Sunday, December 21, 2008

Science Journal Accidentally Prints Chinese Smut On Cover

The journal of the distinguished Max Planck Institute in Germany wanted to do a special issue about China, and ordered up some "classical" Chinese calligraphy for the cover. Too bad they didn't hire translators.

They consulted a "German sinologist," but that person obviously didn't provide the same translation that some Chinese readers of the scientific journal did:

With high salaries, we have cordially invited for an extended series of matinées. KK and Jiamei as directors, who will personally lead jade-like girls in the spring of youth, beauties from the north who have a distinguished air of elegance and allure, young housewives having figures that will turn you on; Their enchanting and coquettish performance will begin within the next few days.

Sounds like James Bond should start reading scientific journals from the Max Planck Institute. He loves an "enchanting and coquettish performance." Apparently, so do German scientists!

I believe it is safe to say that cross-cultural understanding in the scientific community just keeps growing bigger and longer.

Science Magazine Turns the Heat Up [via Foreign Policy Passport]

Sunday, September 14, 2008

World's Largest Calligraphy Completed

A mammoth work employing the skills of 10,000 people has just been
completed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region. The work has already
earned recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the
calligraphy work with the highest number of contributors.

A mammoth work employing the skills of 10-thousand people has just been completed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region.
A mammoth work employing the skills of 10,000 people has just
been completed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous region.

The huge calligraphy piece was accomplished in Wuhai city in Inner
Mongolia. Wednesday's unveiling was accompanied by a performance of
folk arts. The art piece is ten meters long and three metres wide.

The piece is inscribed with the characters "Tai Yang Shen", the
Chinese characters for "God of Sun." It's a deity worshipped by the
ancestors of people who live in the area today. Local calligrapher Wang
Qijing wielded the huge brush to accomplish the central characters of
the work. Then ten thousand local people joined in to create the three
Chinese characters in different styles of calligraphy. The scroll also
bears the totem of the ancient Sun God.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Benedictines' hand-created Saint John's Bible

An international team of calligraphers and artists is working on The Saint John's Bible, portions of which are presently on display at the Tacoma Art Museum. It's the first commissioned handwritten, illustrated Bible in 500 years.

Seattle Times religion reporter

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Scribes working on The Saint John's Bible created their own goose-feather quills. Quills are more supple than metal pens and allow the ink to flow freely, producing fine hairlines at the end of strokes.

Scribes working on The Saint John's Bible created their own goose-feather quills. Quills are more supple than metal pens and allow the ink to flow freely, producing fine hairlines at the end of strokes.

"Illuminating the Word: The Saint John's Bible"

• The exhibit at the Tacoma Art Museum runs through Sept. 7 and features about 100 pages from The Saint John's Bible.

Information: 253-272-4258 or

• Saint Mark's Episcopal Cathedral hosts a lecture by the Rev. Eric Hollas on The Saint John's Bible, 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, in the cathedral's Bloedel Hall, 1245 10th Ave. E., Seattle. Free and open to the public.

• Vashon Island artist Suzanne Moore discusses her work on the project at0 10:30 a.m. Aug. 12 (free with museum admission), and 7 p.m. Aug. 21 (free program and admission as part of Free Third Thursday) at Tacoma Art Museum.

These days, when Bible verses can be pulled up instantly online and printed Bibles are readily available, an international team of monks, calligraphers and artists — including an illustrator on Vashon Island — is creating a Bible the old-fashioned way.

Team members are making their own goose-feather quills, using hand-ground paints, and writing and drawing on pages of treated calfskin.

They're eight years into the creation of The Saint John's Bible, billed as the first commissioned handwritten Bible since the invention of the printing press some 500 years ago.

Creating a masterpiece

The idea for a handwritten Bible, Hollas said, came from Jackson.

Jackson has said that creating such a work is to a calligrapher what painting the Sistine Chapel would be to an artist.

For the monks at Saint John's Abbey and Saint John's University, which jointly commissioned the $3.5 million project, there were plenty of reasons not to start the project. There was the cost and amount of work involved — not to mention a long list of competing priorities, among which "making a Bible was not high," Hollas said.

Hollas said such personal touches distinguish handwritten, illustrated Bibles.

Calligraphy can have shadings in the same way music can — quiet like a string section, dramatic like brass. That's very different from print Bibles, in which the same typeface is used to describe walking through the Red Sea, Jesus' crucifixion and the dietary restrictions of traditional Judaism.

"With calligraphy, you can let the emotions speak in a way that print does not," Hollas said.

And there's something to be said for the role of art in inspiring and deepening faith.

Biblical tradition is not just about abstract concepts, rules and laws, said Gregory Wolfe, publisher and editor of Image, a national journal based at Seattle Pacific University that explores art and faith.

Read the complete story by Janet I. Tu

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Persian Calligrpahy

source: The Middle East Interest

History of Persian Scripts: In the ancient Persia and in the different historic eras, languages such as “Ilami”, “Avestaaee”, “Pahlavi”, and “Farsi-e-Mianeh” were spoken. It is believed that ancient Persian script was invented by about 500-600 BC to provide monument inscriptions for the Achaemenid kings. These scripts consisted of horizontal, vertical, and diagonal nail-shape letters and that is the reason in Farsi it is called “Script of Nails” or “Khat-e-Mikhi”.Ancient Persian Script - “Script of Nails” or “Khat-e-Mikhi”Centuries later, other scripts” script such as “Avestaee” and “Pahlavits were created.

The Avestan alphabet or “Avestaaee” was created in the 3rd century CE for writing the hymns of Zarathustra. Avestan is an extinct Indo-Iranian language related to Old Persian and Sanskrit. Avestaaee script was related to the religious scripts of Zoroastrians’ holy book called “Avestaa” and unlike the nail script -that was carved on flat stones-Avestaaee script was written with a feather pen, usually on animal-skin pages. It is surprising that this script has similarities with Arabic scripts such as “Sols” and “Naskh” that centuries later were invented. However, unlike these scripts, letters in Avestaaee were not connected to each other to form a word but they just were written separately next to each other (similar to Latin scripts). However it wrote from right to left.

Old Persian Script: “Pahlavi” Script

Old Persian Script: “Avestaaee” Script

After initiation of Islam in the 7 th century, Persians adapted Arabic alphabet to Farsi language and developed contemporary Farsi alphabet. Arabic alphabet has 28 characters and Iranians added another four letters in it to arrive at existing 32 Persian (Farsi) letters.

Contemporary Persian Script: “Farsi” Script

Major Contemporary Classical Persian Calligraphy Scripts: “Nas’taliq” is the most popular
contemporary style among classical Persian calligraphy scripts. It is known as “Bride of the
Calligraphy Scripts”. As a matter of fact, this calligraphy style has been based on such a strong structure that it has changed very little since that time. It is as if “Mir Ali Tabrizi” has found the optimum composition of the letters and graphical rules so it has just been fine-tuned during the passed seven centuries. Nas’taliq is the most beautiful Persian Calligraphy style and also technically the most complicated. It has strict rules for graphical shape of the letters and for combination of the letters, words, and composition of the whole calligraphy piece as a whole. Even the second popular Persian calligraphy style i.e. “Cursive Nas’taliq” or “Shekasteh Nas’taliq” noticeably follows the same rules as Nas’taliq, with more flexibility of course.

Read more of this article in Curves of beauty: Persian calligraphy

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Story behind Olympic dancing man's seal of approval

BEIJING, July 7 -- One year after Beijing won the rights to host the Games, organizers launched a contest in a bid to find a special logo for China's largest public event.

As an art form, seal cutting imposes exact demands upon scholar-artists, in terms of calligraphy, layout and line. Seasoned advertising man, Guo Chunning, beat 1,300 other professionals with his entry - a powerful seal, which drew from history and reflected China's modern progress.

Seal cutting is a time-honored art among the literati and dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). The Chinese character for a seal is composed of two words: zhua, which means hand, and jie, a tally issued by a ruler to generals or envoys as credentials.

The designer chiseled the English word "Beijing", and the Arabic figures "2008" together in archaic calligraphy styles.

Originally, dukes and princes handed a tally to their trustees to perform a difficult mission. The seal stood for conferment, responsibility and obligation. As a symbol for trust and promise, a seal paves the way for clear communication and authenticity of the message. Chinese believe winning the 2008 bid represented both the trust of the Olympic family as well as a promise made on behalf of the 1.3 billion Chinese people.

On July 13, 2001, the Beijing delegation solemnly proclaimed in Moscow that China would go all out to make the 2008 Olympic Games a phenomenal success. The unique seal serves as a testimony that "for the world's good faith in us, we shall requite with success and honor".

A Chinese seal is always red, which also symbolizes the burning Olympic flame. For millenniums, red has been the color for supreme happiness, widely used for grand or blissful occasions. This auspicious color was chosen for the national flag when the People's Republic of China was established in 1949. A seal was also part of a Chinese scholar's standard paraphernalia.

One's work must be rich in flavor, grand and lofty in taste, effortless in craftsmanship, and most important of all, the work should in itself be rich with meaning. The 2008 emblem is an amazing enigma for connoisseurs and veterans. For one thing, it looks like the Chinese character of wen, short for wenhua, which means culture or civilization. As one of the world's ancient civilizations, China contributes a rich legacy of sports.

Qigong and martial arts are but two of the most well-known varieties. Modern archery, shooting and skiing have evidently evolved from ancient Chinese recreation and sports.

The Olympic seal also resembles the Chinese character jing, which means Beijing, a city that has thousands of years of history. From a different angle, one can also see a girl dancing with a red silk ribbon. She is full of youthful vigor and feminine grace and is welcoming guests and athletes from all over the world. Another reading reveals a human figure sprinting to the finish line. He is celebrating Olympic athleticism and is the flower of life in full blossom. He is growing tall in the bright Olympic sun. The designer finally chisels Arabic figures "2008" together in archaic calligraphy styles.

(Source: China Daily)

Scribblers Guideline Generator

A great tool to help you practice the calligraphy alphabet. If you only have a spare 30 minutes or so to do some practicing, you don’t want to spend most of that time ruling-up. The Guidline Generator from Scribbers is a great practice aide.

Guideline Generator

Simply select the distances between the lines and hit click the create button. Then once one page has been generated you can print it from within your browser. When printing your paper tell your browser to print just the first page (”Print Pages 1-1″). You can set the Copies to the number of sheets you require.

A great little tool from Scribblers

Monday, July 7, 2008

Zoomorphic Calligraphy

"This new mode was not a matter of script metamorphosing into living
forms which are also readable letters, but of using script to delineate
such forms. Seldom had the flexibility of the Arabic alphabet been so

This practice established itself only relatively late in
Islamic art, when the taboos outlawing religious iconography had lost
some of their power.

[Zoomorphic calligraphy] developed [..] in Ottoman Turkey, India and Qajar Iran [and] was known as early as 1458."


The images of living
creatures fashioned by Jila Peacock from
Persian poetry fall naturally
into a long and distinguished tradition within Islamic art. Unlike many
such traditions of
that art, this one is still full of vitality in our
own day,
and has shown an impressive capacity to regenerate itself.
Indeed, it could well be argued that the art of beautiful writing – for
that is what “calligraphy” means – has, alone of the major Islamic
visual arts, continued its creative evolution without a break from the
first Islamic century until the present day. In other words, it has
been less subject to failing inspiration or to the dominance of ideas
from outside the Islamic world than have all its sister arts, from
architecture to painting, from pottery to carpets. If any one art can
claim to evoke the essential character of the Islamic world, in
medieval as in modern times, this is it.

Read more of Peacay's Zoomorphic Calligraphy Article

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Calligraphy Draws Student Interest

by Minh Thu

Art of the word:
Members of the Young Calligraphers Club demonstrate their handwriting
skills at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ha Noi.
— Photo courtesy of the club

HA NOI — Calligraphy is considered to be a classic art form pursued by adults, but the fact that nearly 1,000 young students are studying it in Ha Noi belies the claim. They gather together at various clubs like the Young Calligraphers Club of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities.

"We founded the club in November last year with an aim to provide a meeting place for calligraphy aficionados," said Chairman Nguyen Duc Ba. "Anyone fond of this art can register to be a member, free of charge."

Moonlighting Brings Extra Money or Pleasure

For many people the daily grind of 9-5 is enough - life's unrelenting burden to be grumbled about over a can of beer as the sun sets at the local watering hole.

But for others the end of the regular work day does not mean the end of their labors. Rather, it's time to switch hats and move on to the next routine. It's a growing trend. According to the U.S.
Department of Labor, the number of workers in the United States who have a full-time job and a part-time job on the side reached 4.17 million in 2007, up 5 percent from the year before.

For love

A second job isn't always about a getting another paycheck to make ends meet. For some, it's about practicing a craft that one loves and getting a little money for it.

Diane Ellzey of Oak Grove has taught art classes in the Hattiesburg school system for 25 years,
including the last six years at Hattiesburg High School. On the side, she does calligraphy and caricatures. Her calligraphy or artistic handwriting assignments are usually for wedding invitations. Brides send invitations for her to complete their addresses on the envelope
using a special calligraphy pen. She charges $1-$1.25 for each invitation.

"It's a great thing for the bride," Ellzey said. "They have so many other things to deal with. This is just one less thing to worry about." She has practiced this art, off and on, for 30 years since high school. She doesn't run a business and doesn't advertise her work.

She said the work she gets is purely by word-of-mouth, because she doesn't see it as something she has to do. "It's just about what I want to do for fun," she said, "and also about helping people." Nonetheless, it keeps her pretty busy. Currently, she is working on a wedding with
500 invitations, with another wedding lined up calling for the same number of signatures.

"I stay busy and don't even try to be," she said.

The Corel Painter Essentials v4.0.051

This release of Corel Painter Essentials 4 offers a completely
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More Natural Media®

  • NEW RealBristle™ brushes: authentically
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    and Smooth Edge Calligraphy, are perfect for inking comic books or
    doing calligraphy
  • NEW Charcoal brushes: range from pencils to hard or soft charcoal sticks
  • NEW Sumi-e brushes: let you create flowing sumi-e-style brushstrokes
  • NEW Sargent brush: lets you paint in the style of master artist John Singer Sargent

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

TMCA Show to Display Traditional Calligraphy Tools

Tehran Times Art Desk

TEHRAN -- The Tehran Museum of
Contemporary Art (TMCA) will be displaying traditional instruments used
for Iranian calligraphy this summer.

The tools, which include various kinds of pens, penholders, penknives, and scissors, are gathered by private collectors.

This is part of the great exhibition of masters of the nastaliq style of calligraphy which opens in early July.

Nastaliq is one of the main genres of Islamic calligraphy. It was developed in Iran in the 14th and 15th centuries and it has been popular in Persian, Turkish, and South Asian cultural spheres of

Three copies of the Holy Quran inscribed in nastaliq style by masters Hossein Mirkhani, Seifollah Yazdani and Ayatollah Najafi-Zanjani will also go on show.

Seminars on traditional and contemporary art of Persian calligraphy will also be held on the sidelines of the month-long event.

The Culture and Islamic Guidance Ministry’s Office for Visual Arts, the Association of Iranian Calligraphers, and the Visual Arts Department of Tehran’s Art Bureau are the cosponsors of the event.

Tehran Museum is located on North Kargar St., next to Laleh Park.

Chinese Calligraphy: HAPPINESS

old Chinese proverb says that a picture is worth a thousand words. My
recollection of the first time that I heard that adage is foggy. But,
I do recognize that I have heard it repeated many times in my lifetime.

It’s one of those sayings that fits with my psyche. For a long time
I have known that I am a visual person. That is my style of learning,
speaking and thinking.

The Chinese language in its written form is a system of pictures not
an alphabet. That makes for a complicated linguistic system that is
not easily mastered. Yet, it gives its written language an embedded art
form of calligraphy that is highly prized.

Culturally, the best educated have learned the discipline of
calligraphy. The product of putting ink on paper is an artform. It is
highly revered and beautifully symbolic as an expression of the culture.

You can read more of the story by Bruce Fong about chinese calligraphy

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Renowned Calligrapher’s Art On Display

The exhibition at the Dalat Exhibition Information House is called “Fragrance Comes from the Brush” and is the result of Luan’s labors since the beginning of the year.

His inspiration comes from famous sayings, poems and literary works from all over the world.

Calligraphy means “the art of writing” in Greek. Originating in China, calligraphy made its way to Japan, where it was imbibed with Zen, and also spread south to Vietnam, a land where “life becomes art, and art becomes life”. Here it was simplified to make it more popular.

VietNamNet Bridge - More
than eighty drawings by the renowned calligrapher Nguyen Luan are on
public display in the Central Highlands town of Dalat until May 14.

When the first wave of Western culture came to Viet Nam with the French in the late 19th century, calligraphy began to fade. Feeling sorrow for the decline of the art of writing, a poet of the time wrote, “Sorrow fades the pink, and sadness drains the ink”.

In recent years, this valuable tradition of Viet Nam has been revived to regain some of its former prominence. A love of calligraphy among elderly scholars is once again being handed down to younger generations.

Moreover, a new trend has developed within the reincarnation of the old ways of Vietnamese calligraphy.

Latin characters have replaced Chinese characters to a degree and made the elegant art form more appealing to the general public.

Source: SGGP

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Designer Imposters

The current plan for addressing the wedding invitations is to use

large circle stickers with printed addresses to match our stationery
design. However, after reading several posts stressing the importance
of calligraphy, I decided to explore my options before blindly
committing social suicide.

I recently ordered a sample of Laura
Hooper's work on etsy. I have to admit, seeing my name so beautifully
scripted on a USPS Priority mail envelope did woo me. My first thought
was "OMG. OF COURSE I need calligraphy!" But,
by the morning, I was back to thinking that it was too expensive. I
certainly appreciate the art form and it's purpose in the grand scheme
of the event, but at the end of the day, I am buying wedding shoes on
ebay and veils on etsy. A budget's a budget.

I started a discussion on The Unbrides Network to get some opinions and a gauge of my gaucheness. Justine Ungaro suggested that I check out Pretty Pen Jen.
Jennifer Cota's work is both adorable and affordable. And it also had
me thinking that I could try my hand at calligraphy. "Try" being the
operative word.

Pretty Pen Jen's Aubrey Font:

My attempt at an "inspired by" font.

I showed my six pages of samples to Andy, he said, "Ugh, I don't know."
My work didn't even warrant a "I guess it looks nice." It looks like a
5-year-old girl was trying to be fancy on the invites for her "tea
party" for Tickle Me Elmo, the cast of High School the Musical, and
Hannah Montana. The post office would probably scan all of them for

You can read more of the story at: Tina's site

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Calligraphy Artist: Laura Hooper

Laura owns LH Calligraphy and is pleased to be a full time calligrapher. She creates and custom designs maps, invitations and envelopes with the traditional feel of calligraphy with a modern twist.

Calligraphed design for your invitation suite is the perfect way to get the traditional look of hand-lettering that is customary for an elegant wedding. Each piece is hand-lettered in the style you prefer and then reproduced using high-quality printing methods such as letterpress, engraving, or offset printing. It looks great and is sure to make a lasting impression on your friends and family.

Visit Laura at her new Calligraphy site: Laura Hooper Calligraphy

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Fun with the Alphabet

Two creative paths from A to Z. by Raymond Pirous|Fun with the Alphabet

Charles Roper thought I might like abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, a short film directed by Roel Wouters, featuring the work of his son alongside that of his brother and calligrapher, Job Wouters in a live jam session juxtaposing the lettering art of the youthful amateur vs. that of the aged professional.

The image below is a compilation of both sets of the alphabet as drawn during the film:

abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, a video by Job & Roel Wouters

Saturday, March 29, 2008

How Do You Spell “Publishing Excellence” in Japanese?

March 28, 2008 , and article by abbeville

maya.jpg arabic.jpg hiero1.jpg chinese-calligraphy.jpg

Better yet, here’s another question: how many publishers do you know whose catalog even has an Alphabets & Symbols division, never mind an expanding one?

Following in the footsteps of Abbeville’s popular Maya Script, Arabic Script, Hieroglyphics, and Chinese Calligraphy titles comes our latest volume about a non-Roman symbol system: Japanese Alphabet: The 48 Essential Characters. In this book, expert polyglot Gabriel Mandel (author of Arabic Script) guides the reader through all 48 principal Japanese characters and their associated sounds, providing the roma-ji, or Roman phonetic spelling, for each. Also included are diagrams that demonstrate how to reproduce each character stroke by stroke, leaving you, the reader, just one fancy calligraphy pen away from writing in one of the world’s most elegant languages. If you’ve already bought the four volumes mentioned, you can even try combining all five ancient languages into one truly impenetrable secret codeor one hell of a party trick (”Any ancient Maya in the room?”).

You can read more of the article at The Abbeville Manual of Style

Monday, March 17, 2008

Create Your Own Calligraphy Alphabet Font

While every computer these days comes pre-loaded with an adequate number of fonts, sometimes you want to create your own. Maybe there's a special project like a family cookbook or class assignment that requires a personal touch. Or maybe your kid wants some AC/DC-esque Trapper Keeper lettering to show his classmates how much he rocks. Whatever the reason, here's how to make your own font.

What You Need

A scanner (optional)

Copies of professional design software (optional). You'll need both raster graphics software (like Photoshop or GIMP) and vector graphics software (Illustrator or Inkscape)

Fontmaking software like FontLab Studio ($650) or Fontographer ($350)

A hand-made font. Image: John Baichtal

How to Proceed

Step 1. Determine whether you'd like to create your alphabet purely in the digital domain or if you'd like to employ traditional media (pen and paper) to draw out the letter forms. If the former, go to Step 5.Public domain type compiled by the legendary Rob Roy Kelly. Photo: John Baichtal
Public domain type compiled by the legendary Rob Roy Kelly. Photo: John Baichtal

Step 2. Draw out the alphabet in black marker on a sheet of white paper. Remember, it can be a dingbat font -- if you don't want to do letters, that's OK. And even if you are doing a regular alphabet, don't hesitate to throw a couple dingbats in there for personality.

Traditionally, fontmakers start with the letters HAMBURGEVONS and adapt those to complete the alphabet. For instance, the E can be easily converted into an F. Don't forget accent characters, punctuation and numerals!

Alternatively, scan in and adapt public domain alphabets, such as those found in Dover books.

Step 3. Scan your work. I'd suggest grayscale or bitmap, at least 300 DPI and 200% zoom. Clean up in Photoshop or GIMP.

Step 4. shapes to vector graphics. The easiest way toUsing the pen tool in Photoshop do this is use Trace feature in Illustrator CS2 or higher. In older versions of Photoshop, you can use the Magic Wand to create paths Convert the the Object > Live around your letters and Export Paths to Illustrator.

If you are a perfectionist or have a lot of time, you can use the Path feature in Photoshop to draw curves around the letters using the Pen tool. This yields the crispest results.

Note that there is a plugin for FontLab called ScanFont that converts raster shapes to curves.

Step 5. Open up your font design program and cut and paste vectors in from Illustrator/Inkscape.

If you have elected to skip the initial steps and design exclusively in FontLab or Fontographer, you will have to draw the Bézier curves in by hand. This is much more difficult but also very quick. Most beginners prefer starting from Step 1.

Step 6. Kern, baby, kern. An "A" and a "V" can and should be much closer to each other than, for example, an "O" and a "R". Every font is different and usually you have experiment and find the correct distance.

Step 7. Export the typeface. Usually you have the option of selecting one of various font formats. "OpenType" is a popular choice -- This is the de facto industry standard and the file will work on Mac, Linux or Windows platforms. Older formats like TrueType typically work on only one platform.

Step 8. Install the font!