The Weekly Letter – B is for Bookmaking

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photo 1Making books is often a natural progression for those of us who love letters. Sometimes I begin with a binding in mind, but this one started with a stack of suminagashi (japanese marbling) paper I had made.  The paper is Arches text wove and the ink is sumi.  At first I had thought to use each sheet individually, but they seemed to belong together.

As I began to envision them as a book, I added black Hahnemühle Ingres paper between each sheet.  I chose the Japanese stab binding because I wanted to be able to take it apart for writing, adding more pages or rearranging the order.  The covers are Davey board, black bookbinding cloth and burgundy thread.

But what to write?  The paper seemed to call out for something about water.  Rivers, perhaps?  As I searched for a text, most of the public domain poetry seemed too old-fashioned for the simple feel of the paper.  Contemporary words were often copyrighted.  With this in mind, I considered Haiku or Tanka (similar to Haiku but with more lines using simile, metaphor and personification).  I settled on using my own Tanka and  A River’s Journey to the Sea for the title.

IMG_4711Now with a goal firmly in mind, I began the writing.  Thirty-one syllables, five lines, one thought.  Little by little each of the tanka began to emerge as mist wandering in clouds to storms, rushing waters and finally an exit to the sea.   Each tanka has been written and rewritten in pencil, monoline caps and finally combining brush letters with caps.  Meanwhile I searched for a white gel pen that wouldn’t fade into the paper (I settled on the Uni-ball Signo) and ink (Bleedproof white) for the brush letters.

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I’m still searching for a way to connect the texts visually, so the book is still a work in progress. When I’ve found that moment that says “Finé”, I’ll post some of the final photos.  Meanwhile, like a river this book remains in motion.

 

Why hire a calligrapher?

This is a subject that comes up often.  If you hire an experienced calligrapher, it’s not inexpensive and the truth is that home computers are capable of producing much more than address labels with a Times New Roman font. There are word processing programs that can duplicate Spencerian and Copperplate calligraphic hands.  There are printers that will add color to your envelopes or invitations and no one can doubt the cost savings.  Sounds a lot like I’m advocating against myself, doesn’t it.

But the truth is that while the digital process can imitate, there’s still nothing like receiving a handwritten envelope to make your event stand out in a crowd. Handwriting has a personality that is lost in digital reproduction and calligraphy can add that “wow” factor to your event like nothing else.  Not only can hiring a good calligrapher provide you with beautiful writing, but also they are great resources for addressing etiquette and style.  And in this day of hectic schedules, it’s a time saver that allows you to cross one more thing off the “to do” list.

Once you’ve decided your time is valuable or your handwriting isn’t all that awesome (or both), how do you find a calligrapher?  And how do you know they produce quality work?  First,  good calligraphers aren’t cheap so it pays to do your homework. While in some countries such as the UK, there are organizations that provide education and certification of calligraphic skills, here in the U.S. pretty much anyone can purchase a calligraphy pen at a local craft store and hang out their shingle as a calligrapher.

Thankfully, with the advent of the internet, there are places to research calligraphers and their work.  That means you can compare both price and style.  While you will generally find costs higher in major cities such as New York or LA, in general prices will run about a dollar per line for an outer envelope.  You will also find that calligraphers each have their own specialties.  There are those who work only in the wedding industry with one or two styles while others with more background or experience can off you a wider variety of choices.  Pricing varies from those like myself who simplify the process without all the add-ons to those who will charge more for everything from colored ink to different lettering styles.

Lastly, a good calligrapher should be willing to offer you a “letter of engagement” or “contract”.  It should include not only a price quote, but stipulate method of payment, deadlines and list any extra fees for things such as shipping or last minute changes.  As a calligrapher and lettering artist with over thirty years of experience, I’m able to work with brides and event planners to select or create a script that best expresses the theme of an wedding or event. From envelopes to place cards and more,  I take pride in my work and with your help will do everything I can to make your day one to remember.

 

Carriage House Calligraphy

CHCLogoWelcome to Carriage House Calligraphy. As a lettering artist, my work is multi-faceted and can encompass anything from fine art to bookmaking and much more. Often my calligraphic skills are requested for weddings and special events.  To make it easier to find that information, I’ve created Carriage House Calligraphy, a unique part of my business that specializes in handwriting for your special event.  Here you will find information about everything from hiring a calligrapher to current information about lettering styles, pricing and even the latest in decorations and colors.  I hope you enjoy my posts on event calligraphy.  Feel free to contact me for more information.