Monday, January 24, 2011

Tea Leaves and Letters

I am drinking tea at home this morning while penning a letter on paper to my 86 year old uncle who does not do computers. For as long as I can remember, my favorite implement for both writing and drawing has been a cartridge pen with a calligraphy nib. The letters loop happily from the free flowing india ink, and with the tweak of a curve, the line has a pleasant way of turning into drawing.

Cup of the Day #63
Blue Ribbon Cup by Gwyneth Leech
India ink on white cup

I studied calligraphy at school and the gesture of the curves we practiced over and over remains a habitual and surprisingly productive start to many of my cup drawings. Perhaps it is a response to the  curve of the cup surface itself, or just the pleasure of "a line going for a walk", as Paul Klee put it. Needless to say, my note-taking in meetings turns quickly to drawing. It helps me concentrate at the time, but the pages are often not much good for review.

My mother had a book of fanciful alphabets in her studio library - ornate calligraphic meanders that I tried to copy when I was kid. When my parents moved from their large house in Philadelphia, I got the book. I wonder if I can figure out where I put it in the storage unit we rent?

The storage unit is in a six story windowless building on 43rd Street, a four block walk from the apartment. It is stacked with a near cascade of portfolios, rolled canvases, framed artwork, shipping boxes, storage boxes of letters, photographs and videos, Christmas ornaments, camping equipment, inherited whatnots and linens, and boxes of books. Storage Wars would find slim pickings here, but it all means something to me - I think.

The other day, a man wheeled a trolley past while I had the door open. He glanced in and said, "Ah, moving madness."
It is true. All this stuff represents several moves to smaller apartments, as well as that major downsize when my parents sold the large family house in Philadelphia. I am terrified to dive in there, but I want that book!

Meanwhile, the letter to uncle is already a page of drawings. I have to start over.
First, I will go put the kettle on again and make another cup of tea.

Cup of the Day #63B
Calligraphy Cup by Gwyneth Leech
India ink on white and green printed cup


  1. Very nice cup designs! I like the "compound" calligraphic marks on the top one. I was just reading a blog about children's books, here.

  2. Ah tea - not in paper cups but in olde time teacups. You remind me of my grandfather's 2nd wife (my grandmother died before I was born) who read tea leaves! And she was good. I remember I didn't drink tea yet but was ready for the leaf reading. Your blogs are so wonderfully rich and personal, and always a treat to read.