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Week #43
This work was done by Patti Adams in New Orleans this year for the session “Pressurized and Drawn Romans” in 26 Seeds: a Year to Grow. In her own words:
“Don't Go Back To Sleep”

Every calligrapher prays for the moment when the proverbial light comes on; that moment when you can finally see the piece. For me, those moments are illuminating, in every sense of the word. So, when trying to find a way to capture the essence of one of my favorite Rumi quotations, I decided I had to do pressurized Roman caps on a lamp!

The first order of business was to find the right lamp. It had to have a shade of equal sides, at least 5" wide and a height of at least 10" or more and a narrow, square, dark wooden base. To my amazement, I found one online! I also went to my local florist and bought some dried willow branches with the idea of attaching them to the four corners of the shade. (Don’t you love a good glue gun?!) I thought this would be a way to draw the light out of the lamp.

Now, how to write on the fabric!? I quickly had to rule that out since the shade was made out of linen. The obvious solution was to attach the calligraphy on the inside liner of the shade. Now came the really tricky part: In order to be able to read the lettering on the outside, it had to be

written backwards on the inside: the ultimate Reggie spacing exercise! So, I did pressurized Roman caps (Mitchell nib) on 140 lb Arches HP WC paper, using van dyke brown qouache, adding flourishes (Hunt 101) to echo the movement of the branches, backwards. Now that was fun! :/

The poem’s title and main message that is repeated three times in the brief poem is repeated on two of the four sides (and no, I didn’t just run it through the copier, although I was tempted!), with the two other most important lines of the poem lettered on the other sides.
 These lines are only visible when the lamp is switched on. After the lettering and flourishing was all done came the scariest part: attaching the paper to the lampshade. I sprayed adhesive mounting glue onto the back of the artwork and oh, so gently guided it down into the lampshade, praying that it didn’t attach itself to anything on the way down or worst yet, get attached at a crooked angle. OCD calligrapher that I am, I breathed a huge sigh of relief when that was done!

So, now to work on the outside.
I wanted the lamp to be equally attractive when in the off position so I needed to create some drama. The lampshade, which was a dull cream colored linen, needed some depth of color and textural interest when unilluminated, so I took my van dyke brown (acrylic paint this time) and glazed color at the corners, along the

bottom and top and painted “branches” coming out of the sides, again, to mimic the willow branches bursting out of the top.

The parallel message here for me is the way I can feel when practicing Roman caps or italics or copperplate or fill-in-the-blank hands. While still concentrating on the task, it can sometimes feel very uninspired. (As a professional musician, I do understand the importance of practicing my scales but seriously, there are days, right!?) But then, often after these long practice sessions, I can pull out a delicious piece of Roma or Arches or Fabriano or BFK Rives paper out of my file and the “lamp” comes on. It seems as if the artwork has simply been hiding out in the drawer all along. I just had to bring enough energy to the work and then, in turn, enough power was generated for me to be able to see the piece. Don’t go back to sleep...the breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you...you must ask for what you really want...don’t go back to sleep...

This lamp now sits in my art studio overlooking my calligraphy table, reminding me always about the work, the process, and, hopefully, the illumination.

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