Monday, December 3, 2007

Letters and Numbers

I am designing some stained glass panels for display in a local home renovation showroom. (Thanks, Ethan!) I figured I should make something practical -- like letters and numbers. People might not include a decorative window in their renovation, but they just might go for commissioning their house numbers in the transom over the front door.

Drawing consistent, cohesive freehand letters and numbers is tricky business. (This is why those designer fonts are so expensive!) So I have spent the afternoon looking at fonts, blowing up the letter "A" and number "6" on my scanner -- to give myself a jumping off point from which to design my own letters and numbers for the panels. It's amazing how a tiny serif here or the way the loop on the "R" crosses its main vertical there can change your world. Okay, maybe just my world. I also had a few "outliers" to look at, letters and numbers from various oddball font books I've picked over the years.

There was a time in our Victorianish history when decorating letters was all the rage. Consider this. I mean, what were they thinking? And what is the monkey eating? (We can guess where he is looking.) And, more importantly, what happens when this gal has a bad hair day?

Then there is the case of symbolism overload. There are so many meanings in this letter "F" that it might be hard reading any further if it were actually used in print. Possible translation: A man with a flowery imagination (spray of posies from head), impaled by his own knowledge (see book), faces unrequitted love (see Cupid in bondage dangling apple), and hails from a family of birds who fish. With fruit? How the lobster doorpull plays into this, I can't tell you.

There were also letters that I couldn't even identify.

An "F"? A "T"? A case of curlyque overload -- in the theme of Queen Elizabeth meets Cher meets Victoria's Secret on quaaludes?

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