Over the last few months, I’ve been collaborating with local artist Steven Bramble on producing an alphabet and font for the Quarry Pod.
Steven came up with the idea for a Heavitree Stone alphabet early on in the Quarry Pod discussions. It began as a design exercise that could be used in schools and it also sparked the idea for an A-Z trail around the Heavitree Stone sites in Exeter… of which more anon.
Over a few months, Steven played with many letter forms and combinations. It is fascinating to see his book of workings showing the process of an artist. Gradually a form took shape of irregular stone blocks in a horizontal coursing.
Steven’s letters are very beautiful in their own right. We also wanted to be able to use them, and the best way of doing this was to turn them into a font.
The first step was to digitise Steven’s artwork. Last autumn at Mozfest, I had seen what the University’s brand new Digital Humanities Lab had to offer. It is stuffed with state-of-the-art audiovisual technology. I could get access as an Honorary Research Fellow in Humanities, and during its first year, the staff were keen to experiment with ways of using it. So Steven and I spent two fascinating afternoons in February and April, first learning about the process and what was required, and then proceeding with the digitisation.
We are very grateful to the Lab, and to Gary Stringer and Emma Sherriff for their assistance. According to Gary: “Really enjoyed the discussion yesterday (and Steve’s reaction to his beautiful artwork on the screen!). It gave us a lot of food for thought regarding working more with artists and being creative about outputs.”
Essentially, digitisation involves taking very high resolution photographs of the pages of Steven’s portfolio. These show an incredible amount of detail, every brushstroke and mark on the paper, capturing the roughness of the Heavitree Stone itself. Once we had electronic images of the letters, I could use the free online Calligraphr tool to transform them into a font. (You can use this to make a font out of your own handwriting too! There are handy tutorials and FAQs on the website.)
The Quarry Pod is going to be using the font on a new Heavitree Quarry Trails website, the online A-Z trail I need to write (!) and three physical leaflets about Heavitree Stone in three particular areas of Exeter. Watch this space!
You are welcome to download the font for your own use too. You will need one of the following files. There is a guide to the format you need and how to install fonts on Windows, Mac OS, and Linux at dafont.com/faq.php.