Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Learning | Epergne

My brother, Dale, likes to pretend he doesn't know any big words.  Whenever he hears a family member use an unfamiliar word, he asks for us to repeat it and tell him what it means. We usually end up looking up the word in the dictionary, and then he uses it in a sentence--usually a silly sentence.

There's a story he tells, about helping our father with the preparations for a backyard party. They were hosing off the lawn furniture.  My dad (an engineer) turned off the spigot at the wall of the house.  Dale was still holding the hose, but not spraying anything.  Dad called out,"Okay, Dale, depress the nozzle and release the residual!"

"I knew what he meant, but I just couldn't resist," Dale recalls. "I called out, 'but Dad! There's water in this hose!'"

Image from page 208 of "New Bedford, Massachusetts:
 its history, industries, institutions, and attractions" (1889)
From Internet Archives Book Images'
photostream on

No known copyright restrictions.

Yesterday, Dale sent an email to the family about his word of the day: epergne. 

According to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary (see citation below,) it's from the French word for saving: ├ępargne. Epergne refers to "an often ornate tiered centerpiece consisting typically of a frame of wrought metal (as silver or gold) bearing dishes, vases, or candle holders or a combination of these." 

 "Epergne." Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2014. <>.

Image from page 37 of "Examples of household taste"
 (1875) From Internet Archives Book Images'
photostream on
No known copyright restrictions.

I don't know how Dale came across that word. Maybe I'll ask him, next time I see him.  In the meantime, I found some lovely images of epergnes on

Tea sandwiches on an Epergne, from Jan's photostream on
Some rights reserved.

The Silver Epergne on opening night,
from Leeds Museum and Galleries' photostream on
Some rights reserved.

Searching the keyword epergne in SSJCPL's Shiny New catalog yielded no results, but if you are interested in epergnes, I recommend taking a look at these books on tableware.

She's Crafty | Hand-Lettering Ledger

Letters fascinate me. Not only are they the building blocks with which we build words, but I find them in all of their varieties to be utterly beautiful.

Constellation by Ben Didier. Some Rights Reserved.
Calligraphy, Agra. Detail of the Taj Mahal.
Photo taken by Navil Nazeri. Some Rights Reserved.
Gothic San Serif Lower Case - FUTURA!
Photo taken by Kyle Van Horn. Some Rights Reserved.

Ever since I could remember, I've been head-over-heels in love with letter forms. From the feel of writing careful letters--slow, steady, and fitting them together just right--to the digital slickness and fun of fonts.

When I was studying design, letters quickly became my main focus. First course of action for any project was figuring out the text. The look, the mix of fonts, sizes, and fit all had to be right before I even worried about the pictorial elements. Typography, the art of setting letters, also became a favorite area of study.

A good portion of my drawings and doodles include text. A quote, a song, a single word I found interesting would be the seed for a drawing. After an initial writing of letters, I would embellish and fine-tune them like I would any other thing I drew. And when I came across a project in design that needed a font I just couldn't find, I would often jump at the chance to create my own.

A favorite theme that runs through my text-based drawings are either fitting text within a shape or making a shape out of the letters. I created the Put a Bird On It drawing below in the hopes of putting IT on a tote or a t-shirt. Someday.

Put a Bird On It

Interesting handwriting and the skilled use of fonts light up my brain like a Christmas tree, which, coincidentally, is where I found this little gem waiting for me this year.

Hand-Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt

Hand-Lettering Ledger is the artistic typophile's dream come true. Not only does author Mary Kate McDevitt explain the differences between calligraphy, hand lettering, and typography with a simplicity I could never muster, McDevitt also made this book incredibly pretty to oggle with the eyes. McDevitt has a background in graphic design and it shows. She introduces readers to the multiple type styles featured in her book explaining  the basics of form, offering plenty of tips, and showcasing a plethora of witty examples to inspire original creations.

Request a copy of Hand-Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDevitt for checkout through Link+ by clicking on the title.

We have other hand-lettering and calligraphy books if you're interested in exploring the art of handwriting:

Hand lettering : simple & creative styles for cards, scrapbooks & more
The Art & Craft of Hand Lettering 
Calligraphy : A Guide to Hand-Lettering   

Have a happy new year!
Malia & Kaye