The Scriptorium is my work journal; a place for show and tell.


My Favorite Things: another new pen

This pen was made especially for me by my brother in law, Jack.  This is the first pen he's ever made and it's wonderful.  I made this little video for him:



One thing leads to another

I cracked the glass on my light board yesterday.  I built it out of desperation and old, left-over wood over 25 years ago, so the glass would be that old, too.  I think I paid around $25 for the original piece of glass.  (36 x 24)  I ordered a new piece yesterday and the price was just over $123.  Times change; prices go up.  It is a fact of life.


This time I'm having the glass frosted at the shop instead of using that 'bathroom window' contac paper to diffuse the light.  Might have to re-paint it while I'm at it.

I considered taking the $123 and investing it in a 'real' light board, but this amateurish box has served me well all these years.  It reminds me of the early years when the kids were little and there were times when, if we couldn't afford something, we'd have to figure out a way to make it ourselves or do without.

That was an adventuresome time.  The first time in my adult life that I didn't work full time; not that taking care of small children isn't a full time job, but they DO take naps and they go to bed early!  During that time I brought armfuls of books home from the library--books on calligraphy, books on quilting, cook books, classic novels I never got around to reading, books on the Civil War.  It was a time to explore what I wanted to learn about.  That was a very good time!

I'm still an explorer and book adventurer.  My interests have changed--now I'm reading fat theological tomes, the instructional manuals from the Golden Age of penmanship, and biographies.  

This post started with a crack in an old piece of glass.  An old piece of glass that brought back memories.  How could I ever buy a new light board?


I dream of writing

Last night I dreamed that I was making ink from dandelion roots.  Yes.  Dandelion roots.  I was boiling them in a cauldren out of doors, like I imagine people would do when making walnut ink, and then I strained it and bottled it in old pop bottles.  I sat at a picnic table in the sunshine and wrote with it--the paper was creamy and the 'ink' was green-yellow-brown.  I could not see the words but I could see the ink laying down on the paper.

Then I awoke to snow on the ground, a black and red formal piece waiting for me on my drawing board, and no dandelion ink. 

I feel bereft somehow.


Morning Sunshine Magic

The sun comes streaming through my studio windows in the springtime.  It's beautiful, but I have to twist the blinds shut because it hits me straight in the eyes.  Even with the blinds drawn, the light falls across my drawing board.

This morning I was mesmerized by the texture of the envelopes I was working on and the wet, shiny black ink as it skipped across the surface of the paper.  Light and shadows, white and black--the light was magical.  I could watch the wet ink laying down on the paper and then beginning to dry as my pen pulled and shaped the wet line of ink.

I put my pen down and picked up my camera and attempted to capture the light, the paper, the ink:

April TCS script

If you look closely, you can see the watermark, 'Crane & Company' to the left of the zip code.

 Crane Watermark


Envelope Addressing Chicago

Wedding Calligraphy Chicago

As the day wore on and the stacks of finished envelopes piled up, the magic light was gone, but the memory of it remained in my mind's eye.


The arduous task

"Only try to do it yourself and you will learn how arduous is the writer's task. It dims your eyes, makes your back ache, and knits your chest and belly together. It is a terrible ordeal for the whole body".

--an anonymous 10th century scribe


My Favorite Things: Jake Weidmann Pen

Jake Weidmann is not only an amazing young calligrapher and artist, he also creates the most beautiful pens!

Several months ago, I was drooling over Jake's custom pens, coveting one and thinking that they would be out of my price range, but I decided to contact him anyway just to see.  (nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?)  I shot him an email and was very honest and upfront about what I could afford to spend and what I needed in a pen.  Jake answered back right away and after we went back and forth a few times sharing information and preferences, he gave me a more than reasonable price for my pen.

I asked him to make me a simple pen in a common wood--any wood would do.  I have severe arthritis in my thumb joint and what I was looking for was a fat pen that would open up my grip and allow me to work longer and more comfortably.  I had been using a 5/8" century oblique staff for the past year or so and it helped but my arthritis was getting worse and I needed something bigger.

When my pen arrived, I was totally blown away with how beautiful it is!  It is made of rosewood and is perfectly balanced and feels so comfortable in my hand.  As you can see from the pictures, it is significantly bigger than the Ziller staff or the 5/8" Century Oblique.  And by opening up my grip, the pressure is taken off the base of my thumb--eureka!  Less pain!  I have worked as much as 9 hours in a day and experienced only normal stiffness and soreness that you would expect from that long a day.


As you can tell, I love my pen and I have to say I adore Jake, too.  What a kind young man!  Everything about our transaction was warm and professional.  I thoroughly recommend Jake's spectacular work!!



More of My Favorite Things.


Alphabet Adventure

Saw this on facebook this morning and just had to post it over here on my calligraphy blog so I can watch it again and again whenever I need a smile, some inspiration, a bit of entertainment, and encouragement.
What a bunch of lucky kids!

52 in 2011: Week 6

Calligraphy Flourished Bookmark Card

I forgot to post my week six '52 in 2011'!!  I've been working on a big wedding so this is the only thing I did other than address envelopes last week.

This is a bookmark birthday card that I made for my son's friend for her 18th birthday.  I made the custom envelope to match the textured black card stock used for the bookmark.

For week seven I may have to take a picture of piles and piles of addressed envelopes!  I don't think I'll get anything else accomplished this week!


52 in 2011: Week Five


Scripture Calligraphy Hebrews

Scripture Calligraphy Hebrews

Scripture Calligraphy Hebrews

This week's 52 in 2011 is a peek at my Book of Hebrews project.  I've been leading a study in the book of Hebrews since 2007.  We are in Chapter 12 at present and hope to wrap the study up by summer.  It has been an amazing experience and I wanted to commemorate it somehow.

The book of Hebrews is a bridge between the Old and New Testaments.  As the book of Hebrews begins in chapter 1, verse 1:  Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, He spoke by the Prophets--and the scribes preserved that which was spoken.

As a calligrapher/scribe, I've always wanted to try my hand at copying a whole book of the Bible and then binding it.  The Book of Hebrews, with its strong ties to the Old Testament, seemed like the right book to attempt.

Ink:   Black, Moon Palace Sumi 

  Red, Liquitex Ink!  Naphthol Crimson

  Blue, Liquitex Ink!  Phthalocyanine Blue

  Green, Liquitex Ink!  Sap Green Permanent

Paper: Strathmore Drawing, Medium  9 x 12


52 in 2011: Week Four

I made this for my little granddaughter, Maddie, who will be turning 1 on February 13.  I love hearing her waking up in the next room, peeping and cooing like a little bird.  Another quote from Les Miserables.

Strathmore Drawing Paper, Medium
Walnut Ink
Derwent Watercolor pencils
8 x 10

Hugo Quote Calligraphy Isn't she adorable?