Calligrapher’s Corner:Consulting with the Experts, Volume 8: Cherryl Moote
Describe how you began your love of lettering and how you started your career in calligraphy.
When I was attending university back in the 70’s I had a job in the library. One night I was down in the stacks reshelving books and I fell over one. It was Edward Johnson’s book. I flipped through it and was intrigued by the vinework instructions so I signed the book out. I spent months doodling vines in the margins of my Shakespeare notes in order to stay awake during the exceedingly boring lectures given by the professor in that particular course. I found an Osmiroid pen one day in the bookstore and moved on to teaching myself lettering.
What would you consider to be your area of greatest expertise?
I was shown how to make a stab bound book during Reggie Ezell’s class in Toronto in the early 90’s. I fell in love with making books and while I have stayed actively involved in lettering I consider book making and teaching others how to make books my area of expertise.
With whom did you study, and who were/are your biggest influences?
I’ve been exceedingly fortunate to have had a long list of phenomenal teachers who I have studied with and who have influenced my work. I credit Reggie Ezell with the bulk of the technical knowledge I have about tools and materials. Ann Hechle has been a mentor and teacher at the symposiums I have attended in Sunderland and I have been greatly influenced by her philosophy and the sense of presence she brings to her work, and, in particular by her work with Sacred Geometry. Ewan Clayton has also been an inspiration because of his keen curiousity, the generous way he shares his knowledge and expertise and his magnificent laugh.
What products can you not live without?
First and foremost, my Omnigrid ruler and my Swann-Morton scalpel. For calligraphy I love working with graphite and always have a broad edged sketching pencil, a 2B Staedtler 2mm pencil and, my newest obsession, a Palomino Blackwing close to hand. For paper my go to is almost always Arches Text Wove or the fine Japanese papers made of gampi and kozo that I have available to me in Toronto through teaching for The Japanese Paper Place.
What advice would you give a new calligrapher?
Commit yourself to daily practice. There is no substitution for time on task. And don’t teach yourself. It took me years to undo work habits that I learned teaching myself and it left me feeling insecure about many hands, my italic in particular. I often tell people that autodidacticism is not for wimps. Find someone whose work you respect who will respect you enough to give you honest, encouraging critique.
What is something people would be surprised to learn about you?
In addition to having written a dozen books on bookbinding and paper crafting I have been quietly working on a trilogy of novels which would be considered to be in the genre of speculative fiction. As I have been working on the novels I have been creating many of the artifacts for the world I am writing about. In 2016 I hope to publish these novels and have an exhibit of the artifacts as a way of celebrating my sixtieth birthday.
When you are not lettering, what do you enjoy doing?
Playing with paper would have to be one of my favourite things. We have a wonderful Miniature Labradoodle named Abbey and I love to play Frisbee with her and take her for walks and she loves to have me captive on the couch and get her ears scratched and her belly rubbed. In the winter I curl which guarantees that I get my exercise in and have some social interaction because Canadian winters can be isolating if you let them. I am a Certified Zentangle Teacher (CZT) and I love to tangle or sketch in the evening. I also love to read, particularly essays on a wide variety of subjects and also science fiction. And I do love to travel, and cook, and quilt and bead and have coffee with friends… Life is very full indeed!