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!
Until the 14th century, manuscript miniatures were painted mainly using glair, made from egg white. It was used as a glossing or waterproofing agent in the paints. In my calligraphy studio, I use glair to reconstitute Cennini Gesso, to dilute Liquid Gesso (J. Tresser’s), and as a binder for gouache or powdered pigment.
Crack eggs (4), strain off white by toggling yoke between shell halves leaving whites in mixing bowl
Put yolks in a separate bowl, set aside for some other use.
Beat egg whites to stiff peaks – like a merengue.
Tip mixing bowl on its side and let drip into another bowl overnight – (or let it settle in original bowl).
Pitch foam and reserve liquid.
After about 12 hours, strain (get rid of unwanted stringiness.)
It can be used 2 ways. Try both!
Dilute with glair/water > 50/50
8. Save capped for 1-2+ yrs (stays clear). Date the container. Restrain after it sits for awhile
TIPS: • Stinky if stored room temperature. That’s okay. Traditionally called ‘la putrido’.
• Preserve in refrigerator or out. (lasts longer in the frig).
• For certain gilding purposes, glair must be aged. As glair ages, it becomes an adhesive.
• Glair becomes waterproof in 24 hours
ADD GLAIR TO:
Titanium Dioxide Liquid Gesso – 1-2 drops should do it, but you can thin liquid gesso with glair to the consistency needed. Fresh glair is fine.
Cennini Gesso – Holly’s measurement to reconstitute powder > 1/8 tsp powdered gesso to 15 drops glair. 6-9 month (aged) glair is best for this recipe.
Dried Pigmentor Gouache– Add 1-2 drops full strength or diluted to dry pigment or gouache. Clove oil or honey can be added to make colors richer/shinier.
**Glair, a natural product can be added to a variety of art mediums
He was a great Dad and I will miss him! Ninety-four productive years and the second generation calligrapher in our family. He mastered the art of engrossing and shared his heart through the words that he penned plus so much more. His was a life well-lived. A life of purpose, excellence and industry. From a loving husband and father, to a calligrapher, a career with the Boy Scouts, classically trained vocalist, dedicated to his faith in God, and a life of service.You can read his obituary here: CLICK (we forgot to add he was an active Rotary Member)
But this is a CALLIGRAPHY blog, so let me share some memories of my father as an engrosser (aka calligrapher) as I saw him. Cliff, grew up in Philadelphia. His father and my grandfather, Walter, was a teacher of shorthand, penmanship and business courses at a local high school. In the years 1943-1947, Walter was taking a correspondence course at The Zanerian College of Penmanship, Columbus, OH. In a 1946 letter to E. A. Lupfer, Walter asked Earl about their summer Courses. Can you believe! Six weeks of instruction was only $30. So once out of the Navy (age 19), Dad journeyed off to take 2 months of intense study at The Zanerian. Later he completed the Engrossers’ course and worked on the Ornamental Penmanship correspondence courses. Can you believe he practiced 10 hours a day back then!? He became quite good and was even asked to become a White House calligrapher (which he declined and went off to the Wharton School, U of Penn and a career with the Boy Scouts). You can read detail of his Zanerian experience here: http://www.heirloomartists.com/blog/?tag=bound-lettered
Once on a family vacation, Dad took us to the Zanerian College (mid 1960’s) and I recall meeting E. A. Lupfer and receiving a Zanerian pen and pencil set. The college seemed to be phasing out at that time. In the article (link above), Cliff/Dad shares some of the companies that he freelanced for. I do remember when the IBM certificates would arrive at our door. I was in Junior High at the time and Cliff trained me to use a T-square, to draw the pencil lines on the certificates and when he finished the names in Engrossers’ Script, I would erase the lines. A penny a line! Those were the years that my bedroom was right next to Dad’s studio. Late at night he would often be completing a resolution, testimonial or certificates and I would look over his shoulder and watch as he formed the letters and beautiful vine work. These were special bonding moments with Dad. He specialized in Engrosser’s Script, Old English and some other styles from the Zanerian Manual. I sure remember his ink, Gillott nibs, oblique pen holders, his large bottle of Arnold’s Ink, shell gold and agate burnishers.
In 1974, my Senior year, Dad tutored me for a season in the lettering styles that he knew and loved. Then he pushed me to take on some paying projects. Ohhhh! I wasn’t very good, but he insisted. The next year, when I went off to college, he said, now, you can go get a job at McDonald’s or you can work on your calligraphy skills and look for ways to make money with it. He taught me how to find clients and sure enough, I landed some work! To this day, I still work for one of the organizations.
During the late 1970’s the calligraphy world had a revival and national Conferences soon began. Dad and I enjoyed going to the calligraphy conferences together. We attended a few IAMPETH conferences in Ohio, where the penmen would dazzle me with bird flourishes and gifts of pen nibs. Later we met in cities from East to West Coast and Canada for the International Conferences. A great father-daughter shared interest, we sure had fun comparing workshops, meeting new friends and learning how to lay gold leaf together. Dad was an enthusiastic member of the Portland Society for Calligraphy, a very active guild. I would fly out and visit him for the conferences.
When he retired from the Boy Scouts, he and my mother enjoyed a second career with their home-based calligraphy/art studio, creating designs for hospitals, colleges, businesses and individuals. Words have meaning and Cliff always found deep and profound words to pen. He expressed his heart through his words. Always purposeful, he wanted to build character in young men, so Dad sold his designs and started a fund to keep Chaplains in the Boy Scout summer camps.
Cliff and Jean in their Lake Oswego Studio, a picture that appeared in the newspaper.
I’m sure I can think of more, but for now, this brings me up to Cliff’s last several years. As mentioned, he went to Wharton ’51 at the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoyed going to the Alumni meetings and every August, they would host new students from the Portland area. Ben Franklin was the founder of Penn, so Cliff created reproductions of The Virtues and Precepts of Benjamin Franklin (above) and took them to the picnic. Even at 92, Cliff gave a history lesson about Ben and gifted the students with the design, encouraging them to ‘put it on your dorm wall’. 🙂
My mother had dementia and Dad lovingly cared for her. It broke his heart, when Jean Hollingsworth Mansley passed away in March 2019. Then Cliff had his own health struggles. While in assisted living, he set up his calligraphy table with pen and ink and would letter the names of his caregivers. In the last year, he attempted one last undertaking….I had recreated all of the Founding Documents of our country – the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. www.Patrigraphica.com Dovetailing with that, Dad attempted to start a speaking contest in which kids around the country would focus on an aspect of one of these Docs and learn what our great country is all about. He was not able to see this through. He fell on April 30th, 2021 breaking his clavicle and 2 ribs and just could not recover from this. He passed into Eternity on May 25, 2021. He loved the Lord and loved serving others.
If you would like to see Cliff’s work or purchase reproductions go to Cliff’s website www.HeirloomArtists.com (go to Portfolio and SHOP) or contact Holly at www.HollyMonroe.com and set up a studio appointment to see a broader range of his originals and reproductions.
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.
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!
Over the years, clients have requested a short dedication lettered in the front of a Bible, they are gifting to a special person. This Christmas, I was asked to letter in The Message Bible, which didn’t have a specific page with the “To” and “From” lines in it. In a way, I was so glad, because publishers don’t always plan those pages well for the calligrapher and the ink. They are often slick paper, don’t take pencil guidelines well and don’t erase well, if you do add a pencil line. Very frustrating. I would love a matte finish on this type of page.
This Bible, referred to the client because it is a very easy to read version, has wonderful end papers with a delicious color. It took pencil lines well, too. I used liquid metallic gold acrylic (so it wouldn’t smear when dry) and lettered directly on the crimson end page with Engrosser’s Script, a style that I learned from my father, who studied with Lupfer, of the Zanerian College. I went off script a little with the flourishes. The oblique pen – which was hand made by Dao Huy Hoang, is made of holly wood, so as you can guess, I bought it because my name is Holly. This simple entry was well received by my client and his sweet recipient.