Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Book 10 - the process

Susan and I have completed the tenth book in our collaboration Pas de Deux.  It feels like quite an achievement and despite both of us struggling to work with this one, we are both happy with the outcome.

Susan has blogged on the beauty of the finished book; and I will do so later in the week as well; but in the interim here is a bit of a photo story of the bits I did.

As many of you know, we have attempted to collaborate differently each time we made a book together.  We have learnt that we collaborate in a slightly unusual manner - by adding to each other's work; rather than doing separate parts of the process which is the more traditional way. So for our final book we thought we'd try to do a traditional collaboration, and create an edition of books.

For this one, Susan did the imagery, and I did the words.

We chose the title "silence" because we both like the notion, and then went back and forth for quite a bit selecting the five quotes we would use.

Susan went on to do the pages, and you can read about how hard it is to illustrate silence on her blog! Once I got the pages to work with, I too had to find a way to write about silence in away that wasn't distracting, and left the pages looking calm and quiet.  For each of us there were challenges.

As a calligrapher, I have to start with what style of writing to use, what size writing, what size nib and then of course what colour.

I start out with handwriting at a size I think works.


I do some lovely loose nib-writing, two different sizes, two different colours.


I do some pressure release skeleton Roman capitals...


I also have to work out the layout, the balance of the words with the imagery and the sense of silence that remains  the page with the use of negative space.

I choose a couple of places to place the words, in the different styles. I ask myself, do I want the words to try and reflect the movement of the marks on the page - so some going diagonally? Or do I want them to be straight simple horizontal lines, tucked into the right space on the page?


In the end I decide that the diagonal lines create too much movement, and don't give the sense of calm and quiet that I think silence needs.  I also think  the simple skeleton Romans work best - the flourish loose lettering seems to compete with the imagery.

Interestingly, unlike previous books we have done together where we would get together and talk to each other about issues and decisions, we agreed to leave each other pretty much alone as we each did our part in this one. It felt a bit weird I must say, but we did tick-tack occasionally.

For example I took these samples to Susan to see what she thought (not mentioning what I thought) and fortunately she came down with the same decision.

So we ended up with simplicity in the words.

And then I got to fiddle with the layout on each page, tucking the words in to spaces, letting them breathe in others...making sure that each page said and did just what it needed to.




 And then, even tho we had decided this would be a unbound book, I wanted to make sure that if, by some chance, somebody chose to take all the pages out and framed them in one long thin panel, that the balance between the imagery and the words also worked as a whole.

So here's my utterly chaotic studio table, with the pages in their sequence, and the words dancing across all five, not stuck on a single track.


 And then the job of writing 10 of each page, aiming for consistency in placement, size, height, length and pressure across each one whilst avoiding rigidity. Skeleton Roman Caps don't leave much room for error - your lettering is laid bare - but their lightness was just right for this work.


After they were done, we looked at them together, and felt that they were still a bit flat. Susan created embossing plates and then embossed some extra marks on them and they were lifted.  Done!


I am currently making the boxes for the books, and cutting the tengucho paper the pages will rest in. Susan has printed extra bands for the boxes and we will soon have them ready to sell!

16 comments:

  1. The lettering is beautifully appropriate: elegant, quiet, and its only weight being authority. Brilliant.

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    1. Thank you so much Olga - that is so lovely. I'm pleased the lettering does what you say...and I love that its only weight is authority! Go well.

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  2. Lovely, Fiona. A real challenge!
    Sandy

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    1. Thanks Sandy - you are right, it is a real challenge to work with somebody else's work (for both of us) and to make it seem whole; yet I think we achieved it. Go well.

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    1. Thanks Mo - it has been a wonderful journey!

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  4. An amazing collaboration...you two are definitely on the same page. (no pun intended)

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    1. Thanks Jo - I'm pleased it appears we are; as we both felt a bit anxious about doing half of a whole and hoping that it worked. Go well.

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  5. Hello F. So glad you posted on the process. I seemed to skip over that entirely and go straight to the pretty ending! Glad we liked this books in the end!

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    1. Your ending shots are gorgeous and i hope to do some proper ones myself later this week. I had the process photos to hand so it made sense to go with them - the books worked out well!

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    1. Thanks Trace - we're so happy we have done them justice. Go well.

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  7. I wish I could I could work in the considered way you do Fiona. You both take so much care over every process and it shows in the end result. Mind you, I feel a bit better having seen that chaotic desk - now there, you're a woman after my own heart!

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    1. I am definitely a winner in the chaotic desk-studio stakes Lesley! Its amazing anything gets down sometimes, but I am pleased wight e way these have come out. Go well.

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  8. Love it ! It's amazing already and not even finished !

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    1. Thanks Happy - I shall try to photograph the finished pieces soon and share - they are so lovely and delicate. Go well.

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I appreciate your thoughts and comments; thanks for taking the time.