Report on the MCBA Visual Journal Collective November Meeting

November 17, 2009

A calligraphy presentation at the November meeting of the MCBA Visual Journal Collective.


Above: Christine Osman demonstrated how to grind down ink from a Chinese ink stick. Here she is working with a quill pen and the ink she ground. She also showed how to load a metal nib with metallic gouache. (I didn't get the product name but I know the metallic gouache set at her side is available at Wet Paint.) Click on the image for an enlargement.

Local calligrapher Christine Osman gave a delightful presentation on calligraphy for the Collective last night. She brought in numerous books and periodicals as resources and started with an overview of the development of Western calligraphy and then demonstrated how to grind ink and use tools, before setting the group loose to try various quill, metal, and wood nibs. 

Christine recommended a number of resources to us. She brought along her copy of Modern Mark Making by Lisa Engelbrecht. (You can read my review of Modern Mark Making in an earlier post.) She had on hand many issues of Letter Arts Review (available from John Neal Books). She also recommended Annie Cicale's The Art and Craft of Hand Lettering. Minnesota is home to the Colleagues of Calligraphy, and Christine recommended that people interested in calligraphy join. (The group meets 8 times a year.) Another valuable resource Christine pointed us to was Cynscribe which is a directory of resources and classes and galleries and guilds!

Amidst discussion of items of interest such as "o" being the letter form which will tell you the most about an alphabet, and how the quill (turkey or swan) is the best instrument to get thick and thin lines and control, and how Chinese inks give the best blacks because they focus on black whereas the Japanese create inks that will render shades of gray, there was much experimentation. And EVERYONE was eager to go home and make balsa wood flat-tipped "nibs" to attach to pencils or sticks. (I didn't take a photo, but after I make one I'll be sure to post it.)

This was a fantastic way to end our year as a group. Thank you Christine for sharing your time and enthusiasm with us!

Collective members and those interested in joining us—we will meet again starting in January. (We meet the third Monday of every month, except December and May, from 7 to 9 p.m., at MCBA.) 

(Note: I'll post later this week on the other portion of our meeting: the wrap up of the Altered Book Journal Round Robin Exchange.)

  1. Reply

    I wish I would have been there… I really like calligraphy.

    • Roz
    • November 17, 2009

    Jon, it was really fun, and as a former sign painter (I think I remember you telling me you did that) we could have all benefited from your skills. If you plan a trip to the Twin Cities do it around the 3rd Monday of the month (not May or Dec.) and we can benefit from you as a speaker!

  2. Reply

    This sounds like such a fun, interesting, and informative group! I hope that your classes next term will be scheduled close to these meetings so that on our next trip up, I can do both – a class from you and this meeting!

    • Roz
    • November 18, 2009

    Cheryl, sadly, when I scheduled my spring class I didn’t take this into account—I realized a couple days after the schedule was set up it would have been a good thing to do. I hope to to this in the future, however, because it has the added benefit of pushing all my book-related scheduled events together and frees up other weekends for other things!

  3. Reply

    Well, given the choice between this meeting and one of your classes, I would most likely opt for the class – but we’ll have to see what your classes are, too. 😉

    And all of this assumes our son and daughter-in-law stay in Minneapolis for awhile. Since our son is in the second year of a 3 year program, it’s likely they’ll be there for at lease another year and a half.

    • Roz
    • November 18, 2009

    Cheryl, well I do hope I get to see you again in a class because it was a pleasure to meet you and you have been making new books since and that always makes a teacher feel really, really good! Right now I just have one class scheduled for March and don’t know what the year at MCBA will be like for me.

    As of the beginning of November we have a new Adult Program coordinator and I don’t know what direction she wants to take the program yet. I’m sure she has many ideas of how she sees our membership/customer base and the types of classes she thinks people will sign up for.

    I hope to meet with her sometime in the near future and see what her thoughts are on how my classes fit in her scheme of things.

  4. Reply

    Are you at liberty to say what the class is, and when? If not, I’ll be patient, but I’d love to know if you can say.

    • Roz
    • November 19, 2009

    Cheryl, it’s in March, but I don’t have the date in front of me. I have to take a photo of the sample and family stuff has kept me from doing that. It’s an Urban journaling class. We are making a soft-covered, sewn on the spine journal and then sketching out at the Mall of America, all in one day of class. Full details will probably be up on my blog next week. Thanks for asking.

  5. Reply

    Sounds like an interesting class – I’ll be watching for more details.

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