Categories
calligraphy

Ink

In this digital age the use of ink is ever restricted, putting aside that used in Biro’s and the like. imagesBy ink I mean that liquid which is put into a fountain pen, or, as described by M. Therese Fisher (The Calligrapher’s Handbook, Faber and Faber, 1983): ‘It must be freely flowing, and be even in colour. It should have a grittiness rather than a stickiness. It should be non-corrosive, non-posinious, not easily erased and non-fermentable’.

According to Fisher there are two ways to make ink. Firstly, mix gum with lamp-black; secondly, treat salts of iron with tannic acid. The latter fades to brown, the former is permanent and does not change in colour.

The Chinese had a method for the preparation of lamp-black. They used distilled water, or rainwater, which was poured over the lamp-black made from the ‘incomplete combustion of oils’. Apparently kept for three years is ideal, rubbing frequently with the hand to preserve the polish.

For Indian ink images-1try this 1825 recipe: ‘Put six lighted wicks in a dish of oil, hang an iron or tin concave cover over it so as to receive all the smoke; when there is a sufficient quantity of soot settled to the cover, then take it off gently with a feather upon a sheet of paper, and mix it with gum tragacanth to a proper consistency. Note: the dearest oil makes the finest soot, consequently the best ink.’

Categories
Thoughts on lettering

‘Paragraphs on Printing’ and the demise of the secondhand bookshop

Last week I chanced across a first edition of Rogers’s Paragraphs on Printing at a secondhand bookstore in Sydney, Australia. paragraphs aThis was a wonderful discovery, though I was impressed at the size and range of books on printing, typography and bibliography at this shop.

I have had a Dover reprint of this book for many years so was familiar with the contents but the ‘real deal’ was a delight to hold and handle. As I took the book home with me I wondered how long it had remained in this store, how long had it been since it had seen sunlight on its covers. I reflected that I was liberating the book from its imprisonment, giving it a new lease. However, this particular store is not long for this place. It is closing, and all books there were at half the price that had been carefully inscribed in a 2B pencil on the flyleaf. (I’ll let you into a secret – the original price for Rogers was 100 Australian dollars.)

My delight at finding this volume was tempered later by the realisation that yet another secondhand bookshop is going, in this case the owner is taking the contents online. Now, I may be old-fashioned but browsing a bookshop, let alone one that sells a pot-pourri of books just ain’t the same online. I love the randomness of secondhand stores, the fact that despite the efforts of the staff to place their charges in some order you yet may stumble upon a curiosity, a treasure, something that you’d never find elsewhere in this ordered, well-mannered world.

paragraphs bLet us support our secondhand bookshops, let us open new ones, let us let others know our enthusiasms for this remnant of a milder time.

Categories
Typographic ephemera

New Year’s Quiz 2013 – number two

What are these? (Clue: Taken from a magazine published in 1953.)

Quiz two 2013 A

 

Answer below

Quiz two 2013

Categories
Typographic ephemera

New Year’s Quiz 2013 – number one

Simple this. Just deduce what letters are missing from the image. (Taken from an advertisement placed by Grosvenor, Chater & Company Ltd in Book Design and Production, vol 5, number 3, 1962.)

new year quiz 2013

Answer below

new year quiz 2013

Categories
lettering lettering, typography, alphabets, stonework Thoughts on lettering Typographic ephemera typography

Happy Third

Birthday’s should not go unnoticed, even if it is a blog. After all, behind the blog is a person.gold 3 The actual third anniversary of All About Lettering was on November 2 and, no, there was no celebration. (2nd anniversary blog here.)3 stones

This blog will make 355. I had intended when I began (full of enthusiasm and unaware of the amount of time  it takes to write a post, do the research etc) that I would have published 365 in the first year alone, that’s one a day. That hurdle – if it be one – still remains to be crossed, though it draws ever nearer.

The past year has been one of activity outside of typography (I have been completing a postgraduate course) and the frequency of posts dropped away. Indeed in the first months of the year there were none recorded, and yet I noticed that people were still dropping round to take a look.

Thank you, and to those who have been following since the beginning, a very warm thank you for sticking by. I still have a few things to say and illustrate about the marvellous world of print, typography, lettering and design. So don’t go away just yet. When it comes to numerals there isn’t a lot of good stuff around, but on a walk around my neighbourhood I spotted the stones shown here as a reminder that nature does best (though in truth these stones, forming a wall, were placed by human activity). The other  illustration is a quick calligraphic doodle of mine.

Categories
Humour Typographic ephemera

Just for fun – Luna Park, Sydney

Some fun typography from a recent visit to Luna Park in Sydney, Australia. The parks, by the way, were created by the American Frederick Ingersoll, and are a forerunner of today’s amusement parks and Disney.

Luna park sydney

 

Categories
Typographic ephemera

Anthony Caro – in memory (1924-2013)

Anthony Caro has passed and as one who admired his work from afar I honour his soul.  Caro 2013

The book jacket illustrated  here comes from a volume published in 2000 about the two sculptors Caro and Chillida (ISBN 0-9678124-0-2, edited and introduced by Andrew Dempsey). The photograph is also taken from this volume.Caro 2013_0001

Opening this book for the first time in many years I find this passage annotated by an earlier self: (Caro is speaking) ‘In England there’s no tradition of forging as there is in Spain. I never felt connected to a tradition of working in steel. I chose to work in steel because it felt contrary to my inclinations. It offered resistance but it was so direct: “put” and “cut”. That direct way of working is a kind of parallel to Manet’s way of painting. Straight to the art, don’t get sidetracked by the craft’ (2000, p.42).

And here he is talking about his first encounter with David Smith in New York: ‘…he used to tell me to spend without stint on my art. He told me he drew on paper which cost two dollars a sheet, which was a lot in those days. I used to draw on the cheapest paper, paper for lining walls or drawers. He said, value your own art above everything, save on your household needs, never save on your art’ (2000, p.36).

What has this to do with typography? Everything and something….I leave you to find the connections. Thank you for reading.

Categories
Typographic ephemera

Sometimes things get to you…

At a recent festival here in Australia I came across this outdoor display. It was one of those things where people are encouraged to write what is in their hearts and then place the inscription on a wall (or similar) for others to acknowledge. So, in this case, yellow triangles were provided, hung on a mesh screen. The juxtaposition of these two sayings by separate individuals (I guess) made me teary.

I wish

Categories
Brand design

When cricket was simpler (without the electronics)

Over here in Australia cricket is in a parlous state. Two Tests played and two lost. As someone who holds dual nationality it would be natural to think  I would have divided opinions. Not so. My loyalties lie with the English in Test cricket. However, I am disappointed with the introduction of so many methods to dispute an umpires instant decision. Back in 1934 it was much simpler, and I offer this advertisement, from Paper and Print, as acknowledgement. (Incidentally, Australia won the Nottingham Test – 8 to 12 June – by 238 runs, with Bradman contributing just 54 to the Aussies totals. Australia went on to win the series.)

The Great Test

Categories
Brand design Typographic ephemera

Something sunny for a European summer weekend

In the midst of the Australian winter, please accept ‘Sunny Jim’, taken from Vol. 7, n.26 of Paper and Print, 1934.

sunny jim