New Judaica Art Print: A Wonder(ous) Woman  אשת חיל

Let the valorous woman in your life know how Wonderful you find her!

Blue and gold Hebrew text from Psalms 31 in the shape of the Wonder Woman logo

How It Came To Be:

Sometimes Ariela’s creative brain is tripped by odd prompts. She began searching for a way to put a particular Jewish spin on Wonder Woman after seeing a woman put a Wonder Woman bib on her daughter at kiddush* lunch at synagogue on Sh’mini Atzeret (the Eighth Day of Assembly). Once she thought of referencing Proverbs 31:10-31, an acrostic poem that begins with the phrase “A Valorous Woman,” the connection seemed obvious.

Hebrew art has a rich history of micrography, tiny calligraphy formatted so that it makes up a picture when you stand back, so the first plan was to fit all 21 verses into the logo. This lasted until Ariela actually thought about the message we wanted to send with the piece. Then most of the poem - the parts that talk about a woman’s value deriving from what she does for her husband and children, frequently in terms of her skills as a housekeeper or acquiring wealth - got cut. Even Terri’s favorite verse, the one that says "Many women have been made great, but you have surpassed them all,” was subjected to the sword. We at Geek Calligraphy do not embrace the Smurfette Principle** in any form - we will not condone the idea that there can only ever be one awesome woman at a time.

While Terri’s recent love of Wonder Woman comes largely as a result of the amazing 2017 film, the logo that Warner Bros. redesigned for Wonder Woman was deemed too angular and complicated. So instead, we used the classic DC Comics logo, with its clean silhouette and iconic red, yellow and blue.

The version up top has yellow text, but we also have an extra shiny (literally) version with gold text.

Gif showing the gold foil on the print reflecting the light.

Each print is matted on a black, archival-safe mat and comes ready to hang. The matted dimensions are 8”x10”. Prints with yellow text cost $30, prints with gold text cost $40. Ships flat.



*Kiddush literally means sanctification. In this case, it refers to the food served at synagogue after the sanctification of the Sabbath or a holiday is said over a cup of wine.

**Note - there are two links here, because one is to an old NYTimes magazine article and may be behind a paywall. The second link is to a TVTropes article, where you can explore all sorts of other lovely tropes about women in fiction and media.


New Art Print: Lady Astronaut Nouveau

Do you remember where you were when you first heard about The Lady Astronaut of Mars? We do. While we can’t send you to the Moon or Mars, we can offer you a gorgeous Art Nouveau print for your wall that we hope will inspire you as much as Dr. Elma York inspires the both of us.

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How it Came to Be:

It’s rare that a character grabs both of us in the same way and doesn’t let go. Dr. York is both part of and an exception to that rule. A Jewish protagonist is rare enough for both of us to see. One as well researched and written as Elma York is practically a unicorn. Terri felt the need to tweet at Mary Robinette Kowal while listening to the audiobook:

On the other hand, Elma is solidly Ashkenazi, which leaves Ariela out somewhat as she no longer practices those specific traditions. While there is a mention of the Spanish & Portuguese community of Charleston that resulted in a massive twitter conversation between Ariela and MRK, that’s not enough representation for a community with deep roots in the Southern US that predate the founding of the country. So it’s bittersweet for her, while for Terri it was more than she’d ever seen before.

When discussing authors to approach for more licensed work, Terri brought up approaching Mary Robinette about doing something with these books. Ariela was looking to do more illuminated first pages, and didn’t see how a series set in the 1950’s would work with that aesthetic. Terri pushed, and Ariela conceded that she hadn’t done any Art Nouveau in a while and it would be nice to get back to that. While Ariela was still noodling around with the draft, she found out about the Lady Astronaut fanart contest, and in the middle of the Jewish high holy days Ariela decided that, sure, she was going to try to produce finished painting in less than three weeks in order to meet the contest deadline. It didn’t quite happen, but when we posted the final painting to social media, there were enough inquiries of “Where/when can I buy a print of that?” that we decided to ask MRK about licensing so that we could do a print run.

Needless to say, when Mary Robinette agreed to allow us to sell this print, there was much squeeing. So much squeeing. First of all, the fact that she liked it as much as she did had us fangirling all over the place, let alone allowing us a license to sell the piece. (The signed licensing contract was actually returned during Terri’s brother’s wedding. It is a sign of how excited we both are that it was a worthy interruption of the festivities for Ariela to text Terri about it.)

The circular text is from קדוש לבנה, the blessing of the Sanctification of the Moon, which Jews say once a month when the moon is close to full. It reads:

וְלַלְּבָנָה אָמַר שֶׁתִּתְחַדֵּשׁ עֲטֶרֶת תִּפְאֶרֶת לַעֲמוּסֵי בָטֶן שֶׁהֵם עֲתִידִים לְהִתְחַדֵּשׁ כְּמוֹתָה

And of the moon G-d said that it should renew itself as a crown of glory for those born of the womb, for they are destined to recreate themselves just as it does.

This is a limited edition run of just 100 art prints in the 11”x14” size and only 20 in the 16”x20” size. Each print is matted on a black, archival-safe mat and comes ready to hang. The 11”x14” is $55, and the 16”x20” is $85. Ships flat.

The Making of the Anathem Illuminated First Page: Plundering History for References

by Ariela

This blog post is the first of two on the making of the Anathem Illuminated First Page art print. The second post will be published on October 3.

I tend to be painstaking about the details of my work; I research thoroughly and try to make sure I have a reason for everything to be where it is. When I asked for permission to work with text by Neal Stephenson – an author who is known for his extensive research and attention to detail in everything from historical research to eating Cap’n Crunch – I knew that I was setting myself up for a lot of thinking before the art could happen.

Why Isn't It Written in Orth?

At Neal Stephenson's request, Jeremy Bornstein created an Orth alphabet and language notes. The first decision I made, once I got the green light from Neal’s agent to go ahead with this project, was that I wouldn't be using it.

First, this passage isn't in Orth. While I am certain there are some Neal Stephenson fans, myself included, who would squee happily over someone translating the definition of Anathem into Orth, there's not enough there to do it yet. I am not any sort of linguist such that I could do a credible job of building Bornstein's work out any further.

The characters of Orth invented by Bornstein. Go ahead and make “orthography” jokes.

The characters of Orth invented by Bornstein. Go ahead and make “orthography” jokes.

Second, Orth and English are not a one-to-one substitution for sounds. Transliterating the passage into Orth letters would be clumsy and inaccurate. Even were I to do it, I doubt that the small number of fans who are familiar enough with Orth to recognize it on sight will ever see this art. Everyone else will just think that I put Greek letters and Tironian Notes in a box, shook them until they were thoroughly mixed, then wrote them down in whatever order I pulled them out. While that might make a fascinating drinking game for Medievalists, it's not going to result in comprehensible calligraphy.

Third, my game is broad-nib calligraphy, and the Orth alphabet is a rather unbeautiful monoline script. It is unfamiliar enough to most readers that, were I to make any significant alterations to make it "prettier," I might just make it unrecognizable instead. When calligraphing a passage like this, legibility is paramount.

Choosing English Caroline Miniscule

Once we’re staying in English, the question becomes, which English, or rather, Latin alphabet script to use?

The Mathic world, as a deliberately Luddite community within a larger, technically advanced world, doesn’t map onto any particular period in our history, so I can’t match it that way as I did with “Penric’s Demon.” But we can assume that Arbre has a similar history to our own from which the avout could pick and choose what to adopt into their society.

So what script, or even, what values would appeal to the Mathic world?

The Mathic world cares deeply about the transmission of knowledge. Presumably they would want to use a script that would be clear and easy to read. Based on the profligate use of leaves by Erasmas and the other avout, it seems there wouldn’t be sufficient pressure to conserve writing space to merit sacrificing any clarity in favor of a more compact script, as in Gothic hands.

Caroline miniscule was the chosen script of the Carolingian Empire, from last quarter of the 8th century CE to some time after 1200. Michelle P. Brown writes of it:

No other medieval 'reform' of script, or rather canonization of an evolved script, was as far-reaching and systematic as that of Caroline miniscule. Its successful diffusion throughout much of early medieval Europe was closely linked to an increase in intellectual activity based on the dissemination of texts… It offered a disciplined alternative to the plethora of national hands and sub-Roman scripts and, as part of a campaign to achieve standardisation of texts, contributed to a semblance of cohesion amongst the varied elements which formed the Carolingian empire.

A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600, p. 66

When I read that, I knew I had found the script I wanted to use.

Page from the Ramsey Psalter showing beautiful English Caroline Miniscule hand. BL Harley MS 2904, f.7r

Page from the Ramsey Psalter showing beautiful English Caroline Miniscule hand. BL Harley MS 2904, f.7r

For my script exemplar, or the example from which I copied the script, I chose the Ramsey Psalter (BL Harley MS 2904), which is of a subgroup called English Caroline miniscule because of its geography. The Ramsey Psalter hand is so pretty it was used by Edward Johnston as the inspiration for his Foundational hand when he revived English calligraphy in the 1800s.

The one exception to the exemplar was the ‘s,’ which is the letter in the alphabet of the Ramsey Psalter that isn’t readily readable for a modern audience. Instead I used the English Foundational ‘s.’

Decorating the Text

Because the avout of 3000, or 3990, would have the entirety of the artistic history of Arbre from which to draw, figuring out how to decorate this piece was less about finding the right historical references than it was about figuring out Mathic values: what sort of value would they ascribe to the codex this page comes from? What resources, both time and material, would they devote to it based on that value? How would they expect to use it?

I decided that, on the scale of pure utility to luxury, a copy of The Dictionary would probably be a middle-grade manuscript. It would merit a skilled scribe copying it out in a clear hand rather than just being copied over by whoever happened to be free at the time. It would be laid out nicely and would have some amount of decoration, but it wouldn’t have any sort of figurative scenes, and it wouldn’t get any precious metal leaf or paint. (Since gold or silver is what technically makes a manuscript “illuminated,” this is really an illustrated manuscript.) Above all, it’s a manuscript that is intended to be functional, and its function is to convey meaning. That function may be enhanced by some amount of decoration, but it should not be obscured by it.

Based on that ideal, I decided to go back to Caroline miniscule manuscripts to draw inspiration for how to emphasize the titular word of the piece. Many Carolingian manuscripts use Roman capitals, usually in red ink, for the incipit (opening line) and explicit (closing line) of each passage or chapter to great visual effect and clarity. Moutier-Grandval Bible (BL Add MS 10546), Capitularies of Charlemagne, Louis the Pious, etc. (Beinecke MS 413), and Biblia latina utriusque Testamenti (Stiftsbibliothek Cod. Sang. 76) are some excellent examples of this style.

So inspired, in addition to writing “[A]nathem” in red Roman capitals, I also wrote the closing citation in the same fashion, though much smaller. Were this an actual leaf from The Dictionary, of course such a citation wouldn’t be necessary; but this is a display piece, not an actual random page from a codex. (Presumably Extramuros Arbre has historians and archivists who would hunt you down for cutting random pages from codices, or framing found ones rather than trying to unite them with the rest of the book, just as Earth does. Don’t mess with archivists, make it clear this is just a display piece.)

Directed Acyclic Capital A

As a display piece meant for fans of Anathem, I also wanted to include a special decorative flourish referencing the themes of the book. Clarity of meaning need not translate to “plain,” after all, and the mathic world would appreciate images that work on multiple levels.

After looking at the Dagulf Psalter (Österreichisches Nationalbibliothek, Cod. 1861), I spent part of an evening contemplating backing the title word in aperiodic tiling shapes, with no small amount of fascination and terror. It wasn’t so much the idea of drawing so many tiny shapes by hand that made my brain seize up, it was the aperiodic part. I’ve done enough radial symmetry work that looking at designs that are just a little off felt a bit like Erasmas’ description of Chapter 1 of The Book – rhymes and meter that are all just a bit off. Fortunately, I came to my senses. Tiling is for tiles, not for manuscripts. And the Dagulf Psalter is also known as the Golden Psalter for good reason: it is not any sort of middle grade anything, it’s as high luxury as they come. That includes the profligate usage of pigments to produce solid blocks of color behind text, which wouldn’t read well if it wasn’t then written in gold anyway.

Dagulf Psalter f.26v

Dagulf Psalter f.26v

I decided that a Directed Acyclic Graph would be a much better visual cue to the themes of the novel, but I wasn’t sure how to incorporate it. Once again, the answer came from a Carolingian manuscript convention. I was flipping through The Bible of Illuminated Letters by Margaret Morgan when it suddenly occurred to me that the loops of Ottonian capitals looked a bit like the loops of a DAG. From there, it was an easy leap. After checking with a mathematician that no, such a DAG wouldn’t be appallingly nonsensical, I just reproduced an Ottonian capital A with a bunch of additional termini and arrowheads. I also added a left leg, to the A, since again, I want it to be readable by a modern audience. Plus, I liked the visual balance it lent to the overall composition.

The Otonian capital ‘A’ from Margaret Morgan’s  The Bible of Illuminated Letters.  Note the lack of left leg.

The Otonian capital ‘A’ from Margaret Morgan’s The Bible of Illuminated Letters. Note the lack of left leg.

Draft of the DAG ‘A’ inspired by the Otonian letter.

Draft of the DAG ‘A’ inspired by the Otonian letter.

Next time we will look at the practical considerations of making an Edharian manuscript page.

New Product: "Penric's Demon" Illuminated First Page Art Print

We are thrilled to announce our first licensed product:

Penric's Demon Illuminated First Page

"Penric's Demon" Illuminated First Page - Art Print by Geek Calligraphy, Licensed by Lois McMaster Bujold

Lois McMaster Bujold has been one of Ariela's favorite authors since a friend introduced her to the Vorkosigan Saga in 2010. When she began considering the possibility of illuminating published works, she thought it was a long shot to ask permission to play with Lois' latest works (which just so happen to feature a scribe as their main character, eeeee!), but figured it was worth asking. To her utter joy, Lois said yes!

Thus Ariela has calligraphed, illustrated, and illuminated the opening passage of the novella "Penric's Demon."

The layout of the page is inspired by two manuscripts in the British Library collection: Harley MS 4482 and Royal MS 20 D I. The text is written in the Fraktur alphabet, which is part of the Gothic Script family (Ye Olde English font).

The illumination at the bottom of the page shows Penric and Gans leaving Jurald Court on their way, so they think, to Penric's betrothal ceremony. A crow in the right margin hints at the path that actually lies in store.

Next Monday we will publish the first of three blog posts on the research and artistic choices that went into making an illuminated manuscript from the World of the Five Gods.

This is a limited edition run of just 100 art prints. Each print is matted on a white, archival-safe mat and comes ready to hang or to put in an 11”x14” frame. Ships flat.  $55 each.

New Product: Spacescape Art Prints

Looking for an artistic way to remind yourself of just how completely awe-inspiring the universe is? We've got some prints for you, featuring a spaceship exploring the stars and some very eloquent quotes.

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How It Came To Be:

We wanted to finish the year with a very science fiction piece of art. The space ship and background art comes courtesy of the SpaceScape Ketubah. The text on the English print is a quote from Babylon 5, courtesy of Ambassador Delenn: "We are starstuff. We are the universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out." The Hebrew quote comes from Psalms, Chapter 92, Verse 6: "מה רבו מעשיך ה' מאוד עמקו מחשבותיך - How great are your creations, oh Lord, Your thoughts are vastly deep."

Ariela took advantage of the shorter text to have some fun with the lettering in a way that isn't possible with a text the length of a ketubah and formed the letters out of stars.

The prints come matted and are available in three sizes:

Small - 8" x 10" - $30
Medium - 11" x 14" - $45
Large - 16" x 20" - $60

New Judaica Product: Steampunk Pomegranates

Looking for something that seamlessly blends classic Judaic imagery with outstanding steampunk art? Perhaps something seasonally appropriate? Look no further than this print!

Normally we wouldn't be releasing a product this early in the month, but next Wednesday is the day before Rosh HaShana. At that point, we will be taking our usual 4 week break for the fall Jewish holidays.

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how it came to Be:

For some reason, Ariela seems to like doing religious steampunk art, even she is not sure why. Maybe it's the result of working for an art nouveau ketubah artist for several years. 

While staring at a wall hanging of some rather poorly embroidered pomegranates in synagogue, it occurred to her to depict a pomegranate full of gears instead of seeds. All it needed was a textual tie-in, because we are a calligraphy outfit, and we don't generally put out art without text.*

Ariela thought of one of her favorite pieces in the Yom Kippur liturgy, a piyyut** known by its first line, Ki Hinei KaChomer. This poem refers to God in a variety of creative and skilled roles, rhyming virtues of God with the destructive aspect of each role. Below is the full English*** and Hebrew text of that poem:

Like clay in the potter’s hands –
Expanded or contracted at will –
So are we in Your hand, Guardian of loving-kindness;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like a stone in the stonecutter’s hands –
Held fast or smashed at will –
So are we in Your hand, Source of life and death;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like an axe-head in the blacksmith’s hands –
Held to the flame or distanced from it at will –
So are we in Your hand, Supporter of the poor and destitute;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like the helm in the sea captain’s hands –
Held fast or released at will –
So are we in Your hand, beneficent and forgiving God
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like glass in the glassblower’s hands –
Shaped or dissolved at will –
So are we in Your hand, Forgiver of willful and inadvertent sins;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like cloth in the weaver’s hands –
Straightened or twisted at will –
So are we in Your hand, jealous and avenging God;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

Like silver in the silversmith’s hands –
Adulterated or purified at will –
So are we in Your hand, Provider of healing to the sick;
Look to the covenant, and disregard our inclination.

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּחֹמֶר בְּיַד הַיּוֹצֵר
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ מַרְחִיב וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְקַצֵּר
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ חֶסֶד נוֹצֵר
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כָּאֶבֶן בְּיַד הַמְסַתֵּת
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ אוֹחֵז וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְכַתֵּת
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ מְחַיֶּה וּמְמוֹתֵת
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּגַּרְזֶן בְּיַד הֶחָרָשׁ
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ דִּבֵּק לָאוּר וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ פֵּרַשׁ
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ תּוֹמֵךְ עָנִי וָרָשׁ
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּהֶגֶה בְּיַד הַמַּלָּח
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ אוֹחֵז וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ שִׁלַּח
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ אֵל טוֹב וְסַלָּח
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כִּזְכוּכִית בְּיַד הַמְזַגֵּג
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ חוֹגֵג וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְמוֹגֵג
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ מַעֲבִיר זָדוֹן וְשֶׁגֶג
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כִּי הִנֵּה כַּיְרִיעָה בְּיַד הַרוֹקֵם
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ מְיַשֵּׁר וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְעַקֵּם
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ אֵל קַנֹּא וְנוֹקֵם
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

כּי הִנֵּה כַּכֶּֽסֶף בְּיַד הַצּוֹרֵף
בִּרְצוֹתוֹ מְסַגְסֵג וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ מְצָרֵף
כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְּיָדְךָ מַמְצִיא לְמָזוֹר תֶּֽרֶף
לַבְּרִית הַבֵּט וְאַל תֵּפֶן לַיֵּצֶר

 

For obvious reasons, this poem has always resonated with Ariela as an artist. The stanza of the poem that she felt fit this image best is the third one, which references a blacksmith shaping an iron axe-head. Steampunk, after all, is full of iron. So the Hebrew version of this print has the lines "כִּי הִנֵּה כַּגַּרְזֶן בְּיַד הֶחָרָשׁ / בִּרְצוֹתוֹ דִּבֵּק לָאוּר וּבִרְצוֹתוֹ פֵּרַשׁ / כֵּן אֲנַחְנוּ בְיָדְךָ" and the English version has "Like iron in the hand of the metalworker, / Who welds or separates at will; / So, are we in your hands, O Lord." The English has been modified somewhat from the standard translations to be more appropriate for the setting.

The Hebrew font was picked by surveys on Twitter and Facebook, with a confirmation that the choice was a good when when Ariela saw it in some older printed books. The English is a nice older typeface. Both texts are intentionally aged and distressed. 

Steampunk Pomegranates in both English and Hebrew are available in an 8"x10" matted print, for $30.

 

 

*Sometimes the art is only text, but hey, calligraphy outfit

**Medieval liturgical poem

***Translation comes courtesy of the Koren Yom Kippur Machzor

New Product: All Others Must Bring Data

by Terri

Have you been feeling frustrated by people who think that the plural of anecdote is data? For that matter, do people that can't correctly conjugate the plurals around the word data make you cranky? Then you're probably the target audience for this print.

In God We Trust All Others Must Bring Data - Art Print from Geek Calligraphy

How It Came To Be:

Both Ariela and I are quite concerned about how established scientific fact is currently being maimed and mangled to fit current political needs. That's not what data are for. A friend suggested we might do a print based around a quote attributed to Galileo, but it seemed too obscure to convey what we were feeling. Instead, Ariela picked a pointed quote attributed to W. E. Deming.

The graphs and spreadsheets in the background are all from Kaggle, a crowdsourcing platform for data-mining and analytics. As such, Kaggle is an enormous library of publicly available datasets, covering everything from Aviation Accident Synopses  to Dogs of Zurich to the Anime Recommendations Database, and many that are much weirder or more depressing. Also an enormous amount of data about Pokémon.

Which dataset is featured here? Why, the metadata on Kaggle usage! It's data about data, for a lovely, self-referential, navel-gazing loop. How are we presenting it? Honestly, our presentation here is nonsense, with graphs made out of data that show no particular results and spreadsheets juxtaposed just for the heck of it. This probably seems like an odd decision to make here of all places, particularly from an artist who makes much hay about the fact that she doesn't put nonsense text, binary, or even musical notation into her work.  It is there as a commentary on Deming's quote, to act as a caveat. The artful rearrangement of the data into pretty but meaningless patterns reminds us that data is only useful if we know how to analyze it well. If we don't, at best it is noise, and at worst it can lead us to conclude that ice cream causes drowning.* The Deming quote is pithy, but the truth is always more complicated.

This print is relevant for many situations, whether encouraging good decision-making at work or screaming at politicians and talking heads on the news. It is available in two sizes, 8" x 10" and 11" x 14" (matted dimensions) for $35 and $45 respectively.

 

 

 

*This is a famous example of "correlation does not imply causation." As ice cream sales increase, so do drowning deaths. Turns out both are just more common the hotter it gets. 

New Product - "Take Care of Yourself"

By Terri

The news is horrible. We're all in danger of succumbing to outrage fatigue. Hang this on your wall to remind yourself to take the steps necessary to stay sane and keep fighting.

How It Came To Be:

This is not actually the print we had originally planned for February,* but Ariela made this because it was something she needed to hear herself, plus she was somewhat creatively burnt out. Thus creating this print was also an act of self-care.

The print is riotously colorful, because it needs to be happy to remind others to be happy. All of the activities listed require relatively little money, because Ariela wanted them to be widely accessible. Yes, we're aware that if you are poor enough, they're not all accessible. We're also aware that making a high-end art print that is aware of this limitation is somewhat ironic, but artists need to eat. We should not be cutting our own bottom line out from under ourselves to further our commitment to social justice.**

Self-care is not selfish. You are precious. And you cannot take care of others or fight for what you believe well if you are run-down and burnt out. This is a long haul kinda thing and burning up in a blaze of self-sacrifice at the beginning isn't the way to go.

The print is available in two sizes: 8" x 10" and 11" x 14" (matted dimensions) for $30 and $45 respectively. $5 from the sale of each print will be donated to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), who are currently doing some amazing work supporting refugees trying to come to this country.

*To be honest, it's not even the second print scheduled for this month. We've both been overwhelmed and burnt out since the election. Overwhelmed and burnt out artists and their wranglers edit their production calendars like sensible people.

**In addition, when you cut the bottom out of your own bottom line, you also cut the bottom out from other artists, too. So making a charitable print and taking a loss on it might cause people to buy your thing rather than someone else's who cannot actually afford to take a loss. Which is why it is good artist practice to encourage others to price themselves properly, even when starting out.

 

New Product: Police Box Mizrach (מזרח טרדיס)

by Terri

Have you been searching for the right piece of art to indicate your love of a certain Doctor? No matter which one is yours, his iconic Police Box can guide your prayers in the right direction.

Police Box Mizrach - Art Print by Geek Calligraphy

How it came to be:

Since the Jewish diasporas began in 8th-6th century BCE, Jews have been turning towards Jerusalem and the site of the Temple Mount there to pray. Much of the diaspora has sent Jews westward of Israel, and thus that means facing east.* Typically a synagogue will put the aron (cabinet containing the Torah scrolls) on the eastern wall to remind the congregants which direction to face during prayer. But in a home, especially modern apartments which don't always have windows in the right places, intuiting which direction is east can be difficult.

Thus a decorative, yet functional piece of art came into existence - the mizrach/מזרח.** Usually containing the Hebrew word, it is a pretty thing that you put on the eastern wall to let you know which way to face while praying.*** Many of them feature pictures of Jerusalem, for the obvious reason.

Ariela had been wanting to do a geeky mizrach for a while but was stymied as to how. Inspiration struck in a most unexpected form: at a shiva minyan, one of the mourners was wearing a Karen Hallion t-shirt, and it suddenly occurred to Ariela that perhaps a certain Police Box-shaped object might visit Jerusalem.

The Police Box Mizrach will be available in two sizes: 8" x 10" and 11" x 14" (matted dimensions) for $30 and $45 respectively.

 

 

 

*Of course now we can live in really cold climates, and are often more northeast than actually due east. Someday you can ask me about shenanigans involving prayer in Poland.

**The Hebrew word for east. Pronounced miz (like a married woman keeping her maiden name) rakh (cheerleading RAH with that guttural sound at the end)

***Of course, it doesn't have to be the eastern wall. Our friend Liz embroidered the Hebrew word tzafon/צפון (north) with a decorative border and framed it. You can find east if you know due north. Pedantry can be fun.

New Product: This Should Not Be Normal And It Is Not Okay

By Terri

Usually I come up with pithy copy for this section. Unfortunately, reality is intruding on the parts of my brain that are good at pithy copy. 

Ariela and I are not shy about expressing our political opinions. It's safe to say that if you read this, you have a pretty good idea of what they are. Neither of us are happy with what's going on, and we've spent a lot of time exclaiming loudly at each other over the results of the election.

This Should Not Be Normal and It Is Not Okay

How It Came To Be:

Everyone from John Oliver* to the Washington Post** is saying "This is not normal."The fact of the matter is that this is becoming our normal, and will be our normal for at least the next four years. Plenty of things that are terrible and should not be normal are, in fact, normal. Systemic racial bias is normal. The wealth gap in our country is normal. Religious hatred is normal. I will argue that kleptocratic cabinet choices and the insane amount of conflict of interest that the PEOTUS has aren't normal***, but continuing to claim that it isn't normal misses the point. What it isn't now and never will be is okay. This is our way of saying that. 

It's also important right now to keep creating. To keep making art, making music, cooking, loving, crafting. To do the things that make you happy, because happiness is the best defense against the mess the next 4 years are going to be. I cast on a rainbow shawl the day after the election. Ariela painted this, and is working on other projects as well.

Ariela added the border text because she felt that the central text by itself was visually boring for calligraphy. Also because she likes Copperplate and has been playing with it lately.

Prints are available in two sizes (8"x10" & 11" x 14", matted dimensions), with two text options. There is a plain white version, and for $10 per size, you can get sparkly silver letters! $5 from each print sale will be donated to EMILY's List.**** One of the ways we fight is by raising money to elect the candidates who can fight for us on every level, from local legislatures all the way to the White House. 

*Fast forward to 5:45 for the first statement of "this is not normal." It will be repeated.

**Yeah, there really are that many articles that we can link one to every letter in the words "Washington Post." And those links were found just by scrolling through their twitter feed.

***For the United States. In lots of countries, this is normal. For us, it's new.

****We are donating a portion of these sales to EMILY's List purely of our own volition. They are not sponsoring this product, nor are they in any way affiliated with it or with Geek Calligraphy.