The Making of a 10-Year Project

Many calligraphers have attempted the “Love” piece, so when we began the project some 10 years ago, we were challenged with creating something different.

We decided to begin with a very large “L” as the dominant feature followed by the word “Love” as a reverse blue with a gold surround. The scroll work is traditional French style illumination.

Clifford Mansley calligraphyOriginally, we thought we would include figures or faces of a man and a woman, but each attempt left us less inspired, so we dropped the idea and tucked the project away to await the inspiration we knew would come. From time to time we would pull out the project, mull it over, and return it to the files.

Finally, last year, an inspiration came which seemed to work. We abandoned the portraits or figures idea and decided to use blue for male and pink for female and create a symbol representing each. This was an “aha moment” and seemed to work well with the rest of the design.

We entered “Love” in the Calligraphy exhibit at the Oregon State Fair and were pleased and rewarded to receive the 1st Prize.

The “L” in the work, in fact all gold in the project, is 23K gold leaf. The silver is palladium, an extract of platinum, chosen because unlike silver it doesn’t tarnish. The colors are Windsor Newton gouache and the black is Sumi ink. We used our favorite paper (well, other than calfskin) which is 140* Arches cotton rag Hot Press. Our materials enable us to correct ink or gouache easily and restore the paper for lettering so that corrections are hardly detectable. We actually “shave off” the error with a single edged razor, buffer it with an electric eraser to smooth the surface, then rub gum sandarac to heal the paper so that it doesn’t bleed.

The “Love” piece was a frustrating project until we allowed inspiration to come in its own time. Maybe that’s the secret to creating beautiful art. Never force it. Let it happen in its own time. Creating the final piece became a great pleasure.