Tag Archives: Houghton Regis.

Art in Action


I thought you might be interested to see the first blog post by Julie from Jewels Arts and Crafts centre.

Art in Action.

If you are local to Houghton Regis, why not check out the groups and classes for adults and children that go on week by week at Jewels.

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A Calligraphy Workshop at Jewels.


Last month I noted my first impressions of the Jewels Calligraphy Group.  Tutor Julie has done a great job. Not only teaching this little band of scribes, but with her friendly, relaxed manner,  keeping them together for a number of years.

When my offer of conducting a workshop was taken up, I was really pleased but as it is at least two years since I stood in front of a class of adults there was a tinge of trepidation.  So, rather than relying on the old adage: ” Teaching is like riding a bike “, I decided to do a bit of preparation. The subject, which is very close to my heart, the roundhand alphabet.  Not only writing with, but also showing the versatility of  double pencil when planning a layout.

Bearing in mind I had quite a large space at Jewels to work in, my idea was to write ” Jewels ” as large as possible on a roll of paper 30″ wide and then superimpose, in italics, ” Arts & Crafts Centre ” across the centre.

After a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours this is what I ended up with.  Two clicks will magnify this to a huge image.  (Original 24″ x  84″).

 This is the result of stitching three photos together. The x height of the lower case ” Jewels ” is 12″. The almost hidden, ” Art & Craft Centre “, 5” .  All written very quickly with double markers on a roll of decorators lining paper…………..

…………….3″  and 1″ nib width, then roughly filled with some old inks that needed to be used up. So roughly filled, with automatic pens,  a goodly amount was deposited in places where no ink was supposed to be.  Never mind. This is just a trial run. Enjoy, and go with the flow! Having run out of a decent yellow, I even splashed on some Turmeric.  Heheh.   Perhaps I should call this piece ” Jewels after Shahed “.  A reference to a friend who has an album named Spilling, Splashing, Scribbling.

Then the little matter of an example or two of the script we were going to be working on…………………………..

First my double pencil version.

Then a piece from my archives.

Another with a guide to spacing

And a historical piece from the British Museum manuscript collection.

Then to the Workshop itself. Time to fill :- two hours.  Drying up a couple of times due to old age / lack of practice, I briefly tried to conjour up the image of the court of Charlemagne, Alcuin’s friendship with the King and, among other reforms, their long-term aim of unifying the script of the age and how this then evolved into the humanist hand seen above, and eventually into the font we are reading now.

Guide-lines already marked on my roll of poster paper, we then got down to the nitty-gritty of adding the writing which fitted just like magic.  There was even enough room for each participant to add their own contribution.

I could then sit back with my feet up and let everyone get on with it. And, I am pleased to say, get on with it they did, even to the extent of letting their tea get cold.  ( Have I mentioned the TEA? )

Gill and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting with and enjoying the company of the group.  So much so, that we are now members also and looking forward to some good times together.

Hoping I might be asked to continue with a workshop perhaps on Roman Capitals next, I say thanks for having us.  See you again next week.

Don’t forget.  If you want more on the roundhand alphabet, have a look at Lesson One

Keep watching this space.

JEWELS. Another knot in my golden thread?


Isn’t it strange, how sometimes, something catches the eye and demands your attention?

An unexpected treasure.

Walking through the shopping precinct in Houghton Regis, a small town between Luton and Dunstable, that Gill and I rarely visit, I noticed a shop window full of old reconditioned sewing machines.  It was not the machinery that had attracted me but the various display cards that accompanied them which were all written in a very distinctive hand.  Then I realised it was not just sewing machines for sale but a whole range of art and craft materials, and what scribe can stop themselves from entering what they see as an Aladdin’s cave?

Just a glimpse.

Cutting a very long story short.  I found that the cards in the window were written by Julie Kent, a co- student of the calligraphy class I had attended in Dunstable College, some thirty-ish years ago.  Though we have both taught and practised our art in the same area for all this time, we had never come into contact again.

Now, it seems that Julie, in partnership with Les, runs this emporium as an outreach for a local church and offers facilities for children’s groups, various classes, arts/crafts, and yes you’ve guessed it, CALLIGRAPHY WORKSHOPS .

Subsequently I have returned on two occasions during calligraphy sessions and having met the participants and seen some of their work, I must say I am impressed, not only with the standard of work achieved, but with the enthusiasm, commitment and friendliness of all involved, and the TEA!  Hot, strong and sweet!  Oh! and each time I have walked away with a bag full of goodies.  Brand names at very reasonable prices.  I can’t wait to get to grips with the Fabriano papers.

Some of the works created by Julie’s group.

On top of all this, Julie continues to take commissions. Not only for calligraphy but also her beautiful watercolour paintings.

Some of Julie’s pieces .

Congratulations to all you hard-working folk at JEWELS ARTS and CRAFTS CENTRE, Bedford Square, Houghton Regis.  You are doing a wonderful job.

I hope you have enjoyed this foray into deepest Bedfordshire.  I hope it will be a reminder to us all to keep our eyes open for those little gems that are literally on our doorsteps.

A link to my subsequent Calligraphy Workshop at Jewels.

Keep watching this space.