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.


https://www.dropbox.com/sh/n9impqw0fmyk5gq/7YL4ahJcTx

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 artsadmin@capitalarts.org.

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.

 https://www.dropbox.com/s/slz7wc73w3doleh/Merrell%20%EF%80%A0Book%20of%20Mormon%EF%80%A0.jpg?n=145153546


 https://www.dropbox.com/s/13a315t74fafusk/Book%20of%20Mormon%20big.psd?n=145153546

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. http://mormon.org/free-book-of-mormon)

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.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Paper Cast Certificate of Appreciation

cast paper certificate, hand done in a mold carved by the lettering artist in polymer clay
Recently I completed three more castings for the Missouri Hospital Association. A few years ago they requested some form of certificate that could be reproduced and have the names and dates filled in as necessary. Making a calligraphic papercasting mold gave them something really unique that their retirees have enjoyed receiving. Some day I'll have to see if I can go back and figure out how many I have done altogether.
this calligraphic papercasting shows raised lettering as well as opposite "indented" letters) cast with cotton linters in a polymer clay mold
     I usually don't write on a cast surface, it is not friendly to writing. I have not yet figured out a good way to be able to write with pen and ink, so I have to use a pointed brush to fill in letters transferred on from pen-designed rough drafts, using acrylic ink after spraying with fixative to help seal. I do enjoy making each name different, using whatever style seems to work well for the length of the name in the available space, as well as looking good with the particular combination of letters.
learn papercasting through tutorials on this blog
     So far the mold has lasted quite well, though occasionally I have to repair small bits. It gets tricky when there are extra words and dates because they have to be quite small, but I have gotten plenty of experience making the castings and now they always come out quite crisp. I keep my eye out for various decorative textured papers or mats for mounting them on, even though it doesn't show very much. I tired other colors but the gold works well -  including the way it shows up differently if different light similar to the way the cast letters show up according the available light.
    So, if you want one, just get onto the board of trustees.................... or learn to make your own castings through the tutorials on this blog :) or through workshops for your group or guild.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Two Versions of a Favorite

Some of you are familiar with a print I did a few years ago that started out as a Mother's Day gift for women at our local church (giclee prints now for sale on Etsy, by the way:)


Some time later, I had a commission to do the same quote in two parts, so they could go on either side of a family photo, and to adapt it to the taste and decor of the client. I spent a lot of time trying different versions because the client is a good friend and I really wanted it to be "right". It's an interesting challenge to make things balance when the quote doesn't divide right in half and the words worth emphasizing are not evenly distributed either. Pretty sure I'm not the first calligrapher to want to rewrite something to better fit - the first family tree I did I really, really wanted to move a few kids to another family.
But I think it was successful in the end.

You can see that some things are similar, like using capitals for emphasis and contrast, and fairly clean and simple letters. Both are written out in gouache on backgrounds done with "saran wrap" technique on watercolor paper. (Arches 90 lb. hot press)