Word Art


eeping along the same subject as last week, when I wrote about how people can express themselves in ways that words cannot. This week, I think I should give some space to the very things that allowed me to express  those very thoughts – words.

   Clearly self expression can be carried out with words in many formats and styles. The actual collection of words strung into a sentence can convey meaning and take us in to places that imagination may need a guide for. Poetry, narrative, storytelling, correspondence, news, memos, instruction, lyrics, I could go on for pages on how words communicate our thoughts.

   I would also like to note that the beauty of the letters that make the words can be extraordinary in their pure forms. I refer to illuminated manuscript and calligraphy as forms of word making that deliver words as specimens of beauty regardless of their meaning. I imagine that the monks who first graced our world with ornamentation and embellishments of beauty on written language were doing so for holy purposes. Having seen the Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin, I can attest to its spiritual effect on at least one viewer.

   In today’s world we are all caught up in more easily obtained fonts. Fonts are styles of letters that originated on small pieces of lead that were painstakingly put into place for use in printing presses and are now available at the touch of a mouse click in a mind boggling choice of styles right in your computer program.   I have yet to see any come close to imitating to the finer qualities of hand lettered calligraphy.

    Just today I had someone ask me to write names on certificates in calligraphy with the sincerest tone of voice as if asking me to do this work was a form of flattery.Well, it is work, but as much out of practice that I am, I could not help but want to accommodate that person. She could just as easily have  printed them out on her computer with a calligraphy font, but she appreciated the hand lettering and so did the people receiving the certificates.  I also made her promise never to tell anyone who did them. (I don’t really have as much time as the monks.)

   My suggestion is to take time to look at illuminated and illustrated manuscripts in what ever source is available.Google illuminated or illustrated letters or the Book of Kells. Religious books are not the only source of those fancy letters. Take time to study the details of the ‘Once upon a time’ in fairy tales. Take a simple phrase or poem and create an illustrated first letter. The H in Hickory, Dickory Dock could lend itself to a lovely grandfather clock to start the story. Remember where the mouse ran? That’s right – up the clock. Have some fun with letters and how their visual presence can be used to enhance the word or story.


1 Comment

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One response to “Word Art

  1. Anniekb

    Well said – or should I say “well written”! Your thoughts about the elegance of the letters themselves really resonated with me, as did the article as a whole – word-lover that I am.

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