And this my friend is the companion piece to MERCY, in my last blog post. It is The Man in the Arena, a famous speech that Theodore Roosevelt gave April 23 at the Sorbonne in Paris, 1910. Whether you agree with Roosevelt’s politics or not, his speech is an inspiration. In my mind, it’s about getting into the battle of life rather than sitting on the sideline. Making an impact for good in your country. To me, it is incredibly relevant in today’s world. (In the image below, you can see how I mount the calfskin for framing. These skins move with the humidity, so the threads are mounted like little springs that help to stabilize the skin in differing humidity.)
This design was created from approximately one third of the skin (the other two thirds used on the MERCY piece in my previous Blog post). To prepare the skin there are special grades of sandpaper used to smooth the surface and to remove oils. Then you pumice the surface and brush off the residue. Look closely as the images and see if you can see the beautiful texture of the skin.
Although you see the layout for my MERCY piece (above), The Man in the Arena calligraphy was lettered on the right (blank) side of the calfskin. It’s always nerve wrecking to cut these large expensive skins as I never want to make a mistake in measurement…but all worked out well!
Here you can see the famous title. My client requested that the design be straightforward, legible and not too fancy. As a lettering artist, I try to make it interesting. by using a unique style for the title and adding flourishes to give it flair. In my mind, the flourishes show the movement of a ‘man in the arena’ and they highlight the two nouns. I had a different lettering style on the line “It is not the critic who counts” and didn’t like it, so with my handy electric eraser I was able to remove the ink. Then I lightly sanded the area and put in the new line (Italic). Calfskin is so wonderful if you need to make a correction. Better than paper.
Gold leaf never shows well when you scan or photography from head on. I typically have to photograph at an angle to catch the glint of the gold. To tie the two designs together, I used the same Bookhand style for the main body, the same crimson color and gold leaf, but changed the titling style. This lovely lettering style was in an old Speedball textbook, but some of our modern scribes have updated it so that it’s better than ever – see the newest Speedball text book.
And here are the two finished designs together. I framed them with a black carved frame, linen top mat, crimson accent mat and a black beaded wood fillet in the inside window of the mat. Note, that calfskin never lies completely flat, but that is the beauty of it.