Where are the simple joys...?
My sweet sister-in-law, who is consistently awesome, is also a busy homeschooling mother of 4 rambunctious kiddos. She is an inspiring combination of a sweet, gentle spirit and a hardworking wife and mama who wants to be the best she can for her family. To that end, while she goes about her busy days she listens to podcasts and audio blogs from people in many different fields who work hard to stay centered with Christ, then share their journey to uplift and inspire others.
One such podcast is Simply Convivial, which is all about homeschooling and Jesus. When my sister-in-law found that she had a small block of wood sitting around, she asked if I could write "convivial" onto it so she could place it somewhere prominent and get daily attitude-check reminders. Never having worked on wood before but knowing that I wanted to, I said "Of course I can!" (And learn as I go, right? Right!)
The first thing I did was sketch out a few script styles. I randomly pulled paper from the printer to do this, but the size turned out to work nicely when I eventually took it to the wood. I wrote "convivial" in a bouncy modern script, then a formal Copperplate, and texted her the image to choose what she liked.
I thought for sure she would pick the modern script, but she decided to be unpredictable and chose Copperplate! (She said she likes to keep me guessing.)
The next thing to do was measure the piece of wood and find the center. I decided to use a soft soapstone pencil I have for marking up dark papers, because a regular #2 pencil would leave indentations in the wood, plus I wanted my guidelines to wipe away instead of attacking the lettering with an eraser and hoping it wouldn't mess up the writing. The board was unevenly cut by about 1/4", but doing my best I measured out the borders on all 4 sides, decided what my x-height would be, and carried the guidelines across the length of the board.
Once this was done, I lined up the center line of the sketch with that of the wood and got to work carefully writing out the word, making sure to maintain my letter height and counter shape and distance (counter is the space within a letter). It was quite a challenge getting the script consistent: Copperplate is a precise hand. It's easy to practice squaring off your ascenders and descenders, but when it comes to spacing between and within letters, and bumping over wood grain while not using the dip pen you're accustomed to... well! My first 3 letters were perfect, but I got tripped up during the visually numbing "v-i-v-i" and skewed the 54 degree slant as I continued on with the word. I wrote and rewrote the last half of the word ad nauseam until finally settling for "mostly content" with it.
With the outline done, it was now time for a deep breath, a good shake of the DecoColor Acrylic Paint pen, and the first no-going-back upstroke of my lively word. (Corrie Leister of Inspired By U is a decorative painter near me; it was she who gave me the tips for the Christmas canvasses I made last year, and she who also recommended these paint markers for writing on wood!)
After outlining, I then filled in the letters. I waited until the end to dot the "i"s because, after so many adjustments, I wanted to make sure I centered them over the shaft of the letter. Then I went through and touched-up every letter, darkening here and rounding off there, squaring off a top or bottom. Sadly, I had to add bulk to my perfect CON because my A rolled over a bump in the grain just enough to screw up the shape. So it was not only too round and wide, but also not slanted enough. (Actually, a few of the last letters are not quite slanted enough, but the A is definitely the problem child in the group.) And there is only so much precision one can achieve with a thick chisel-tipped pen.
Next time I will get a variety of tipped pens, if possible, so I can work in close detail! The modern script would have taken a lot less time and been easier and more forgiving, but Copperplate is my first love so it was fun to use it in this context. I enjoyed working on my first wood block project, and I look forward to doing more!
All done! Time to let it dry and seal with a setting spray.
I hope this simple piece will help my dear sister-in-law to keep her cheerful disposition amidst the ever-growing mountains of laundry, dishes, schoolwork, and paperwork. As hard as it is sometimes for we moms to remember, these are the days of greatest joy!
"Children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is His reward.
P.S. If you got the reference from the blog post's title, comment below!
UPDATE ON MARCH 1, 2018:
My sister-in-law recently commissioned the modern-style option of "convivial" as a gift for a friend, so I used the same process to create this new piece. Now I can't decide which I like better!
Which do you like better?