Tag Archives: calligraphy

Good Friday 2018

The Suffering Servant

The story of Easter foretold by Isaiah


The Suffering Servant. Isaiah’s prophecy. Written out as an exercise in 1987.        (Practice, Positive Practice).


Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?

For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.


Wishing Season’s Greetings to all my friends and all you lovely scribes out there.

Peace and joy christmas_001

Good Friday 2015



It is finished


The Luton Fleadh Fiesta. 2014

This gallery contains 1 photos.

Many thanks to Kerrie and Declan of Olympian Productions for inviting us to participate in the Fleadh, and to all at Luton Irish Forum for their help with tables, setting up etc. It was good to meet up with Dee … Continue reading

Blackletter Capitals written with double markers

Written and filmed, singlehandedly, during a hot Friday afternoon while awaiting new members at the Luton Irish Forum Calligraphy Group. Quite a meditative exercise. Concentrating wholly on each stroke as it was made, but having to keep everything within the scope of the camera. There were difficulties with video angle and there are a few mistakes that I am sure the more experienced scribe will shudder to see, but all in all I was quite pleased with my afternoon’s work.
Only a few edits of the worst bits so the viewer has a good idea of the timescale, speed of writing etc.
I am wondering, as you probably will as you watch, especially if you have the sound turned up, who is walking purposefully up and down the room. I am used to hearing footsteps from the upper floor but watching this, I am sure there was someone in the room who, perhaps, didn’t wish to disturb me. If so, I must apologise if I seemed to be ignoring you. Come and tap me on the shoulder next time.

If you would like to join us, we meet on Tuesday evenings from 7.00-9.00 and Friday afternoons from 2.30-4.30.
We are a nice friendly bunch of scribes of mixed ability all learning from one-another. Whether you are an absolute beginner, or a scribe of long standing, please do pop in and have a look at what we are doing.

At the time of writing this, Gill and I, with the help of the Humanitas Shop In Hitchin are now running fortnightly Monday,  morning / evening sessions. Please speak to Donna re availability.

Blackletter scan

There will be more on Blackletter in due course.
Keep watching this space.

Gilding can be fun.

Last Tuesday at Jewels calligraphy group, we were discussing methods of gilding on vellum using Roberson’s Gold Body and Transfer Gold Leaf. Though I have done a fair amount of gilding I wouldn’t call myself an expert in any way, but at the end of the day Julie wrote down the stages that I generally use.


The whole place was in uproar as I read these words in an E.L. Wisty like voice. I, myself, could not get through the list without laughing so hard the tears ran down my face.

Here is a little clip of E.L. Wisty.

Lots of serious stuff on YouTube if you take the time to trawl through all the posts on gilding. but there is really no substitute for getting your sleeves rolled up and experiencing it for yourself.

I have just found this Pdf from John Neal’s, Book sellers re the use of Titanium Dioxide Gesso.
Very interesting.

Have fun.
Keep watching this space.

A Calligraphy Workshop at the Red Dot Gallery


Red Dot

One of our local schools, Icknield High School, offering a wide range of subjects in the Creative Arts at GCSE level, and home to the Red Dot Gallery, made a request for local artists to come in and run a workshop for year 9 & 10 students currently working towards their Silver Arts Award. As you may well imagine, I thought this would be right up my street. I am sure to grab any excuse to plant the calligraphy seed in young minds.

That is how Gill and I found ourselves one Monday afternoon pinning sheets of lining paper to the gallery walls, wondering how many prospective scribes might come along. Red Dot staff thought there might be ten or so. I had made up fifteen packs consisting of the usual guide lines plus examples of the Roman and Round-hand alphabets as used in the Luton Calligraphy Workshops. Luckily, I had a few spares also, as eventually, at the allotted hour, we were graced by the presence of seventeen of the most attentive, industrious youngsters one could wish to meet.

I had decided previously, that, as many of these students would probably be aiming at a career in the graphic arts/design fields, and there being such a bewildering and sometimes expensive, variety of thousands, probably millions of fonts and type faces available, that I would put to them the idea of taking the half dozen or so historic scripts that we would discuss today,  and making them their own. Using just the models, and tools in front of them plus lessons and resources from this blog, especially the links pages, they could become proficient at drawing their own letters, rather than trawling through all those on offer.

We had approximately one and a half hours to fill and six thousand years of the evolution of western letterform to cover, as well as factoring in as much practical work as we could manage. A massive task, you might think, but by turning my experience as a youngster round and likening my searches through encyclopaedias and dictionaries to searching the web, today, I was able to start with a picture of a Sumerian Cuneiform clay tablet dating to c.3300 BC,


then, briefly that this highly advanced form of record keeping had already evolved over some millennia and eventually, at the hands of several trading nations, percolated toward Greece where scholars adapted it to their own use. From there it was taken by the Romans to become the familiar script we know today.

Calligraphy.Roman capitals alphabet.double pencils.img.jpg

This alphabet then became part of our British culture. Meanwhile, from Greece the writings travelled northward and were eventually used by St Cyril and his followers to form the beginnings of the familiar Russian ‘Cyrillic’ script of today. On the way it was probably hybridised by migrating Celts who carried it up through Scandinavia and thence to our northern islands and shores and of course Ireland, then merging back with the Roman hand where it became what we know as Uncial.


For some centuries there was a proliferation of styles as the Roman cursive developed, some of which became unreadable as the Romans moved out and the highly artistic Anglo Saxons added to the mix. Charlemagne, Holy Roman Emperor, with the help of Alcuin of York, managed to bring some uniformity to the written word in what we know as Carolingian.

Here is my version of Uncial top, Carolingian bottom.

Uncial (top) and Carolingian

Later, this would become a humanist roundhand

Roundhand (Foundational)

and was used by Edward Johnston as a foundational hand.

Calligraphy.roundhand alphabet.double pencil.img.jpg


Then we come to the Gothic period with Blackletter, Old English. etc. where due to the scarcity, and expense of animal skins, more letters had to be crammed onto each page.

This shows the difference in space required for Uncial and Blackletter scripts.

Uncial/Black-letter red

Old English Script



For speed and ease of writing most styles were italicised and various hands developed. Secretary, Chancery, various forms of Copperplate alongside the various types that were being carved and cast to be used by the early printing press and even more now as digitisation comes to the fore. Today we briefly mentioned Italic as one of the forms to concentrate on when building a portfolio of lettering styles along with Roman Capitals, a Roundhand, a Blackletter, Uncial and perhaps one of the Copperplate scripts.

Italic script

Phew! 6000 years in 20 minutes. Now It is now time for the students to go to work. First they were invited to have a go with markers, pencils etc on the paper spread around the walls.

This next sequence of six photos, courtesy of Miss S. Lavin.

S. Lavin's pics 1

S. Lavin's pics 3

S. Lavin's pics 2

S. Lavin's pics 4

S. Lavin's pics 5

Then with my usual beginners tool set of double pencils, guideline sheets and model Roundhand and Roman alphabets it didn’t take them long to really impress Gill and I with their enthusiasm and with some really nicely formed letters.

S. Lavin's pics

We also had time for a very enjoyable, for me, question and answer session but only a few moments, as parents arrived to pick up their offspring, to search through my tool box and show just some of my fountain pens, poster pens, dip pens, hand made quills, reeds, bamboo pens etc.

The tool box

Many thanks to the students and to the staff, firstly for the invitation, then for making our visit such an enjoyable experience, and for keeping the tea flowing. We hope this has begun, for some, a life long interest in the wonderful world of letters. We shall look forward to our next visit.


Bill and of course, Gill.