Lovely Liesbet

© Jody Meese 2011
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved within your heart, and try to love the questions themselves."       ~Rainer Maria Rilke

Last weekend the San Francisco Friends of Calligraphy sponsored a two-day workshop, Designing and Interpreting for Extraordinary Letters with the inimitable Liesbet Boudens of Bruges, Belgium. This was Liesbet's first trip to this country during which she is teaching in Northern & Southern California as well as Monterey.  She is effervescent, funny, charming, and all-around an inspiring teacher.

Liesbet Boudens

Prior to the class, we were asked to choose a short phrase and make some sketches based on drawn Roman caps.  I chose a piece of a Rilke quote I've always loved--plus, I couldn't resist having a letter "Q"to play with!  Liesbet had us working small with a .3mm mechanical pencil, and then enlarging our designs by around 200%.

Final small pencil sketch, ~3"X5"

After a day-and-a-half of fine-tuning our designs, we transferred them to cold press watercolor paper;  Liesbet prefers the texture it gives the letters once they are painted in gouache.  It was a revelation for me to use a broad-nib pen to paint the letters!  Once I got used to it, it was much easier to control than a brush (for me).  Liesbet also recommends that the letters not be painted in order, so that if one needs to remix color, a slightly different shade will be distributed throughout the piece.  Brilliant! She goes over the dried goauche with a white wax Derwent pencil to bring out the grain of the cold press paper.  Haven't tried that yet...

While on the surface, this seemed like a simple project, it was seriously challenging, and the variety and ingenuity of design in the group was amazing! My FOC colleagues have my greatest admiration.

Naturally, it wouldn't have been an FOC workshop if I hadn't sneaked out with my fabulous tablemate and partner-in-crime, Ruth Korch, to do a little shopping.  This time it was the American Craft Council show in the building next door, where I scored this little tea strainer/cheeseboard ensemble embellished with Celtic knotwork in cherry wood from MoonSpoon for a birthday gift!

All in all, a weekend well spent!