CLIFFORD D. MANSLEY, SR.

April 26, 1927 – May 25, 2021

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)

Dad lettering for a demo….

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.

Part of a Portland Society for Calligraphy exhibit with William Stafford quotes. Clifford D. Mansley, Sr.

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.

Holly and Cliff, together, in 2016, we were featured in the Centennial Edition of the Speedball Textbook.

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.

Reproductions available.

Pumice for Sheepskin and Calfskin

I have been absent for some time from the Blog-o-sphere. My parents hit their 90’s and the wheels started falling off, so for a season, I have been attending to their needs. My father, Clifford Mansley, Sr. was a wonderful engrosser and studied at the Zanerian College of Penmanship. I have a boatload of his work in my Oregon studio. He is now in assisted living. As I go through his supplies, I occasionally find treasures.

This past Saturday, I was sharing some of my gold leaf experience with engrossing expert David Grimes, most particularly, the Cennini gesso method for raised gilding. In the process of cleaning out my gold leaf drawers, I came across an envelope containing pumice and some directions for it’s use. What interests me is that it came from the Knoedler Engrossing Studio in Philadelphia, a studio that my father used to freelance for, when we lived in Germantown in the late 1950’s.

In the picture, you will see directions for the use of pumice (note: he also called it French Chalk) on sheepskin. Engrosser’s used to use sheepskin for diploma’s. It was a big business back then, hence the expression/question, ‘Where did you get your sheepskin?’ i.e., what college/university did you attend? I recall my father sitting at his drawing board hand lettering names on certificates and creating resolutions for very accomplished people, as he worked for Knoedler.

Pumice on a skin, pictured below. It’s very fine. Grittier than baby powder, much finer than sand.

Although I have some sheepskin in my flat files, purchased from Steve Ziller, Sr (of Kansas City) before he passed away, I currently use calfskin. I find that calfskin is less greasy than sheepskin. It is more of an off-white color while sheepskin at it’s finest, is whiter. Both, in my estimation, need the help of pumice to draw the grease to the surface, especially if the skin sits for awhile. Process: sand skin with fine sand paper, rub in pumice and brush it off. Once this simple process is completed, you will achieve more precise pen strokes and finer hairlines.

Calfskin is pictured below with a little aside. Did you know that the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights and the Constitution were all ‘engrossed’ on calfskin? Go to www.Patrigraphica.com to see my rendition of the Founding Documents, i.e. The Charters of Freedom. I’m guessing that they may have used pumice on them, too!

Numerous projects to share with you as I catch up on my blogging! I’ll be back soon!

A Modern “Book of Hours” on Calfskin with 23k Gold Leaf

Have you ever lettered and painted on genuine calfskin? Laid 23k gold leaf on a handmade gesso base? (Italian recipe). For over 5 years, I’ve been working on a very detailed, modern day Book of Hours – 144 pages in all.  Creating miniature designs with these materials, the best of the best for a calligrapher, has been a delight!

BookOfHoursOne Christmas, when I was wondering how I was going to manage financially, a new client took an interest in my work. He is a lover of handmade books and asked me to make his third. It’s a book of quotes that speak to Ron’s heart and soul…that celebrate Time, Seasons of the Year, Season’s of Life and Eternity. This unique, one-of-a-kind little book is about 6.5″x 9″ in size and only the facing pages completely harmonize with each other. A high end ‘picture book’ of sorts. “Make each page as ornate as you can conceive,” he said. “This project is a gift,” I said, “I’m grateful.” The pages are ornate, but I think if I went as far as my mind could truly conceive, I would never finish. Applying the tiny little strokes with my Winsor Newton Miniature brushes takes hours and hours. A labor of love, for sure!

One of my specialties is Flourishing. I just love working the lines/shapes until the design says ‘extra special.’  Below, see the first page of my client’s
personally authored quote about TIME, enhanced with modernized italic flourishes. (There are 3 additional pages to his thoughts.) He is quite the Renaissance man.

TimeIsLifesVitalCoinThe roundel design below is at the end of the first chapter, pondering Time. Recently, calligraphy guilds have asked me to teach workshops focused on ‘flourishing in the round.’  Come join me sometime!

GodShakesHisFistThere are about 30 more pages or so between the little roundel and the title page to the Seasons chapter that you see below. This is one of my more lively pages–it was lots of fun to think up all of the little seasonal details. (The horizontal gold bars on a page indicate the beginning of a chapter.)

ThereIsNoSeason2A previous article in my Blog shares a bit more about the Book of Hours. Also,
The Greater Cincinnati Calligrapher’s Guild met in my studio to check out my initial progress on the book and to discuss gold, vellum and design. Thanks for taking a look! I’ll post more designs in the future….

 

 

All that Glitters is Gold (Part 1) Shell Gold & Gold Powder

Last month, when I lettered on the church soffits, I laid genuine 23k gold on the walls. (Scroll down to the capital “O” in my last post). So I thought it a perfect segue into an explanation of some of the gold methods that I use.

One of the easiest methods I use to add gold to a project is the application of shell gold or gold powder. Mixed with distilled water and a touch of a binder, I typically paint it on fine art/hand made paper or calfskin with a miniature brush, burnish with an agate stone and voila! Instant impact!  This kind of gold is excellent for achieving tiny details. You can even tool tiny designs into a field of the gold with a very pointed burnisher.

Powdered gold lies behind the clover

 

There are many imitation golds, but the brilliance of the real thing drives me to be a purest. I use this method when a client wants gold, but doesn’t want the cost of the raised gesso with gold leaf, when I want to contrast the raised gold with the flat powder on the same design or when one of my prints needs a touch of elegance.

I will be teaching weekend retreats from my studio. Lodging available.  If you are interested, let me know!

 

Gold Leaf Event

This past Saturday I had the privilege of hosting the Cincinnati Book Arts Society (CBAS) and the Greater Cincinnati Calligrapher’s Guild in my studio for a show and tell!  I demonstrated a gold leaf technique and showcased two of the handmade books I’ve been creating.   The Book of Hours –as mentioned in an earlier post and a Baby Book (that I’ll feature in a later post).

 

Pictured below is my dining room table – where I displayed some of the vellum off cuts  I’ve been using to work out color and painting techniques for the book.

 

Book of Hours -Hour Glass Border in progress. See Portfolio > Books for finished work

Below I am laying gold leaf. (My glasses broke the day before–looks almost like a monocle.) I lay my homemade gesso on fine art paper or calfskin, let it dry and then blow on it to humidify. Then the gold is quickly laid on the gesso, touched up and burnished.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are a few of the guild members that came to see my studio!   I would love to have you too…..come and visit sometime!