreciate anybody shedding light on the subject for me.   :)

I'll start out with what I know:  Vectors are not made up of pixels, and so a vector graphic can be made any size without changing image quality, and they don't look like they're made up of a bunch of little squares, the way they do when you open them in Photoshop.  Yes?

That kind of brings me to question #1:

If a calligrapher scans in her lettering and opens it up in photoshop for clean-up and layout, won't she necessarily have a pixelated graphic once she opens it up in Illustrator?  Is it possible to deal with clean-up and layout directly in Illustrator and skip the Photoshop?  I would have thought so, but this isn't the way my Letterpress printer works, so I'm a bit confused...

Question #2:
(This one risks sounding critical but here's one that really has me scratching my head.)
I see a lot of Letterpress stuff out there on the Internet and I'm a bit confused about the wiggly, bumpy hairlines that make it all the way to print.  It seems that some calligraphers who are strong in graphic design are able to smooth out their letterforms using Illustrator.  I'm guessing this because when I look at the vectors which they have used to do their branding stuff (website headers, etc), I see very smooth forms.  When I look at their lettering, I see shaky, wiggly hairlines and "imperfections".  Is this something they're doing in Illustrator or Photoshop?  (This isn't universal, of course.  There are some calligraphers where everything they do, including headers and branding stuff, always show "imperfections".)

Question #3:
I don't have a particularly shaky hand myself, (anyway I try to use whole-arm movement and I put a lot of practice effort into steadiness), and "on principle" I wouldn't necessarily think of myself as a calligrapher if I regularly used  "erase the shaky" software techniques   ;D, BUT...  Are we talking about a vast range of skill in Illustrator which gives out really different qualities of vectors?  I kind of wonder why some calligraphers would make such shakey-quakey hairlines if there was something they could do about it using Illustrator.   ??  Or a combination of Photoshop and Illustrator...   

(((À propos of shaky vs. smooth and all that: Our dear Erica remains an inspiration to me, as her lettering is smooth and precise and doesn't look like it needs to have a thousand(s) dollar suite of software thrown at it to look good.  It's my overall intention to have a smooth hand and not necessarily to fake everything in using PS and Illustrator, but I'm dying to know what their capabilities actually are!)))

Question #4: 
I hear people talking about the "line tool" and about the bezier curves.  Do these have something to do with each other?  Does mastery of this stuff give designers the ability to produce smoother-looking letterforms?  Whereas if all they do is the "trace" function, things come out wiggly?  (I'm getting ahead of your answers and making guesses now.  I'm not actually sure what "trace" does, I've only just heard of it.)

I'd ask my printer all this, but she's in another city and I'm not sure what she's doing to my stuff when she vectorizes it.  I scan it at 1200 dpi and then send it directly to her without making it a PS doc these days.  It comes back looking exactly like I wrote it, so I guess she's not doing any "smoothing" of anything. 

MILLE MERCIS in advance if you have the time to answer some of my questions! 

Tools & Supplies / Gouache
« on: November 27, 2013, 12:03:58 PM »
Today NONE of my white inks wanted to do the job!  My McCaffery's ivory was too faint (the French postal workers won't try very hard to read faint hairlines, I find!), and my NEW bottle of Pen-White would not cooperate at all.  It kept pooling at the baseline!  Annoying, and gum arabic wasn't helping me at all. 

I got up, stomped over to the sink and quickly mixed up a bit of Linel Gouache, making quite runny whole-milk consistency and filling a dappen dish.  I added a drop of gum arabic to the mix and VOILÀ !  Why do I ever bother with white ink when gouache is so easy?  Sometimes I want the convenience straight out of the bottle, but getting familiar with gouache is a good idea if you're not already.  Comes in so handy when you need to color-match when addressing envelopes, too...

Open Flourish | General Discussion / INSPIRATION
« on: November 03, 2013, 07:12:05 AM »
Hello all!

I'm procrastinating about starting on some lettering work for today, and I've been thinking about calligraphy inspiration!  More interesting stuff than a stack of envelopes to address, black on white... ;)  So anyway, here are a few of the inspirations dancing in my head today:

1) I'm absolutely obsessed by the work of Italian calligrapher Barbara Calzolari.  Does anybody here know her personally?  I dropped her an email at her website,, just to tell her how much I admire her!  She has serious chops-- EVERYTHING she does, from very classic to-die-for Spencerian, to gestural, folded-pen sort of stuff...   Pure beauty.  Here's her flickr stream:[email protected]/

2) Flipping through the pages of Molly Suber Thorpe's sweet "Modern Calligraphy".  So many adorable projects!  I love her TS Eliot "Coffee Spoons" written in the round, in coffee!  I think it was on her Instagram feed that I saw another quote she'd written in beet juice!  I'm going to try a little writing in masking fluid one of these days, like she's done on her place cards. Here's her website:

3) Open Ink Stand's Schin Loong.  This girl is truly gifted with the pointed pen.  She's also an amazing fantasy artist.  Something else I really appreciate about her blog-- she can get a little saucy!   ;D  I can sometimes get a little bored by the sea of inspirational quotes that one sees when flipping through Calligraphy collections on pinterest, or blogs.  Schin mixes up love poetry with Led Zeppelin lyrics, and Shakespeare and Browning with something like this!!  I've re-pinned it to my own Tumblr blog.   ;)

Ok, I'm getting to work now.  :-)

Show & Tell / Letterpress
« on: October 31, 2013, 09:01:44 AM »
A project from this past summer.  The first time I tried to prepare anything in Photoshop, and it was a lot to bite off!  I had taken a Photoshop for Calligraphers class, but it didn't specifically address the things that one needs to know when preparing files for Letterpress (threshold adjustments, etc.), as much of the content was geared toward making web-ready content and mock-ups for clients. 

I've been busy since with weddings stuff, and I have a really lovely Letterpress printer who is happy to take care of the digitizing (I send her my 'original artwork' and she deals with it), but I'd love to become MORE Photoshop-literate so that I can take care of layout and cleaning things up myself.  Then, I need to learn Illustrator, to be able to make vectors.  $$$$$, well, €€€€€ that is.  Illustrator is going to cost about a thousand euros... *groan*.  It will be worth it, though!  Creative control...  ;)

Workshops & Conference News / Indianapolis
« on: October 30, 2013, 07:51:24 AM »
So.... Next year's IAMPETH convention is going to be in Indy!  I might actually be able to go, since I could roll that into a trip home to Michigan (for which I am overdue, by the way).  This would be my first convention of any kind.  Is anybody else going?

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