For this year’s Christmas Card I have used a Half-Uncial lettering style based on the script used in the Book of Kells. Although this style in now associated with Ireland, it was in fact used throughout Europe in the middle ages.
I used an “Automatic Pen”, a wide dip pen used for large lettering such as posters. I wrote out the required letters a number of times and scanned the best. The digraph ae was particularly difficult as in this script the left hand side of the a and o look the same, therefore ae and oe are identical. So I was pleased to find some alternate characters in one of Arthur Baker’s Calligraphy Manuals. The initial G is decorated in a later style, which I drew separately in felt pen. All was then scanned into Photoshop and put together with the pale background colour.
So what does it mean?
Glæd Geol is the Old English for Happy Christmas (literal translation Glad Yule). The word Cristesmæsse (Christ’s Mass) was not used until the eleventh century.
Last week I took part in an NLLA workshop on Ruling Pen Alphabets run by Penny Price. We explored the possibilities of using a ruling pen to create different shapes that could be used to form letters. Penny lead us through a series of exercises to build up guidelines of form that can be used to create original alphabets. Before the advent of technical pens, ruling pens were used to draw rules (lines) in technical drawings of all kinds. By using the side of the nib, much broader strokes can be drawn.
It’s always difficult to find the right wording or image for Christmas, not too religious but without becoming completely secular and forgetting that it is a religious festival.
This year I’ve used a poem by one of my mother’s favourite poets, Seamus Heaney. The Last Mummer also connects with me. Since I was at school I have performed a Mummers’ Play in Sussex every Christmas.
I’ve used a letter style that is traditional but not too formal. A sort of Black Letter script. I started by using a broad nib pen to write out the words and watercolour to paint a background colour. Both of these were scanned and taken into Photoshop. I then outlined the letters and cut them out of the colour area and hey presto letters made up of shaded texture rather than solid black.
As the cards were digitally printed I had no choice in the paper stock’s colour so added a tint across the whole card to make it off-white.
Something rather different: writing out place name cards at Sainsbury’s in Luton. I was part of an evening event to help invited customers plan their Christmas table settings and decoration. A while-you-wait calligraphy service!
I plan to use my design skills to create bespoke frames for pictures, textiles, collector’s items and anything else. I enjoy a challenge, so am pleased to help with Mock-ups, presentations, displays and promotional material.
I’m also using my lettering and calligraphy skills to create personalised items and gifts.
I’m still offering creative services in the form of Typography, Artwork, and Production Project Management. Button badges and object photography are also available.