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.
About a year ago, I completed this special project. 2021 to early 2022. It was a gift and the recipient had not yet graduated from law school. His kindly friend and wife recognized the great potential that this young man has and so wanted to gift him with some very special words to hang in his law office. The theme is about MERCY. He chose the real deal, calfskin, which is a delight to work on, although you need to know how to prepare it. This skin was purchased from Pergamena, NY. Read below to learn more about this very special project.
First, a close up of the capital letter. My client was a dental surgeon, not an artist, so in his mind, he was imagining black and white. His wife talked him into a little crimson. After the word MERCY was hand lettered, I felt it was much too plain, so we discussed putting some illumination and decoration in the counter spaces of the M. My handmade gesso is always painted on first. That is the light pink stuff that you see inside of the M below. The leaf is laid on the left, just laid on the right, but not yet cleaned up. Typically, I lay the 23.75k gold leaf first, but it was an afterthought on this project. I teach a workshop on laying gold leaf, if you are interested…contact me.
The thought of MERCY for a lawyer or a judge is surely one to be considered. I thought of Les Miserables while I was creating this. Remember how the priest gave the silver candlesticks to the thief Jean Valjean and it changed his heart? The entire piece contains a reminder at the top to ‘Remember who you are and what you stand for’ (i.e. a decent, fair and just man), a scripture from the Sermon on the Mount, the main body – a memorable speech from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and 3 more Bible verses about Mercy towards the bottom. My client wanted legible and traditional, so I used a Lombardic style at the top and a more modern Bookhand for the body, plus Italic for the small red phrases at the top.
Above is the completed project. Below is the client presenting it to the younger recipient. Notice that this large piece (about 4′ tall, 3′ wide) was placed in an Airfloat Systems box. You can ship frames in these foam lined boxes or just present the art and hold on to the protective box for a future move. This was the largest piece of calfskin that I have worked on to date, so I was able to create both projects out of one. Visit my next blog to see the companion piece.
When I ask a client if they have a favorite lettering style, they often answer “I want calligraphy”. As I have learned, calligraphy is the umbrella word for lettering created by hand. It is defined as “the art of beautiful writing” and it encompasses many different lettering styles. That said, when a new student comes along and wants to learn ‘calligraphy’, I ask them, do you want to start with the pointed pen or the broad-edged pen. Many don’t know how to answer. They didn’t realize that there are two different basic types of pens that they can start with.
Pointed pen lettering looks something like this….with many variations!
The broad-edged pens that I use are in the picture below. I love to use the wooden double-ended holders because the Mitchell pens that I use are labeled 0, 1, 1.5, 2, 2.5, 3, 3.5, 4, 5, and 6. I can use 5 holders which keep all 10 pens at the ready for me to use daily.
Finally, I have a wonderful turntable pen/brush holder, so that I can easily find my pens. Note that I have labeled the sizes, for easy retrieval while I’m working. May God bless your life and I hope to see you in an upcoming workshop!
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.
What a nice surprise! Last Friday night I was awarded Best of Show at the Oregon State Fair 2017, Calligraphy Division. The cash award made it an even sweeter win.
To submit an entry to the Oregon State Fair, the calligraphy has to be created within the last 2 years. That is always a challenge for me, since so much of my work goes directly to my clients. My assistant, Heather Barton (who is also a calligrapher and prize winner), remembered that I had the ‘Achiever’ original remaining…..scroll down….
‘Achiever’ was a piece that I completed for Mason, Ohio, client Dawn Shiver this past winter. She and her husband own Shiver Security Systems, Inc. in Mason and were looking for some special awards for their top salesmen. Dawn commissioned me to rework the wording and create the artwork, which was later scanned, retouched, color altered and finally high end reproductions were printed one at a time from my Epson R3000 printer on Entrada digital paper. The original was created on D’Arches black 140# paper, with tinted Dr. Martin’s bleed proof white to help the capitals pop. Brown gouache was added to my gold Winsor New metallic gouache to give the script more of a bronzed look. Fabulous Frames in Cincinnati, enhanced the awards with beautiful frames. DesignSource in Oregon, framed the winning original.
Achiever – Best of Show, Oregon State Fair 2017, Calligraphy Division