Sunday, August 28, 2016

Wall Lettering at Newburyport Adult Education

Newburyport Adult & Community Education is moving its office and programs from the high school to the middle school. The new office has no windows and Vicki Hendrickson, the director, asked me to letter a quote from The Once and Future King by T. H. White on one of the walls. The quote was even longer and we managed to reduce it some. We had considered doing only the last 2 sentences but I felt the first sentence was powerful and needed to be included. We did a wee bit of fudging to make that first sentence. I was going to put an ellipsis after the first word. My daughter said please don't. I eventually agreed that I should let let the overall look take precedence over this small detail.

My husband is always my installation expert. The thing is that you have to be careful when you bring up a project because he will get on it immediately. On Thursday morning I mentioned the project to him (I had already met with Vicki and seen the space). By 11:30 AM we were at the middle school and had made plans to come back and do the lettering the following day and be finished by 11 AM. Deep breaths.

We came the next morning and made lines (just one per line for the letters to sit on) with chalk using a level and a long metal flat bar. I had practiced the lettering in the studio on paper and measured out the length of the lines. I used Golden fluid acrylic thinned with water and fluid matte medium and a 3/4" Winsor & Newton 606 Sceptre brush for the quote and a 1/2" one for the author attribution. We used colored sidewalk chalk and there seemed to be bit of oil in the chalk. It was more difficult to erase than we expected. We used warm water and a rag. Reading the chalk box back at home, I saw that they recommended rubbing alcohol for clothing so I think I would try that. Even better I would use blackboard chalk rather than sidewalk chalk.

The wall version did not come out exactly as the paper one did. That one wasn't perfect and the wall one is even less so.When I looked at the lettering on the wall, and now in the photo, my critical eye is fully activated and I can see so many flaws in letter size and form and spacing. However I feel the letters do have some life in them and that was my primary goal. Halfway through I said to my husband, "I am never doing this again." Now I say, "We'll see."

You can read about an earlier project at Nathaniel Hawthorne's birthplace at the House of the Seven Gables here.

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