Author Topic: Whatcha Working On?  (Read 906 times)

Offline Erica McPhee

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Whatcha Working On?
« on: March 24, 2022, 03:25:39 PM »
It's been so quiet lately! What is everyone working on? Any new calligraphers need some help? Tips? Critique on work? Don't be afraid to speak up.  ;D
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline TeresaS

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #1 on: March 24, 2022, 06:31:34 PM »
I am taking an online Trajan class thru Acorn Arts.  It started as drawn Trajans, then nib, and now brush.  Boy am I way, way, way out of my league!  I mostly have only done pointed pen… and a little foundational so everything is new for me.  I really didn’t know what I was getting into!  Thankfully I believe I have access to the videos thru the summer… I’ll need it!  It is fun and a definite challenge!!!
Teresa

Offline Erica McPhee

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #2 on: March 24, 2022, 09:28:57 PM »
That sounds like fun! And intimidating. LOL. I know exactly what you mean. I took John Stevens’ Italic class and realized I was in the deep end and still doing the dog paddle! But study like that really improves your calligraphy overall in the long run. Have fun with it and we’d love to see some of it if you’re ever up for a share.  ;D
Truly, Erica
Lettering/Design Artist, Homeopath, Photographer, Mom, Wife
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Offline Lyric

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2022, 08:08:12 AM »
I can NOT believe how I have procrastinated beginning to learn Italic hand.  ::)  It seems I awaken (about 5-6 each day); check email; surf web, work, next thing I know I am awakening the next day and did not do this and that.  Ughhh.  I have all the supplies necessary; my writing is ugly; what more incentive do I need?  :P ::) ;D

Seriously, I have it in my mind (for some reason) that perhaps Italics will be easier for me to pick up than copperplate proved to be.  And, keeping it all the way real I recall a year or so ago a nice lady here recommending I try it.  Ohh, what is her handle here . . . let me check my PM area because she deserves props.

Ahhh, here is what she said:  "Take it easy...It's a long joyful road.  . . .

Dear Lyric, it ain't that simple.  Try Italic as an everyday.  BP is when I have a no choice but using a Biro or pencil."

It was @InkyFingers [clap clap].  I am listening now, Inky.  Didn't get "it" at first.  ha ha ha
« Last Edit: March 25, 2022, 08:12:30 AM by Lyric »
Cheerfully,
Lyric

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2022, 10:31:40 AM »
I just finished a job doing place cards for a formal dinner.  I'm about to start a job caligraphing names on some certificates.  That will involve centering, one of my least favorite activities! :-)

I've mainly been busy learning how to operate a letterpress.  I was the editor of a my high school and college newspapers "back in the day" & printing has always been a hobby of mine.  I acquired a large letterpress and am trying to learn how to make invitations on it.  I'd like to offer clients BOTH invitations and calligraphy.  I'm surprised that letterpressing is harder than I thought it would be! I took a one day workshop on it in Oklahoma City a few weeks ago & the art institute had little bitty letterpress machines.  They were much easier to operate than my beast!  I am improving, however!

Janis

Offline K-2

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2022, 04:44:09 PM »
Wow, @JanisTX - what kind of press do you have?

I'm teaching my students how to use a vintage platen press right now, and it's killing them!  So please don't be discouraged - printing really is hard.  Also, please note that those larger presses were designed to be operated by more than one person.  So if you're working it all alone, that will add to your struggles.

One of the things that might help you is one of the old textbooks about how to do letterpress printing.  My classes use Frank Souder Henry's Printing for School and Shop (1917) - it's available on google books:
https://www.google.com/books/edition/Printing_for_School_and_Shop/scloswEACAAJ?hl=en
It's full of great practical instruction and advice.

You can message me if you have questions!

As for me, outside of teaching -- I've been working on a series of riddles and cyphers folded and sealed in the manner that 16th-17th century diplomats and spies used to send information securely.  They're written in a period appropriate Italic hand, and then folded and sealed with wax, wafers, and other clever means.

--yours truly, K

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #6 on: March 26, 2022, 09:49:52 PM »
@K-2 p.s. The cyphers & riddles sounds AMAZING!  I’d love to see some examples!  How did you get started with it?  Are there books or articles?  I’m really interested in the concept!

Janis

Offline K-2

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #7 on: March 26, 2022, 10:56:15 PM »
@JanisTX - The cyphers/codes & riddles are part of a project that I just finished for a group of officers in the [redacted branch of the US military], as a... let's call it an information security game.  So I. um. can't share images of those.

But I got into it through some work I did with the Folger Shakespeare Library - making reproductions of some letters in their collection, inspired by the work of some colleagues at MIT who were working on the Brienne Collection: http://brienne.org/unlockedbriennearchive.  Here are a couple images of my reproduction of a letter John Donne wrote to his father-in-law, using his distinctively shaped "dagger lock".  This video (not me in the video) shows how it's done: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-_5NlvZkq8

There are a lot of even more secure ways of sealing letters too - many of which I used for my cypher/riddle project.  You can see how intricate some of them were in this video of the making of Simeon Foxe's "dagger-trap" lock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=16GAIaYN_Gk. I'm working on perfecting that technique for myself right now - it's a tricky one!

Pre-made envelopes only became widely available in the 1840s, so before then, letters were folded in on themselves and sealed with wax and/or wafers in some very ingenious ways - spies and intelligence agents (and also suspicious husbands/wives and lovers) would try to open them, read their secret information, and then reseal and send them along with nobody the wiser.  After all, the secret information is only useful if the sender & intended recipient think that it remains a secret.

Here are some images of one of the John Donne letters (a reproduction of the one referenced in the first video) - the hand is cancelleresca corsiva (an Italic popular for informal writing in the 17th century.  You might like to give it a try, @Lyric - it's a beautiful example of a less formal "everyday" Italic hand.)

Offline Tasmith

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2022, 11:08:33 AM »
Fascinating!  Thank you for sharing!

I remember seeing a few years ago about how the medieval Japanese instead of sealing wax, used cords with knots to seal their letters and packages called Mizuhiki.  The idea was that the knot was very intricate and if cut or untied and then retied (a retied knot would be obvious) the recipient could tell the letter or package was compromised.

The Mizuhiki is still used but for decorative or for special meaning.
Todd

Website: www.tasphoto.com  Instagram:  @toddasmithphoto

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2022, 11:54:31 AM »
@K-2 I had a long reply with photos that somehow didn’t “stick” when posted!  I’ve found that very often the Forum “eats” all of my posts that contain photos!  I don’t know what that’s about. I’m so glad to know that there is someone else out there who is also interested in both calligraphy & printing!  I thought that I was all by myself!  I will definitely take you up on your offer of advice/assistance!  And, thank you for the suggestion is the textbook!  I’m 100% going to get it & try to learn from it! 

My letterpress is labeled “Craftsman”, from Boston, Massachusetts. I’m going to *try* to post a photo. Last time, I tried to post 3 & the post apparently died somewhere along the way.

I have addressed letterpress wedding invitations in the past where the type “bit” into the surface of the invitations, making a shallow indentation for each letter. At the workshop I took, the type printed the text/ink on the surface of the paper only.  Has what I *thought* was letterpress been something else?? Or, what??  My daughter’s wedding invitations were actually engraved, so that the letters were each raised above the flat surface of the paper. What I have “thought” was letterpress is exactly the opposite. The letters were indented below the surface of the flat paper. I’m pretty confused.

At any rate, thank you for your interest & kind offer of assistance!!

Janis

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2022, 11:56:43 AM »
I’m trying the attachment again!  Fingers crossed!

Janis

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2022, 12:01:01 PM »
Another photo!

Offline JanisTX

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #12 on: March 27, 2022, 01:12:17 PM »
One more, since they seem to be “sticking”!

Offline K-2

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #13 on: March 27, 2022, 01:24:51 PM »
@Tasmith - Chinese people use those mizuhiki knots too, but we call them 盤長 (pán cháng).  These days they tend to be purely decorative.  The different shapes of them have different meanings (signifying friendship, marriage, good luck, etc).  When I was young and my parents sent me to summer school in Taiwan to make sure I knew how to be Chinese, knot-tying was an important part of the curriculum, right alongside language, music, calligraphy, decorative paper-cutting, and martial arts classes.  I see that you're in the DC area!  You could stop by the Folger Shakespeare Library and see some of the beautiful historical documents they have on display - print and manuscript!

And...

What a nice press, @JanisTX - it's a larger one than they usually use in letterpress classes.  But the Center for Book Arts in Minneapolis does have classes that use larger presses (even larger than yours, actually - one of them took four of us working together to operate).  I highly recommend their classes!  https://www.mnbookarts.org/

From the perspective of a calligrapher, the terminology of printing and engraving is like opposite land.  Here's a great glossary of terms that explain "engraving" as opposed to "printing": https://www.printmag.com/article/engraving-terms/
And here's a nice discussion of embossing/debossing and blind impression: https://www.themandatepress.com/2015/10/emboss-vs-deboss-vs-blind-letterpress/

If you're getting unintentionally debossed letters, you might need to repack your tympan paper and/or ease back on the pressure when you press them.  If you're having trouble sourcing tympan paper, a manilla folder works in a pinch.  For a crisp image, don't reuse the tympan paper too many times.  Also - the thinner the paper you're printing on, the less room for impression you'll have.  So if you don't want the letters to bite into the paper, pack the tympan harder and print on denser paper with less pressure.

Here's an image that I printed to demonstrate the process to my students, and to promote a program that I'm filming for our alumni association this coming week.  You can see it was an early impression when I was still getting the ink mix right!

--yours truly, K

Offline K-2

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Re: Whatcha Working On?
« Reply #14 on: March 27, 2022, 01:29:23 PM »
ps @JanisTX - The platen press that I have in my "mobile print lab" is very similar to yours, but older, and made of cast iron instead of steel.  I'll take some photos later this week and post!
--yours truly, K