Tag Archives: letters

Spring Is the Mischief in Me

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And then you have to read the next couple lines in the poem.

With the comic finally put to bed, 11 days late, I managed to get a seasonal bulletin board up; the image hadn’t been changed since mid-December and now it’s basically spring in Tucson, even though the weather has been unseasonably cold.

The quote is from Robert Frost’s “Mending Wall,” which was first published 104 years ago, yet presciently questions the point of a meaningless wall.

The letter art for the word “spring” is all original, of course, although I did look at some animal alphabets for inspiration on the S and the G. The S is supposed to be a vermillion flycatcher, the P is a lemon bud, the R is a monarch butterfly, the I is a desert marigold, the N is a long-suffering saguaro, and the G is a gecko. The small block letter are just the easiest style to cut by hand, and the lettering of “mischief” is based on a Harry Potter inspired font called “Mischief Managed.” The other animals are a hummingbird, a jackrabbit, some kind of fish, and a gambrel’s quail. I feel like it needed more animals, but The Man wanted me at home and the school is closed until Monday (in Tucson we don’t celebrate President’s Day, but we get 2 days for Festival of Vaqueros: the rodeo).

Maybe I should go back Monday and give the rabbit some whiskers, and take a better picture. We’ll see. My massage therapist also suggested that I should let my creating hand rest a little bit.

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Time to Learn and Grow

At least, it’s time to learn and grow if you’re a small child living in southern Arizona, where school gets out in May and starts up again as early as late July. I missed my beloved bulletin board, but we are reunited once again.

I feel like, if kids have to go back to public school, the lease I can do is instill in them a sense of magic and wonder to the process.

I feel like, if kids have to go back to public school, the least I can do is instill in them a sense of magic and wonder about the situation.

This one took 8 hours: 1.5 hours at school on Monday putting up the background and outlining the butterfly, 3 hours at home Tuesday night cutting out the letters, and 2.5 hours Tuesday creating the “spots” and putting all the pieces together. For whatever reason, the school was only stocking 3 colors of butcher paper, so my background choices were black, brown, and yellow. I typically save the black ones for Halloween (for added creepiness) and the winter holidays (to make the idea of lights pop out).

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These letter are hand cut (obviously). I just Googled “magic font” and this was one of the first ones that came up.

The quote came later that night, after I had settled on the butterfly. Typically, I pick a keyword, or a few keywords, and look for quotes that suit the idea, although sometimes I start with the quote or message and choose the illustration based on that. In this case, the keyword was “beginning.”

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I use a ruler to draw guidelines so the letters are all the same height, then sketch and cut freehand. However, when the same letter comes up more than once, I use the first as a rough template to ensure that they look more or less alike.

I had an apprentice for this piece, and she’s finally reaching the age where her help is, in fact, helpful. My stepdaughter wanted the bulletin board to feature school supplies, which I originally vetoed, since I had already settled on a butterfly, but then I realized that the butterfly could more easily have a school supply pattern on it. Originally I intended to just make a torn-paper mosaic, but this was much faster and more beautiful.

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My apprentice gets hands on.

In the past, she’s always wanted to help, which usually resulted in things taking four times as long, but she’s finally big enough to understand and follow directions. She applied the rubber cement to the paper and passed it over, which allowed me to assemble the collage more quickly. She also colored the tips of the pencils, applied the ovals to the crayons, suggested color and placement choices, and helped rip the paper.

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My apprentice feels a sense of accomplishment, and possibly wonder.

I also dropped and broke a stapler in this process, so now I owe the library a stapler. However, I did manage to unjam the one I broke last May, but we’re still down one stapler.

Update 7/31/14

I think I’m off the hook for the stapler.

Just Lucky, I Guess

When I was in middle school, I basically came home every day and wrote for about 2 hours. In grad school, I used to write every night between 10 pm and 2 am. I didn’t really think about it; during the times in my life when I was into my work, I was into my work. When I do NaNoWriMo or go on a writing retreat, I write at least 2000 words a day, and often, many, many more. Some of us are lucky in that we don’t have to discipline ourselves too much: the thing we want most is the thing we want now.

It's a sign. It pretty much speaks for itself.

It’s a sign. It pretty much speaks for itself.

I just lettered this sign for my darling husband, at his request. Usually, something like this would take me a couple days, and each letter would be perfectly spaced and formed, sketched first in pencil and then inked with a fine-tipped pen (but I would still manage to smear the ink while erasing the guidelines, and also get some on my hand and smudge it in the gutter). When I lettered the Robert Graves poem, it took me about a week, and I’m pretty pleased with it, but it still isn’t perfect to my eye. Anyway, he said he didn’t care if it was perfect, he just wanted it done. So I just quickly blocked out approximately where the letters should go.

It’s an interesting sentiment, anyway. There are times when I don’t want to draw or write, and I have to force it. There are even times when I don’t force it and just watch Netflix and maybe cry about my failure as an artist. Usually, though, I’m fairly focused on my goals. When I decide to write 50,000 words in a month, or cut out carbs, or clean my office, usually I can just do it.

A quick Google search attributes this quote to a psychologist named Augusta F. Kantra.

Alphabet of Desire Part 1

Title for the Alphabet of Desire. The lettering is based on Gothic Versals.

Title for the Alphabet of Desire. The lettering is based on Gothic Versals.

I don’t remember where I first heard the term “Alphabet of Desire,” a magical device invented by artist Austin Osman Spare, but it was something that synchronistically popped up here and there, until it occupied a firm space in my mind. I went so far as to sketch out the ideas I would use in my own Alphabet of Desire, and would find them every couple months or so.

The first initial cap for my acrostic novella. The wood symbolizes the Tarot wands and the concept of generation. A sprouting stick signifies new beginnings and earthly ventures. The snake represents the mystic male generative principle.

The first initial cap for my acrostic novella. The wood symbolizes the Tarot wands and the concept of generation. A sprouting stick signifies new beginnings and earthly ventures. The snake represents the mystic male generative principle.

At the same time, I had also been long kicking around an idea of writing a story whose plot was based on the Tarot’s journey of the Fool (i.e. a work of twenty-two segments, each based on a Major Arcana).

For every chapter of the Alphabet of Desire, I also do a page of hand drawn letters in various fonts, which serves as a centering exercise.

For every chapter of the Alphabet of Desire, I also do a page of hand drawn letters in various fonts, which serves as a centering exercise.