Art Break Wednesday – Dreams Great and Small

In Unity’s “Daily Word” devotional booklet entry today, there’s a quote from the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.:  “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

As we celebrate sweeping, life-affirming dreams for humanity today, I’m also thankful for smaller, individual ones.  My kids are both starting a new year in college, and my husband has just begun new, fulfilling work.  And I’m pondering that artsyletters is almost a year old! thoreau angle with c

While my business won’t fund those college educations, I feel blessed with the feedback I’ve gotten from customers this past year.  I’ve sold work to college professors, history teachers, librarians, writers & poets, artists, high school students, mothers and grandmothers and husbands – folks from across the country and even across the ocean.  And I’ve only just begun!

This weekend I’ll have a booth at the fabulous, crowded, lively Decatur Book Festival   

BOOKZILLA interpreted by Dan Santat

BOOKZILLA interpreted by Dan Santat

in Atlanta. (Not too far from the children’s stage – come on by if you’re there.)  I’ve enjoyed participating as an author before, but this will be my first time as a solo vendor.So my desk/work area pretty much looks like this:

messy desk

Multiply that, and you can imagine what my studio (and the rest of the house) looks like this week.

I will not have all the inventory I’ve imagined in my mind – so many projects, so little time!  But I won’t run out of ideas for future shows, either.  Here are some 5 X 7 pieces made with those new letterpress blocks I raved about before: dressed up letterpress A

matted letterpress letter art




I’ve hand-stamped the blocks with oil-based printing ink, then decorated with a dip pen and India ink (and some gold on the smaller ones) .

And because I just found a wonderful complete set of typewriter keys on Etsy, I’ve assembled a few more earrings:

typewriter key earrings


I’ve just sold three collages out of the blue, so I’m hoping to finish up a few more framed pieces to add to the mix.  And I need to get back to blinging up some bookmarks, packaging notecards, putting together  magnets, sprucing up booth decor…  Who needs sleep?

Wishing you a moment to pause today and think about dreams big and small, with gratitude for those who have risked their own lives to make life better for others.  And I wish you an outlet for your own creative dreams, no matter the size!

Art Break Wednesday: Gotta Love Gutenberg


Typography – ahhh, I even love the sound of the word, and the way it looks in print.  Last year I bought a couple-few books on type to add to my bookshelves and to my wee bit of knowledge about this fascinating subject.

Gutenberg to OPENTYPE cover 2013 05 29

One I’m enjoying working my way through is From Gutenberg to OPENTYPE – An Illustrated History of Type from the Earliest Letterforms to the Latest Digital Fonts by Robin Dodd (Hartley & Marks, 2006).  The author is a London design consultant and lecturer specializing in design history and typographic theory.  Full of lively illustrations and examples, it’s an approachable, fun treatment of a big subject.

In researching a poem I’m working on, I found it necessary to revisit Mr. Gutenberg.

Johannes Gutenberg was born around or before 1400 in the German town of Mainz, where he died in 1468.  Between 1440 and 1450, he produced the first-known book printed from movable metal types.  Claims have been made that other inventors in other countries beat him to it, but it’s generally accepted that Gutenberg’s books were the first made this way.

operating the printing press

Gutenberg’s achievement was to invent a system of mass production, enabling books to be produced in greater numbers and more economically,” Dodd writes.  “His invention played a fundamental role in the development of the modern world, and was the single most important factor in the spread of knowledge and the move toward universal literacy in the West.”

Gutenberg Bible Library of Congress

His masterpiece was his Bible (completed around 1455), in the Latin “Vulgate” translation, embodying two 42-line columns on each page.  Called The Mazarin Bible, its 1200-some pages were printed in two volumes. Dodd writes that about 180 copies were printed, and about 48 survive.

I didn’t realize that Gutenberg sought to imitate the handwritten nature of original manuscripts.

His typeface was based on Textura, the formal script of northern Germany,” Dodd writes.  “Research suggests that to imitate the inconsistencies and abbreviations that appear in a handwritten manuscript, Gutenberg must have cast at least 300 characters in order to provide slight variations of letterform throughout the text.”

Fascinating, no? And somehow it makes me admire the process all the more.

The Library of Congress website says of our special guest today: “Gutenberg’s invention of the mechanical printing press made it possible for the accumulated knowledge of the human race to become the common property of every person who knew how to read—an immense forward step in the emancipation of the human mind.”

As you go about your day and come across the printed word, give a little nod of thanks to our old friend Gutenberg.  It would be impossible to imagine our modern world without him.


Art Break Wednesday: Words – with Friends!


©Robyn Hood Black

(Apologies for late post – could not get my blog to post this earlier this morning, and I was out all day.) Since my art is all about reading, writing, and letters, I thought it would be fun to look at games involving words and letters.

Last night my writers’ critique group, Bookbound, met for our annual Christmas party hosted by the wonderful and talented Donna H. Bowman. We shared our usual yummy food and “white elephant” gifts, and she also had us play games:  holiday-themed activity sheets for kids.  We had to unscramble words (I was pretty good at that), do a word search, and find hidden pictures.

front: Tracy, K. D., Robyn, Heather
back: Janice, Donna, Lisa, Paula
(photo by Danny Bowman)

Great time had by all, including Paula B. Puckett, K. D. Bryant Graham, Lisa Sterling, Tracy Walker, and our regular-honorary-invited-guest, Janice Hardy.  Heather Kolich mentioned that she and her family loved playing a game called Bethump’d.  I’ll have to check out that one.

In my house growing up, we played lots of Scrabble, and plenty of hand-drawn Hangman games.  Watched Wheel of Fortune.  I was never too great at crossword puzzles, but pretty good at Jumble.  By the way, I learned from‘s Word of the Day yesterday that a “cruciverbalist” is  a designer or aficionado of crossword puzzles.  I also heard in a piece on NPR later in the day that a crossword puzzle writer might get $1000 to construct a Sunday puzzle for the New York Times, several hundred less for a daily puzzle.  And that a vital aspect of creating an acceptable puzzle is coming up with a clever theme. (I don’t think I dreamed any of that, but I can’t seem to find a link!)

Now I play Words with Friends on my iPhone.  Mostly with my college-age daughter, Morgan, my sister-in-law, Patti, and my author buddy Susan Rosson Spain.  Took me weeks to be able to beat Susan, but now I get in the occasional win.  Somehow playing that game is not terribly unlike working on poetry –  having to fit letters/words into structured spaces, I suppose.

How about you?  Any favorite word-related games, or favorite games your family might enjoy during these holidays? Do tell!