Saturday, June 25, 2016

Chubby columns, from Helsinki doorways

Entrance to the Uspenskin Cathedral. 

Yogi Berra said it: "You can observe a lot just by watching."  In the process of looking for numerals and letters on the street, I've started noticing other architectural treats, such as Helsinki's imposing pillars. Many Finnish buildings feature these stubby, powerful, and decorative columns in doorways and on facades. They really look like they are up to the task of bearing heavy weight.  
It's really fun to see those chubby granite pillars from the front get copied in brick at the side door, and again in the back.  

Above, brick rendition of granite pillars, Uspenskin cathedral.  

In a nearby neighborhood, this doorway facade bundles several pillars together.  If you look up close you see lions in those carved doors.  

A neoclassical pillar, right, has an Art Deco capital.  

And from Turku, at right, this massive column anchors the corner of a building.  The decoration along its top is unlike any classical order.  


Now I have a new mission--to go back and take a second look at all the neighborhoods where I was concentrating on numerals and letters, and didn't pay proper attention to the columns.  

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

A modern Finnish Gothic alphabet

Last week, I noticed this war monument* in the Kamppi cemetery, by the Old Church in Helsinki.  It is carved in a stark, forceful version of Gothic, without the square serifs but with the same heavy width of stroke and uniform letter bodies.  Letters have to be robust to survive being carved into granite, a process undertaken today almost invariably with a power chisel.  

The letters e and a break up the rows of vertical
strokes, with half- or whole-round shapes, 
The letter g shows the kind of calligraphic
ingenuity that brings a smile to a calligrapher's
face. And the thought: I've got to try that one!  

The same message appears in three languages: Finnish, Estonian, and Swedish.  

* "The...monument in the Old Church Park was erected in 1919 in memory of the Finnish volunteers who fell in the Estonian war of independence. The bodies of 25 Finns from Helsinki were carried back from Tallinn aboard the icebreaker Wäinämöinen, and a service was held on 16 February 1919." From Park Walks in Helsinki website. 

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Numbers on the street, Helsinki

I continued to find new numerals on my rambles through Helsinki. 

Friday, June 17, 2016

Some more signs from Helsinki streets

Look in the shady section, for the
word KAHVILA in Jugenstil letters.  
This brass sign is about 12 inches wide or 30 cm.  
Looking for these signs can transform any walk, in any city, into a treasure hunt.  My tips for finding the calligraphy around you: look high, look low, and look again.  

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Two endearing Finnish calligraphy signs

Some 140 years ago, Helsinki artists embraced Art Nouveau, known to them as Jugendstil. Many of these letters can still be seen on buildings.  

I could not resist these two little charmers.  They are about half a meter in length.  

Two takes on Turku

I had just an hour to walk around Turku.  What a lovely city: but the only lettering I found was made of flowers.  And spray paint. 

A gold mine of calligraphy was to be found at the calligraphy conference nearby.  Finland's first national meeting; 80 calligraphers; half a dozen workshops; high level of design and execution; next year's convention already mapped out.  Everything.    

More beautiful Finnish letters!

House identification placque.
This week I'm back in Helsinki for a revisit.  Last year I thought I found every last gorgeous letter in town, but it took just a few short walks around to reveal a new batch for me.  

Here are a few gems:

"Suomi" is Finland's own traditional name for itself.  Above, and at right, it appears in hefty letters that emphasize the strength of the doorway below it.   

BÖLS is the name of the stock exchange, it is
appropriately carved of solid granite, in a style
that looks like 
pure muscle in letter form.