Tag Archives: Art

Dunstable Medieval Weekend with Brother William


Medieval Dunstable.Ye Scriptorium. Img.jpg

After a week of making up bookmarks, wall-plates etc. and framing of prints, we loaded the scriptorium into the car and headed off to wildest Medieval Dunstable. Only four miles down the road but eight hundred years on the time scale.

We were greeted at the entrance of Priory House by one of what seemed to be a whole battalion of immaculately turned out Army Cadets. We were shown to our tent by Lisa the event organiser and, helped by half a dozen Cadets, unloaded everything into a marquee that had been erected onto the rain-soaked grass. At that time, in the totally empty space which was to house us, The Bedfordshire and Luton Archives and Records Service, The Dunstable History Society and The Manshead Archaeological  Society, were about six large, soaking wet tables. Three of these were quickly dried off for us  by the cadets and placed in what I thought would be the prime spot. I left Gill to arrange the stall while I went off to park the car. The idea was to have one table as a work bench, one for our wares, and another, spread with paper and scattered with double pencils and coloured felt tips, for anyone to try their hand at calligraphy. When I returned it was looking like this.

Medieval Dunstable. Our stall. img. jpg.

Then after setting up my writing slope and trying out the pens and coloured inks, I found that due to the humidity, the colours were feathering on the card and though I could get some quite pretty effects, it was not a good representation of the lettering arts. Luckily I found that gold and silver worked quite well, so by the time our first customers appeared I had my mind made up for me that the metallic inks  were the best alternative.

Brother William at Medieval Dunstable.img. jpg

Here I am with one of the first of many customers which became a steady stream throughout the day.

Lady Gillian at Medieval Dunstable. img. jpg.

Lady Gillian taking her shift.

Brother William and lady Gillian at Medieval Dunstable.img. jpg

A break in proceedings while all visitors were watching the battles or the jousts,  punctuated by the roar of cannon fire and the shouts of the combatants. These occurred at intervals during each day and were performed by the Medieval Siege Society. We were pleased to meet a number of the S0ciety members.

Gill gets in some practice and then has a wander round with the camera,

Medieval instrument maker. img.jpg.

and finds Trevor James of Beccles playing an assortment of hand made medieval musical instruments.

It was good to see so many people, both young and old, taking an interest in the calligraphy demonstrations and getting the hang of using double pencils.

Youngsters with double pencils.img. jpg.

Over the two days we used about 30 metres of lining paper and only had to scrap one sheet, because it had been covered in obscenities by one youngster who had been told “Anything you like” in answer to his question, “What shall I put on here?” He then ran off laughing. Gill was very quick to remove the offending piece before it was noticed by anyone else.

We used up all but one of the bookmarks and had only two or three wall-plates to take home with us. It was good also, that a few people liked the prints, both framed and unframed, enough to buy them.

It was a joy for us both to work with these budding scribes, most of whom were eager to blow a little magic into the bottle, because it “made the pen work” and then watch it swirling around in the ink. Truth be told, watching their faces, the adults also thought this might be true.

Brother William at Medieval Dunstable. img .jpg.

This young lady took lots of snaps. When I commented on her really tasty camera, she hugged it and laughed and said, “It is my baby”.

Brother William at Medieval Dunstable.img.jpg.

I was pleased so many friends came to say hello. Some of whom we had lost contact with.  It was really good to see you.  Gill, a Dunstablian, was recognised by a neighbour she had not seen since childhood, and people she used to work alongside at the L&D hospital. Heheh!  Fame at last.

Brother William at Medieval Dunstable. img.jpg

These two days have flown by. We have made another load of friends and contacts. There are promises of intended commissions, and invitations to similar events all over the country. The weather has been great in spite of the downpour the night before we arrived, and in spite of the “doom and gloom” forecast for the weekend.

Many thanks to Jean Yates, the Project Officer, and Dunstable Town Council for inviting us. To the Army Cadets for brightening up a really gloomy start, all the cheerful faces of the St John’s Ambulance Brigade who came to see us throughout the weekend, (luckily, it seems there were no major incidents for them to deal with).  And mostly to Lisa, the Event Organiser and her assistant, Lauren, for all you did for us before and during the event. You are a great team.

 

By the bye.

 

Dunstable War Memorial. WWII.  C.C Stenning

Just a few yards from where we were working.  On the war memorial, Stenning, C.C. Gill’s uncle, who lied about his age to join the RAF. Became a rear gunner and was shot down, aged 18. RIP.

Strangely enough, next year’s event, on the centenary of the 1st World War, will be remembering Dunstable during WW I. Those who know me well will have an idea of what or whom I shall be portraying, if, indeed, I am invited.

Keep Watching this space.

Cheers.   Bill.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 5


Link to week 4

It was good to see that PPP has obviously been partaken of over the last few days. If letters have not actually been made with pen and ink, or passages planned upon an actual page, then there must have been a great deal of making of letters and planning of pages taking place in the minds of our scribes in the making. Perhaps my theory of “Don’t count sheep. Make letters”, is bearing fruit. The pens are now beginning to work as they should, more ink on the page than on the fingers this week. Some nice work is beginning to emerge.

Due no doubt to my involvement with the Red Dot exhibition some of my plans for this class had to be put on hold, hopefully for another time. I had planned to bring along my collection of home made equipment, cola pens and the like, some vellum scraps and other interesting bits and pieces I have amassed over the years. I stupidly left them at home, along with the camera and lap-top. I did, however, have some hand cut quills, bamboo and reed pens for everyone to try. Everyone was so taken with the bamboo though, that we got no further down this road.

Hand made pens. Cola pens. img. jpg

Taken from Getting started in calligraphy.

My take on the Cola pen. The RED STRIPE Pen. To my mind, much more fun emptying the can.  A chisel cut pencil to dip.  A needlepoint and 6mm with film reservoir, bamboo, and a 2mm Reed.

Make sure mummy and daddy are supervising.  Heheh. We don’t want any cut fingers! With scissors, cut top and bottom from the can, making sure you have first downed the contents.  (Adults, it might be best to leave this stage ’til tomorrow, depending on the strength of the aforesaid). Carefully, (The cut tin can will be very sharp).  Open up and then fold down the length of the metal. Cut whatever shape you are looking for for the nib…then continue down the length,making sure to leave enough for the handle. These are rolled and then taped tightly. Perhaps strengthening by rolling the handle round a pencil. You could make a much prettier job by soldering.  Just make sure that all bare edges are covered or blunted.  ‘speriment and enjoy.
You might like to note that I have been experimenting with various materials to use as reservoirs. The best so far is old fashioned film or even negatives. Used flat it can be cut and pushed into a slit formed in the quill, reed, bamboo or whatever, or rolled into a spring and pushed into the aperture.
Some other examples…………..

http://www.facebook.com/posted.php?id=100000056736005#!/video/video.php?v=303620954270

Bamboo / Reed pen. Clarinet qalam. img. jpg

This one is made from bamboo and a clarinet reed with film reservoir.

We then had an impromptu discussion on the differences  in scripts over the years and how, due to the number of books being made, the speed of hand needed to produce them, and the scarcity of animal skins, there was a shift from the rounded forms of Uncial, Carolingian and Humanist, to the much more compressed angular forms of Blackletter or Gothic scripts.

Uncial & Blackletter script. img.jpg

The comparative roundness of Blackletter capitals enough to let in a little light to the page.

Blackletter Capitals.img. jpg.

And so, we regretfully started to wind up this final session of what to me has been a most rewarding five weeks of calligraphy workshops. I am hoping that from these humble beginnings of Roundhand and Roman scripts, all who have participated will now have the inclination to learn more, to hone their skills by way of practice, practice, practice, and go on to become the scribe that I always wished to be.

We all agreed it is a shame that the group should come to an end. I have written to my contact from “Luton Culture”, with a view to an extension, either at the museum or some other venue. It seems she is on leave until Wednesday May 8th. Once I have word, I shall update this blog and will be in touch.

UPDATE :- A new group has begun at Luton Irish Forum.  All Welcome.

Until then, my inky friends, I wish you all a fond farewell. By way of homework I refer you To Mr Reynolds’ little series.

Cheers.   Bill.

Keep watching this space.

The Red Dot Gallery Exhibition.


Red Dot Gallery exhibition.img. jpg.

April 22nd and an invitation, due to one exhibitor of a group unfortunately having to cancel, I am invited to include some of my work in the local Red Dot Gallery, exhibition which is to open on May 1st so I have one week to delve into my portfolio of framed / unframed pieces and works in progress.

I very soon realised that I would need more frames and as time was getting short decided to take a trip to Zanart Ezeframe.  I have been using their expertise for around thirty years or so and  have always been extremely pleased with their products and service. The workshop is within a 20 minute or so drive of home so is also very handy. I subsequently posted on my Facebook page :- Have just spent a pleasant afternoon in Dane Lane, Wilstead, with the folks at Zanart EzeFrame. Fun to watch them chase a huge wasp / hornet? around the workshop. Came away with 6 frames plus a couple of mounts cut, while I waited, to be used at next week’s Red Dot exhibition. Great service and huge range of framing options. I recommend a look at their website and, if you can visit, a browse through their sale items.

Then a very busy weekend polishing and framing and in the end delivered            15 pieces to Red Dot on Monday April 29th. Luckily, as I had so many other things to take care of, Sam and the staff offered to hang my offerings so I left them in very capable hands.

Today, May 1st, I just had to go along to see the result. Here we are, the fruits of my labours all mixed up with an assortment of other goodies from                      Mike La-traille, Dave Poulton, Ruth Goodman,Nick Colyer, and Zakia Abdullah.

DSCF3945

   DSCF3948   DSCF3949

DSCF3955   DSCF3953   DSCF3954

DSCF3952   DSCF3954 (2)profolial   DSCF3960

DSCF3951  DSCF3950

DSCF3946

If you get the chance, why not come along and have a look.

Red Dot Flyer

Cheers.   Keep watching this space.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4


Link to week 3

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4.Img. jpg

Before I begin this week’s write up, I would like to thank Andrew for getting in touch and offering some toughened glass suitable for light-tables, and also for delivering same to the museum. Your generosity is greatly appreciated. They were soon snapped up and are probably in use already.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. Light Table. img.jpg.

Here Peter is trying my portable Light-Table and finding it easier to transfer lines from his guideline sheet.  For more information on working with Light- Tables, especially layout issues as discussed this week, have a look at this earlier post on hints and tips.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. Pen-work. img. jpg

Now, while beginning to get to grips with broad nib and ink, we explored how the balance of the written page is found, bearing in mind that the optical centre, is, as with letter construction, (i.e. the central cross stroke on “E” sits on the centre line rather than straddling or hanging from it), slightly above a measured centre. The hints from “My Cool School”, on putting together a brochure give a very good illustration. As the author writes,

You can measure all you want, follow all the rules, and do everything you have been taught, but the bottom line is:  If it doesn’t Look right – it isn’t!”

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. Coming on Nicely. img jpg.

Next, how to plan a page of script, perhaps a poem, without having to write out the whole page only to find you haven’t left enough room. It is a good idea to always copy text from a printed page. It saves any ambiguity (specially when dealing with a client), and at a glance you can pick out the longest line. After first working out, with your guide-line sheets, how many lines you can get on your page, write this longest line in the chosen script  and size. If it is too long or short for the sheet it is meant for, you can either modify the page size, or the size of script, or use a more compressed script, or opt to write that particular line on two lines. Either way you are now in a position to know that what you have planned for the page will actually fit. Your work will now fail only due to faulty execution rather than bad planning.

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 4. A nicely balanced page. img. jpg.

Having been asked to PPP with all their might, the slightly bemused, exhausted group, left with these words ringing in their ears, “Heheheh”.  “Just wait to see what I have in store for you next week”

Looking forward to the final session, for now, I hope, and to seeing you all next week.

Cheers.   Bill.

Link to week 5

Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Week 2


Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

 Link to WEEK 1

Sorry to see a few people missing from the last session due to holidays, work commitments, illness etc. Hope to see you all again soon. Some new faces though, made the mix of abilities even more interesting and everyone had the chance to recap as the roundhand alphabet was demonstrated once more with the double pencils and then later with a broad nib.

Then, a look around the room to find that most had been doing their homework “PPP” and had even made a start on the Roman Capitals. Some though were a bit confused by my notations on the sample. I apologise for not pointing out the formula for letter proportion which can be found on Lesson 2 Roman Capitals.

Monumental capitals might be 8 to 10 nib-widths high. These on the example are 7. Pen angle should be 30 degrees except for diagonals -AWXYZ- 45 degrees, and legs of N, written with an almost upright pen. Capitals in body text are better kept to perhaps half again as high as the minuscules. Widths of Roman capitals vary from 1 nib width – ”I”, to half a square – “E”,  3/4 – ”G”, 1 square – ”O”, to one and a half squares -”W”.

Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

We have one left handed scribe among us and it might be worth mentioning that he took calligraphy classes while on a graphic design course but was never asked to try to write from below the line rather than over the top, which is more natural for a “leftie” when writing with a pencil or ballpoint, but not as efficient when using a broad nibbed pen. I must say I am impressed with his progress so far with the double pencils, I am hoping the transition to pen and ink will be as painless.

Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

Just a couple of comments in passing, this week, on spacing, make sure to use the balloon example, even when practising, to give your eye, brain, hand and arm, plenty of exercise and to build up coordination.

Balloon.calligraphy spacing guide.Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

On layout. You will notice that all your guideline sheets have borders. Not very big ones so far as we need to conserve paper while practising. Later on in the course we will be looking into the correlation of white and black space but it is a good idea to bear in mind that a page with half the amount of black space to white, if nicely balanced, is easier to read and much more restful to the eye than a page crammed from corner to corner.

calligraphy templates.combinations.x height guide.jpg.Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

To make it easier to work out what this is all about. The x’s to the left of the page have the space of two x’s between them, making room for  ascender and descender . The x’s to the right of the page have only one x between them, useful for a page of capitals or uncials, or, short or intermingling ascenders and descenders. So if we always work in multiples of 1/8 of an inch, one guide line sheet will suffice for any number of layouts. More on this later.

Calligraphy Workshops Luton.Wardown park Museum. img.jpg

Hoping you are able to make the next session where we will be putting the above into action.

Link to WEEK 3

Video

Speedy Calligradoodles. For now, a silent movie. Updated 5th October ’13


If you have been following my YouTube progress up ’til now you may wonder why I decided to put together this compilation of all the videos I have made and why I decided not to add an audio track.

Firstly, a Facebook friend was bemoaning the fact that YouTube was not available in his country and so could not watch many of the Calligraphy videos posted on group pages. This then, began as my small way of compensating him for that lack and was published just in time for his Birthday. Cheers Shahed!

So, you may well ask, why did I not add music?

It is a long story, but briefly it is all about the way, even when logged into YouTube, I was unable to gain access to edit my videos and playlists until after days of haranguing the help department, when suddenly I found I was, as I thought, back in control. A bit like knocking on the door again and again and then, with no explanation, finding yourself on the other side.

While all this was going on I had the idea that as I had used YouTube audio swap, which I am sure, we were told at the time was copyright free, they had placed advertisements on all my works. I am sure that very little revenue would be earned by my measly efforts but I thought, why should YouTube take all the proceeds from the millions of  “Audio Swapped” videos out there and what can be done to change things?

Have you tried to “monetise” your Video?  First of all you need to make sure you are registered on the Adsense programme, a minefield of all your old YouTube user names, Google accounts and passwords, and then work out how to actually tick the right boxes, or should I say, find the right boxes to tick in the first place. When you first see the magic question, Monetise?, you think you have cracked it. Then having said yes please. You are told in no uncertain terms in a big red box, “Oh no you don’t. Your video does not fit the accepted criteria. Go and find out why!”.

Have you tried to remove the “Audio Swapped” music from your YouTube videos? So far, on my two least viewed videos only, I have had an option to “remove music track, Beta”  Beta it is. After numerous attempts, although the text stated audio removed or words to that extent, no change.

Then it was a trip to YT’s “Video Editor”. Having copied the two lowliest of my offerings, with muted audio, Bingo! They now have the coveted $ sign. I am rubbing my hands with glee, I do a similar operation with a further two videos, publish, monetise……….  UH, OH!…..  Then more or less, words to the effect of, “If you keep doing this, your video might be suspended or blocked or removed, so go away and behave yourself.”

So, I am left with the dilemma. Do I remove all my videos from YouTube, losing all the stats and analytics, the goodwill and the links that have been built over the last four years or so, or do I leave them as they are and publish the whole series again, perhaps with no music, or with tracks that have been specially written by a friend of mine who would be prepared to sign over the rights of his works to me on the understanding that he/she would share the earnings?  Or, do I just say, as I’m sure most YouTube users do. To hell with it. Let Uncle Google have his pound of flesh.

So far, according to “Analytics”, my videos have had 14,o57 views between them. Total earnings, zilch!      After just 8 views this new silent video has earned 3 cents in revenue for me, and  YT are still getting their cut.

UPDATE  5th  March ’13

YouTube support have asked for feedback. I ticked the multiple choice boxes and added :- My initial query about access to edit videos has been addressed.
Now I am finding it impossible to remove the audio tracks. I have tried  Remove a Song – Beta on the two videos where this is available to no avail. I wish to have the option to remove all audio from all my videos.  Many thanks.

UPDATE

You might be interested to hear I have now uploaded my videos to Vimeo.

https://vimeo.com/billgrant/videos

UPDATE  5th October ’13. My videos have now reached 20700 views and advertising still controlled by YouTube.

Keep watching Calligradoodles and keep watching this space.

Cheers.