Monday, September 5, 2016

Making a Carol DuBosch Pen Burrito

Last Summer I attended the international calligraphy conference "A Show of Hands" in North Carolina, where I was privileged to learn more about making and using a folded pen from Carol DuBosch. She had envisioned and then created a "pen burrito" filled with her collection of folded pens. I immediately knew I needed one too! In case anyone else is interested, she graciously gave permission for me to share the simple process.

I started out without referring to my notes, so I bought more plastic than I needed. The Joann's where I purchased it had 50" width so I only needed 20" and that would make two if you make them 25" wide (25 pockets). You want it to be a medium weight - not thin but not too stiff.
Here's what mine looked like. If you want about 30 pockets, use a piece 30" by 20", folding the long edge up a little over 4" as shown. I used masking tape to hold things in place. That leaves over 15" which gives you a nice generous flap to fold down over your pens.

To make it easy to sew pockets fairly even and straight, I used more tape to mark them. I slid the yardstick underneath and put a piece as straight and evenly as I could midway between every other inch. That way I could sew along the edge on both sides for pockets about 1". You could make them bigger if you want to stuff in multiples or fat pens.
By letting the tape go over the edge, it helped hold the plastic in place as well. I chose some fun multi-colored thread I had in my book-binding stash and sewed with a fairly large stitch (4.5), reversing the beginning and end for security.
That's really all there is to it. trim threads, slide in pens (they might be a bit fussy to get in the first time, as the plastic likes to stick to itself but it will get used to the new shape), fold down the top flap, roll it up! Your pens travel safely, are easy to see and select. You could adjust to any size - if you make one too big, just take scissors to it.
I'm really looking forward to Carol teaching at LetterWorks next summer in Utah! Hope to see you there.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

My first ever podcast

A few days ago I did an audio interview with Mormon Artist for podcast.
I rambled a bit more than ideal and didn't really answer everything, but at least nothing seems too embarrassing! It was a fun experience and if I could go through and rewrite it all, it would be pretty good.
The transcript version includes images of the art discussed so if you are interested you might wan to read or to scroll down the transcript as you listen.

I'll update this with some pictures when I'm home on the computer.

Friday, June 21, 2013

keeping busy

I've gotten some good practice at basic lettering lately doing certificates and a resolution for Wash U in St. Louis. Plus a bit of work for John Burroughs School. I had a bit of a time-crunch and felt really good about getting all of these done on time!
I had to do some experimenting with papers and gouache, had to more or less match the previous person's lettering and colors, plus the crest, and be able to use the light table - and then had to squeeze in all that info on the signature lines for some of them! Thank goodness for magnifying reading glasses.
Doing the crest was tricky, thank you Patricia for hints.
The resolution required a watercolor of Brookings Hall which made me nervous, but I think it turned out OK, partly due to working on oil painting not so long ago with local artist and teacher Renee Nilges.
And then over 300 words of text - but apparently some years it has been up to 850!

Makes the Burroughs chair certificates seem pretty simple.

I had a learning curve on the shipping - its the packaging that costs most, but UPS does a great job of getting things to St. Louis overnight with regular ground shipping.. And I recommend BareWalls framing in St. Genevieve! They pick-up and deliver in St. Louis and make everything smooth and easy.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Free Easter Gift

I'm finding DropBox is not very intuitive, but this should link (below) to high-res files you can use to print this yourself for your own home use or gifts NO COMMERCIAL USE PERMITTED this is copyrighted art. If you take it on a thumbdrive to a photo or copier shop, have them make sure it is printing from the high-res file and not the small one that it converts to if they look at it in photoshop - what looks good on a screen if far from what's needed for a good print.. There are two files, the bigger one is best if you print big, it should work fine up to 12x18", which is the size our UPS store can do on nice heavy photo paper. Looks great at 8 1/2 x 11. Please consider making sure to add credit to my website or link to the blog or my facebook page (LetterDesignStudio) if you share.

You can print this out as permission to print for your own use hereby given by the artist, Joan L. Merrell, March 31, 2012.

if you have trouble getting to the file, e-mail me through the website home "contact me" and I will send you a link directly from DropBox.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Class Starts Next Week

Anyone interested in learning or just trying out calligraphy, there is a 6-week class starting at Capital Arts in Jefferson City next Thursday (6:30-8:30). It's a lot of fun, and kind of cool to do something that is largely a "lost art", we'll do some fun little projects along the way.
You can register for the class by calling  (573) 635-8355 or by emailing

Ages 14 and up are welcome, no experience necessary, inexpensive supplies and information on other options available the first night. Feel free to spread the word!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Free Valentine's Gift Art Print

Below you will find a link to drop box folder that includes files for a professional photograph and a hi-res scan, either of which can be used to print an art-quality print up to poster size. Permission is hereby given for anyone to use this to make prints for family, home, church or other use that is non-commercial. You may try your own color printer, or put the file on a thumb drive and take it to a color copier or a photo printshop. It fits well on an 8 1/2 x 11 paper and I hear that Costco will do poster prints for only $6. In Jefferson City, you can get inexpensive 11x17 color copies at the UPS store near Schnucks.

OK, an added warning for do-it-yourselfers: if you open an image in a viewer or even photoshop, it usually opens at just 72 dpi, which is plenty for viewing on a screen but will not print up nicely. You might want to be careful that when you save the file it is the whole thing, and if you go to a print/copy shop, you can ask them to make sure it is printing at 300 dpi. This might mean they take it back into photoshop and increase the resolution. In Jefferson City they are really helpful at the UPS store by Schnucks and will make sure it is top quality, and you can use heavy photo paper there if you want it extra nice. Even if you  take it directly to a photo place like Walgreens or Costco, make sure you find out if you have the file at top quality uless you are printing it fairly small.

The jpg should be good enough for most any purpose, the second (huge) file is a scan  for printing really large.

Feel free to print these for those you home or visit teach, for your own home, for anyone you feel could use it. BUT no permission is given for any commercial use, only free gifts.

(If you think it's odd that I picked a quote about the Book of Mormon, here's a link to getting you a free copy in case you are curious just what's its about.

If you have any trouble getting the file, e-mail me through the website home "contact me" and I will send you a link directly.

Please feel free to pass this along, spread it around, share anywhere you like!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Family Trees

Family Tree in calligraphy by Joan Merrell in Jefferson City MO, circa 1999?

One of the first large jobs I ever did on commission was a family tree. The client had an old xerox that was about three pages taped together lengthwise and written out with quite a few mistakes due the the transcriber not understanding the original German.
I had a bit of difficulty coming up with a nice layout. Many times I wished I could take a few children and move them from one family to another to balance things out. Fortunately the client didn't have a deadline, as I found that after working on it for a while I would have to give up and put it aside, sometimes for a couple of months. Eventually I did work out something I liked, using lettering appropriate for the German. I was lucky to have a husband who knows some German and was able to help with correcting some of the text.
I used walnut ink on Nidegen paper.

A few years later, I was asked to fill in a Martha Stewart family tree. This was more nerve-wracking, as I wasn't sure I could correct anything and I had to fit some long names in some tiny spaces. I thought I had really messed up until I realized that one section was repeated because there were common ancestors.

The most recent family tree job was filling out a Fraktur print, which included a little creative correcting of the form to fit in some large families.
detail of purchased family tree print from client with names filled in
I've tried designing a large papercast tree where family members can have names on paper leaves that fit indentations in the casting, but then I realized that ancestors are more roots than leaves, which put the whole thing on the back burner.