Friday, May 8, 2009

Calligraphy and Americana

Beautiful writing looks so inspiring, all those flourishes & swirls... fine lettering is an art form to admire carrying our words with grace, or perhaps with flair...Calligraphy
Last week I had a fun day of short lettering classes at a calligraphy conference that I attend every year.
Above are 2 pages of play/lettering practice using parallel pens. I love these pens and have had 2 of them for a couple of years. I first found out about them at an art workshop, then again at the Calligraphers conference. They are made by Pilot and come in several sizes. This was the first time I had a class solely devoted to how to take them apart, clean them, different ways to ink them, etc., very informative. Here's a link to where I bought them, however, I have recently seen them in a local art store as well. And what do they look like? Well:Americana
We did a Seattle Art Museum trip on Thursday (1st Thurs of the month is free, by the way) and savored a great exhibit called "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness" which is on until May 25. It is described as 275 objects from the Yale University Gallery, which never travels, except, that they happen to be renovating.
I wasn't sure I would appreciate this exhibit, however, it was well worth it. There were paintings by Homer, Eakins, and Turnbull (including the ones of founding fathers gathered at the tables), wonderful old prints with great examples of the old handwriting and lettering styles, furniture and silver and scabbards, a very impressive range. Two precious items are enclosed in a wood cabinet due to their fragility, which the viewer opens -- to find none other than 2 large lockets with watercolor paintings, one of George Washington and one of Martha Washington, with locks of their hair woven underneath... Amazing. An unusual item was called "Bells and Whistle", and it actually was a very fancy highly polished ornate metal whistle with little bells hanging off of it and was a child's toy. Now I wonder if that's where that phrase comes from, you know, "I'll be there with "bells and whistles..."
Unfortunately, I can't post a picture as you can't take any in the SAM, but here is something similar to a few very old photos I saw in the exhibit that were from the 1860's... This is an 1862 copyright free image from Dover of Lincoln during the Civil War (you can download this one if you like). Somehow I have a difficult time imagining that they were taking photos back then, but they were. The museum exhibit even had a very large stunning photo (probably about 24 x 30) that was of the moon showing all of the craters, quite amazing.


Janette Kearns Wilson said...

My husband wrote everything with a calligraphic hand...his shopping lists even...and his cheques, people always suggested that they should frame them and despite my encouragement...they invariably cashed them......!

HeartFire said...

Oh too bad they didn't just frame them! How funny... My mom still has that swirly old-fashioned hand, being a European immigrant... I think it's beautiful.