Some people visit my blog because they want to see the quality of my work, some because they like to know what I'm up to (hello Mum!) and probably some because they got lost in the tangled internet (hello passers by!)
I know when I'm looking at sites, I'm always tempted by hints and tips, even if they're on subjects that wouldn't usually interest me. So perhaps there's a few of you out there who would find some calligraphy tips useful.
These were posted originally as one-a-day hints on my twitter feed. If you'd like to follow me on Twitter, just click on the little bird symbol on the top right of this site.
I thought I'd gather all the hints together, and here they are for your delight. I'm definitely going to do another series of hints - if you've any you think I should include I'd love to hear from you.
So if you'd like a look at the hints just click on the link to the left <======
I enjoy the artistic pieces with colour and beautiful decoration, but it's also a pleasure to do something just black on white. This is the certificate for the formation of a new Leos group (Leos are the junior version of the charitable organisation, Lions - I didn't know that.) The customer was delighted to have the names of the founding members added matching the style of the printed certificate, making something they'll be proud to frame.
The border on the right (and on the left but out of shot) stops rather abruptly and the customer asked me if I'd be able to complete it around the bottom of the certificate. The answer was that yes I could, but it's such fiddly work it'd probably cost twice as much as putting the names on, so we decided to leave it as it is - it looks great!
This was a nice example of a piece of work I could do from my new venue in Wales even though the customer had originally thought he was talking to someone local to him in Nottingham. Luckily we seem to have a splendid postal service here in Amlwch!
When I'm working with a customer on a family tree, it's not uncommon for the question to come up about what's "allowed" or what's "proper".
Really the answer is that anything's allowed - it's not a legal document but a personal record of the customer's family, so it's really up to them what information they would like to include. It's then my job to make it
(a) understandable and (b) beautiful.
So the heartache over whether to risk upsetting distant cousins - or even close relatives - by excluding them, is a very real issue for the customer to deal with, and there's no "Family Tree Rulebook" to guide them or defend them!
Every tree has some questions that arise for which I need to remember that this might be sensitive. I'm always happy to advise, but in the end it's not my call.
One of the tricky areas is around coats of arms - there are plenty of websites that suggest that everyone with the same family name shares the same coat of arms, which is definitely not the case. A coat of arms is granted to an individual and the honour is passed down through the family, with very specific heraldic rules governing how this happens.
So it's unlikely that an individual will be able to find their coat of arms by searching on the internet.
That said, if someone requests a certain emblem to be displayed with their family tree, then I will happily do that for them - I think I'm overstepping the mark if I do anything else.
(By the way, I did create a coat of arms for my dad - just for fun. It's got all sorts of elements personal to him, and the motto is - in Latin of course - "Turn that noise down!" which was a key phrase from my childhood!)
Want to gaze at a fabulous family tree? Here's Neil Bromley's tree for the British royal family - even amended to include Prince George! Click HERE
I did promise to tell you more about this canvas piece.
It was a long time in the making. It's quite large, 80cm x 20cm.
There are around 20 layers of acrylic to make the background (which also extends to the top/bottom/sides of the piece.) This included wetting the acrylic and wiping it off, to get the lichen effect.
The white lettering was done twice too - in order to make it shine off the background.
I even did the proper thing and got permission to use the words.
It's for some very good friends, and they were thrilled with the piece.
They had it in their hallway waiting to go up on the wall, when a workman dropped a tool on it.
It's always exciting to get a new family tree to work on. This one was a very interesting shape, and also required a crest. I don't often do heraldry (it's a great specialism, and there are some amazing heraldic artists out there such as Tim Noad (http://www.timothynoad.co.uk) and Neil Bromley (http://www.calligraphyandheraldry.com).
But I decided to be brave and go for it! I had an image to work from, so lots of practice with colours and shapes made me feel able to deliver something that would look good. Then the dilemma.... do you do all the lettering then add the crest, or out the crest on the page first?
My approach is almost always to do the bit that scares me most first, and that was the crest. (Of course I'd done various practice pieces, so knew exactly where the lettering and crest needed to be on the final piece of paper).
Then the lettering - knowing that a mess up would be more costly than usual!
It all went fine - phew - and the customer was very pleased with their classy family tree.
(This image shows the texture of the paper nicely - it's Saunders Waterford HP 190gsm for those of you who like to know that sort of thing!)
the bit with the trees, and my Xmas card
I'm Janet Smith, a calligrapher who loves to experiment with lettering and calligraphy.