A Calligraphy Manuscript from Luke 6

A little bit about the process….whether you are a client or a calligrapher, this will give you a peek.

Above, is the finished piece for my client. It is a verse that I read and meditated on throughout the project. In our then 2021 world, that was/is so very split, it was a challenge to mull over. How can I live this out? Love your enemies? Do good? Be merciful? Forgive? Could you imagine what the world would be like if we followed this?

Back to the artwork. Below…is my pencil sketch on tracing paper where I also indicate to the client, the color placement. The final pencil image was transferred onto the D’Arches HP 140 lb paper. You can improve the lines on the final. Just outline the vine. A light table makes it quite easy to transfer…(I have an extra light box that I’m trying to give to an artist or calligrapher…send me an email and I’ll send you a picture of it.)

On the final, first, I lay the gesso (base) for the gold leaf. It has a flesh tone, or pinkish color depending on how you tint it. I make my gesso from the original Ceninni recipe, guided by Jerry Tresser’s insights. It is like plaster, and can be repaired as you are working with it. Carved, shaped or sanded, it is more forgiving than some gold leaf bases, but they all have their place. I prefer this for my more formal work.

Next the gold leaf gets laid. I teach a workshop in which you can learn the Ceninni method, but I also teach a second workshop where the bases are pre-made, so a little easier to work with. All those little flecks of gold? You can save them if you wish and grind them into gold powder. It takes a lot of flecks. I save mine over the years.

Below, I’m still in the rough and the lettering hasn’t been retouched with all of the little details, but you can get the basic idea.

As you can see below, the color goes on after the gold. There is a lot of layering to the color and it takes time. I like to do my lettering first, then do the color work. If I made a big mistake with my lettering, I would not like to have put all of the time into the border work.

I often have clients who want reproductions of the original. A graphic design quality scanner, Photoshop and a great archival printer does the trick. Below is the very large wide format printer that a photographer uses to print my larger designs and family trees. The Epson must be about 6′ wide or more. He didn’t want his picture out there, but my colleague is very good at what he does and I appreciate his assistance.

I had two large reproductions made and hand painted the gold areas with gold gouache. The original has the shiny gold on the bottom right D’Arches HP. I hope that this was helpful to you in someway. May God bless you and thank you for stopping by my blog!

A DELICIOUS BUSINESS WITH A BIG HEART – MEXICO

Las Mermeladas de Beatriz, Las Galletas de Elena and El Licor de Ricardo

Back in November of 2020, my client Alfredo Taborga touched base requesting a handmade calligraphy design, predominated by a decorated letter as the focus…product labels for his new start up company. Alf was sheltering in Mexico, after being grounded from his business travels due to the pandemic. Being the smart man that he is, he shifted gears towards alternative life goals 2 and 3. Goal 1, career. Goal 2, take seminary courses. Goal 3, start a business to help struggling women in Mexico earn a living. It was my honor to create the labels as part of his Goal 3. Below, I will share my pictures and process. Alf’s website/email at the end of this blog entry.

Prototype Vinyl label with Decorated Letter for Las Mermeladas de Beatriz

Alf requested that I first design the jam labels for “Las Mermeladas de Beatriz,” as he has 10 flavors. I typically start with pencil sketches for all of my clients. As you can see, all of the wording is in Spanish.

ABOVE was my first sketch, which was the most influential to the final design. As the design evolved, Alf decided that the B should be in a circle with the ‘wild’ vine work around the letter. (Later you will see the other two product lines represented – E (Panadaría) and R (Licor).

ABOVE, we rejected the script, too hard to read on a label. Border – too stiff.

The ABOVE design won the award for shape, so although we made a circular wreath of fruits around each letter, this shape worked best on the jar. At the time of these sketches, I did not know there was going to be additional lettering on the label.

Final sketch….I reduced the large sketch to the approximately 2.75″ in height to see how it would fit on the wide jam jar. It is tiny, but legible.

The watercolor work begins. The fruit represents a few of his flavors.

ABOVE, this image shows the hand lettering around each circle, in black, and the gold gouache in the R and E, which came after the B was designed. I was able to ‘Photoshop’ them into the original “B” design, retouch and add color to the lettering.

BELOW, we tried a variety of background colors, but the ivory won out. It will look lovely on top of the colored mermeladas. It took quite some time, to clean up the original artwork’s background, so the background color would be flawless. I applied the Bevel & Emboss feature in Photoshop.

The two images ABOVE show what the label will look like in general. The printer needed the artwork in Adobe Illustrator for work flow and so my invaluable designer friend Greg Eckel, DesignCrew, Cincinnati, OH helped me finalize the images. He positioned the cut and safe lines and placed the arch. His digital assistance and coaching has been invaluable. The image BELOW, shows you the black layer that I had to create in Photoshop, to show the printer where the gold is to be placed. There was a black layer on the file for E and for B. Clicking off of the black layer reveals the gold layer.

BELOW, you will see my shiny vinyl labels. Sorry about the glare! Francis Printing, Oregon, did a great job directing me to this type of label. Water proof! Any stray jam can be wiped off and the label is stable. Alf wanted gold. This process, prints the design on a silver film, which once the PMS metallic gold is printed, it shimmers.

This is just a little peek at a hand cut label. The printer will die cut them all to the correct shape so the little pink cut line won’t show. The labels look beautiful, when you see them in person. Something good out of 2020!

Alfredo is a delight to work with, so I am happy to promote his business and share contact information. His website as of early February is still under construction but when up and running, you may ORDER his delicious offerings at www.LasMermeladasDeBeatriz.com, email is up and running now ventas@LasMermeladasDeBeatriz so get on his list and support his business with a great big heart!

CUSTOM WEDDING DOCUMENTS

Weddings, weddings, weddings! This is the time of year when preparations are being made. I receive phone calls for numerous types of wedding documents. I will picture them below with brief explanations. Perhaps you’ll get a few ideas….

This first picture is a framed GUEST SIGNATURES gift. The brides father, my client, requested flowers indicative of Colorado in all 4 corners, their names and space for a certain number of signatures. He also specified the colors.

At first, he wanted people to randomly sign. He came back to me later and said that he wanted the doc to have a more organized feel and would like penciled lines. I gave him a Mars Staetler eraser so he could remove the lines later. (I will do that for you, but he was in a creative career, so he could handle this!) For those who want the lines inked in, that is definitely possible. I either place them with a ruling pen and ink OR a Zig or Pigma Micron Pen. These are fade proof, water resistant and archival so I recommend that guests sign with them.

This next piece is a the WEDDING WISDOM that the pastor shared with the couple at their wedding…..flourished and simple. Italic lettering.

The picture below is a Quaker Marriage Contract.

It includes the bride and grooms name and other important information. This one more traditional in feel with the flourishing, Old English and Engrosser’s Script. (Older technology leaves me with a less vibrant copy….sorry about that!) I could email you a close up of the script, if you’re interested. Bound & Lettered, Volume 10, Number 4 has an article about creating these documents.

 

Wedding Vows

couple wanted the Three Sister’s Mountains with a border of Juniper and another of Sage which was reminiscent of their outdoor wedding. The borders divided their vows in three sections. A lovely burled frame finished the look for their home. They had sweet words, but didn’t want the world to see! I wanted you to see the layout and the borders. The elements were in the setting where the wedding was held.

And then there was this little piece. Silver and black on handmade paper.

A sweet little gift from groom to his bride….

So many options for calligraphy related to weddings. You are only limited by your imagination! Calligraphy expresses your favorite words to your ‘most cherished’ and creates an heirloom of your love for the next generation.

CHALKBOARD CALLIGRAPHY – Fan into Flame

My studio work takes me in so many directions! Chalkboards have become very popular for signage at weddings and for stores. (See my chalkboard post for my daughters wedding.) This past week my church requested that I letter on a 9′ chalkboard to bring home a scripture verse that was the focus of the international IF: Gathering 2018, telecast at Riverwest Church….as well as many others across the country and world. I was given a script version that the conference had designed, but decided to take things a step further and design my own. Below is a picture of the finished work. Beyond that, I will describe how I created the artwork including the tools and materials that I used. This one took me about 7 hours to create. 

Since I have been creating designs since about 1980, I’ve learned that I have to sketch out an idea first. It went from a very rough pencil sketch on copy paper to an actual size template on brown butcher paper. I then taped the brown copy to the chalkboard.

Some people chalk the backside of the paper to transfer, but because this was so large, I used white Saral paper, a transfer paper that I use for many projects. Although you can’t see it, it’s taped behind the brown paper. My happy discovery was that the white lines were as easily wiped away as the chalk lines. Below is a picture of some of the supplies that I used. Chalkista markers….with the pointed tip (they had a great rating online, but I found that with this large board, the rounded tip wore down on the white. The Jumbo Bistro white marker was helpful for the larger areas, the smaller markers for detail. Also pictured: scissors, pencil, artists tape, rulers, white Saral Transfer Paper in roll form. I also used NuPastels for some of the color. It smudges quite a bit, but gave me a soft effect on the berries and leaves. The Dover book of Banners, Ribbons & Scrolls is a handy resource that  I had on hand. I was grateful for the article that colleague Kathrine Malmsten wrote for Bound & Lettered, Volume 15, No. 1 , Chalkboards Aren’t Just for Classrooms Anymore!, as it helped me zero in on the process and materials.

Below is a picture of the piece, in progress, once I transferred the outline to the chalkboard. (This was a handmade chalkboard made by Jenna Gilchrist’s husband, painted with chalkboard paint). If you look closely, you can see the white lines on the bottom half of the chalkboard. 

And here is another little quickie tent sign that was lettered for the event.

 

The design was well enough received that I made it into an art print in three colors, plus a greeting card. You can order from my website…. Fan into Flame. Below are pictures of the new art print and greeting card color options. Since I lettered this one on my drawing board, there are some variations from the original.