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.


A Celtic Design with Christian Prayer





I took inspiration from Celtic designs for this piece.  Used sepia ink for the
lettering and a size 3 nib for the Uncial handlettering.  The letter “B”
I  created from a design you can find in “Designs
from the Book of Kells
” which is altered to work in the piece. Her books are
very useful as she has a couple books I have learned from.  The boarder was
inspired by multiple designs I found using “55
Classic Celtic Boarders
”  There are many good Celtic books to learn from
about this and a search on will show you many.

Benevetan Hand Lettering




This piece was completed on parchament white paper, main body hand letter was done with a 3 1/2 nib and the larger title was size 1 nib. In this piece I used a light gold gouche and the rest of the gouches are still student quality Reeves.

Researched the illuminated letter from The Bible of Illuminate Letters with a Beneventan minuscule found in the Calligraphers Bible.

Beneventan hand lettering was mainly used from the 8th to 13th centry and was prevalent in southern Italy and centered on the Benedictine monastery of Monte Cassino, more informtion can be found at wikipedia; Beneventan script. For capital letters I chose Lombardic Versals to emphasize their imporatance, these letters date from the early gothic period to the renaissance period.

A farewell retirement card for a friend




This was a fun project I did for friend at work whom retired recently.  Her name
started with S and I while haven’t perfected humanistic hand lettering I enjoy
writing in it very much.  So as much as I butchered the hand lettering the
surrounding art work compensated for it. The person whom received the card
absolutely loved it.

The front of the card is three shades of brown
that I splattered on using an old tooth brush.  The centered S on the front is
actually cut out and elevated on the card.  I used foamy two sided
adhesive squares to give it an elevated effect. A while back someone told me to
stay away from black and the background of the S is the closest to black I could
get by mixing violet and brown.

Not having done anything Victorian I’d
thought I’d dive in and enjoyed the drafting of the card very much.  It was a
real challenged getting the spacing right.  Hope you all enjoy this as much as
the recipient did.  It may be another two months before I get a chance to post

If you enjoy calligraphy as much as I do.  Consider joining a
Guild, I’m part of the Nashville Calligraphy
and they have been an excellent group of people to meet with.  They
offer classes monthly and have activities at each meeting.  Try googling for the
one near you or send me an email and I’ll attempt to help you locate one near

A Thank you Note

Here’s a piece I created for our real estate agent whom went out of her way to ensure we had a good experience with our first home purchase.  We had a number of hiccups that slowed things down.  She had ability get it done timely and professionally.  Visit her at if your purchasing a home near me.
Each of the elements in this piece were inpired by researching many manuscripts.   There’s a number of different digital scriptoriums that have these documents online for you to view.
I’ll be doing a manuscript reproduction for someone coming up that will be displayed at an exhibit in April which is exciting for me.  Thank you all for viewing my blog.
– Stephen