Friday, July 13, 2012

Calligraphy Northwest: Dynamic Duo

Julian Waters & Carl Rohrs, June 2012
Last post I mentioned that Reed College's Eliot Hall was where Fr. Edward Catich cut the lintel stones, and Lloyd Reynolds taught his calligraphy classes back in the day.
Eliot Hall, Reed College, Portland OR
So there, in the very same lecture hall---well, half of it, the other half is now the college president's office--two present-day calligraphic luminaries held forth with a course titled "20th Century Inspirations and 21st Century Techniques" during the week of Calligraphy Northwest in June.  Julian Waters and Carl Rohrs started out by giving us what clearly had been a labor of love for each of them:  a total of 248 pages, bound in two volumes, of their own work alongside that of their "inspirateurs", some familiar, some obscure (at least to me). There is enough material here for a lifetime of study!  If my house ever catches fire, I know what I'll be grabbing on the way out the door!
Workbooks by Carl Rohrs (top) &  Julian Waters (bottom) for CNW
Most of the time I was so busy listening, observing, absorbing and experimenting that I took very few photos.  To be honest, a lot of it is just now sinking in.
Julian demos while Carl comments

It's all in the details!

This wasn't a product-oriented class, but a rather stream-of-consciousness romp through big ideas and tiny details--which seem now either too vast or too small to write about here.  In what they had predicted would be a "somewhat improvisatory" presentation, it was fascinating to listen to Carl & Julian's banter, filled with seriously encyclopedic knowledge of fonts and all things calligraphic. For example, did you know that Rudolf Koch had designed minuscules for his1920s Neuland typeface, but they were abandoned?  Here's my attempt at approximation:

We worked with broad nib, automatic pen, folded nib, ruling pen, flat brush and pointed brush. Here we were trying to eliminate as much negative space as possible in our blackletter:

That afternoon we switched to pointed brush and my head almost exploded!  I won't trouble you with illustrations of my feeble attempts.

At the end of the week there was a "show and share" in the dining hall.  What a feast!

I apologize for the lack of attribution--way too many to keep track of.

It was announced that in addition to the 2013 conference at Colorado College next summer, the 2015 conference will take place in the Bay Area!  Save the dates!


  1. Is there a opportunity to buy these two book from the Portland class? Thank you.

    1. Unfortunately, I think they printed exactly the number they needed for the class. Couldn't hurt to ask them, though!

  2. I love your photos! Thanks for sharing, Jody. Having recently had the carl Rohrs experience, I can only imagine how wonderful and crazy it was to have both Julian and Carl teaching together. lucky you. Hope you can find time soon to stop and think about it for awhile and make it all a part of you.

    1. It truly was amazing, and should keep me busy for a very long time!

  3. I can only imagine what a wealth of information that book contains! Yes, I would be grabbing it and running for the door in case of a fire! :)

    Thanks for sharing these inspiring photos.

    Maybe I can attend in 2015 when it comes to the Bay Area!!

    1. Taking reservations at Casa Roberts-Meese for the night before the 2015 conference! Hope you can make it!

  4. Thanks, Jody! I will keep that in mind. :)

  5. OMG Jody, how incredible to have a class with Carl and Julian together! And the books they gave you ~ I'm so jealous! I'm so glad you had that experience and I'm sure your calligraphy looks beautiful.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us Jody. It's a wonderful post, and to think you wouldn't have gone if your deposit was 100% refundable!!! My mind is trying to absorb everything you've shared - I can't imagine how it is for *you* having experienced it first hand.

  7. Wow, how I wished I could have gone this year - but I'm so enjoying my new kitchen. Maybe next time!! I loved my class in Minn with Carl Rohrs!!! Thanks for sharing all the wonderful photos, it brings back good memories.



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