Last Lotus

Schism is the perfect word to write in cadels. This is my first public expression of my love of cadels. I had always respected beautifully crafted cadels. But frankly, they had not been my cup of tea.

For some reason when broad edged calligraphy was revived in the 20th Century, cadels were left behind in the 17th century, unexamined. I do not know if this was because of the influence Bauhaus simplicity had had on design or because cadels can be unreadable, pretentious and dorky. Very few contemporary calligraphers, mostly medieval reenactors, write cadels. Unfortunately, many of them do not do cadels justice.

This fresh look at cadels was inspired by SVA typography students' response to cadels written during a calligraphy demo. I had had no intention of writing cadels when I visited the class! I wrote copperplate because I know it wows them. It is very popular right now. And writing micrography always gets their attention. During a demo someone showed me a set of cadels and asked how they were done. For me the designs were dated and not the best examples. I suggested ways to improve the design and then proceded to write the newly designed letter. The SVA students were boggled, bamboozled. Cadels are now a standard part of my calligraphy demos. The design students' strong positive response got me to look at cadels with fresh eyes.

My first reexamination of cadels started at the beginning of the 21st century. Hisako Megumi, a Japanese student, who had been studying with me for several years asked to learn cadels. They had never been my favorite letters, but a rare few were perfectly placed and exquisitely balanced in illuminated manuscripts. Their grace and exuberance had won my heart. I had studied them and learned to make them. I was intrigued that a Japanese student was interested in cadels. Teaching Hisako to make cadels based on historic models forced my hand. I studied more cadels than I had to date. Her desire to learn historic cadel design opened the door for me to be able to design them without a struggle.

I had started designing cadels as an intellectual/design exercise, a way to keep my hand and mind wrapped around cadels. Then, the response of the students at SVA peaked my curiosity. Since that day, I have pursued updating cadels to make them a viable alternative in the 21st graphic design world. Because of graphic designer Olgo Mezhibovskaya at SVA and her typography students, cadels are now on my list of ten most fun calligraphic treats! Thank You. And Thank you Hisako!!