Designing with lettering

Some of you have commented on the lettering that I have used in the "Illuminations" series of designs featured earlier on this blog. Although I am a great admirer of hand lettering and calligraphy, I do not have the skills to take up a pen or a brush and do freehand lettering. I thought I would let you in on a little secret, this blog is a place to share inspiration and information, so for those of you who, like me, want to include lettering in a piece of artwork but need a bit of help- this is what I did.

Firstly, I painted a wash ground in the usual way, allowing two or three subtle shades to mix together, using water based ink. I am a great fan of Dr Martin's ink. (not to be confused with Dr Martin's boots!) Then, I typed out the text on my computer using a very large font, I chose Palatino type, selected bold italic. I then traced around the outline of each letter and placed it in such a way as to meander the words across a curvy line. This was a bit of a fiddle but easy enough, using a good quality tracing paper and a very fine .3 HB lead in my pencil. As tracing puts everything in reverse, I printed the lettering in reverse to start with.

So now, I have my letters in a faint pencil outline on my wash ground. I should add that the wash ground has to be perfectly dry. Next, I took a mapping pen with a very fine nib and drew around the letter shapes, then let this dry before carefully removing the pencil with a soft eraser. Next step, I painted the letters one by one with a slightly stronger wash and Voila! Now I know this is a bit of a cheat, but the final result does look better than adding the text at a later stage by computer. 

Before I close, I must tell you about an amazing calligrapher that came to our bookbinding group to give a workshop. His name is Paul Antonio, if you get a chance have a look at his website, even better, see him in action. He is amazing, what's more, he sings in Italian whilst performing, and I use the word advisedly, his swirls and flourishes! Needless to say that he works without the aid of a computer.