Saint Matthew Lutheran Church, Waco, Texas
and on Zoom
by Jeanne Dittmann
I started working with pencils more than 10 years ago, when I began my ritual of drawing letters during sermons. Drawing like that helps me focus on everything around me, including the letters themselves. This weekly practice in drawing letters taught me so much about the tool as well as the letters. For example, when I was drawing blackletter strokes, I developed a deeper understanding about the details of what a broad-edged pen would create when writing the letters with those tools back in my studio. That deep relationship with letters is now an integral part of my journey as a calligrapher. And throughout this “study” of pencil lettering, I was working with the humble little pew pencils that were within reach each Sunday. Most of the time the pencil was dull and, of course, quite short. Not an ideal tool, perhaps, but that’s part of the magic of pencil lettering.
I’ve since taken workshops with Amity Parks, Yves Leterme, and Jurgen Vercaemst – their names here link to their Instagram accounts which I encourage you to explore a bit before the program (you may have to go back awhile for some pencil examples, but enjoy their feeds along the way!). Each has greatly added to my pencil repertoire in very definitive ways. Most notably: through Amity, I fell in love with the Tombow Mono Zero eraser, which is my go-to eraser (oh, did I mention you can fix mistakes with pencils?!?!); through Yves, I fell in love with the Staedtler Mars Technico lead holder, which is now my go-to pencil; and through Jurgen, I fell in love with pages and pages of innovative drawn pencil letterforms. I'll bring my notebooks so you can see some of my pages.
What do I love about pencils and pencil lettering? The accessibility. The versatility. The commonness. The simplicity. The timelessness. The variance. The elegance. The subtlety.
Come explore the pencil with me this month. This is how you should prepare:
- Bring a pencil. Any pencil you like. I’ll demo the lead holder during the program, in case you’re curious about that.
- Bring a handheld sharpener, if you have one. I’ll have an electric sharpener for the group to use.
- Bring an eraser. Any eraser.
- Bring some paper. Any paper, nothing fancy.
- Bring a short word you like the look of (4-6 letters long). Any lettering style. Written with any tool. Either print it out or have a photo of it on your phone that you can reference.
- Explore #pencillettering and #builtupletters for some inspiration before coming.