Little Window of Horrors at The Succulence

The last couple years I've made some creepy crepe paper flowers for Halloween. This year they're back and bigger than ever! I had the pleasure of creating a window installation for The Succulence; a garden store in San Francisco's Bernal Heights. I was able to pair my creepy blooms with some real life carnivorous plants. 

You can find my original man eating plant project here. For another creepy bloom I also have instructions for flowers that stare right back at ya.

The carnivorous plants were provided by Predatory Plants.

The carnivorous plants were provided by Predatory Plants.

This amazing planted chair was a prop I took right from The Succulence shop.

This amazing planted chair was a prop I took right from The Succulence shop.

For scale you can see my original flower design sitting in front of the giant bloom.

For scale you can see my original flower design sitting in front of the giant bloom.

California Calligraphy — practice list

Written with a watercolor palette as ink source.

Written with a watercolor palette as ink source.

I've got a new practice list to share! I've actually been using it for awhile now and it's become my default warm-up list that I've memorized.

Unlike the list I've used to compare my progress learning calligraphy it's easier to practice all the minuscule letters by just writing the list as Title Case. There is of course a word starting with each letter of the alphabet but also nearly every letter is accounted for within the body of the words. The two exceptions are the letters X and J. It's tough enough to find words that begin with X. As for the J, that was tough to find while fitting with the California theme I was going for. Luckily a minuscule 'y' holds the same properties as a 'j'.

Testing out a few different nibs.

Testing out a few different nibs.

Testing a new ink and practicing with an oblique nib holder.

Testing a new ink and practicing with an oblique nib holder.

One little note about the green practice sheet above. I wrote it with an oblique nib holder! That exclamation point is needed because for over two years I've only used a straight nib holder. Straight is the tool I learned to write calligraphy with and I assumed it would feel weird to use the oblique. Then a couple weeks ago I took a flourishing class which must be done with the oblique. I was surprised to find it feels pretty easy to go back and forth between the different nib holders.

Now for the full California inspired list for easy copying and google searching. This is also the moment when I realize how much I've been spelling wrong on my practice sheets.


Avocado, Bobcat, California, Desert, Eagle, Flower, Grapes, Harvest, Iris, Jasmine, Kelp, Lemon, Manzanita, Nuts, Ocean, Poppy, Quail, Raisons, Squash, Trees, Uncork, Volcano, Water, Xylonite (yes, this one is a stretch), Yosemite, Zest. 


Remember I share these practice lists so you can get to practicing all the letters without having to think of something new to write. They're not meant for imitating the letterforms themselves as I am also still learning and these are just evidence of my own practice.

Celebrating two years of calligraphy + resources

In May 2013 I started my Calligraphy practice. That kinda makes it sound as official as being a lawyer. I call it a practice because just like anything else, to become proficient, it takes practice. And I finally feel proficient. Not perfect, but proficient. And while I don't get called for legal advice I am happy to offer my calligraphy skills to you. Get in touch.

Before it gets too much further beyond the two year mark (it's now September 2015) I wanted to see where my hand began and where it is now. To complete the circle I started with a blog post I wrote in 2013, a few months into learning calligraphy, I shared the wee-progress I'd made from even being able to hold a pen to starting to feel more fluid. I knew I wanted to be able to visually see my progress so I created a set of words to consistently practice.

It seemed important to do this comparison now because at the two year mark I could really feel a shift in the ease of my writing.

June 2013

June 2013

June 2013, miniscules

June 2013, miniscules

September 2015. Same size paper as the images above but I no longer need a whole page for just one practice set.

September 2015. Same size paper as the images above but I no longer need a whole page for just one practice set.

September 2015, a fancier version.

September 2015, a fancier version.

There you have it. My progress with 26 words. Check out that older blog post to see more of the early days. And this is how I was doing last year.

If you're just beginning your calligraphy practice, Copperplate or Modern pointed pen, Here are some book resources I've found especially helpful.

The subtitle, A step by step manual, really does say it all. This book was a huge help after I finished taking my first calligraphy class. It helped with the particulars of understanding the letterforms created by the pointed pen. Each letter is meticulously described. Variations are provided as well as common mistakes. It's an old school book on technique.

Where the previous book was about precision this book embraces imperfection. I've mentioned this before, that in the past perfect letterforms were exalted. This importance of perfection continued from the calligraphers hand, to typewriters, and to the digitally printed page. 

Modern calligraphy is a reaction to those shifts in technology. The idea of modern calligraphy now celebrates the variation in hand that creates the letterforms. 

Modern Calligraphy, the book, is an excellent resource for learning about materials and the basics of getting started. There is also lots of variation of letterforms. This might seem a little overwhelming if you're just starting. I'd suggest picking just one of each to continually practice at first.

These first two books especially guided me in finding and playing with letterforms to see my own hand start to emerge.

If you've fallen in love with calligraphy and letterform you'll want to get your hands on this issue of UPPERCASE Magazine. It's an inspirational piece vs. tutorial but you'll definitely learn a lot about different calligraphers practices and creative paths.

This is a good general reference for a broad range of calligraphy types beyond pointed pen. I will say the projects feel dated... especially the digital ones. 

This last suggestion is not a book about technique. It's actually a catalog of blackletter and fraktur typefaces (including a CD with a good selection of fonts from the book). If you've fallen for broad tip calligraphy then this could be an excellent inspirational resource for you.

Lastly, besides the word list I've used to keep track of my progress I've shared a bunch of other lists. They're helpful for warming up the pen.

SF Etsy Summer Pop-up

I'm excited to say I'll be participating in the SF Etsy Summer Pop-up on Sunday, August 23rd. Here are the pertinent details and the official Facebook Event link.

When
Sunday, August 23, 11:00am - 5:00pm

Where
All Good Pizza, San Francisco

What
This is of course what I'm most excited about. I've been working hard to create more products for Kitty Confetti. What's Kitty Confetti? You know party cats are just throwing catnip around like Scrooge McDuck in his money vault. So for all those times you aren't sure what to get your cat loving friend I've got Kitty Confetti; a whole line of easy cat gifts and stationary. At the Pop-up I'll be debuting a whole bunch of new items like cards made with that gelatin cat print you see up there. 

What else to do
All Good Pizza is a good ways down 3rd Street so you might be wondering what else can I do while in the Bay View? FIRST, come to the pop-up! Then walk just half a block down to the garden oasis that is Flora Grubb. Inside Flora Grubb you'll find Ritual Coffee along with a pussy cat lounging around somewhere. If you've got your car handy I also recommend checking out Building Resources where you could pick up a salvaged door or some tumbled glass. For something else that's a different type of old there's a wonderful antique store you could spend hours in called the Richard Gervais Collection. Unfortunately they're not open on Sundays but I wanted to mention it while highlighting some of the Bayview businesses.

Lastly I wanted to say a little note about this blog. If you frequent it often you may have noticed I've been lax on posting this past month. It's definitely due to all the work I'm putting into Kitty Confetti. But I wanted to assure you that I'm not done having this blog conversation. As I focus on new and old creative passions the blog is the place I've come to share them. And it's still the place I plan to share... but perhaps just not once a week like I was able to do for the last couple of years. if you want to make sure you're up do date on any of my creative happenings do stay connected by subscribing to my monthly Tiny Letter.

 

The 100 Day Project: Finish

A fraction of what I created during the 100 days

A fraction of what I created during the 100 days

Tuesday (July 14, 2015) was the culmination of my 100 Days Of Day Break Play project. The quick project explanation is that for 100 days I played with craft within the beginnings of my day. I averaged about 35 minutes creating each morning spending over 55 hours total in time. Because making is something that fundamentally grounds me the goal of the project was to carve out time and routine in my day that would give me this space for making, EVERYDAY. I wrote a blog post at the project's start with some of my initial thoughts. You can also learn about the whole larger 100 Days Project here.

Having my project be tied to a specific time of the day was really helpful for getting it done. I could not procrastinate the activity because I knew that if I was not creating by a certain point in my morning there would be no going back in time. I could not let the morning slip away. There were only a couple instances where I fudged a bit. Like waking up on the forth day of camping after staying up almost 'til dawn singing and drawing by a campfire. I needed to hit the road home first thing so I decided that the spirit of my project had already been fulfilled.

I thought the beginning of the project would be the toughest part but at about day 52 I was surprised to find I'd hit a bit of a wall. This was after returning from the forest and I think I was feeling exhausted and grumpy with the constraint I'd put on myself. But I powered through and at a few days later it felt easier again.

The only other challenge was planning around travel and making sure I packed art supplies that would allow me to make wherever I was in the morning even if that was at the airport. (A bonus was it made waiting in the airport more enjoyable.)

Knowing I'd have my project to work on in the morning almost always brought a positive start to the day and flushed away any awkward feelings from the day before. Overall I felt rejuvenated each morning.

The circular Zendala pictured the largest was my mornings creation on the hundredth day. I combined imagery from the tiles and palms I was inspired by on my trip to Mexico.

The circular Zendala pictured the largest was my mornings creation on the hundredth day. I combined imagery from the tiles and palms I was inspired by on my trip to Mexico.

Two weeks ago I went to Sayulita, Mexico which brought lots of creative inspiration for the sprint to the 100 days finish line. I stayed in a hacienda with an abundance of patterns that I could draw from (pun intended).

I am so thankful for the 100 days project and the routine it helped me to create for myself. I'll be keeping it up even if I don't share everyday on Instagram. Being able to see what others on Instagram were creating was also motivating combined with having my friend Ann along for the ride to reflect on the project milestones with. Do take a look at her paper experiments.

I've enjoyed the Instagram community aspect of the project but I'm also excited to see what I'll make without feeling the obligation of sharing everyday. Obligation might be a heavier word than I intend but not sharing everyday I think will bring a different type of freedom to my morning routine. But I do plan on sharing those morning creative stretches here and there because the sharing has become routine as well.

In the future I'd like to do the 100 days project with more focus. My project was focused on a new habit with very broad creative freedom... next time I'd like to try something with more parameters. Here are a few of the projects with specific parameters I enjoyed watching unfold over the last 100 days. 

100 days of paper experiments
Grid the grid
100 days of Cafcaf
100 days of tiny things
100 Snuffys
100 days of people parts n flowers
100 days of costumes

And here are a few blog posts highlighting bigger projects within my project:

Explain the Sun
Gelatin printing — American flags and exploring the Playing with Surface Design book
Strike Away Show submission