Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Teaching Uncials

We've been looking at uncials in my weekly class this term. I've been inspired by a picture I saw on Yukimi Annand's Facebook page where she had cut out 3 squares from each of three sheets of paper covered with very different writing and joined them to form a concertina. 

I suggested to my class that they choose two or three sheets of coloured Canson pastel paper and do their writing practise in gouache in different colours that relate to the paper - some light on dark and some dark on light. They should not worry about any mistakes because we would select different sections from the sheet to use as the back cover of a simple concertina book. The inside of the book would be more carefully written with their own chosen texts. 

Here is my demonstration version, mistakes and all! I have used paper that I had in my store and would ideally have liked a very dark brown paper instead of the pinkish grey.

The backing paper has been stuck onto the Fabriano Artistico HP 90lb used for the inside, with Jin Shofu paste bought online from Shepherds - I have to look up the proportions every time I use it but now know it is 1:5 powder to water. This was heated gently, stirring all the time until it thickened, in a saucepan on the hob (it can also be done in a microwave, but we don't have one in my teaching room). The paste needs to be left to cool and sometimes needs further thinning with cold water. I know you can make your own wheat starch paste but this works out quite economically because I only use about a teaspoonful at a time and it is very reliable. The book was left to dry between two place mats under a pile of books and kitchen weights.

The writing was executed with a 3 1/2 Mitchell nib and walnut ink (I should have left it to dry a bit longer before doing the backing because some of the letters smudged a bit)

Don't make the same mistake and trim the covers on the folded edges without being really careful!! I had to patch this with an extra piece of paper on the inside!

I used a variation of uncial making it taller than normal and narrower with a slight forward slope and some manipulation of the pen. My choice was inspired by flat pen uncials and one of the examples in Gaye Godfrey-Nicholls' new book 'Calligraphy, Tools & Techniques for the Contemporary Calligrapher' and the work of Vivien Lunnis.

The poem is Missing Days by my friend Sue Kindon

I look forward to posting the results of work done by the class soon!

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