Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy by Izzy Pludwinski

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Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy by Izzy Pludwinski

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Izzy Pludwinski and Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy were nominated as Finalists in the Visual Arts Section of the 2013 National Jewish Book Awards.

Congratulations Izzy!!


Publisher’s Synopsis :
Hebrew calligraphy has a long and rich tradition. Even today, in our highly digitized world, the Hebrew letter still finds its most beautiful expression in the hand-written letter. Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy brings this tradition into the 21st century.

Full of information aimed at both the beginning and the more advanced student, Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy clearly and methodically presents the art of Hebrew letter-making. After outlining the techniques and understanding needed to write the different styles of script, the book takes the reader into the heart of the design process, demonstrating how to go through a project – the design of a favourite quotation - step by step. Other topics include writing with colour and gold, combining Hebrew and English, writing a ketubah, and using computers in the design process. The book also introduces readers to the art of the Sofer STaM (including detailed instructions on how to cut a quill) and to the rich tradition of Hebrew writing, presenting plates of historical Hebrew manuscripts and explaining how to analyze their letter forms. Finally, the book suggests different modes of experimentation, in an attempt to enhance the reader's creativity and unique touch.

Complete with over 200 full-colour illustrations, artworks and detailed diagrams, Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy is a beautiful and informative book for beginning and more advanced calligraphers, and for anyone who simply finds joy in the Hebrew letter.


Introduction to the book by the author :
THE HEBREW ALEPH-BET is a fascinating world unto itself. In mystic lore the letters are no less than the potential energy the building blocks, from which the world was created. In Midrashic texts the letters each have personalities of their own. In Rabbinic legal texts there are dozens of laws connected with the proper way to write each letter. In Judaism the commandment to write a Torah scroll is incumbent on all Jews – so to some extent, we are all enjoined to become Hebrew calligraphers!

But why calligraphy? In our modern, digital age, it is legitimate to ask "Why bother writing letters by hand at all, when one can use the computer to 'write' with an almost infinite variety of fonts?" To the uninitiated, calligraphy can appear to be nothing more than a quaint, outdated hobby. In response to this, I offer a few thoughts.

First, on the level of experience. As a craft, there is a simple, primal pleasure to be had in the act of making something with one's own hands, using materials – things of the material world, tangible materials that arouse the senses. The smell of the ink, the look and feel of velvety parchment or a beautiful handmade paper, the sound of the pen swooshing in a flourish. All this is absent in the sterile world of the computer monitor and mouse. To create something unique (and what can be more unique than one's own hand-writing?), something that bears the stamp of one's own personality, something that cannot be exactly duplicated by anyone else on earth (including our own selves!) is an experience of everlasting value, especially in our digital, everything-is-replicable, age.

But it is not only a matter of the calligrapher's subjective experience. Hand-created letters are alive. They are the tangible result of a process that involves the human mind, body and spirit. The energy of this involvement, this excitement, is transferred to and embodied in the letters through the creative act, enlivening them. It is the encounter with the life-force of the letters that allows a beautiful piece of calligraphy to touch and move the viewer on a deep, human level in a way that fixed-font letters can never hope to attain.

On an entirely different level, type and digital fonts have freed calligraphers from their original role of being passive servants to the text, when the concern for legibility was the supreme factor and the calligrapher's own personality was to be transparent. Calligraphy today is an exciting art form as well as a craft. The relationship of calligrapher to text is much less obvious than in the past. Lettering art can have many different purposes and the modern calligrapher/artist can use letters in forms that range from the formal and clearly legible to the wildly expressive and abstract. The sky has become the limit for the calligrapher.

But whether conservative or radical, to be effective one must have a strong grounding in the principles that make for good calligraphy. What I hope to accomplish in this book is more than just to present good scripts and how to write them. I would like to present sound fundamentals so that students will be able to work with any script, whether found in this book, in historical manuscripts or in their imagination, and write them effectively.

Finally, there is no real word in Hebrew for calligraphy. The term traditionally used for good writing is Vtivah tamah, which could be translated as "simple writing", or pure writing. I like the wholesomeness of that term. We do not have to be fancy Good and simple are what we strive for – beauty will then happen on its own.


Getting Started, Tools & Materials, Historical & Modern Scripts, Layout & Design, Colours & Gold, Writing a Ketubah, The Art of the Sofer and Going Wild are just a few of the topics featured in this comprehensive book on the art of Hebrew letter-making. Complete with over 200 full-colour illustrations and contributions from some of the world's top Hebrew calligraphers. Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy is a book that will inform and delight anyone who finds joy in the Hebrew letter.


What others have said about this book :
“I wish I would have had a book like this when I first started out!" Sharon Binder, artist and calligrapher, Jerusalem
Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy provides a thorough education into the Hebrew letterform written from the perspective of one of the premier calligraphers practicing in Israel today... This work will become a standard reference text in my personal library for continued consultation as I delve deeper into the exploration of the Hebrew letterform.” Randall M. Hasson, artist and calligrapher, New Mexico.


1st edition, 2012, hardback, 194pp, full colour throughout, 23 x 28.8cm


Mastering Hebrew Calligraphy by Izzy Pludwinski
£29.99 EUR 36.97