Tuesday, May 15, 2012

A Sphinx @ Sixty

So, I turned 60 today!  I'm feeling pretty great about it, despite a young mom at work telling me she couldn't believe I was that old because I'm so "spry".  Ouch.

Anyway, I've had a great day, taking off from work and spending the morning in San Francisco to visit the stunning Cult of Beauty exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor which includes, among multitudinous other treasures, many original William Morris drawings, fabrics and wallpapers.  More peacock feathers and acanthus leaves than you can shake a nib holder at!

Afterward, at the legendary Greens for lunch, we enjoyed great food and a great view (yep, that's our Golden Gate Bridge, turning 75 on May 27th...and I guess she's pretty spry too).

Then my sweet husband presented me with THE coolest gift ever!  You can tell you've been with someone more than half your life when he knows you would be over the moon to receive one of these:

Whatever is it, you might ask?  (The waiter at Greens did!)

Well, have you ever wondered how the old penmen did those amazing perfectly-spaced lines for shading and definition in black-and-white, like this

or this?

Bookplate, 1900

Many used a now-antique drafting tool called a Sphinx Section Liner, also known as a parallel ruler.

They've been very hot items on eBay since pointed pen people caught on to them, sometimes going for several hundred dollars apiece.  Michael Sull demonstrated one (which had been a gift to him from Harvest Crittenden) at the Engrossing Spencerian Saga last October.  I showed Bob Hurford's write-up on the subject (IAMPETH Penman's Journal Summer 2010) to Bruce and he was fascinated with how it worked.  Who knew what he was doing out there in his shop these last few weeks?

Is it not a thing of beauty?!?  Gorgeous, smooth-as-silk fiddlehead maple and elegant brass parts, the straightedge raised just enough to avoid smudging, and finished off with a beautiful engraved plaque.

Of course I had to try it out as soon as we got home!  The old masters would have used a ruling pen (another must-have drafting tool) but I went with a G-Tec for my first try.  In the photo I'm kind of using it upside-down and backwards, but as Sheila Waters is fond of reminding me, we left-handers 'have to figure out our own way of doing things'.  Of course, it works perfectly!  And I will treasure it always.

I think sixty might be my new lucky number.


  1. wow. Wow. WOW! I love everything about this post! Happy belated birthday, Jody!! I am FLOORED you are 60. You wear the years very well, and I am thinking that having a husband that treats you thusly is part of your secret to youth & beauty. Amazing. xoxo

  2. Ditto what Jane said. You do not look 60. And after all, you are so --- spry! : ) Happy Birthday!!!

  3. Thanks so much, friends, you are too kind! Now that I've mastered spry I'm thinking of trying to work on some moxie.

  4. Happy Belated birthday Jody! What a precious treasure of a gift! Enjoy it in good health! There is no way you are 60!!!!!!!

    1. Thank you, Heather! I keep thinking there must be some mistake, but no...

  5. What a beautiful and generous gift! How special to have your husband spend his time crafting something so special for you.

    Happy Birthday!!!! (a little late wish)

    1. Thank you Jo! I feel very lucky indeed!



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