location.reload(true) Northwest Calligraphers' Association Reviews

NWCAWorkshop Reviews

Layering with Resist - Jilly Hazeldine

Review by Hilary Lewis

The incessant rain over the weekend didn't dampen our spirits in the slightest and the calligraphers in the North West were out in force over the weekend. It was excellent to see so many people at both workshops. We'd been asked for a "splishy-sploshy" technique by Bob Alldred from Jilly and we certainly got that.

After handing round her beautiful piece of finished artwork Jilly explained the technique using Pebeo Drawing Gum and dilute FW acrylic inks. We were told not to create an even background wash carefully chasing a bead of ink down the page; but to use broad brush strokes in differing directions over the letters leaving a ragged border round the edge. Using two different translucent colours produced some interesting effects.

You can dry your resist with a hairdryer or work on two pieces at the same time. Most people had stuck to the brief and used letters but there was the odd autumnal leaf and apple making an appearance too. This truly was a workshop for all levels with everyone producing something attractive and Vivien Lunniss' indigo alphabet taking the technique up a notch, pictured here.
Resist Layering

A Flavour of Arabia - Vivien Lunniss FSSI, FCLAS

Review by Jane Riley

Vivien Lunniss explained how she had developed this script from a piece to do with the Bedouin legend about the creation of a horse. She had done a piece of calligraphy for a friend but as her skills developed she thought it needed re-doing. It was interesting to hear how she had used the techniques for analysing a script to develop this particular style of writing, which was particularly suitable for the finished piece. The script has a long ascenders and the weight is near the base line to give a sense of Arabian calligraphy.

Vivien brought a scrapbook which showed the various stages of development and examples of the trials that she had done. We were given a handout from Vivien's latest book* which shows the stroke order in different colours.

Vivien asked us to tackle the clockwise letters first so that we got a feel for the consistency of strokes eg a, h, m and n, then we moved on to other letters in turn. Fortunately Vivien came round and demonstrated to us in small groups to clarify the mistakes that we were making so we were more confident about tackling words. She gave us a range of Arabian flavoured quotes to try, which we wrote using the large nib. After lunch we dropped down to a smaller nib.

Larger images open in new window.

At the end of the session we all brought our pieces together for the ‘show and tell’ and it was great to see how everybody had managed to produce virtually a finished piece within a relatively short time.

*Vivien’s book, Complete Guide to Calligraphy, is published by Search Press and available from Calligraphity. A book signing is being held at the Members' Day in December 2015.




Drawn Uncials with Vivien Lunniss

Review by Hilary Lewis

What a wonderfully colourful and creative way to end the year, Drawn Uncials were a delight from start to finish. Beginning with the background to Vivien's work and looking at source manuscript material, we were lead through stages which began with analysing and copying a page of uncials drawn in a charmingly naive and unintimidating fashion, but that still showed planning.

Drawn Uncials


The next step was to design our own phrase and solve problems arising with borders and letter spacing. Vivien assured us that there would always be some area that would need to be resolved, and sure enough she was right.
Drawn Uncials

The next stage was to work with colour, either in the letters or in the spaces around them; and if we got far enough to try writing around a central block of text. The beauty of this workshop was its accessibility and one of our beginners joined us to create an apt and creditable 'Carpe Diem' design. A very successful design by Pauline Hall is shown here in coloured pencil.
Drawn Uncials



Carolingian with Mary Noble

Review by Hilary Lewis
As you may know our November workshops are usually taken by Jilly Hazeldine, but unfortunately she was not able to this year and we have Mary Noble to thank for still being able to have a closer look at Carolingian.

Calligraphy at the Pen Museum in Birmingham
Of course I knew we would be in for a treat as usual and the five worksheets handed out at the start of the workshop alone confirmed this. I liked the idea of combining late ancient and modern, particularly as the updated version we studied was Sheila Waters' incredible hand she developed for a commission of Under Milk Wood by Dylan Thomas.
The work photographed here shows blue pilot pen for the modern version and quill for late ancient along with some muted watercolour work combining large and small scripts. 

Also joining us were Megan Richardson and husband all the way from Canberra, Australia. Megan said she'd been doing calligraphy for a year and her partner had been persuaded to try calligraphy a couple of weeks earlier at the Pen Museum in Birmingham.

Calligraphy at Lower Withington
Mary encouraged us to do a more substantial piece of writing than we might normally, which meant setting a fairly cracking pace, but I couldn't have been happier recreating the mood of an historical scriptorium as the borrowed quill glided across the page.

Watercolour background workshop
with Susan Moor (report by Hilary Lewis)

On our way to compiling our watercolour booklets we discovered that watercolour is even more beautiful and intriguing than it seems at first. Watercolour produces effects such as beading, blooms, cauliflowers and runs with wet-in-wet blending and writing on flat colour backgrounds. Our first experiment shows quite clearly the difference between mixing colour in the palette and delicately applying a glaze over a dry colour underneath. (Image shows mixing Left and glazing Right)Susan-Moor-workshop

Susan generously shared her large sable hair brushes and Pebeo drawing gum with us and demonstrated the binding of the booklets. Susan advises against other brands of masking fluid, so make sure you get Pebeo. Meanwhile, some of us only had eyes for the astonishingly creative artist's book created during a parish year, which I had the privilege of turning the pages of for those gathered round, who were equally smitten.

Everyone enjoyed the opportunity to play with colour, and share different watercolours with each other. The door had to be shut on the beginners class, taken by Andrew Cowley; they were having so much fun. We look forward to meeting you again next time.


Note from Avril Reynolds about peter Thornton’s workshop

We did a practice sheet on mixing watercolours, especially delicate ones. Then we worked on early versals. We then moved on to the modern age and worked in a more relaxed way. In the afternoon we worked on a single letter of our choice from the alphabet.

Avril Reynolds

Avril Reynolds

Writing on gold with Mary Noble
report by Ann Holden

Over the weekend of 14/15 June, Mary Noble took members through the pleasures of writing on gold. Everyone was inspired by this exciting workshop. Mary covered how to Mary-Noble examples
prepare the gold surface, first laying the gold (real transfer gold or imitation gold and other metallic leaf) on acrylic gold size (with a layer of red gouache underneath if you wish) and priming the surface for writing by abrading it with powdered pumice. Apparently the old kitchen cleaner, Vim, works quite well! Later, we tried techniques for decorating the gold panel with watercolour pencil or scratching out.
It was great fun and a really useful technique for a special greetings card.

Vivien Lunniss FSSI workshop on little booklets
report by Hilary Lewis

Our starting point was a delicious eight page booklet with an astrological theme, designed by Vivien Lunniss. Her ‘Capricorn’, with picture, Pilot pen title and gouache text, had quite a bit of work in it, but we were given cunning plans to simplify and speed up making ours. The book size is arranged around the image, and title, so writing is ranged left and folding and trimming done later. Capricorn
Vivien had very thoughtfully provided the graphic and text for each sign, with some supplementary notes on colour and symbolism.

We painted Tybek paper with acrylic inks to mimic what would have been vellum straps, and left them to dry. Toning cotton thread was coated with beeswax and sewn through five holes, to hold the coloured strips, now lustrous and variegated which make a decorative feature on the outer cover.

The main pitfalls to look out for are; check how your inner pages are sewn into the blank outer 4pp (pages 1-4 of the 8pp booklet are blank) and check that the slots are marked correctly for threading the Tybek through before carefully cutting with a sharp knife. The blank pages then tuck into a cover with mitred corners and a symbol to show which is the front.

This would work well as a group project, these are so attractive – making all twelve signs or adapting the idea for Eastern astrology is quite tempting.


Workshop report on Josie Brown workshop

report by Hilary Lewis

If you thought you knew all you needed to know about what constitutes a broadsheet then this workshop might have made you question that assumption. Josie skilfully guided us through finding out for ourselves what key elements are present in a successful design, working in small groups we assessed examples (with red herrings), drew thumbnails and roughed out a plan according to a client specification. Now I found out what the carpenter’s pencils were for! If you weren't lucky enough to be there you missed a lovely workshop and a collaborative checklist most generously included here.

Josie Brown

Of course one of the big attractions of seeing Josie is the examples she brings along with her to the venues. This piece on vellum has lived an eventful life in its thirty year history, of course the scribe told me the calligraphy was ‘terrible’, but the badge was okay. Josie’s tip is NOT to start with the heading as you will be working better further into the piece, so she started on the top right. You can’t tell now, but this needed to be sanded down, which took three days and left the skin uneven so in desperation Josie took to it with an electric sander in the garden. Later on this formal broadsheet was moved from a draughty Tudor home to a museum – where the change in conditions made it explode out of the frame!
Josie Brown close up