More calligraphy fanart

So I decided to tackle house mottos, but I’m not happy with the results. I did them using “skeleton” lettering and I’m just crap at it. So I will probably do these again as my skills improve. But I thought I’d post the current results anyway.

I used skeleton because I wanted to do house colors using silver & gold. The metallic inks are very gummy (the “silver” is actually aluminum suspended in gum) and lend themselves to fine lines like you see in skeleton style lettering moreso than the wide strokes used in blackletter.

So I jumped in to try Gryffindor first. Since this was the longest of the mottos I was going to do, I decided to do it on two sheets, one using red letters on gold (well, yellow) paper, and one using gold letters on red paper. Since the red I could do with regular ink, I used blackletter for that, and skeleton for the gold.

It reads:

In Gryffindor
where dwell the
brave at heart,

Daring, nerve
and chivalry,
set Gryffindors

(artspam below the cut)

I’m critical of the Gryffindor mentality, of course, so couldn’t just do this as a simple rendering. The alignment is a bit shaky in the “Brave at heart” as if the hand writing it were not so brave after all, and the “apart” is set apart from the other words purposefully. Harry’s isolation has as much to do with his own attitude as others’.

In the photo you can see the bottle of gold ink. It reads “Inchiostro Oro” (which I presume is Italian for “gold ink”). I bought it at the McSweeney’s-founded writing workshop storefront in San Francisco 826 Valencia, which has a pirate theme. (They have a neat online store, too, here:

I did Ravenclaw next. Blue and bronze, eh? I have some copper ink, but no really blue paper, so I decided to just try bronze-ish paper and blue ink. I had a dark blue ink loaded into this calligraphic fountain pen with a fine nib, so tried it with that:

Things that didn’t quite work here. I was experimenting with the style of the Ys and the Ds to make them “claw”-like and didn’t quite settle on a consistent look. It so happens that there are four y and four d and they balance, the y goes down, the d up, but it’s not quite there. I’ll probably recompose this one, possibly in landscape instead of portrait.

Next, Hufflepuff. Black on yellow, easy. I used the Frankincense scented ink and it went on quite smooth. I kept with the traditional letterforms and didn’t try to vary them. (Note the totally normal Y in “they”.)

I’ve been including the pens in these shots to remind myself which one I used for each page. This is a neat one called “Mano” (for “hand”). I have a few of this style, one of which friends brought me back from Italy along with inks.

Next up, Slytherin. This one was tricky in that most of the Sorting Hat songs give at best backhanded compliments to the old silver-and-green. I wasn’t about to write something disparaging about my own house, so I stuck with this:
In Slytherin you’ll make your real friends

Again I used the “mano” and the aluminum (silver) ink, which doesn’t soak into the page. It stands above it and hardens almost like a thin stream of solder. You can’t use this style of ink with a fountain pen because it will harden inside and ruin the pen, and in the calligraphy nibs you have to wash them quickly after use so it doesn’t permanently glom on.

Note the “y” is different again here, in the word Slytherin. No clawlike rake, no cheerful swoop. The ramrod straight tail is representative of the certainty with which a Slytherin needs to operate in the world. Slytherins do not judge right and wrong in the same way as others, but they most certainly do judge. No matter how snakey they may be on the surface, every Slytherin has a rigid core inside.

So then I went back and looked at the Gryffindor pages from the beginning, and thought now the one single page of blackletter looked wrong and out of place. As it turns out, I have a nacre crimson ink that is much like the metallics, with the color suspended in gum. I thought, why not re-do that first page in the skeleton style and see how it comes out?

Trusty mano had trouble with this ink, which did not want to spread evenly or flow from the pen as usual. I had to apply more force to the pen on the paper, almost “scratching” the paper. This led to the unnerving illusion that the paper was bleeding. Especially since, as you can see, it really looks like when blood seeps from a scratch!

On the one hand, what a mess! On the other hand, this fits neatly with my criticism of the aggressive, righteously violent Gryffindor mentality. In the end it’s done, but everyone’s bloodied in the process. The “y” in Gryddindor is a hook. A meathook.

Here’s the comparison side by side:

and here’s the finished Gryffindor diptych:

And finally, all the mottos at once:

All houses together

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