The 100 Day Project: 2017

It’s that time of year again. The 100 Day project is upon us and I’m participating for my 3rd time.

This year my 100 Day Project is lettering the “radio”. The radio is information. I grew up listening to public radio and now also listen to tons of podcasts. The radio has always been my main source of news and helped me to be a critical thinker. So as I letter I’ll be sharing tidbits of ideas and things I hear good ol’ fashioned public radio and the modern version of the radio, podcasts.

I’ve love using the tools for calligraphy and brush lettering but sometimes I’m at a loss for what to write. This project provides me a solution to that for the next 100 days. Here we go!

Info to join in the fun can be found at the official website.

Follow along with my project on Instagram #LetteringTheRadio

My past two projects.
2015 #100DaysOfDayBreakPlay
Related blog post

2016 #100OnionDrops
Related blog post

Flip happy business card

Every few years I design a new business card for myself. See my social media callingrams here and my masking tape covered Shastablasta Wraps Presents Well blog cards here.

Personal business cards have always been a fun exercise for me to hand off a little of my personality alongside my contact info. A primary goal when I create a business card is always to make the receiver feel like they’re getting a little gift. Now that it's easy to put contact info in phones it feels especialIy important to make business cards more about the experience of meeting someone.

If this wasn't my own card I'd probably call it overkill. I know someday these cards are destined for the recycling bin but in the meantime I hope they bring some purposeful amusement to the recipient. 

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.

Q. Explain the sun? A. Contrast

A few weeks ago I caught an installment of Science Friday on NPR. They announced a Science Club challenge to Explain the Sun. It was an open ended question that could be answered in anyway, about anything relating to the sun. The project sparked my interest and I instantly thought of explaining the contrast the sun provides. So the last couple weeks I've been creating images around that idea and the importance of the suns contrast to me personally. You may have seen them on my Instagram as part of my 100 Day Project.

I love the sun. For me the word contrast is a thread that explains much of the sun. There is of course contrast from day to night. There is the contrast when the sun is shining and shadows are cast. And there is contrast in mood as the sun is capable of bringing a shift, good or bad, to emotion. When it shines or is behind clouds my mood is magnified. I embrace contrast because without it there would be no measurement for contentment. 

I feel energized by the sun and often find myself having a very productive day indoors even when my internal logic would be inclined to go outdoors. 


Ironically San Francisco has been doused in fog most of the time I've been creating these little images.

The micro climates in San Francisco often mean fog blocks the sun. Sometimes I embrace the fog but if it's been hanging around for days (or even a whole day) I long for sunshine and the contrasting shadows it casts. Sometimes the sun/fog contrast is even more extreme and you can see a clear dividing line of fog layering one half of the city while the other is in full sunshine.

Lastly if we follow the thread of contrast to it's end, we get to, THE END. The sun is our star that we see shining (mostly) everyday. Many stars we see at night have long ago blinked out and someday our beloved sun will meet this same end.