Wednesday, October 6, 2010

October 4, 2010 - Beverly Hills Adult School Fraktur Class #4

Beverly Hills Adult School Fraktur Class #4:  DeAnn went over the Fraktur capital letters. The warm-up was writing the Fraktur letters and words with the 5mm Brause nib. Students came up to have DeAnn critique their writing and demonstrate on their sheet with a Zig calligraphy marker.

The handouts were 6 sheets on capitals:  Fraktur capitals exemplar with ductus (stroke sequence), Fraktur capitals written for DeAnn by German calligrapher Karlgeorg Hoefer (which the exemplar is based on), the Fraktur page from Claude Mediavilla’s book “Calligraphy”, a practice sheet from DeAnn’s past student, and two sheets of capital variations.

DeAnn’s goal is to teach us the Fraktur capitals done in the classic way, then show us variations that we can base modifications on. She also wants to show us different examples so that we can see how the letterforms looked in their historical context. By knowing the alternate letterforms, we’ll be able to recognize the letters when we look at historic manuscripts.

Fraktur Capitals:  these are 7 pen widths tall. For class, use the space from the baseline to the ascender, which is roughly 7 pen-widths (almost 11 boxes on the grid paper). The pen angle is slightly flatter, at 40-degrees, so that the downstrokes are thicker. Study the exemplar and the ductus or stroke sequence. Some of the letters have strokes that can be written in 2 strokes or 1 (noted below).

TIP:  never use these capitals together for a word in all-capitals!

Notes on individual letters:

I :  end the downstroke 1 pen-width (at 40-degrees) above the baseline so that it can meet the second stroke.

J :  like an “I” but end the downstroke slightly below the baseline. The crossbar is about halfway, so roughly 6 boxes from the baseline.

L :  you can make the body of the “L” in 2 separate strokes where you pick up the pen, as on the exemplar (note the wedge shape), or all in one stroke.

T :  stroke 1 starts at the ascender, then make a hairline of 1 pen-width, then stroke down. Stroke 3 has a slight curve going in and going out, but it fairly straight in between.

Alternate T :  stroke 1 is similar to the O-shape (see below). Don’t curve outward too much.

F :  downstroke has a slight s-shape, not a straight downstroke. Press to release some ink and pull a hairline with the edge of your nib for stroke 3.

O :  for the O-family of letters (O, C, G, Q, S), think in terms of the O-shape. Start 1 pen-width below the ascender, go down, then over. Notice that stroke 1 does not curve outward very much.

alternate A

A :  doesn’t look too much like the current A-letterform, so an alternate letterform is provided (see end of exemplar). Note that the alternate stroke 3 is diagonal, not straight up and down like the classic form.

B :  make stroke 2 long enough that it can meet stroke 3 smoothly.

U :  make stroke 2 long enough to connect with stroke 3.

D :  start stroke 3 at least at the margin where stroke 2 starts; can start a little sooner.

H :  don’t make stroke 3 too wavy; it shouldn’t look like a flag waving in the wind.

K :  stroke 4 should end beyond the end of stroke 3.

M :  in your mind, think of stroke 3 as fractures that have been rounded. The crossbar (stroke 5) is a decoration to break-up some of the inner whitespace.

P :  stroke 2 and 3 are slightly above the baseline.

V :  make stroke 2 long enough to connect with stroke 3; if the letter looks like it’s falling over, then stroke 2 isn’t long enough.

X :  an alternate stroke sequence is to continue stroke 1 beyond the baseline to form the descender stroke (stroke 2 on the exemplar). Then the strokes on the right branch off from the stem stroke.

Y :  the last letterform on the exemplar is a “Y” (not an “N”); this letterform appears in historical manuscripts.

Practice writing capitalized words. DeAnn thinks of the texture of Fraktur as lace, like a crocheted lace doily. When writing, be steady and keep going; find your rhythm.

Next week:  DeAnn will demonstrate gilding with gold and how to trace letters onto the sheet for the illuminated manuscript project.

HOMEWORK:  Practice the capital letters. Write alphabet flower names to practice writing words using all the letters. Try alternate capital letterforms from the handout. Once you feel comfortable with the 5mm Brause nib, go down to the 2 ½ mm Brause nib (x-height = 1/2-inch or 4 boxes, 2 boxes for the ascender/descender).

Also think about the text you want to use for the project. It should be about 40 words.

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