Lyrical Lombardics with Harvest Crittenden

This April I had the opportunity to take a two day class in Nashville, TN by Master Penmen Harvest Crittenden called Lyrical Lombardics.  Harvest has been a professional lettering artist for over 30 years.

Lombardics letter forms were associated with the Lombardic region of Italy.  These letter forms spread through Europe in scriptoriums where books were created during the middle ages.  Many of these elaborate letters can be seen in Psalters which are songs books used by churches during the middle ages.  The letters could be very large and decorative depending on much time or money was paid for the book.

Harvest provided a multipage handout that was full of great examples to give inspiration in creating your own lombardic forms.    In the short two day class we spent the majority of our time focusing on our own decorative lombardic letter.  Here is the one I created for my daughter Elaina.  She loves mermaids and swimming.   Note the gold fin of the mermaid with scales tooled in the gold that is 23K leaf gold.

Elaina E 21 Apr 2013

Harvest taught a number of techniques that once learned will further expand your own abilities in addition to Lombardics.  One of the techniques she taught was to use clear lay .003 film from Grafix pads to lay gold leaf.  I now prefer this method over using the clear window of business envelopes.  I found the clear film would hold the gold better then the clear window of envelopes.  Though I will state the envelope windows are free from junk mail.  These are still good for tooling on gold of course.

The other new technique I learned from Harvest is the CMYK color mixing method.

C -Cyan

M- Magenta



This is a newer method of mixing colors thanks to technology.  This method and can be seen if you open up a printer that’s fairly new.   My printer at home uses CMYK instead of 6 individual color cartridges.  You create the desired color from the 3 main colors and use white to lighten or black to darken your colors.

To wrap the class up we spent the last afternoon doing quick fun letters with water colors.  Here are just two examples of what we completed.   This piece is an example of a letter completed with water colors.

Harvest Water color B 21 Apr 2013

This letter is done using a water color pencils and you’ll need to take her class to learn to use water color pencils technique effectively.

Harvest Water color pencil M 21 Apr 2013

 Harvest Crittenden has the gift of teaching and talent of which only few dedicated people will attain.  Be sure to visit her website Acorn Arts to purchase her work, commission a piece, participate in a workshop or take an online class. I highly recommend this class to anyone with some calligraphy background or interest in this letter form.

Here’s an example taken from the online digital scriptorium at the University of California Berkley Library.


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