Geek Calligraphy Abroad

by Terri

My sister got married just outside of Jerusalem yesterday. I have been in Israel with my family for the last almost month. Working over an eight hour time difference has been... fun. In the way of sticking sharp objects in one's eyes and dental surgery sans anesthesia. On the other hand, I have lots of great pictures. Here is a selection:

Half of Reading Station/תחנת קריה. This is an old bus stop, repurposed into a free library.  [Image shows a man, woman and stroller in front of a bus shelter filled with bookshelves]

Half of Reading Station/תחנת קריה. This is an old bus stop, repurposed into a free library. 
[Image shows a man, woman and stroller in front of a bus shelter filled with bookshelves]

Wine grapes (either cabernet or malbec) at the Tzuba Winery. [Image shows two clusters of blue-purple grapes amid healthy green leaves]

Wine grapes (either cabernet or malbec) at the Tzuba Winery. [Image shows two clusters of blue-purple grapes amid healthy green leaves]

Mosaic map of The Cardo (Roman street in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Mosaic map of The Cardo (Roman street in the Old City of Jerusalem.

A solo cat and a cat who owns a person consider each other, rather like the cats in The Aeronaut's Windlass. [Image shows a thin cat with a white belly and calico back staring down a much more well fed grey and black tabby with a red collar]

A solo cat and a cat who owns a person consider each other, rather like the cats in The Aeronaut's Windlass. [Image shows a thin cat with a white belly and calico back staring down a much more well fed grey and black tabby with a red collar]

Monster at the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount (also known as The Kotel). [Image shows a small child in a red t-shirt and rainbow skirt touching the stones of a wall that's over 2000 years old.]

Monster at the western retaining wall of the Temple Mount (also known as The Kotel). [Image shows a small child in a red t-shirt and rainbow skirt touching the stones of a wall that's over 2000 years old.]

Making friends with a boa constrictor at the Biblical Museum of Natural History. [Image shows me with a large brown snake wrapped around my arms whose head is extending up my neck. The expression on my face is half amused, half terror]

Making friends with a boa constrictor at the Biblical Museum of Natural History. [Image shows me with a large brown snake wrapped around my arms whose head is extending up my neck. The expression on my face is half amused, half terror]

Wide interior shot of the stalactite caves in the Sorek Valley. Visible in the center is the stalagmite feature often referred to as "the ice cream cone with three scoops."

Wide interior shot of the stalactite caves in the Sorek Valley. Visible in the center is the stalagmite feature often referred to as "the ice cream cone with three scoops."

Classic shot of the Kotel and Temple Mount. [Image shows the stone wall of the Temple mount and the gold dome of the Dome of the Rock mosque]

Classic shot of the Kotel and Temple Mount. [Image shows the stone wall of the Temple mount and the gold dome of the Dome of the Rock mosque]

I Love Coloring

by Terri

Animated .gif of me coloring a tulip purple.

Animated .gif of me coloring a tulip purple.

Knitting is my primary hobby. So much so that I shipped a large box of yarn to Israel to make sure that I would have enough to knit while on vacation there.

But in addition, I love to color in so-called "adult coloring books." No, they don't have naughty pictures in them (though my favorite book so far has many many naughty words), but they are often more difficult to use than ones designed for children. Typically the images are subdivided into many small shapes, that require more fine motor control than the average five year old possesses. In theory they are designed to be calming and somewhat meditative. Before discovering the F*cking Awesome Coloring Book, my favorite books were generally based on on mehndi designs or other geometric shapes

Ariela, on the other hand, finds the whole idea of coloring line art she didn't draw herself twitch inducing. She likens it to wearing someone else's underwear. So the idea of Geek Calligraphy coloring pages never actually occurred to her - she doesn't find it enjoyable, so why should she make them for other people? 

First test version of the Spoon Dragon coloring page. Monster has since absconded with the original.

First test version of the Spoon Dragon coloring page. Monster has since absconded with the original.

In my house, there are Monster's markers and Mommy's markers (generally very fine felt tip pens, but I also like brush tips for larger area coverage). I also have a box of colored pencils, and have branched out into gel pens. I have discovered the joy of coloring cabbages and achieving exact radial symmetry in my work. Coloring taps into the part of my brain that is more than happy to choose a radically different yarn than the pattern designer intended, but won't make structural alterations to the pattern itself. In my world, Spoon Dragon is a lovely shade of lilac with blue hair. Fantastic blues and greens show up in every bird, not just peacocks. And I always have something to do while waiting for major web edits to do their thing. In fact, while working on this post, I have been coloring a large raptor type bird wearing sunglasses and holding a piece of pizza in its talons. The bird is in magnificent flourescent shades and the pizza cheese is sparkly. I didn't have to create the bird myself, which is awesome. I just get to choose what it looks like.

So if you like to color, you're in good company. And we'll continue to turn some of Ariela's line art into downloadable pages for you to enjoy.

New Product Line: Printable Coloring Pages

Did you know there was a National Coloring Book Day? It's today! In honor thereof, we are releasing our August products early this month.

Are you the kind of person who finds the idea of coloring cabbages soothing? Do you own a collection of markers and colored pencils that are specific to the grownups in your home? Then you're going to love our new product line of printable coloring pages!

Coloring Pages from Geek Calligraphy

How It Came to Be:

The adult coloring phenomenon completely mystifies Ariela. She likens coloring inside someone else's line art to wearing someone else's underwear. Terri, on the other hand, finds coloring a soothing activity when knitting starts to bother her joints. One day, Terri found a wonderful coloring book from a company called Calligraphuck. The book was called the F*cking Awesome Coloring Book. The lettering and line work struck Ariela as something she might be able to do and wondered if they took submissions. Terri responded that she could easily turn existing artwork into a downloadable coloring page, like Ursula Vernon does. This led to the pilot page that debuted as a WisCon surprise - Fuck You Pay Me as a coloring page. Today we are releasing that page to the general public, as well as launching the Spoon Dragon coloring page.

Because Ariela finds other people's line art so discomfiting, Terri does all the product testing for these items. She is incredibly happy that she gets paid to color. 

Our downloadable coloring pages are $2 each. This gets you a high resolution file that you can print as many times as you like and color to your heart's content.

(We hope this goes without saying, but PLEASE respect our copyright and intellectual property. When you buy the download, that is for your unlimited use, but not for sharing around and not for posting elsewhere online, except as you proudly display your pretty results. If you do post said pretty results, please tag us!)

Eicha

by Ariela

Tonight begins the fast of Tisha B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av in the Jewish calendar. It is a day of mourning for the destruction of both Temples in Jerusalem, and mourning the sinat chinam, the baseless hatred that brought said destruction about.

On the eve of the Ninth of Av, we read the book of Lamentations, identified in Hebrew as Eicha for its opening word. Before we sign off later today for the duration of the fast, we wanted to share a few images of scrolls and codices of Eicha.

Scroll of Eicha damaged during the Holocaust. Image from the dubious site Scrolls4all.org.

Scroll of Eicha damaged during the Holocaust. Image from the dubious site Scrolls4all.org.

Photo of a scroll open to the third chapter of Eicha. The text is formatted to in diagonals that are supposed to look like walls falling in. Image from HaSoferet.com

Photo of a scroll open to the third chapter of Eicha. The text is formatted to in diagonals that are supposed to look like walls falling in.
Image from HaSoferet.com

Opening page of Eicha from British Library MS 4709 f. 149r. The penman was Abraham ben Mordecai Farissol. Note the marginalia. Browse all of BL MS 4709 on their site.

Opening page of Eicha from British Library MS 4709 f. 149r. The penman was Abraham ben Mordecai Farissol. Note the marginalia.
Browse all of BL MS 4709 on their site.

Opening of Eicha in British Library MS 10455. Not sure why the initial isn't filled in, as it is in other books in the same codex. Also note the hand, which is closer to the Birds' Head Haggadah hand. Browse all of BL MS 10455 on their site.

Opening of Eicha in British Library MS 10455. Not sure why the initial isn't filled in, as it is in other books in the same codex. Also note the hand, which is closer to the Birds' Head Haggadah hand.
Browse all of BL MS 10455 on their site.

And now we are off to contemplate the consequences of sinat chinam, baseless hatred, which led to the destruction of the Temple. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Fun With Flowers

by Terri

Stock photo of a bouquet of flowers in a green glass vase. It has pink roses, baby's breath, ferns, pink & white lilies, purple statice flowers, forget me nots, blue daisies and a purple flower not tagged. Photo via 123rf

Stock photo of a bouquet of flowers in a green glass vase. It has pink roses, baby's breath, ferns, pink & white lilies, purple statice flowers, forget me nots, blue daisies and a purple flower not tagged.
Photo via 123rf

When advertisers exhort us to "say it with flowers," they often don't know how deliberately flowers can talk. While everyone knows that roses mean romance, did you know that daisies mean innocence? Or that larkspur means haughtiness? And that's only according to this flower dictionary.*

When we set out to make our Covertly Hostile series of cards, we took inspiration from the Victorian** custom of using flowers to send messages without words. People used to send each other bouquets that could be anything from a poem to a gorgeous insult. According to our favorite dictionary, the stock bouquet pictured means something along the lines of: "You are my true love because of your innocent, elegant, beauty and loyalty." And that's just what I could figure out from the flowers I actually know. 

The knowledge that flowers can carry intricately coded messages is not longer quite as popular as it used to be. This helps us create our Covertly Hostile cards - the average person doesn't dissect the image of a bouquet of flowers the way the Victorians might have. This means that they usually see "generic pretty thing" and leave it at that, and you can feel free to say exactly what you need to.

 

 

*There have always been multiple flower dictionaries. Flowers could have incredibly regionally specific meanings, that often contradicted meanings from the next county over.

**While the Victorians took the custom to their usual elaborate conclusions, flowers have carried meanings since at least Shakespeare.

New Greeting Card: Covertly Hostile Thank You Card

Did someone get you a gift that you Do Not Want? Did a relative get you something that you need or want, but comes with burdensome strings attached? Were you on the receiving end of a gesture that comes with Expectations of Reciprocity TM? Then send them this card.

Covertly Hostile Greeting Card

How it Came to Be:

With the release of the Covertly Hostile Mother's Day card, we had multiple requests for a similarly styled Thank You card. Everyone has that one person in their lives that gets them a gift where the obligations imposed by the gift far outweigh any benefits of the gift itself.

The card features three types of flowers. Rhododendrons are poisonous and mean beware, yellow carnations mean "No!"*, and lint flowers. We're pretty sure that lint is a relative of flax, and it means "I feel my obligations." Those are the small blue flowers. As with the Mother's Day card, the recipient doesn't need to know any of this. All they need to see is a pretty bouquet of flowers. In addition, there is no master flower dictionary. This provides plausible deniability. 

Like all of our cards, the Covertly Hostile Thank You is available singly for $4.00 and as a pack of 6 for $20.00.

*That is literally how it appears in our favorite flower dictionary. 

There's a New Way to Support Our Work!

by Ariela

There are lots of ways to support creators you like. Up until recently, the only ways to support us have been to buy our art and to spread the word about our art. Today we are adding a third option: buying us "coffee."

Ko-fi logo

Ko-fi logo

Ko-fi is a free service that allows fans to give money to creators in small amounts, amounts roughly equivalent to buying them a coffee.

Y U No Patreon?

Patreon is probably the best known crowdfunding service for creators, but it has never really been an option for us. Patreon's reward system tends to depend on offering special perks each month for the highest donors, either in the form of early releases or additional content. Our content doesn't tend to be sequential such that getting access to it early would be particularly enticing, and we're already working to our maximum capacity to get each product released each month and complete commissions so creating more content isn't an option for us right now.

That's why Ko-fi is a good model for us. We recognize that there are plenty of reasons why someone may appreciate our work without wanting or being able to buy our art. But we hope that people will be inspired to support us in other ways.

So, will you buy us a coffee?

P.S. Some of you may be finding this a little ironic. After all my loathing of coffee is legendary. I don't have anything witty to say about it other than to shrug and say that I am not actually being paid in coffee, so I can use it to buy tea, or, more likely, matboard for art. Also, Terri does like coffee, and she is half of this outfit.

Calligraphy Tools: Beyond Pens

by Ariela

This is a followup to the post of several weeks ago about different types of calligraphy pens. While pens are, in many ways, the most important tool of the trade, it would be a lot harder to get good results without others.

Ariela's drafting table with t-square hanging off it.

Ariela's drafting table with t-square hanging off it.

Drafting Table

You won’t get far without a good surface to write on. The sloped surface of a drafting table considerably reduces strain. When working on large surfaces, I increase the angle to bring the top closer to myself. Even when working on smaller pieces, the slant means that the pen meets the paper or parchment at a different angle than it would on a flat surface.

Mine is a Bieffe AF15, but brand matters much less than height and range of angles. As long as one adjusts to heights and angles that are comfortable for you, that's all that matters.

Good lighting is important while working. Many artists, myself included, answer this need by installing a swingarm lamp on one corner of their drafting table, but there are plenty of other solutions available.

T-Square

Making straight, parallel lines is one of the most important preparatory steps for calligraphy. Some drafting tables have a ruling tool built in. Mine doesn’t and I like it that way; there are times when I want to be able to use the entire surface of the table. Instead, I use a t-square together with the flat edge of the table to rule parallel lines. Mine is three feet long.

Ariela rests a triangle on her t-square.

Ariela rests a triangle on her t-square.

Triangle

When making vertical lines, it isn’t always practical to flip the t-square and use it vertically; for one thing, the t-square is quite a bit longer than the table is tall, and jabbing myself in the gut is not fun. When I need to make a small to medium vertical line, I rest a triangle on top of my t-square.

Lettering Guide

Ariela rests a lettering guide on a t-square.

Ariela rests a lettering guide on a t-square.

This little gizmo saves me so much time. Instead of measuring along the side of my writing area and marking each point at which I should draw a parallel line, I sit it on top of my t-square and it does all the spacing for me. (This is another way the slant of the drafting table helps – I can use gravity to keep the bottom of the lettering guide flush with the t-square.) I can change the line height by rotating the disc in the center between 3mm height and 10 mm height. If I want to work bigger than that, I can skip holes in the center or use the ones along the sides.

If you are a calligrapher and you don't have one of these, I highly recommend acquiring one. They are cheapest from Blick Art.

Lead Holder/Lead

Hand holding lead holder.

Hand holding lead holder.

This is the original mechanical pencil. While you can now get leads of different weights to load into modern mechanical pencils, I prefer this one for a few reasons. You do sharpen this lead, unlike your standard mechanical pencil. This means that you can choose how much you sharpen it; if a super sharp lead tends to cause you to gouge holes in your paper, you can keep it a little bit dull. The lead is thicker than the 5mm or 7mm standard to mechanical pencils now, so I don’t snap it as easily when inserting it into the holes of the lettering guide. I also just like the feel of this pencil body, the weight and the balance. Others might prefer different pencil bodies. I tend to use a 2H lead, which provides a good balance between producing a line that is dark enough to see but doesn’t lay down enough lead to smudge much while working.

Guard Sheet

I put a piece of paper under my hand to prevent the oils from my hand from touching the paper too much as I rest my hand while writing. It can be any scrap piece of paper.

There are more tools still for when I need to do fancy schmancy things, but these are the ones that get used in basically every calligraphy project

Questions?

I love talking about the technical aspects of calligraphy. The best way to get in touch is to tweet @GeekCalligraphy.

CONvergence

by Terri

The CONvergence flier. It features their mascot, Connie. The theme of the convention is Space Opera, and so the flier contains a lot of recognizable imagery from famous space operas.

The CONvergence flier. It features their mascot, Connie. The theme of the convention is Space Opera, and so the flier contains a lot of recognizable imagery from famous space operas.

There are many things to both love and hate about the United States Postal Service. One of the things we like is that it enables our art to go to conventions when neither of us can be there. Urged by a friend, we have sent our art to CONvergence, a fan run Science Fiction and Fantasy convention in Bloomington, MN. This year, the convention is taking place July 6th-9th (this weekend).

We have pieces hanging in the Art Show, and multiples for sale in their Print Shop. If you're going to be there at any point, give us a shout on Twitter, Facebook or Tumblr! We hope you enjoy the con and take a little something of ours home with you.

"I Like It" =/= "It's Good"

by Ariela

Quick followup on last week's post about my Hugo ballot. I mentioned a few times that I voted for things that I didn't enjoy. I don't think I mentioned the flip side as much, where there were things I enjoyed very much that I didn't vote for, but that happens, too.

The "Good" Meter and "Ariela's Enjoyment" Meter are different things.

The "Good" Meter and "Ariela's Enjoyment" Meter are different things.

Because here's the thing: just because I enjoy something doesn't mean that it is "good" by any metric except the "does Ariela enjoy it?"-o-meter. I enjoy some things that I recognize as being bad by any number of metrics. Candy corn, for example, is terrible for you, and not actually that tasty, I just love it. I also hate all coffee, even high-quality coffee; my lack of enjoyment of anything I have to put in my mouth that includes coffee says nothing about how good a product it is. There are also things that I enjoy that are good, like a perfectly cooked meal, and things that are bad that I don't enjoy, like undercooked chicken.

So, too, with media. I enjoy some horrendous things, and there are some things that I recognize as being superbly skillfully done that are just not my cup of tea. And when I vote for the Hugos, I am trying to indicate that I think something succeeds in the metrics of innovation, craftsmanship, skill, and execution. It's not really about what I liked, it's about what I think exemplifies everything I want to see in the field of Spec Fic. And yes, we can - and do - argue about what the field of Spec Fic should be. But anyone who thinks that the field of SF should consist of only what they personally enjoy, with nothing for anyone else, is probably not worth talking to.

I want there to be SF for people who like things that are dramatically different than what I like, and I want the offerings for them to be good. I want them to have things they love, things that speak so deeply to their experience that fandom becomes part of their identity. Just because I don't share it doesn't mean it shouldn't be awesome for them. I also want good reading and viewing options for me, and I hope they would support me in my desire for same.

So, for me, the Hugos are not about voting for the things I enjoyed the most, they are about voting for the furtherance of the genre.