There is a quote that has circulated with great vigor on the internet ether, “Sometimes your only available mode of transportation is a leap of faith.” It is attributed to Margaret Shepard, and as I searched to find more about the author, nothing came up except more permutations of the quote and then finally, someone mentioned this Margaret is a calligrapher. Then I found Margaret Shepherd, and I suspect the quote is an example for calligraphy in one of her books.
I had been eager to move from printing to cursive in the 2nd grade. I loved making the joins, and studying the letter forms. When I was a junior high student, I bought a book about learning calligraphy(which may have even been written by Margaret Shepherd), and some of those chisel tipped pens that purport to be the key to beautiful writing. I carried the book and pen around for many moves, but calligraphy happened in mostly my imagination. For someone who lived for reading, an art that incorporated words was thrilling, but again, I was first and foremost a reader, not a calligrapher.
Margaret Shepherd helped create the Boston Calligraphy Trail, which I hadn’t known about, and which sounds wonderful. There are 26 beautiful letters to discover in the Boston Public Library and surrounding neighborhoods by following the trail guide. On her blog she writes of returning from Finland with photos of Art Nouveau lettering and numbers. I love that she was photographing typography in the wild.
As someone who spends a lot of time surrounding letters and numbers with glass mosaic, I do now practice a craft that incorporates reading. Many leaps of faith led me to this work.
Artist & Illustrator Lisa Congdon has a cat named Margaret(named for the artist Margaret Kilgallen, who I will save for a future Margaret Monday.) When I started drawing again, I found an online class from Lisa Congdon, which allowed me to revel in pens, and her encouraging nature. That she has a cat named Margaret makes me like her all the more.
The day after Christmas is Boxing Day in Canada. The 26th of December was the day of let-down after the fervor of Christmas, but I did like the sound of the phrase Boxing Day. The origin of the holiday was murky in my mind as a child, though I remember the part about British gentlefolk giving their servants the day off and boxes of gifts. Cats understand Boxing Day instinctively, and only require the box, with nothing but themselves in it.
I didn’t realize that the 26th is also the feast day of St. Stephen, who gave alms to the poor, and makes Boxing Day part of a much older tradition. I wonder about the history embedded in our lives that we do not notice, a deep well of unheard stories. The carol Good King Wenceslas is also connected to this day, and I never noticed that Christmas is not mentioned. My favorite lines:
Good King Wenceslas looked out, on the Feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even
The rhythm in these words pleased me as a child, the emphasis for each of deep, crisp, even. That king Wenceslas was actually a Duke, retroactively named a King by Emperor Otto is another bit of history buried in the snow. The Good King sees a poor man out in the snow, and gives him food and fuel. Fr. James Martin talks of the version by The Roches, and the pause they take before the final line, “Ye who now shall bless the poor shall yourself find blessing.”
The word “alms” intrigued me because it reminds me of my last name, Almon. Alms comes in part from the Greek “eleemon” meaning compassionate.
For an unusual version of the carol, I found this one sung by Bing Crosby and Rosemary Clooney, illustrated by DC comics. Look for the shadow of Batman at the end. http://youtu.be/A47qu7deSyY
We helped inaugurate our friend Kathy’s new kitchen, and one of our Nutmeg Designs’ welcome signs was there to greet us, as was Russell, the orange cat.
Stratoz made pizza, with an oven light years ahead of ours. I had made fridge magnets as a kitchen warming gift. We have known Kathy for 15 years, and she has been a fan of Nutmeg Designs from the beginning.
Russell, on the other hand, is a fan of being the center of attention.
I had my first interview on video, with Rachel of Square Peg Artery and Salvage in Philadelphia. We filmed in my studio, and Rachel had a calming effect on me, since being videotaped made me nervous. Rachel asked me what artists I would tell others to “google” and why. One of the artists that I mention in the interview is Ivan Chan, and a print of his fingerpainting “Here Kitty” watches over my studio and glimpses of it are in the video. The colors in Ivan’s art are full of spirit and intensity, and his tagline is “Invite Beauty” which I love as a motto to live by. Ivan has been going through the process of becoming a therapist, and I believe he will be a fine one, with his eye for beauty in life, and powers of observation. I made a frame for this Kitty icon, which Ivan describes as an awakened being, a Buddha disguised as a cat, in all my favorite orange glass to catch the light.
Watching the Square Peg interview was uncomfortable for me, since I feel awkward being on camera, but I was honored to have the chance to share my art and my creative passions, and support Square Peg, which has been a great supporter of my work. What artists would you tell others to look up on google?