I was delighted to be asked to write a piece of calligraphy for Pen Heaven to include in their blog. The theme was Valentines, and myself and various other lettering artists were asked to write a haiku.
Well - there are many gushing haiku out there, but I chose one which I think is rather beautiful and maybe a little poignant.
If you like stationery (and I DO!) you might understand how exciting it was to be asked to choose a tool from the Pen Heaven site to use for the piece. (Some might say I spent longer drooling over pages of writing tools than I did writing the haiku... I couldn't possibly comment.) In the end I chose a Lamy 2000 pencil - thinking it would be a good idea to help people realise that calligraphy doesn't have to be all about the fancy pens.
The pencil is chunky and sturdy, with a slightly rough surface to the barrel (a bit like slate). I'm not going to claim it does anything that an ordinary pencil won't do - but I am going to say that it's lovely in the hand and a pleasure to use - and of course it allowed me to get the variation of shades that give the letters a slightly 3D look.
(I worked my way back over the letters and the shading 5 or 6 times.)
Even the colour is in pencil - 2 shades of ordinary coloured pencil together.
(If you've never tried using 2 different coloured pencils on top of each other I recommend it - it always gives a much more interesting colour than either of the single pencils. As my classes will attest, I have been known to cheekily say "1coloured pencil is colouring in, 2 is ART.")
Here's a picture of the pencil as well as the haiku:
The Pen Heaven site is beautiful - full of desirable objects - and the blog is going to have more haiku in the next few days so well worth a visit. http://www.penheaven.co.uk
Wishing you all a happy Valentine's Day!
When creating a biggish piece of work there are all sorts of approaches to dealing with that scary blank piece of paper!
Although I'm comfortable using products like Word and Powerpoint I cannot find a better way for me that to write the words out, cut them out and play with arrangements.
Notice I've not cut it into individual words - I just divide lines up where it feels like it's make a better layout.
This is prose: if it were a poem I would use the same line breaks as the poet used as they're part of what he/she created.
I find it helpful to write the piece at this early stage - it makes me think more about the words and - for example - what I might like to emphasise.
Tips at this stage would be:
- have a piece of paper much bigger than you think you'll need as the base - it stops you being constrained
- choose paper that is the same as the paper you've lettered on if you can - then there's no visual distractions with slightly different colours of paper
- cut in close to the lettering (I use a knife) : again we're looking for as little visual distraction as possible
- have a few strips of dark paper to mark in where the margin may fall
- if you're going to have decorative elements, title, credit etc. they should really be included at this stage (I haven't!)
- try and suppress any preconceived ideas - try all sorts!
- if you've not tried at least one layout that looks ridiculous you've not been inventive enough
- don't forget to try different line spacing - it's easy to play and makes a big difference to the look
- keep the original text to hand - it's bad news to find out you've lost or switched lines
- every layout that might be promising - take a photo (oh, this is SO much easier than in the old days where you had to have multiple photocopies of the words and glue down any layouts that looked hopeful)
- you might choose to go and write part of the text in different size / weight / colour to see how that looks
- try at least 20 different ideas - it's so quick at this stage
- use your camera to help you choose the most promising layout and put the pieces back into that layout
- you might want to stick the pieces down in this layout if you're going to have to move the pieces of paper away, because it's now your blueprint for the next version
I'll talk about what comes next in the next blog.
I'm Janet Smith, a calligrapher who loves to experiment with lettering and calligraphy.