Thursday, October 31, 2013

Star Book created by Anne Laird

One of my mini book swap ladies (Susan) attended a class with master calligrapher Shelia Waters.     Here is Susan's book (Above) She created in the class and below is the article she wrote for the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa.
Thanks so much Susan for sharing your article and pickie of your book. Such amazing work.
After several years of urging from my friend in Indiana, who raved about Sheila's classes at home, I decided that I would have to see what it was all about.  Why did I wait so long?  In September this year, I went for the second time, armed with a project with which Sheila could help.
Sheila lives in Pennsylvania, near the Maryland border, in the house that she and Peter designed, which was built by her son Mike.  The views from her living room windows are wonderful.  If anyone ever needed a retreat, this is it.  The house is large, so can accommodate easily 9 visiting students.  The camaraderie and sharing, not just calligraphically speaking, make these times special.  What was great to see this year were Sheila's roughs of the Roundel (and other pieces).  The Roundel is my favourite piece of hers.  I've seen it enough times now to spot when it was reproduced in a book upside down.
Just listening to her explain how pieces and commissions were created was insightful.  One work she showed us was the original of a commission.  After it had been sent to the individual who had requested it, it was returned, as the person wanted certain changes.  So Sheila got to keep her original, which she could show to us. 
One of her many friends was artist Marie Angel.  After Marie died, her niece sent Sheila some pieces of her aunt's original artwork, which have been published in books that Sheila owns.
Speaking of books, Sheila has a great reference library, which proved very useful, to me especially, when I was looking for early examples of Celtic illustration and lettering.  One thing I learned from her was that the T I was fond of using did not appear in the manuscripts upon which my other uncial letters were based.  So I have corrected that, and now confine myself to using that letter in titles.
My project is a book of seasons' quotes, which I started 2 years ago.  The calligraphy was finished over a year ago (with the questionable Ts), and the knotwork I completed painting early in the summer.  I needed her help with the title page, and the section pages: "autumn", "winter", etc.  The answer was simple, and not new to me.  I had just forgotten about it.  Use a paper ruler.  We learned that in one of our CSO workshops a year or so ago.  That way, I made my downstrokes the same size and kept my spacing even between the letters.
I was also looking for decorative elements to put around or in the letters.  I examined the original pages carefully, and saw that the current love of zentangles, or doodling, was practiced in the 7th and 8th centuries.  What a find!  I came away with many ideas and a list of themes I could use in making my section pages and title page special.  I have promised to show her the book next year.
One treat was visiting the exhibition put on by the Washington Calligraphers Guild, located at Strathmore Mansion in Bethesda, Md.  I was delighted to see a beautiful star book by our own Beth McKee!
In summary, it is good to be with a group of people who are interested in the same thing.  We could bounce ideas off of each other, and we learned from each other, even by observing what each of us was working on.  Sheila does not advertise her classes, instead she relies on word of mouth to get students.  One last memory - sitting with the others around her dining room table and laughing.

1 comment:

  1. That sounds like a wonderful experience! You have such talent and skill. I've noticed the presence of Zentangle-style art in work from other countries and eras, and always delighted to see its seemingly "universal" appeal! (That star book is great!)