Friday, February 10, 2017

Studio Update

Finally back in the studio and online after several months away.

Herrera Slate Inscription Carving Workshop Students
In early December Paul Herrera, from The Art Legacy League, came to Ottawa to offer a Slate Inscription Carving Workshop at Spike Minogue's Studio in Franktown. For two days these folks from the Calligraphy Society of Ottawa met to learn the basics of cutting letters in slate from Paul, who was Father Catich's apprentice at the time of his death in 1979.

They came prepared with their own work to share and simple designs they wished to use to learn the craft. By the end of the second day everyone was well on their way to completing their first slate inscription carving. The group plans to meet again in the Spring to compare notes on the progress they have made.

Working on practice brush stroke cutting
I served as workshop coordinator, but also kept my hand in with working on a couple of slates as well as helping people get the hang of things. It really was a wonderful experience!

I have a new head gear magnifying set, with little lights, which really helps me see better for cutting. Since the workshop I have tried to keep cutting a little each day.

The group atmosphere was quite something. There seems to be an energy that develops in a studio filled with novice carvers. As they each cleared a hurdle, or realized they needed to do something differently, there would be a loud exclamation and they would invite us all to check their progress!  I miss that group interaction in the studio now that I am back in Deep River, working on book arts, printing, and calligraphy projects on my own. I am thinking of hosting an open studio workshop day here in the Spring. Stay tuned!

Nancy, Sheila and Paul examining MSS page.
Immediately following the workshop, I was fortunate to travel to Fairfiled, PA to interview Sheila Waters, a very well known Calligrapher and one of the founders of the Washington Calligraphers Guild, for an upcoming article in Letter Arts Review about her Studio Archive.

My dear friend Paul Herrera, joined me on this visit and helped to interview Sheila. We are currently sorting through the hundreds of photographs and hours of audio and video tape in preparation for completing the article.  We hope to have it into the editor, Christopher Calderhead, in March. I will post when we know in which issue the article will be printed.

We were both very honoured to be given such rare access to the incredible archive and library that Sheila has in her studio. Her archive includes layouts and original work for historical maps created for publishers, certificates, book layouts, broadsides and more.

Sheila also has in her archive an original Catich Rubbing of The Trajan Inscription in Rome and a complete collection of her late husband, Peter Waters, bindings. Peter was the Conservator for The Library of Congress, and created the recovery system for National Library of Florence books after the Florence flood in the 1966. Sheila has written a wonderful book about that experience, Waters Rising: Letters from Florence, which can be found HERE.

Hardouyn 1507 Book of Hours, Kislak Center
When we completed the interview, Paul went on to New York to teach two slate inscription carving workshops for the Society of Scribes and I went to Washington, D.C. to conduct research for the second time this year at The Library of Congress Rare Book Room.

I am currently completing codicological research on their 1505 Hardouyn Book of Hours and a 1507 book of hours from the collection of the Kislak Center for Rare Book and Manuscripts at The University of Pennsylvania, shown here. Both organizations have graciously invited me back to give a talk on the results of my research conclusions. I will present a preliminary draft of this talk to the CBBAG-OV march meeting.

Here is a bit of the blurb about the talk, which is open to the public:
The Archaeology of the Book: Codicology in Early Printed Parisian Books of Hours by The Hardouyn  
CBBAG-OV meeting
March 8, 6:30 p.m., Sandy Hills Community Centre, Ottawa, ON
Nancy Mortensen Trottier, B.A., R.N.G., M.A. Art History, University of Iowa, CBBAG member, will present a brief lecture introducing the practice of codicology (from Latin cōdex, genitive cōdicis, "notebook, book"; and Greek -λογία, -logia).  Codicology is a methodology utilized in the study of books as physical objects.  It originally developed as a discipline that helped define how the historian would examine manuscripts written on parchment (or paper) in codex form. Codicology as applied to the study of early manuscripts and also early printed books bridges the area of paleography, (the study of hand written scripts), with the study of narrative and ornamental images contained within the structure of the book. The study of written features such as marginaliaglosses, ownership inscriptions, etc. falls in both camps, as does the study of the physical aspects of decoration, which otherwise belongs to art history.

Trottier's work in codicology looks specifically at the transition from script to print in early printed books of hours produced in the first quarter of the sixteenth century in Paris by Guillaum Anabat for the Hardouyn Publishing House. Her lecture will include a discussion of her methodology in examining early printed books as objects, how the information gleaned from such study can shed light on concepts dealing with book ownership by women in the sixteenth century, and how the analysis of the book as object can inform us about workshop practice in sixteenth century Parisian press rooms.

Recipe Cards in process
In the past few weeks I have also returned to working on the press and making paste papers for book arts projects. The CBBAG-OV chapter is working on a "Swap" project this year that involves Recipe cards. We have 19 people participating. Each of us makes a set of cards with recipes. We each end up with 19 different sets of cards that we then bind in some creative fashion and then share with the group.

I have completed 4 "Book Arts Recipe" cards for the project. One was recipe was printed with letterpress, one was printed with inkjet as a title/colophon page, and two more recipes were printed with inkjet. Each of the recipe cards has a sample of the material produced with the recipe included. It was really fun to dig into my files for recipes related to my book arts studio practice.

When I have completed the book from the "Swap 2017" I will post a photo!

Paste Papers hanging to dry
I also took time to make paste papers for several days last week, which was great fun. One of the recipe cards I printed on the Vandercook was for a Super Simple Starch Paste that I have been using for years. I needed to put a sample of paste paper on the card, so I made past papers for four days and had a wonderful time!

Making the paste papers using 100% Rag Certificate paper as the substrate was really interesting.  I found that the polished surface of the paper allowed me much more freedom in creating patterns that allowed the paper itself to show through, making lovely areas of white amidst the coloured portions.

It has really been a great joy to be back in the studio again and also to be able to attend CBBAG and Calligraphy Society of Ottawa meetings this past week. Being able to meet with colleagues and share their studio progress has been wonderful for me.

Irma Trottier
The winter has been a difficult one for us. Our youngest daughter and her husband moved half way around the world to take up a new post in the UAE with a new studio art program there. My mother-in-law died on December 27th after an extended stay in hospital and we are grappling with the responsibilities that estate work brings to the ones who are left. She told me often that last month that she was 91, had lived a very wonderful life, and was ready for what came next. We miss her every day, but are so happy that she is no longer suffering.

As we wrap ourselves in the warmth of the woodstove fire and select a movie for watching on these cold winter evenings, I am reminded of winters in Iowa. My father would light the living room fire each day before he left for work and my sister and I would add wood during the day to keep the warm fire burning. My mother would have hot chocolate on the stove for us when we came in from playing in the snow and if we behaved, there were always samores from the fireplace as the sun went down.

We are moving into the middle of winter now and the days, although very, very cold and full of snow, are getting longer. The sun we have enjoyed for the past three days here in Deep River has been a gift for the soul. My creative verve is beginning to stir again gently, and I know with all my heart, that as the winter wanes, all will be well and all will be well, with the grace and the light of God in my life, all will be well.

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