When I was a member of our local W.I. (for about 10 years), I discovered a competitive streak which I didn’t realise I had!
Every year there is an agricultural show which encompasses two neighbouring counties, Flintshire and Denbighshire, and my local village had not been entering much. When I found out about this (and was cajoled onto the committee!) I put a lot of pressure onto our members to join in and make stuff for these shows. We did quite well, on the whole, for such a small membership.
I had been going to calligraphy classes for a couple of years, evening class once a week, and so tried my hand at that part of the competition (as well as lots of other crafty/baking/sewing/embroidering entries) – calligraphy being the only ‘arty’ thing I could even attempt. Put a paint brush in my hand and, unless it’s a large wall, I go completely to pieces – I really cannot draw or paint but I am not bad with a dip pen and some ink or gouache.
The photo above shows the Welsh National Anthem written in uncial font which is quite ‘celtic’ looking. I like to write on a curve as it’s easier to hide the odd mistake such as letters not being exactly the perfect heights etc..!
The paper I wrote on is pale green with an image of a tree which I decided was quite apt due to the W.I. logo being a tree. I used black engrossing ink for the wording and then printed out a few copies of the Welsh Dragon which I painted (yes, OK, I know I said I can’t paint but I can colour in the lines!) and then decoupaged below the verse.
The Celtic-knot border around the mat-board was drawn in pencil first and then inked over with a wide dip pen and the same black ink – that really did make me cross-eyed!
I won first prize 🙂
The Night Will Never Stay
The black paper I used for this was ‘splattered’ through a circular mask with a silver metallic pen and my ‘blitzer’ – this is a bulb-like contraption with a place to attach a marker pen, with which you blow the ink from the tip onto whatever medium you want.
I stencilled silver stars around the ‘moon’ and penned the words with a yellow gouache which was watered down and applied to a dip pen with a brush. This is an italic script with quite a fine nib and you may notice that it’s written on curvy lines, again.
I won first prize 🙂
A Nursery Rhyme
‘Magpie’ was written again in an italic script with a slightly fatter nib than the last piece. I used watercolour paints on my dip pen this time and watercolour paper to get the fading appearance. The numbers were coloured-in with well-watered-watercolours and I added the odd little flourish here and there (using the pen with its natural angled nib) to take away the starkness of the background. You can’t really see from the photos but, for example, the words for ‘5’ read ‘5 for silver’ and the silver was written in silver ink.
I won first prize 🙂
An Old Adage
There was a lot of research to be done to find an adage which I liked and which I thought would translate to a piece of calligraphy nicely.
The purple mat gives quite a regal feel to the piece when teamed with the gold paint of the illuminated letters. Gold gouache for them, green gouache for the uncial lettering and then simple flowers painted (no, I still can’t paint!) over the gold base. There are little tiny dots done with a very fine nib all around the large letters, and the lettering this time used a much broader nib.
I can’t say if I find it easier to do fine or broad lettering – when applying paint to the nib with a brush it’s very hit-and-miss. You can run out of ‘ink’ quickly and at an inopportune moment when doing large letters and can very easily overload the reservoir of a fine nib and make it too thick to flow nicely etc…
I won first prize 🙂
This time we were asked to pen the first verse of the W.I. Anthem which is the wonderful ‘Jerusalem’. I used watercolour paper onto which I (painted) hills and mountains green. The lettering is gouache again with a medium-nibbed dip pen and Carolingan font. This is a lovely, spreading font and quite decorative – I love the letter ‘d’ – which seems to be based on uncial.
I actually wrote in straight lines for once.
I won first prize 🙂
Oh my, I’m beginning to think I should go back to the beginning and remove what I said about not being able to paint! It’s true really and yet I seem to have ‘painted’ on most of these pieces of artwork. Believe me, it doesn’t come easy and it’s mostly copied……
This is quite a nice simple proverb and I colour washed a piece of watercolour paper in a golden-yellow before writing it in a simple italic with a few flourishes on some of the letters.
The words are framed with a thick red line and the painted flowers which overlap it here and there and also spill out onto the matboard. I rarely put these behind glass, but then they’re not even out on display anywhere yet so they don’t need protecting. I do plan to hang them in the calligraphy area of my craft room ….. one day!
I won first prize 🙂
A Celebration Poem
I spent so long trying to find a poem for this theme. I failed in the attempt and so resorted to choosing a celebratory word – FESTIVAL – and finding words which meant celebration and which began with each letter of the main word, I suppose you’d call them acronyms. I tried to find festivals from all over the world to put here, some were a little obscure and I guess I was clutching at straws but it worked in the end. The paper is parchment and the initial capitals are painted with a copper medium and outlined in black.
Again, I used gouache to write with and double-matted the whole thing – looking at it now I think I should have decorated the cream mount board as it’s rather stark.
What does it mean?……
‘F’: Flowers on Jersey; Fantasy Feelings; Foreign funeral feasts.
‘E’: Easter excitement; Evil spriits; Enlisting supernatural aid.
‘S’: Sabbath; Saturnalia; Shabuoth or Pentecost – harvest of the wheat crop.
‘T’: Thanksgiving; Transfiguration; Tet – celebrating Indochinese lunar New Year.
‘I’: Independence day; Invocation; the Iliad – mythical King and harvest festival.
‘V’: Vernal equinox; Vikings and Jorvik; festivals for the Virgin Mary.
‘A’: Abundance at harvest time; wassailing of the Apple trees.
‘L’: Licentious ancient festivals; Lent
….all this and more.
Wow, reading this back after all this time I really was stuggling wasn’t I?! Never mind…..I won first prize 🙂
There wasn’t always a calligraphy entry in the schedule, some years they did without and put other skills in like painting on china, silk painting etc….. but, as I was on the committee, I did insist now and again that they put it in the schedule. Unfortunately, they got really sick of me winning all the time and used to try not to have calligraphy in the show at all, I thought that was quite mean-spirited of them 🙂
Calligraphy doesn’t flow easily from my hands I’m afraid, it takes me weeks of practising before I’m ready to start on the real thing and lots and lots of screwed-up trial samples. I am left-handed and therefore really struggle with some scripts and yet find others quite easy – the main difficulty is smudging. Left-handers have to follow their pen across a page and can therefore smudge the work very easily, right-handers drag the pen behind them and so don’t have that issue. It’s true of all handwriting, not just this decorative type, and so something we all have to learn to deal with from an early age. There are special nibs available, angled the opposite way to the normal ones, to make it easier and, if you’re thinking of taking up this wonderful hobby, then I heartily recommend investing in the correct tools. Personally, I can’t use a calligraphy felt pen to save my life! Well, I can do rough stuff but have never managed to achieve a classy-looking piece using one. I do find that the chunkier the marker, with a large chisel tip, the easier it is.
I used to volunteer at the infant/junior school which my boys attended and Friday was craft day – we did all sorts of different things and I did show them how to do calligraphy at one stage. We used large felt-pens for this – obviously they couldn’t handle dip pens – and they all did pretty well and loved it when I wrote their names in large fancy letters for them to take home with them. I also had to give a ‘talk’ to a class full of 10-year-olds all about calligraphy once, what a nerve-racking experience that was! Don’t think I was cut out to be a teacher but I loved doing the volunteer crafty stuff with them.
At the class I attended we tried our hand at all sorts of different techniques, not just penmanship. The photos below show a letter A drawn on A4 black card with each section patterned differently and with a couple of pieces cut away completely and then lined with yellow film.
I love the sentiment behind this verse, just a random piece which has sat in a folder for many years – written with a dip pen and black ink in an italic hand.
The Easter bonnet is also just a project from class, guess I had been painting again!
This last item was entered in the W.I. competition but didn’t win!!! I wrote the words on tracing paper in yellows and greens and laid it over a photograph which my husband had taken of his grandad some years ago. He was a wonderful character, a coal miner all his life, and was a great joke-teller. The biggest problem I had was that he was a Yorkshire man and I was born in Lancashire – I had to have someone translate his jokes for me!
“I am the family face, flesh perishes, I live on, projecting trait and trace through time to times anon, and leaping from place to place over oblivion” Thomas Hardy.