Good-bye, Sandy

Sandy Adams, sometimes known as “Edith Crapper”, until we got to know her better.
circa 2004 – 20 June 2020

DSC04961.JPGThis is the first photo I have (apparently) of Sandy. She came to us in May of 2006. I found her in the street with some wisps of straw, & full teats; so I assumed she had been dumped from a puppymill. Nobody was home but me – K & C2 were in Barcelona with a guest, buying C2’s flat. I couldn’t get anyone else in the village to take her on. So I took her in. Isn’t she lovely? Fortunately, Keith is the sort of husband who doesn’t mind – or even actively likes stray dogs.
The village children named her Sandy, because she looked to them like Little Orphan Annie’s dog Sandy – who is much taller, male, & has no eyes. Neighbour Carme sang to her the song from Grease.
When Keith’s mother came to visit, we decided Sandy would be her dog. Or perhaps Sandy decided this… Was Ruskin jealous?

We called her a “heat-leach” – although in Gwen’s case, I think Sandy gave warmth, rather than taking it. But she had to get it from somewhere…a fluffy white(ish) dog on amid sooty coals is not recommended; so Keith had to build her a hearth extension. Do many dogs have custom plinths?
Sandy hearth
Both Sandy & Ruskin have been noted for their cinematic performances…I think this is the mambo…


“Interferència canina”

No apology is sufficent for the rudeness of Ruskin…[well, he’s a dog] Sandy’s behaviour is more explicable: there is egg in the paint. Has there ever been a lower resolution calligraphy video? I feel it used to be better – something has happened in YouTube when I wasn’t looking.

Glamorously windblown at the beach…

When we fostered some motherless puppies (Ruskin was accused of paternity…) until we could find them homes…
I’m not sure it was motherly qualities Sandy displayed with little Rolly…(under the chair in the photo with K, while he holds [Little Orphan] Annie on his lap). But it is clearly play.

Sandy montage

Good-bye, Sandy. We’ll see you at the Rainbow Bridge. For now, it is just us and the Lady.

This is an interim publication. More may be added. If you wish to commemorate Sandy, a donation to your local animal shelter would be appreciated.


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Laya Point Permaculture 2017–The Fourth [& Last] Calligraphy Course: Art Nouveau/Modernist Lettering

& then, sadly, the ultimate course of the ultimate summer at Laya Point (or so they tell us…).
Staying on for both courses are Miquel Centellas, now the champion Laya Point veteran, Christa Puch Nielsen, & Flora Bicalho (still also cooking the delicious luncheons!).
A brief introduction to what Art Nouveau/Modernist scripts might be, based on examples in the Catalan National Art Museum (MNAC) & other sources, from Catalonia, England, Scotland, France…P1030335
Keith’s ongoing technique of flipping the demonstration sheet to conserve paper always produces interesting patterns & juxtapositions:
Nouveau demo 2 colour
Laya Point last class strip
The Eastern influence on the “Nouveau” artists led them to design “chop”-like cartouches to use a signatures, ex-libris, &c.
light strip
Gathering round for a practical demonstration: how is it done?
P1030357 - Version 2Miquel & Christa taking time out for relaxing on the wall – good for “calligraphers’ back”.

P1030372 - Version 23jpg
Part-time students: visitors Hilary & Emma Lewis having a look round at Laya Point; & Susie Jones (Susie returning, from 2016).
hilary emma susie
Trying golden paint on dark papers, Margaret Mackintosh’s roses are immortal. I think all of these are yours, Christa?
The dogs: Eric, Mageeka, George…
LayaPt dogs
Intense concentration…
4 scribes
Intense dedication…The Night Shift…
End of course exhibition, as always…P1030447 - Version 2Let’s have a closer look at some of those masterworks–Miquel’s warm walnut ink & green tones, flanking Christa’s gold & blue…
nouveau expostrip
Flora’s Éluard….                                                     & Susie’s Wordsworth….
2 horizontal texts Flor n Susie
Interesting textural contrasts from Christa; Flora’s sketches for Ex Libris deserve more attention; Miquel’s alphabet & rose study…
Christa Flora Miquel
Emma was inspired by the view…& produced modernist sheep to accompany the roses…
sheep strip.jpg
& after their visit, Emma & Hilary surprised us with real roses!
We are so sorry to say “Good-bye Laya Point”, until your next incarnation, further south?
last pic
LayaPoint2015 strip 1 w ltrg


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Laya Point Permaculture 2017–The Third Calligraphy Course: Historical & Modern Italic Scripts

Back in the Duddon Valley, enjoying the cool weather–cooler than Barcelona! Verdant vistas & wildlife, not all too swift to photograph…
hortz strip
Keith arrived before me, and finding his view of the garden blighted by some heavy commercial sacks of (I think) clay pond liner, erected a random piece of plywood as a sight-screen and then added found objects & text to make it into an installation, also serving as a draft for a future project or two:
Ultimatelly he collected me from Liverpool John Lennon Airport (no sign at all of John there–unlike Saint-Exupéry Airport in Lyon which is rich in Petit Prince images…).
& then the students arrived: Ingrid! Ingrid Cox! Who is now Ingrid Cox-Lockhart, gets exclamation points because it has been so many years since we have seen her. She began her calligraphic studies with us in 1991 at Saint-Antoine-l’Abbaye at the age of 16, and followed them up in 1992 & 1997. So it is quite a thrill to see her again, all the way from Switzerland where she now lives.
Peter Stanley was here last year, & we are very happy to see him again! Perhaps it is a feature of Laya Point that people who attend once want to return. For Miquel Centellas, it is his third year at Laya Point. Some people just cannot be kept away. And Liz Goyder also came for the third time–she already had a workshop course scheduled elsewhere for the week, but made time to spend the weekend at Laya Point working on Italic with the rest of us.
New students this session were Christa Puch Nielsen from Denmark, already a friend of Miquel’s from their attendance at courses taught in Denmark by our one-time student, now teacher, Oriol Miró. & Flora Bicalho, one of this year’s WWOOFer’s at Laya Point.
Oh, yes: & a Cuckoo! A huge cuckoo being attended to by it’s tiny adoptive mother (too fast moving to catch in a photo).
LP2017 Ital student strip

(Below) Technical difficulties caused by extemporaneous plumbing…Does it need to be that complicated (& ugly?). I tried to fix it with a mild dose of calligraphy, and to show off those antlers (undoubtedly found in the forest, as seen in a vegetarian study centre).Modifying the classroom signageAs usual, there are people who really take advantage of every available moment on a calligraphy “retreat”. The lighting at Laya Point is amazing, and so is the enthusiasm!

nightowlsThis summer’s chefs–led by Flora more than anyone–did an outstanding job of keeping us nourished in the scriptorium, with delicious vegetarian fare, often homegrown, harvested from the permaculture garden.foodpanel.jpg
Our first subject was Elizabethan italic, and we began working with a letter from Elizabeth I herself, aged 20, to her young brother, King Edward VI (reproduced in Elizabeth I, Her Life in Letters by Felix Pryor, University of California Press, 2003), copying her formal italic. Everyone enjoyed the charming orthography and the long ſ [s]. Here below by Miquel, Ingrid, & Christa (if I’ve got them all correctly attributed).shipman strip
We also addressed Spanish italic, with the startling scripts of José Casanovas:
casanova-strip.jpg I think that’s Ingrid’s, Casanovas’s own (of course) & Miquel’s–please correct me if I’m wrong. The original document is from the annals of the village of Cañete la Real, Málaga.
Italic of all sorts, naturally leads to an interest in exploring Italian Italic–Christa & Miquel worked on Bennardino Cataneo’s variations on the Italic script…
Italian Italic by Christa Puch and Miquel Centellas
Unusually, on this occasion, Italic seemed to lead to pointed, flexible-pen scripts, and some anglaise/“Copperplate” type scripts were approached by popular demand!
LP17-1 workstrip.jpg
Very serious scribes at work. Always on time, rain or shine…coming down the hill early in the rainy Duddon Valley morning, from their lodging above. That’s dedication!P1030182.JPG
Until finally:
Exhibition day–Pete, Miquel, Christa…+ Keith who worked on a project all week, & Ingrid’s one-woman show magically photoshopped in because she had to leave a day early:
LP 2017 1 ital Expostrip
After studying the historical and modern italic, Ingrid’s branching out to study  pointed, flexible-pen writing produced one project in both italic and “Copperplate”:
IngridCox LP strip
Let’s have a closer look at Pete’s broadside showing the elevation of the Camino de Santiago, quite a project from learning the script to producing the work in just 6 days.
Elcamino n Pete
Miquel worked on perfecting his italic, & mixed in a little “Copperplate” as well.
Miquel n Ulpha piece
Rhapsody in Yellow turned out to be Ingrid’s magnum opus for the week…
IngridCox n yellow
Christa also devoted herself to perfecting her italic, and to striking a particularly Danish note, as she should.
HC Andersen n CPuch
& Keith participated in the class by producing a work including a lot of italic, as well as some intriguing illustration.
k n Crapper strip
Even though Liz visited for a very short time, she still managed to produce a very nice project indeed! & to make absolutely the best adaptation of Elizabeth I’s signature for the label on the other side of the bottle.
Liz 2018. n projectspsd
Some young visiters & their canine associates: Alice, Geeca, Headly, Eric….can it have been chilly, that everyone has a throw on their lap? Also engaged in artistic pursuits.some young visiters & their canine associates
The penultimate class of the ultimate Summer at Laya Point:
another view...
Have you more photos to share? Send them please!


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Summer at Saint-Antoine 2016, Part II–Trois Gothiques/Three Gothic Scripts

The Abbatiale–the Abbey church. Views that never become boring. Nor does the contrast of red geraniums with the verdant pre-alpine summer.
Three Gothics? Why not! Textura, Flemish Bâtarde, & Fraktur. Adjacent scripts with their associated flourishes and decoration styles, and modern adaptive possibilities. Let’s go!
Start with a basic “Textura”–the sort of Gothic script that produces a dense woven look on the page. “My text was once your textile” as Edward Johnston once wrote to the weaver, Ethel Mairet.
Verdun, Bibliothèque Municipal, MS 0107–voilà the close weave of the page. The even spacing. These are our goals. Keith demonstrates ways to make the letters closer, touching, overlapping exactly, to keep that regular texture…
Some classes are more camera-shy than others–at least we can see Joaquín Gracia–hard at work; Victoria Gerchinhoren–having a little consultation with me; Daniel Esteve Carbonell doing some stunning work–this is a class rich in extremely competent left-handers; Máire Mayne having a little consultation with Keith; Eduardo Teruel & Sonia Beroiz bringing cushions to give them more height at their écritoires; Christiane Soufflet–so precise, her feather touch; a balloon! If you hear a strange roaring noise at Saint-Antoine, & you think it may be a dragon, and you rush to your window, it may be a “montgolfier” instead! Marie Posner–another precise left-handed scribe. And a flourished “d”–or perhaps ∂–after the historical scribe, Nicolas Spierinc–somehow reminding me of the montgolfier
 Uncaught by the camera were Camille Gardette, Joseph Montalbano, Christine Nodet, and Jacinthe Tros–but I have not abandonned hope; I think there are more photos to be found!  Meanwhile, we save the large demonstration sheets from the front of the class to use as wallpaper later, they make nice abstractions.
StA20163G demostrip
Nearly everyone has a go at the “montgolfier” ∂ [d]–a few of them got put on the wall in front of the camera…Except for Daniel, I don’t have attributions. Mesdames & messieurs, would you care to identify your work?
Spierinc ds
Let’s have a look at…is it Eduardo’s desk? studying the Flemish Bâtarde…& then at the right, Daniel working on his Fraktur project–because the third of the “Three Gothic Scripts” is Fraktur. Inundating his water-written letters with drops of spreading watercolour…
Let’s just have a look at the technique of two excellent and experienced left-handed calligraphers, Victoria & Daniel:
two left handers
Keith loves doing brush lettering on textiles. The observers are really standing back…why? Are they afraid of being splashed? Finally, the camera caught Jacinthe (second from left), along with Victoria, Joaquín, Christiane and Marie.

[Sorry, inserting a video seems to leave a mysterious empty space.] Nonetheless, no one was too afraid of being splashed to try it! I am afraid to try to attribute them, though–please post a comment and claim your work! Next time, I shall bring an iron/fer-à-repassage/plancha to the classroom. the wrinkles were barely noticeable in real life, but in photos they are too striking. Still, the lettering is very good, dear students!
textile strip
As is his wont, Keith has cut reeds (and taught everyone how to do it) and then suggests an exercise in using reeds, exploiting the transparency of of the walnut ink/noguerina/nogalina/brou de noix, and producing an attractive composition with that notoriously uninformative text “a, b, c,…x, y, z”, all the while learning a bit more about spacing gothic scripts.
After trying the alphabet, some people went on to write out words and phrases–Camille wrote out her family’s names–for a beginner under twelve, we are quite proud of her.  “El siempre es un tiempo de hombre” Joaquin’s. Daniel and Eduardo have signed their alphabets—the other works? My copious notes are not copious enough. Please let me know which are whose!
Got abc strip
Are these perchance Victoria’s and Máire’s here below…? Tell me!
victoria's n máire's?
Lots of variety in the projects–but whose are which? Ah ha! “Amarillo se extiende…” is by Joaquín, signed with his nom-de-plume (ou de -guerre?), “Nauta”;  “Un dia el tiempo…” might be Victoria’s? (I know that “U/V” was destined for a lot of elaboration…), “Le petit Chaperon Rouge is unquestionably Joseph’s–he has dutifully signed it. Almost everyone did something with the “Sebastianis martiris” text from the Flemish manuscript. Whose are they? Eduardo? Sonia? & the other interpretation below it? I would attribute “Gritos Horror” to one of you–Eduardo, you are getting so good I cannot tell which is yours and which is Sonia’s these days. Daniel very creatively interpreted the Fraktur majuscules as an alphabetic composition–beautiful! “Stelt u zich een…” has me mystified. I should remember, it’s Flemish?
Please! Chers élèves: some comments to help!
work strip
So much for the “portrait” format works. What about the “landscape” layouts? Actually there are a lot of horizontal formatted works in the “textile” part of the exhibition. But here are a few that were realized on paper: I know the William Blake is Máire’s–she has developed a personal monogram/signature with two Ms that make a heart and enclose the date. Very nice. Qui es chez elle? I think I am guessing it is Marie? I love the slightly angular interpretation of the cadel initials. Who thinks “Doing the garden” is the best thing? Everyone writes so many languages…Vicky? Joaquín, Christiane? You might… Whose “Septembre” is this? Please, por favor, s’il vous plaît–send me a comment and let me know! Thank-you!
They are all, nonetheless, very satisfying to see after such a short course. Real work!

horitz work strip
Eduardo, you get the last word–or the last image–smiling down from the Salle Blanche.
Eduardo Salle Blanche

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Summer at Saint-Antoine 2016, Part I–Carolingian

The sky isn’t always pure blue, but sometimes a cooler day is welcome, and grey skies only make the grass & trees look greener. This is certainly one of my favourite places to dine al fresco!
We like to alternate the basic scripts we offer, both so that beginners feel genuinely welcome & can get a good grounding; and also so that our many experienced students can revisit them–often with a different manuscript source as the starting point. There are so many really excellent Carolingian manuscripts to choose from, each with its own particular virtues.
If I lurk in the back of the room at my desk and take a photo, the Salle Blanche is chock-a-block with people hard at work….sta2016pt1-class
But if I wander up to the front of the class to take a photo with faces in it, everyone drifts away. Perhaps it is because I don’t wander up to the front of the class while Keith is actually demonstrating? That could be it.
Most of the participants…Sonia Beroiz, Eduard Teruel, Christiane Richard, Christiane Soufflet, Yves Roques, Nadine Martello, Catherine Baillon, Claudia Rifaterra, Ana Navarro, Nicole Robin, Joseph Montalbano, & Ilona Assouline, are here…Jacinthe Tros evaded the camera this time, as did Christine Nodet. Their projects will appear, though…
sta-2016-1-classblockPresenting the script, & the exercises, & the tools and materials…Sonia filmed the preparation of egg-yolk & glair; but I don’t think I dare embed a jocular 11+minute film in three or four languages with comedy interludes? It’s a bit slow. Here are the highlights:
Writing with eggy paint. Thicker and gorgeouser than it looks (especially in a screen-grab from Sonia’s little movie. The movie is good; but screen-grabs don’t show much detail, I’m afraid.) Voilà! Keith’s eggy versals show their height better–these are quill-made:
Thick opaque versals can be done with a pen or a quill; but to exploit the transparency of ink or watercolour, reed- or bamboo-pens are better:

Everyone follows Keith’s recommendations about making bamboo-pen alphabets of majuscule forms to show unified composition. Sadly, most people do not sign their work. Can you identify yours?

Please let me know!
And in the end, some work from the end-of-course exhibition…will I get the attributions right?
Christiane Soufflet:         Sonia Beroiz:                                                       Sonia, again:
ExpoStrip 1 Caroling 2016
Yves Roques:                 Yves, again:                    More from Yves:       Christiane S., again:
Caroling 2017 strip 3
Jacinthe Tros (a commission
for the community):                Nicole Robin:                                  Christine Nodet:
StA 2016 Carol strip4
Christiane S.:      Ana Navarro:    Ilona? c’est à toi?              Whose is this?    Eduardo:
strip 5
I need to post this post! I’ll try to edit in some more of your work soon! If you’ve been misattributed, please let me know! & if you have a great photo of your project (whether it is shown here already or not) please send it to me!
Yet another end-of-course exhibition–the artists mingling with the guests…
During this week, I did an experiment, and instead of doing random demonstrations on odd bits of paper, I kept one piece of paper in front of me the whole week, with a children’s poem in mind (that I have memorized–I had to look up the punctuation, though); and so barring the individual demonstrations that I did in response to consultations, which of course the people with the questions took away with them, this is the mess that ensued…
& the fat bird was a bad draft for one I painted on our room door…
ending with a wagtail

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Laya Point Permaculture 2016–The Second Calligraphy Course: English and Catalan notarial scripts of the XIIII Century

LayaPoint2016strip 1
Here we are, back in the lush Lake District, carrying on with our plan to offer historical scripts in a cool, green location in high Summer.Classful strip
Such lovely light in the classroom. Perfect for writing– unless you are easily distracted by the antics of sheep outside your window…
two demos bkgrnd
Keith conserves demonstration paper and makes interesting overall effects by flipping them up and writing in a different colour. Pretty. But the student must pay careful attention.
two demos up n down
Here is one of those two-way demonstration sheets in both orientations–each with the “other” colour filtred out. This is the corsiva anglicana minuscule. Those encircled ks are actually ws!
A small but rich class, we are: Ralph Dennison, father of Tom, who is Keith’s godson & the guiding genius of Laya Point Permaculture, this idyllic locale for a calligraphic “retreat” in the delicious Duddon Valley…;
Liz Goyder from last year, back for a second course; Ralph’s genuinely lovely sister, Sandra Dennison, coming along for a taste of calligraphy; Susie Jones bringing her project already projected in draft form; Peter Stanley, putting out metaphorical fires & sometimes joined by his (equally genuinely) lovely wife Anne; and Miquel Centellas, another recidivist, back after last year’s success on the course & his own intervening success with his Design Degree in Barcelona…
StudentStrip LP2016-6
below: part of a page from Tàrrega, Catalonia (left) and one of Miquel’s studies…
& after studying & copying the script, we must have a look at the decorated initials. There is plenty of variety in the decoration, but far too little in the letters to be seen: too many such documents begin with a very limited number of capital letters–they tend to start “We…” followed by a ruler’s name and territories. So looking at an “N” and using its inventory of decorative elements to fashion a different letter can be a useful skill:
LP2016 versal strip-Recovered
–simple elements, recombined to decorate letters not found already elaborated in the documents: N, for example, with its shaft and bow re-organised to make an L–a G in the style of a T–a K made from parts of a P….

Liz n
Here is Liz in her preferred, well-lit corner, back again this year despite her difficulties last year with her dear cat Annie who suffered a serious accident which really limited Liz’s participation in the course. This year, Annie was fine, & Liz undertook a more complex project which will (I think) lead to a whole series of works.
classroom panorama
There seem to be few moments when everyone is in their seat at the same time. I.e., not in this photo. The ever-present availability of cups of tea can be distracting–or a much needed opportunity for perspective.
Sandra & Susie cups of tea
Cups of tea? Sandra and Susie, converse in more of the spectacular study space of Laya Point. Calligraphers need to stand up, move about, and drink tea! Also to discuss their design and layout questions, their ideas about colour, inks, pens…
Sandra & Susie
above: Sandra and Susie at work. Sandra exploring BIG writing with a bassoon reed on a long roll of paper; Susie adding delicate decorative plant motifs to her project.
Pete n K EGG
Pete is fascinated by Keith demonstrating the preparation of egg tempera with a very fresh egg from Laya Point’s own hens (a new addition since last year’s fabled duck-egg glair making).
Ralph n Sandra
The Dennison siblings–Ralph, the squire of Laya Point, and his sister Sandra–two left-handed Dennisons in the same generation. Lovely to see them together, and writing. Sad that Sandra couldn’t stay for the whole week. Next year, we hope.
work in progress
above: Works in progress. Ralph’s trial versals, some sketches and drafts for Susie’s magum opus about her friend’s allotment, Miquel’s skillful studies of the notarial documents from the Archive of the County of Urgell (Els Privilegis de Tàrrega), a detail from Susie’s final project in progress, then; hard to see: Liz’s expertly ruled lines for her major work about quinces with the tree delicately pencilled in, Pete’s illuminated interlace initial with metallic “gold” paint. The scriptorium had some intense moments.
below: Pete and Miquel. Miquel, like Liz, was present at the first Laya Point calligraphy course in 2015. He returned, now with his Graphic Design degree from Bau (the University of Vic’s Design Department in Barcelona).
Pete and Miquel were lodged in the famously spacious cottage up the hill, which Miquel enjoyed sharing last year with an Englishwoman and a Scotswoman (see last year’s post)–this year he drew an Englishman. There they are, listening attentively to Keith’s presentations, arriving from the cottage on one of the damper mornings, & intently busy with their projects.
Pete n Miquel team
Let us not overlook the delicious vegetarian luncheons prepared by Rosie often with the permaculture-grown produce from just outside the classroom…
LP2016 FOOD 2
Pete didn’t hold out for the final exhibition–he had to rush off, so his is a one-man show. Susie, Ralph, Miquel & Liz managed to have work exhibited on the final day…
LP2016group strip
Ladies & gentlemen, I don’t have a good, reproducible image of any of these works alone except Ralph’s. I’m sure it would look better shown in company. If you can send me a reasonably focussed photo of yours, I’d be very happy to include a close-up gallery here.
Voilà! Susie has delivered a much better photo of her work (doesn’t show the large, elegant margins, though) so I can show it here next to Ralph’s ambitious project–ambitiously long for a genuine beginner & left-hander, with this interesting historical script.

Ralph:                                              Susie:
Ralph and Susie
Jeeka n Eric
I’ll leave you with Jeeka & Eric (her guest) relaxing indoors…Mia-the-pussycat declined to be photographed this summer–perhaps she was out monitoring the ducks & chickens.

Summer 2017: we are planning to offer two courses at Laya Point: one on Spanish and English Italic Scripts, and another on Catalan & English Modernist/Art nouveau Lettering.
Who will be coming along? You, o reader?

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Summer at Saint-Antoine 2015, Part II–Celtic

Always, always the abbatiale presiding over the Community, the village, & the courses. (Françoise Sellier? Cette photo est à toi?)
Now celtique–insular scripts and decoration. The styles of the Book of Kells, Lindisfarne, Saint-Gatien, Mulling, Echternach, and many others.
2016Celtic SalleBlance strip
Here we are French, Spanish, Catalan, Turkish, are you Australian now, Maria?–what other nationalities should I be mentioning? From true beginners to professional designers.
& always the lovely light-filled Salle Blanche of Saint-Antoine with its views to inspire us.

Celt minus strip aKeith is quite capable of teaching celtic scripts, but I cannot think of a single exhibition piece he has done…he’ll remind me. So this class was left to my ministrations. Gathering in groups, examining everything we have managed to bring along…Keith showing his portfolio of unframed work and work-in-progress in the centre…

crowd strip
Look at the source manuscripts, learn the forms, work on rhythmical exercises, interpret texts, develop modern and individual variations.
maria practice strip
Except for Kells (above left) the work & the photos above are Maria Montès’s.
Yes, Keith needs to branch out, so that all the celtic presentation is not up to me–the photos become a bit repetitive:
A demo strip
So, is everyone here? Xavi Vaqué, Evelyne Long, Antoine Alouani… Antoine (again)… Christiane Soufflet…Françoise Dabireau…Jacinthe TrosJoaquín GraciaCarol van WaartMagalie Audion, Dominique Augier…Françoise Sellier, Marisa Lacarta, Almila Yildirim, Maria Montès…Françoise S. (again)…Almila (again)…Anaïs Tessier-Charel…Nadine Martello (& me)…

student block
& then projects & trial exercises here below:…Xavi’s knotted R. I no longer know who has done what, so whose “Ara es aquí” is this? Carol? I know “Winter is coming” is Carol’s! & “Au temps jadis” is Christiane’s. The key pattern is Carol’s certainly; & “Il était une fois” is Jacinthe’s very elegant and professional work. “Les buissons” is Françoise Sellier’s…

Expo block 1
Here below…help me, please! Whose knots? Whose MA? Almila’s major mythical tale I can attribute, of course. Whose elegant VA from Kells? Xpi & other noms sacrés? The Australian Graphic Design Association is clearly Maria’s. The zoomorphic initials & spiral I believe are Françoise S.’s again…

Expo strip 2
Now…are these excerpts from Kells Marisa’s? Marisa? as they flank Maria’s Quick brown fox…”Gratitude” is Anaïs’s I believe, playing with watercolour effects. Then I am lost a bit…This wonderful cartouche, what does it say? What I think I see is “LALTERMONDIALIST” but I think I may be wrong? Please, whose is this? & the next row?
Expo strip 3
& these exercises? “JESUS”? “ANDRÉ”? A very nice heart-shaped knot! I think “IL EST” is Antoine’s. Antoine? I think this “FRANÇOISE” must be Françoise Dabireau’s? Whose knot?
Expo 4
Then Maria’s draft & “First Things First”…Marias FirstThing and draftThe crowd at the end-of-course exhibition, almost blocking the show itself. & Maria’s “Thank-you”…
& let’s just look back (or ahead…Summer is Coming!) at the food, dining in the garden….
dining strip
yes…Summer 2016? Have a look here: Keith7Amanda

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Summer at Saint-Antoine 2015, Part I — Italique

StA2015 I stripAs an introduction to calligraphy, we believe that Italic and Carolingian are the best (but not necessarily the easiest) scripts to begin with. In the days when there were still stages called “Deuxième Niveau“, having attended one session each of Italic and of Carolingian was the prerequisite for attendance at a week of Deuxième Niveau…
This italic class quickly developed a personality–the wild mix of 8-9 français (depending how you count), three espagnols, three catalans, one allemande, a turque, an Englishman and a Dutchman…
Voilà–above, Keith consulting with Maria (a Catalan, admittedly, but an Australian resident Catalan…)…flanked by David and Beatriz with Christiane at the table’s end; Sonia (hidden in the next row), Eduardo & Martí consulting each other, Almila; Anne-Marie (hidden), Albert, Petra & Blandine; Camille, Christophe, Ingrid & Laia (hidden); Catherine (fetching a cup of tea?) & Christine.Demostrip KeithPresenting italic minuscules, simply…and in their place in the long, decorative Histoire de l’Écriture lecture (traces at right) which Keith gives once a year, open to everyone, not just the calligraphy students.
Every Italic course is a little different. One thing we concentrated on this summer was Arrighi’s professional script, looking at enlargements for details of his ductus, spacing, ligatures, &c.Italic MS stripThis summer’s class reached the limit of eighteen students (well, we are two teachers). Anne-Marie, Camille, Sonia & Eduardo watching Keith, Almilla (really: keep looking. I think we must get some drawing boards as I am seeing some terrible posture here…) Jacinthe & Blandine (who escaped being photographed writing, gazing intently at Keith’s demonstration), Catherine & Christine, Maria & David, Christiane & Catherine, Ingrid & Laia (posture! posture!), Martí & Almila, Beatriz, Albert & Petra, Christophe… why do I want everyone to have several links? I like the blue and purple words among the text. (Dear students: If you have a link you’d like included, please let me know!)
student blocPetra came with a special interest in quill-cutting, but sadly no one got close enough with their cameras to show any detail. I shall get out a small tripod and do a photo-essay on quill cutting. Soon.
QuillcuttingstripNo. I haven’t yet cut the lovely swan quill I received from Mabel at the Laya Point course in July. I think everyone who wanted one got a working quill this week–if you didn’t, please say so! And many thanks to Blandine who brought a bundle of feathers–admittedly some already slightly cut and inky, but perfectly re-cuttable. Merci!
Planning to hit “Publish” in just a few hours, now; when suddenly Albert has sent an e-mail with links to his splendid Flickr Album about the course which includes some short video clips of quill-curing in hot sand. He has rashly said “…use them for your website…”–I fear he meant Keith, and not  this  website, but until he tells me otherwise, here’s a little more visual information on quill-cutting:
quillcutting strip& a lovely photo of Keith writing with a quill for Petra:
K and Petra quillIf only he’d got a little further with the writing. Still. (Albert has a separate photo-essay on the village and abbey of Saint-Antoine-l’Abbaye.) Thank-you, Albert!
We were reminded that a quill is not a commercial biro with a guarantee to write the first time, every time, and to keep working for months with no maintenance. A look at a few portraits of the Evangelists (famous scribes, portrayed by scribes) reminds us that quite often at least one of them is shown examining, re-cutting or otherwise fiddling with his quill. So: plan on spending a quarter of your writing time in the delicate refinement of your writing tool:
Scribes & quills-4 evangelistsOnce you have your quill cut, or your “normal” metal pen echauffée & dipped in your brou de noix, it’s time for exercises. Most of these are Maria’s because while I was helping students, she was wisely and professionally taking photos. Possibly the only photos not ©Maria Montes 2015 (used by her kind permission Gràcies, Maria!) are those Maria is in. Which were taken by me…until or unless youtrès chers élèves send me your photos! I’m sure you have some! Please? Credit will be gleefully given, I promise!
exercise strip

As usual, Keith shows work in his portfolio. Not a portfolio in the usual sense; but pieces in progress he travels with and carries on working on on the road. An unusual opportunity for participants in our courses to see work “in the flesh” (sometimes literally–work on skin) and in progress; not only in the form of projected digital images (Anyone: is there a new quick monosyllabic word to replace “slides”, “dias”, &c.? I’ve missed it so far.) ☜

& then he presented the making of “coca-cola pens”–in our case, more often made with beer cans…K metal pen stripfor visual effects beyond Arrighi’s aesthetic….Maria’s “run” & Sonia’s “Nueva Orleans”…
beercanpensLet us not forget the obligatory reminder of the excellent food.
2015 foodstripSalads, cheese, fruit…pizza! Made by Andrea, a genuine Italian, this summer! Wonderful!
We did not fail to address the basic structures of Italic Majuscules, despite the vagueness of Arrighi’s own counsel…
Demostrip AmandaIt’s always good to remember what the letter IS that underlies those wild (overly elaborated?) Renaissance flourishes. Then hours of working on projects, a few downpours, leading to the end-of-stage supper being indoors, in the celebrated Salle Blanche itself…
Ital supper 2015
italic supper
and the culminating exhibition:
Ital 2015 expo kraftStA Ital 2015 white stripNah, too little is visible in general views. Let’s see what we can really see–those Maria & I managed to shoot in focus, while there was still some light:
Eduardo:                                    Sonia:                                             Camille (aged 11):
Eduardo Sonia Camille Petra:                                           Almila:                                           Ingrid:
PetAlmInga few details–Maria:     Laia:                               Maria:                           Laia:
expo detalls MariaLaiaLaia, I don’t have an in-focus image of your Arrighi facsimile looked at straight on–please send me one?
Maria:                                             Beatriz (Brava!):                      Laia:
another stripHere are, in the top row: Sonia & Ingrid (I think? please correct me if I’ve got it wrong!); middle row: Ingrid & Christiane; last row: Almila & Catherine:
horitz block 1
Christophe:                               Martí:                                                 Christophe:
another strip 1
Anne-Marie (Brava!):                Laia:                                               whose is this?
another strip 2 And again, horizontal work; in the top row: David & Maria; in the centre row–is that Ingrid? & Albert; and in the last row Petra & Ingrid (thanks, Albert & Ingrid).
Another blocPlease correct my misattributions! My ageing memory is fading fast.
No dogs or cats attended this course; but the “Mediévales” of the Village of Saint-Antoine l’Abbaye occurred during our session–I leave you with some members of the Communauté de l’Arche (de Lanza del Vasto) de Saint-Antoine-l’Abbaye and their children,  good citizens of their village and enthusiastic participants in its fêtes.

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Laya Point Permaculture 2015–The First Calligraphy Course: Catalan Carolingian Calligraphy

LayaPoint2015 strip 1 w ltrg Laya Point Permaculture is a richly beautiful smallholding in the English Lake District, a region celebrated for its luscious views, romantic landscapes and (surprise!) lakes. This summer for the first time we succumbed to the blandishments of Keith’s godson Tom Dennison, who is the guiding genius of Laya Point (along with Nicole Hermes [“Lala”] his right-hand woman executive and communer with vegetables) and rolled on North to offer a course of Catalan Carolingian Calligraphy in a space we had never seen. Now we have. The much-fêted Salle Blanche of Saint-Antoine-l’Abbaye may now see some competition for the title of Best Classroom in Europe for the Teaching of Calligraphy. You will have to experience both in order to judge. These windows in The Old School at Ulpha: Laya Point’s main classroom/meeting space,  might’ve been made for a modern scriptorium. LayaPt strip 2 luminous Head gardener & chef Lala prepared delicious lunches for us every day, and we were required to pick and eat as many strawberries as we possibly could. They wanted eating.LayaPoint foodstrip The full range of dedicated calligraphers… Laya Point student strip Liz Goyder, Susan McGahan, Miquel Centellas, Lillian Berry, Stephen Watts, Helen Cowan, Tom, Nicole, Mabel Little, Mia (who really did no calligraphy, but helped to keep us all cheerful), and Steffen Hirth, Laya Point’s Wwoofer (en route to University at Manchester). Mabel and Helen were lured to Laya Point, I believe, through their membership in Eden Valley Scribes. LayaPoint demostrip Sue, Miquel, Lillian, Lala and Liz surround Keith’s first day demonstration…days later, Mabel, Liz, Helen Miquel & Tom following my demonstration of various uses of pigments, ground on glass with a glass muller…assorted media–gum arabic, almond gum, egg, glair… Which paint (gouache? watercolour?) for which work, and so on ad infinitem. Or at least until they began to distract me with questions for a little break…and the fabled duck-egg glair, which took, I think, actually half an hour to beat with all of us sharing. Cennino Cennini never mentions duck eggs. Quill cutting was a major activity, but as I was doing it, I have no photos. Mabel? did you take many? Anyone? And of your beautiful machine? Also, more photos of Keith actually presenting the script on the non-blackboard?LayaPoint demostrip2 Keith shows us images of manuscripts from Eleventh Century Girona…a facsimile of one of his own manuscript books (this one on paper) with some pages in a modern Catalan Carolingian…& demonstrates aspects of these Catalan scripts.
We had a look at the possibilities of adapting some of the historical initials–especially the droll zoomorphic, or at least zoocephalous initials accompanying the Catalan carolingian… CatalanInitials adapted Applied, with modifications and additions…along with other historical and modern possibilities–some adaptations by Sue, Lillian, Mabel, Helen & Tom:StudentCaps Everyone had a chance to write on calfskin vellum with a quill and ferro-gallic ink and/or gouache pigment & duck-egg yolk or duck-egg glair, some people added a little shell gold. Some people wrote on both sides of the skin. (Have you any photos of the inked sides? I haven’t. I’d like to include some, please!) VellumstripNow my memory is failing me–the spiral text is Tom’s; “JOY” is Stephen’s; the Jeff Stone text is Lillian’s; I think (but you’ll correct me, won’t you?) that “When you know Nature…” is Mabel’s; that “power dwells apart…” is Sue’s; and that the Lao Tzu text is Helen’s. But I could be very mistaken. Apologies if I am wrong. That was the minuscule (but not in a paleographic sense) part of the end-of-course exhibition. Then along the wall, we have: LayaPoint expo longSome drafts of Stephen’s, Liz’s draft, projects by Sue, Mabel, Stephen, Helen, Lillian & Miquel. What about a closer look? Might the finished version from Liz’s draft look like this? Liz's Sue’s “Jerusalem” quotation looks clean and dignified with it’s long “J/I” in classic vermillion. Perhaps we were rather classic, all of us, but even six days to cover the basics of an historical script and its accompanying decoration along with appropriate tools and materials, and few excursions into modern calligraphic play (beer-tin pens!) takes time. Sue's Jerusalem A very elegant colophon and signature.
But look: Weeks later, Sue has continued working on the theme, and come up with a stunning new version:
Sue's New JerusalemMabel:
 If anyone has photos in better focus, I will happily replace mine! But we get the idea of Mabel’s presentation Wordsworth’s The River Duddon, as we were on the River Duddon… And she cleverly included the attribution, colophon and signature inside the initial. (I’d love an in-focus shot of that–presumably you still have it, Mabel, might you photograph it for us, please?LayaPoint2015 Mabel's DiddonDuddon rill 2 This little rill, right outside our panoramic window, runs into the Duddon only metres down the hill. Mabel was inspired! {Sorry, yes. It’s England: “…only yards down the hill.”} P1020348 One of  Stephen’s versions, I think with an ink from Jack C. Thompson, made with Catalan ilex galls we sent him. A paler, almost golden colour, that will nonetheless darken eventually. Stephen’s attribution and signature combined in a roundel…anyone have a better photo? This question is understood to be constantly repeated, for each work exhibited, please! And when we saw it on the wall, this version lacked it’s initial. Stephen stayed late and kept working: Here’s another version: P1020349 “Quiet minds…”, characteristically Scots, perhaps (?) from Helen, the red and blue not as clearly separate in the photo as “IRL”. I wish I had a photo of her draft letter with the colours reversed. (Helen? Could you send one?) I like to see the long and short esses (s, ſ –despite any ſ /f confusion. They don’t look much alike, surely.) Helen's Quietminds Lillian is going to include a source credit for her modern wolf–Laya Point, Ulpha, Duddon Valley…Ulpha, the place of the wolf. Please send me a photo when the colophon, &c. are added!Lillian's Winter
Miquel! With my apologies for earlier misattribution! Have you put the initial in? Please send me a better photo! (Obviously an idiotic lapse on my part as it’s the unique piece in Castilian!)
Miquel's project
And Tom’s Ozymandias didn’t even make it into the exhibition. He never stopped working on it (between being our host and organizer among other jobs). Leafing through available books and materials in the classroom, he found some examples of white vine decoration, and immediately began teaching himself. So we gave him a supplementary exemplar, and a little advice, and he went for gold–unhistorical white vine using three tones of red instead of the traditional three or four colours; and not shell gold (what would  that cost?) but “Iriodin”, an industrial “pigment” for metallic effects in textile printing. Mixed with gum arabic as a medium (or was it the duck-egg glair, Tom?) it made a nice non-traditional majuscule I for the text; with the colophon &c. curving up the margin…Tom's Ozymandias Excellent. I’m sure Lala (who, as our chef, was not available to sit in class for six hours a day) and Steffan (who had to look after the vegetables, the ducks, and run messages for the centre) will be returning to their pens, ink, drafts, &c. Perhaps you’ll send us some updates? IMG_1367 And at the end, me (Amanda) flanking Liz, Sue, Mabel, Stephen, Helen, Lillian, Miquel, & Tom, with Keith as the other bookend. (This photo, of course, is by Lala. We should’ve set up the tripod and got Steffen in, too. Next time.) Miquel, have I mis-attributed your projects, or were you hiding them? Send me photos, please! That’s the official end of the course. Before it began, however, Keith’s friend Ralph, the landlord? Landowner? Lord of the Smallholding? who is the father of Tom (who is co-incidentally Keith’s godson*–I mentioned this above, but you’ve had time to forget it) had asked Keith to do a wall (why does the word “mural” sound so pictorial?) at Laya Point. So while I began the re-consolidation of all our pens, paints, books, &c., to pack up; K finally attacked the interestingly piebald wall outside the door, in the porch, of the Old School building. And  produced this:
LayaPoint 2015 Mural view SMALL
(Keith can be seen inside, decompressing with Tom and Lala.) What is it like full on?
LayaPoint Mural full SMALL
Some details, the unprepared render(?)/cement(?) surface with its weathering, stains and dings offers a depth even before letters are added. I believe Nicole has a photo of just the underpainting (Lala? send it along?) which looked rather bare before the swirling Romans came along to animate it. I am envious of Keith’s freely painted Roman majuscules…
LayaPointwall x 4
& we look forward to seeing how it weathers in time, what patinas it gains; or whether it will fade or abrade and need palimpsesting (as one wall on fresh render did, in Paris).
Oops, I forgot “Jeeka” [Ma-gi-ca]…Mia you’ve seen before, disguised as a student… if only one or more of the ducks would waddle in and settle in the basket as well…what an idyll.
Mesdames & messieurs, meine Damen und Herren, ladies & gentlemen, I await your comments, corrections, addenda, and additional photos? Or links to your own online albums, blogs, &c. Please share! We didn’t have a “proper” evaluation–I believe Lala is sending a questionnaire. I look forward to the results.
Summer at Saint-Antoine 2015, Week 1, Italique, starts Monday evening. Will we have changed mental languages? Il faut s’échauffer.

*This is how we were lured to offer a course in England, where neither of us had taught for thirty years or more.

Have a look here at Laya Point’s own report on the course!

Have a look here at courses planned for Summer 2017!

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Summer at Saint-Antoine 2014 Part 2

P1000663Ah, dusk. Twilight, gloaming…crepuscular lighting. I haven’t found a time of day when Saint-Antoine is not photogenic.
Expressive majuscules…Beginning with looking at examples of simple capitals, and a variety of layouts…
P1000573P1000576Looking at some uncommon majuscule forms from manuscripts…
P1080258Everyone hard at work, Jacinthe

P1000634Françoise…P1000640 Jean…P1000641David…P1000642 Marie-Claude…P1000644That’s not everyone. Joan and Anne escaped photographic documentation of their participation this week. But they can be seen in “Part I”.
& some views of their work, from the exhibition at the end of the course…
P1000650 P1000653 P1000664 Exhibition visitors…P1000666 P1000671 P1000672

PT2 PROJ strip
Saint-Antoine has been a part of younger daughter Caroline’s life since she was three (and before that, the Community of the Arche of Bonnecombe). So of course it’s where she and her American sister choose to get together whenever they can. Working in the vegetable gardens is more their thing than calligraphy.
P1000569P1000567Beautiful daughters, returning from a days work in the potato fields.
Mesdames, messieurs — have you more photos to share? Send them along and I’ll add them here! Merci!

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