Friday, April 28, 2017

The Friday Five Good Things

Five good things that happened this week.

1. Saturday after Reggie's class was a social hour. We chipped in and the coordinator sent out for Middle Eastern food. First time I ever had Middle Eastern food, it was quite good.

2. I didn't miss the turn on the way to class.

3. At Staples, I found the inks I needed for the printer so didn't need to order them online

4. My debit card with security chip wouldn't work at a couple of places. At CVS, the clerk showed me a trick to get it to work. You rub the front of the chip. She said apparently, it gets dirty. Don't know if that was true, but it worked.

5. Traffic wasn't so bad on the commute home. Surprisingly, people were polite when trying to merge onto the expressway. I must have been an alternate universe

How was your week?

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Throwback Thursday - The Notebooks

To clear up some confusion, the Notebook passages posted on Throwback Thursday were written by my father and found by me after he passed away. They were his attempt to tell the family history. He was in his late 80s or early 90s when he wrote them. Today's chapter:

At one of my birthday's, I was sitting on the kitchen window sill rocking back and forth and went back a little too far and fell on the piazza floor and split my head a bit enough to go to the local first aid hospital in East Boston. It would not be the last time.

To backtrack, when I returned to school in the Fall of 1924, I was put in the first grade. There was no problem this time. I think it was due to my teacher. She was beautiful and I took to her. And talked my mother or pestered her to invite her [ed: the teacher] for dinner and she finally did ask the teacher, Miss Mulledy, to lunch.

At the time, there was my brother, Mario, and me. And we had one room and shared the bed and still had the dining room. And our lunch was pasta and trimmings eaten in there. [ed: the dining room]

I was in my glory and proud to take my teacher home and back to school. At the end of the school year, I was moved to the second grade. In the Fall, I went into the second grade. For some reason, I did not like my teacher. She appeared strict. But we got along after a fashion. I don't recall anything special about her or myself. Once at recess, she gave the students rides on the swings and I got one. But sometime after school started, my mother began to worry about me. Because my complexion was changing color. And my father agreed. The following day the doctor was sent for. He lived in East Boston, not too far over the bridge and railroad tracks on Chelsea St. I think. Anyway, he was a relation of my father. Just how close, I never found out, but he was our doctor. His diagnosis was yellow jaundice and prescribed a prescription that was rather bitter. I was grounded for most of that year. And although I went back, I had not been in school long enough to do the necessary work to move into the third grade.It took some time for me to recover and the sickness was transferable so I had to have a clean bill of health.

Things continued in this manner for me

My birthdays were celebrated, the little music trio or quartet came, my mother's uncle came to make the Italian pastry. I was treated as a prince.

I became aware of my brothers and sisters and did not pay much attention to them. Until much later. ,Mario was next [ed: 18 mos. younger]. Olga [ed: 3 years younger]. Emma [ed: 5 years younger], Bobby [ed: 10 yrs. younger]. I remember Bobby's birth and something was wrong and I was sent to the pharmacy over the bridge on Chelsea St. (corner) I got what was needed and returned. When he was born, we were in The Depression.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

T Stands for Tools


I have a picture of some of the tools I use for calligraphy on my header. My favorite mechanical pencil and some pens are resting on a pen dragon.

The Eldest had fashioned my kneaded eraser into Ink. Since she was little, she liked making all sorts of creatures out of the kneaded eraser. I keep the eraser in a plastic Easter egg to keep it clean. I've always enjoyed opening the egg and finding a surprise. She has created a mermaid, dolphin, turtle, cat, whale just some of the creatures I remember. Even now that she's grown up, I still occasionally find a surprise in the egg.

A mechanical pencil isn't good without a lead pointer and a bottle of ink for the pen assortment. Decorated letters pop with gouache, an opaque watercolor. For extra special creations, the decorated letters are gilded with real gold.

The teacup isn't used to hold tea, but a special paint made from gold leaf called shell gold. Two years ago, I traveled to Ender's Island, Mystic Connecticut to attend a week of illuminating and gilding at St. Michael's Institute of Sacred Art. (I loved it so much I attended an advanced class, too.) The week-long classes were taught by Valerie Weilmuenster. Besides learning how to gild, Valerie also taught us how to make shell gold.

Oversimplified, you need a few drops of gum arabic (sap from the acacia tree) in a small, smooth, bowl or cup. You dip your finger in the sticky liquid and lift a sheet of gold leaf (either loose leaf or patent gold) and with your finger "grind" the gold until it is a few small crumbs of gold are left and most of the gold stains the cup. This process is repeated 6 or 7 times. Then the side of the cup and your finger are washed down with distilled water. It is a very slow almost tedious process but it's also meditative.


After several hours, the sediment settles. The water is poured off and you're left with gold that can be used as paint.

I like using the teacup to hold my shell gold instead of the blue bowl I brought to the class. The teacup was sitting unused in the curio cabinet. The teacup was a souvenir from a trip to the United Nations a lifetime ago. It's a pretty china cup but doesn't hold a substantial amount of tea. When the shell gold is not in use, the saucer becomes a lid to keep out dust and debris.

The gold paint got its name of shell gold because, in the middle ages, the gold paint was kept in a seashell. The gold paint dries to a matte finish unlike gilding with gold leaf which is gleaming and shiny. Used together, gilding and shell gold yields a beautiful contrast.


 The C was gilded with gold leaf. The J was painted with the shell gold. The contrast shows up well in the black and white image.



Drop by hosts, Bleubeard and Elizabeth's blog to find out what the rest of the T Stands For gang is up to. If you want to play, include in your Tuesday post a beverage or container for a beverage. Don't forget to link your blog to Bleubeard and Elizabeth's page.

Monday, April 24, 2017

My Precious

So much fun in Sunday's Reggie class. We played with gold. 23 karat gold. Reggie had a sheet of symbols, and we got to choose a simple symbol to gild. This was mainly due to time constraints as we started gilding mid-afternoon.

We traced our design onto Arches 90 lb. watercolor paper using Saral transfer paper. Reggie gave us Instacoll (gilding base) and patent gold (4 inch sq of gold leaf).

If you're new to gilding, it's scary and exciting. Mainly, because you don't know what to expect and not sure how to work with the materials. Intstacoll is an easier base for beginner's to work with compared to traditional gesso. There's some wait time for the base to dry and a small window of opportunity to be able to lay the gold, but the results were impressive. After all the steps were complete, (transferring the design, applying the Instacoll with a brush, sharpening edges with a fine nib, waiting for the Instacoll to dry, laying the gold, adding a second layer of gold, removing excess gold with silk, and burnishing the gold) we passed our papers around and oohed and aahed over everyone's efforts. Even though some of us chose the same design, they were all a little different.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Reggimented Sunday

Another assignment was to "make an alphabet of 'Plain Romans', broad-edge, 1 inch tall, black gouache on grid, touch-up, paste-up reproduce to make an exemplar. Use a Speedball C-2 nib"

This assignment caused me much anxiety, and I ended up procrastinating until I ran out of time. I didn't quite get to the touch-up, and paste-up part. And of course, CJ didn't read the assignment thoroughly so instead of black gouache, I used blue.

I wrote out a few of each letter on a grid pad. Then I chose the best letter, cut it out and arranged it on a waxed grid.

Instead of arranging the letters in A to Z order, I arranged them in the sequence Reggie suggested for practice.  I pulled the C from the G line and the J from the U line to sign my work.

From Reggie: "Always start at a point where you can give yourself the opportunity for the most success and encouragement. Do not start with the hardest first and defeat yourself. We all need as many confidence builders as possible when attempting anything new. Roman Capitals are the most humbling letterforms you will every try. Be patient and give yourself opportunities to succeed."

I should have read that statement a dozen times instead of giving in to the negative whispers of the inner critic. I should have just done the work instead of worrying what my Roman looked like. I shouldn't have been comparing my fledgling efforts to others in the class, especially classmates who have taken this course before.

I was pleased and relieved when I finished the assignment. There's still a lot of room for improvement, but some of the letters aren't half bad. After all, if I could do these letterforms in my sleep, what would be the point of taking this class?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Reggimented Saturday

Studiomate, Ben Dover, tries his hand at the assignment
This weekend is another Reggie weekend so I will be up to my elbows in gouache, ink, and gold.

One of our homework assignments had to do with spacing. Spacing can effect mood. During class, we cut out letters from Hermann Zapf's typeface, Palatino. We had our choice of two words. Calligraphy or Languidly. I chose languidly. Our assignment was to create an image with tight spacing and then with wide spacing on an interesting background.

I chose languidly because I have a picture of Ink taking a nap on our old chair in the sunroom. It was hot that day, and Ink had just melted into the cushion. I thought this was the perfect definition of languidly and used tight spacing.


For wide spacing, I thought languidly on an ocean background would work. While trolling images, I found one of a string of seagulls dipping and swooping over the ocean. Through the magic of Paint Shop Pro, I replaced the seagulls with the letters to spell languidly. I tipped the L and added a dot to represent a person just floating languidly in the ocean. Using the clone tool, I added water splashing over the letters and a drop shadow so the letters would look like they were in the picture and not just on the surface. The shadow effect looked better in my head, but the gist is there.


I liked this assignment. It was one of the few assignments I approached with confidence. I enjoy playing around with images in Paint Shop Pro so I could have some fun and enjoyment with this assignment.