Friday, February 23, 2024


An unfinished Neurographic design  
What would you put in the square?

Instead of snow, much of California in February is covered with green. The hills sprout new lime-green grass as we receive more and more rain. The green surprises visitors from colder climates, especially if they have visited California during the summer, our dry season when the hills are brown.

This past weekend I attended Letters: California Style, a calligraphy conference organized by the Society of Calligraphers, held at Cal Poly Pomona, an oasis nestled in the hills in the LA Basin. I've gone to the conference since 2014 except for pandemic years and always come away flush with new ideas. Like I am, most of the attendees are older, nerdy women who enjoy expressing themselves through lettering and art. Cal Poly Pomona provides a perfect venue where we can sit in a classroom with floor-to-ceiling windows that give us a glimpse of the green hills and the budding fruit trees while we toil away like Medieval monks on a craft that takes concentration and precision.

This year I chose Cherryl Moote's class for creating art books. In other classes, attendees worked on improving their calligraphic and hand lettering skills with a choice of several other well-known calligraphy instructors, who also showcased their own work at our lunchtime gatherings. One of the teachers, Viktor Kams, began as a graffiti artist in Spain, then studied calligraphy, and is now a professional calligrapher and tattoo artist. He designs logos for businesses and anything that can contain his exquisite calligraphy including tattoos. He showed photos of some of his freshly made tattoos on the arms of clients. The designs were beautiful, but the clients' arms were still red from the procedure. You could feel the collective silent gasp of his audience, not a visible tattoo among them. Calligraphers have been around for a long time creating all kinds of lettering. Now, Kams represents the next generation of calligraphers who are interested in experimenting with their craft.

In Cherryl's class, we concentrated on creating unexpected art books. Unexpected, because we couldn't plan each page of our book. Instead, we started with a large sheet of paper, made designs all over the surface, and then folded and cut the paper into smaller book forms. We never knew what would happen once we folded the original design into smaller segments. The results were unexpected, amusing sometimes, and wonderful to view. Some people used colored inks, marking pens, and stamps to create images while others used paste papers, water-soluble crayons, and lettering to enhance their designs. Though we all used similar materials, no two books looked alike. In three days, we also made mock-ups of different ways of making a book including using a Lark's Head binding for heavy-weight paper, three versions of a two-minute book, accordion books, and a flat-style Australian reverse piano hinge binding, which takes longer to say than to make. Cherryl has written several easy-to-use books about various bookbinding techniques that can be found at John Neal Books online.

Designs on a large piece of paper using ink, scraps of paper,
tea splatters, and Cretacolor AquaGraph pencils

Two-Minute Book folded from the original large piece of paper

I came away from the conference with renewed enthusiasm for bookmaking, joy for having seen friends I hadn't seen in a long time, inspiration from the many works done by other attendees, and glad that my accidental choice for my Word for the Year is Unfinished. I brought home books that I will continue to work on and know that I have new ideas to try.

 Two Two-Minute signatures with Two-into-One Cover

Accordion book with doodles on a cover with neurographic lines

Accordion book with no lettering or cover yet

Mock-up for Lark's Head Binding

Check out Cherryl Moote's website:

Books available at John Neal Books:

Be amazed at the work of these calligraphers:

Viktor Kams:

Cora Pearl:

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for commenting! I love hearing from readers. I answer each one.

I do not post Anonymous comments because of problems with spammers.