April 16, 2010

Simple Book in Bamboo Italics

Under the patient and expert teaching of Anne Binder (http://www.annebinder.org ), I "attempt" to add a new hand to my toolbox every 8 weeks.  To give us a break from the seriousness of Roman Capitals, she is now introducing us to a letterform she calls bamboo italics -- a contemporary and casual hand that lends itself to lengthy text (because of the short ascenders and descenders and ease of writing).  Using a Mitchell 4 and a pressure/release technique, you (not me, yet) can make these letters as playful or as serious as your chosen text demands.

Anne taught me early on that the best way to learn a new hand is to force yourself to create a finished product with it instead of just practicing on scrap paper.  That's only after you've first practiced it for hundreds of hours on scrap paper, of course.  The simple book pictured above and below is the result of my project-based practice -- the lettering is rough and very literal, but it's a start!  It features poetry from one of my favorite Sufi masters, Hafiz.  I pulled out some of my leather tools for the simple binding, using ribbon, silver grommets and beads.  The full text reads:

What kind of God would he be
if He did not hear the bangles on an ant's wrist
as they move the earth in their sweet dance?
And what kind of God would he be
if a leaf's prayer was not as precious to Creation
as the prayer His own son sang
from the glorious depth of his soul -- for us.
And what kind of God would he be
if the vote of millions in this world could sway Him
to change the Divine law of love
that speaks so clearly with compassion's elegant tongue
saying, eternally saying:
all are forgiven --
moreover, dears, no one has ever been guilty.

                -- Hafiz
                   (translated by Daniel Ladinsky)