It’s always good for the back and brain to take a screenbreak at lunchtime. Due to the various school holidays and in-service days, I’ve been working mostly from my cosy home office over the last couple of weeks which has allowed me to do a little more than the usual visit to the supermarket during my lunch-break.
Getting my workshop back in order after a winter’s worth of clutter has also given birth to a few DIY projects conceived, for a change, from enjoyment rather than necessity. So, rifling through a pile of different timbers left over from previous box-making forays, I found a nice piece of waney edged oak, sharpened my planes and set to making a new gate sign for our house.
Over last week’s lunch-breaks then, I’ve sawn, planed, chiselled and chamfered my way to eventually arriving at the defining part of the job. The lettering. I must admit I was more than a little nervous as it’s been a long time since I’ve done any hand lettering. Not able to put it off any longer though (as, with no sign on our gate, couriers were having difficulty finding our address) I started trawling through Fontbook looking for a clear, yet elegant typeface to use.
Although I had made up my mind to make the sign without the aid of powered tools, I decided to mock-up the sign at full-size in InDesign to assist me in choosing the correct font. I worked my way through various Caslons, Titlings, Berling, Bembo, Bulmer, Bookman and many others before eventually settling on Centaur. Beautiful clear lines, not overly ornate and easily legible from a passing courier van.
I then spent an evening pencilling out the type onto the now sanded wood and had a lovely sunny Saturday afternoon sitting at the picnic table hand-painting the lettering. A few coats of yacht varnish later and I fitted the sign to the gate Sunday afternoon, in time for any courier deliveries on Monday.
Although making a house sign has pretty much nothing to do with books, choosing and hand-lettering the type has been a wonderful experience. It has reacqainted myself with a few typefaces that rarely come up in day-to-day jobs. Not only that, it has brought me closer again to a typeface’s anatomy, how and why it works. Above all though, it has been fantastic stepping away from the Mac, Fontbook and InDesign for a few hours and rediscovering the joy of lettering by hand.
Next project? I’ve a hankering for doing some hand book-binding. Something I haven’t done since University. Hmmmm . . . deckle edged paper, moroccan leather cover, hand-stitching, marbled end-papers . . .